JEZZA’S No. 1
OUT of all the council leaders in London, Labour called up Georgia Gould to help front the party’s official, citywide campaign alongside Jeremy Corbyn and Sadiq Khan. It’s further evidence of a working relationship with the Labour leader, which might have seemed unlikely under previous regimes in Camden. What frustrates Cllr Gould now is to be reminded that she was among more than 20 councillors who signed a letter calling for Mr Corbyn to quit the leadership. She insists times habe changed, and is adamant she is now fully behind his leadership, to the extent that she doesn’t see why somebody would doubt it.
At the launch on the Embankment, Mr Corbyn heralded Camden as a beacon council over the years, joking that his only regret had been missing out on a social worker job he had applied for at the council in 1969. They smiled at each other, as you do at launches, and the warmth led journalists from national titles to ponder whether she would be encouraged to stand for parliament somewhere under a Corbyn leadership. No, no – she loves being the leader of the council here, don’t ask her that (although she did slip into her speech that there was ‘little glory in being a councillor’).
The pair will be reunited this week in Kentish Town this week when they meet a community devastated by knife crime, a visit which, as an aside, Sadiq Khan is again strangely not down to attend. It’s all very different from the New Labour label Cllr Gould automatically inherited when she became a politician.
The chosen one rewarded Mr Corbyn with glowing words from the stage. “Imagine what we could do in power nationally under Jeremy Corbyn. The Tories have had their chance and they have nothing to offer but fear and division.” Needless to say, it’s not the case with all of the councillors that signed the ‘resign Jeremy’ letter two years ago, who could not imagine Mr Corbyn in Downing Street then and still can’t now.
Cllr Gould backed the leader on anti-semitism too, casting him as a possible solution to Labour’s difficulties rather than a cause.
“Camden [Labour] will launch its manifesto at the JW3 Centre, the largest Jewish Community Centre in London and I’m really proud to be a Jewish woman leading a diverse range of candidates,” she added, “and I’m particularly proud to be here today to introduce Jeremy and Sadiq, who are strong and united with the stance that there is no place for anti-semitism in the Labour Party.”
STAGED? I WISH SOMEBODY HAD TOLD ME
CHANNEL 4’s Michael Crick had a point when he said the Labour launch had a stage-managed feel, although these events normally are. Anybody who remembers Angela Eagle calling for Robert Peston into the tumbleweed during her bungled run for the Labour leadership can see why there’s a bit of orchestration to it. It appeared from where I was standing that Mr Crick was actively ignored when he tried to question from the floor and so perhaps it wasn’t a surprise that he should tweet: “What a dull launch that was for Labour’s local election campaign in London – not surprising when Corbyn only takes pre-agreed questions from pre-agreed journalists. That’s pretty what Theresa May did in 2017 until I protested and her team relented.”
That all said, I can confirm that there was no backstage management behind the New Journal being called to ask a question. If I’d known bright lights and cameras were going to be shoved in my face, I would’ve shaved and not been loitering out at the back. Suddenly, a mic had been thrust my hand. It certainly hadn’t been agreed beforehand. Maybe the clue was the way room sighed when I asked about Mr Corbyn’s interest in what sounds like a giant undertaking of bringing the bulk of council services in-house after next months’s elections. The rest of the press pack seemed to want more questions on foreign policy… at this local elections launch.
AHEAD of the 2010 elections, former leader of the Conservatives Piers Wauchope released his political history of Camden. Some chapters seemed to be about settling a few scores with his old rival Dame Jane Roberts, others took us back to a time only Roger Robinson can remember. Councillors rushed to see what had been written about them at the launch, grabbing copies which are now rarities. The run was pulped after a legal complaint, probably best not discussed further here. Mr Wauchope, meanwhile, left Camden and joined UKIP in Kent.