ALMOST as soon as it was announced that Sarah Hayward had been shortlisted for the Labour candidacy in Hull West and Hessle, another carrier pigeon flew by to say it was all done and dusted and the decision hadn’t gone her way. We were rewriting on the page on Wednesday night. A disappointment for Sarah, then, but surely some form of relief for her husband who we know from her reasons for stepping down as Camden Council leader was made promises.
Her day in Hull made a few of her colleagues back in Camden wonder why she had put herself through a second selection process after the bruising encounter of being swept aside in her home constituency of Holborn and St Pancras a couple of years ago by the perfectly-timed juggernaut of Keir Starmer’s emergence on the scene a few years back.
But, due to the speed at which this general election is hurtling, these selections are not as arduous and presumably therefore less of a painful experience if you don’t win. Certainly, there is less personal expense in time and money involved, so what’s the harm in giving it a whirl. The potential candidates get a spin of the wheel and know there and then if the ball has landed on red or black. So it was Hull and back in a day.
On another note, all of those predictions that this particular seat had been sewn up before Sarah even got off the train and therefore would always be a wasted trip, such as the analysis by the Huffpo we referenced earlier in the week which suggested it was part of a deal between Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson, turned out to be off the mark. The constituency, formerly held by Alan Johnson, went to a councillor from the area.
By Wednesday then, Sarah had already had bit of a rollercoaster week. Just two days earlier, she had been delivering a farewell speech as council leader at the Town Hall, a moment of indulgence at the all-member meeting, maybe, but interesting for the anecdotes she told about sexism in public life. This included the revelation that she had faced three death threats while in charge at Camden.
She also set up a guessing game for members of the local press, past and present, about the identity of someone who had played a part in this – the sexism, not the death threats – although thankfully I was eliminated from the Cluedo.
“I can unequivocally say it [sexism] is getting worse not better,” she told the chamber. “Some of it you can laugh off. Like the local journalist – no longer around – don’t worry not you Richard – who asked me whether I was comfortable ‘invading male space’ like politics and football.”