Conservatives pass up chance to bring back the ‘Belsize Activist’

THE resignation of Marx de Morais from the Conservative election team last week drew hearty congratulations from another former Tory candidate.

“Brexit a non issue apparently on the doorsteps for Camden Conservatives,” tweeted Nigel Rumble, who stood for the party at the Camden Town and Primrose Hill by-election in May 2012. “Clearly Marx de Morais is a person of honour, full credit to him. I made a similar moral decision over the NHS reform bill setting in train the disaster now in full force nationally.”

It’s said that this tweet drew more than a couple of wry smiles among the Hampstead Conservatives, where the tory has been shared this week – and apparently there is an electronic paper trail to back this up – that Mr Rumble only recently enquired about the possibility of standing for the party once more, this time in Belsize.

In the wake of former group leader Claire-Louise Leyland’s decision not to seek another term at the Town Hall, it was suggested that Mr Rumble, once understandably mistaken for Hollywood heartthrob George Clooney (according to his blog), could “rejoin the Conservative fold” and with his vast knowledge of the Chalcots estate saga help keep the three council seats in the ward blue.

The word from inside the local Conservative Party, however, was that this generous offer took precisely two seconds to consider – and reject, as several organisers are equipped with long enough memories to remember his exit from the party six years ago. His resignation letter had said joined the Labour Party, although he did not find a lasting home there either.

You could hear references to this in the gentle heckling heard in England’s Lane when Mr Rumble told Iain Duncan Smith, as he visited as street stall in England’s Lane, that he was thinking about rejoining Tories.

Instead, the party called up former councillor Kirsty Roberts, back in town after some time in the United States, to replace Cllr Leyland on the Belsize ballot paper.

Mr Rumble, the ‘Belsize activist’ who has also stood for the Liberal Democrats in the past, received 199 votes as independent last time Belsize ward went to the polls, which in the grand history of independent candidates standing in Camden isn’t that bad.

On the issue of personal votes, the top vote-winner on the board in 2014 was Tory councillor Jonny Bucknell, who has since been deselected by the Conservatives. It’s one of the more intriguing wards ahead of the polls in May, not least because the result may be seen as marker as to whether residents in the Chalcots tower endorse Camden’s handling of last summer’s evacuation crisis, and what’s happened since. Maybe we will see independent candidates run here again.


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