IT was keep calm and carry on, or at least ‘cheer up, it might never happen’, for Tulipistas at the Labour Party conference last week. There is, after all, no way of getting around the fact that recently proposed boundary changes in Hampstead and Kilburn will make Tulip Siddiq more vulnerable to going down in our political history as a one term MP. But apart from the immediate claims of gerrymandering the vote and cries of foul, what does the party think should happen instead, as the House of Commons reduces from 650 to 600 MPs?
According to a leak in the Huffington Post yesterday, Labour will respond by playing a game of swapsies with the suggestion that Hampstead and Belsize council wards should be connected to Keir Starmer’s patch in the south of the borough, while supportive Labour wards in Kilburn would be gelled back together in Tulip’s territory as part of a newly-named ‘West Hampstead and Kilburn’ seat.
The London Labour Party is due to meet tomorrow and the alternative proposals circulating yesterday were said not to be set in stone as a final response to the Boundary Commission’s consultation survey. In this state, however, their alternative proposals have been seen as a way of proposing a reorganised map that would save much of leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Islington North constituency, the innuendo being that the jigsaw would be re-cut at the expense of more centrist MPs like David Lammy.
Keir and Emily Thornberry, meanwhile, could face a run-off for a seat as wards in Camden and Islington are connected, the HuffPo suggested. Whichever way you cut it, it now looks certain there will be at least three MPs with some sort of stake in Camden, as even under Labour’s leaked proposals, King’s Cross, Bloomsbury and Holborn and Covent Garden wards would be ceded to Mark Field’s Tory zone in neighbouring Westminster.
These amendments remain like game of domino rally, where one move affects another. The leaked proposals for Tulip would see Frognal, Swiss Cottage, Fortune Green, West Hampstead, Brondesbury, Queen’s Park, Kensal Green and Mapesbury come under her watch, as well as those Kilburn wards. Members on the ground, who were out canvassing with Owen Jones on Saturday, certainly believe ‘West Hampstead and Kilburn’ would be a far more winnable prospect for Tulip than the ‘Hampstead and Golders Green’ proposal currently on the table, which could in theory set up an election battle with the Conservative MP Mike Freer, whose own patch in Barnet is at risk of being scissored.
The concern, however, for those looking to protect Tulip is that these alternative plans amount to such a big revamp of the original proposals that it might just be all too much to ask for, with just too many dominoes in need of falling into place.