SO how much attention is tough-enough council leader Georgia Gould getting from her new team? Are they obeying orders?
She has sent at least three emails essentially urging councillors and members (including those in the south of the borough) to use their spare time canvassing in Hampstead and Kilburn where the Pick Tulip rescue mission is in more obvious need than the Labour campaign in Holborn and St Pancras. “It would also be great if Holborn and St Pancras councillors can encourage some of your experienced volunteers to go up to H & K as I know Keir is keen to support Tulip’s campaign,” said one of the messages.
A delegation led by Georgia and Keir Starmer, then, caught the overground on Saturday afternoon – with those who made the short trip rewarded with a mug in the customary Twitter team shots; the sort of daily online photos which you might think can have a coercive effect as much as being a method of team-bonding.
During the 2015 election, Tulip’s aides famously had the ‘purple book’ (see FB post from two years ago below) where the names of Labour figures who they thought really should’ve been doing more to help out were apparently jotted down for future reference. Reference for what, I don’t know, and the contents have never been leaked, but some campaigners were thinking about opening a second volume earlier in this month’s campaign when they learned how many teams were out chasing votes in Holborn and St Pancras the weekend before last.
Without wanting to cause too much of a scene, there are some doorknockers in Hampstead and Kilburn who have been a little miffed at the apparent desire to blitz the Gospel Oak by-election and then not risk losing a single vote off the top of Keir’s 17,000 majority, when Tulip is in such obvious peril from the Conservatives. The line I’ve heard a few times is how wonderful it won’t be for the Labour side to be celebrating Keir’s re-election in the early hours of June 9 if on the other side of the counting hall Tulip is in tears.
When you ask about what’s going on in terms of how the resources are being spread across Camden’s two constituencies, there are so many different interpretations that I’d be in a spin from here until polling day trying to decipher which is the most accurate; they range from outlandish conspiracy tales to a genuine naivety about how one of the ballots in Camden is a dead cert and another really could be a dead end. Believe it or not, I’ve been told all of the following over the last ten days as an explanation to why campaigners needed reminders from people like Georgia to work it in Hampstead and Kilburn:
- Tulip made a few local enemies during her time on the council, her rise to becoming MP and then by nominating Corbyn in the leadership contest – and now, in an election with many marginal seats, there are people who are attracted to helping out in other close call constituencies.
- Organisers struggle to get volunteers to campaign beyond their own neighbourhoods because there are members who feel uncomfortable knocking on doors in other parts of Camden that they don’t know so well.
- Some Labour members feel the threat to Tulip has been overhyped.
- Keir Starmer has a rock solid fanclub which only really want to work on his campaign and in some cases worry that a) nobody would be safe in a Labour meltdown or b) a slashed majority in Holborn and St Pancras would in some way reduce his chances of succeeding Corbyn post-election.
- Some Labour campaigners in the south of the borough are puzzled as to why with more than 2,500 members in Hampstead and Kilburn, the party would need to bus any more people in as they should already be outnumbering the Conservative machine.
- There are activists who do not want to do canvassing in either of Keir or Tulip’s patches because they are uncomfortable representing Jeremy Corbyn on the doorstep.
- Campaigners and councillors do not want to be seen as ignoring Holborn and St Pancras because they are worried how it will reflect on their prospects at next year’s council elections or even in internal ward selections.
- Momentum campaigners have organised their own election events which have not fitted into the overall campaign planning.
So many stories, they can’t all be right. Either way, Georgia and Keir did get the numbers out on Saturday and Tulip’s aides were apparently appreciative with no purple booking. With two weekends left to go, however, it will be interesting to see where the bulk of the campaigning from Labour members in Camden goes next.