Election daily: Oliver Cooper’s big stick

22 days to go…


CONSERVATIVE councillor Oliver Cooper must be having a little chuckle. One of his ongoing campaigns has been to get Camden to introduce £400 fines for fly-tippers, a drive which led Labour councillors to dismiss his policy ideas as a “big stick”. They decided to lift the penalty only as far as £200 when the issue came up at the Town Hall in December 2016. You can insert your own quote about what Cllr Cooper is likely to say, then, about a Labour promise confirmed in the party’s manifesto this week that the council will charge £400 fines after all.


JEREMY Corbyn, Diane Abbott and Keir Starmer joined Georgia Gould visiting the flower shrine on the Peckwater Estate, before heading to a talk with people affected by knife crime at St Luke’s in Kentish Town. The notable absentee was still the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Six weeks after Camden’s bloody night of murder, he has still not been able to find an hour to come and meet the community. Yes, he’s held a knife summit at City Hall and sent a message of support to the anti-violence march, but it’s still odd that he does not feel a visit could help, as the politician elected to lead London.

Some people say, well if he comes to Kentish Town, he’d have to go to all 50+ murder scenes. You can’t compare one killing to another and say this loss of life is worse than another. But there is a special and particularly worrying element to what happened in Camden on February 20, as it’s hard to understand how the culprits were allegedly able to go from one scene to another, killing twice and harming another, without being stopped. Did the police have the right numbers and structure to react after the first death?

Mr Khan is also in a special position as mayor, instantly recognisable across the city in a way, with no disrespect, Sophie Linden, his deputy mayor for policing isn’t. And, let’s be frank, Kentish Town is hardly the Outer Hebrides. It’s not a huge undertaking. But most importantly, this isn’t some newspaper bugbear, trying to cajole Mr Khan to come for the sake of it. Yesterday you could see how much the community appreciated the visit of somebody as senior as Mr Corbyn. It wasn’t the CNJ or any other newspaper asking where Mr Khan was, it was the relatives of people who have died and community workers traumatised by what has occurred.

The same also now applies to Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, given her decision to directly reference the events in Camden in her speech on youth violence this week. She may have a busy diary but there’s something uneasy about the way she spoke about the murder victims as if she had been well briefed, while not having yet visited NW5 to meet the people right at the heart of the tragedy.


WHILE visiting the Peckwater Estate to meet people affected by knife violence, Jeremy Corbyn paused for a few moments to sit on the memorial bench for Alan Walter, the former chief organiser for Defend Council Housing pressure group who lived on the estate. “He was a great man,” said Mr Corbyn, more than once; the TV camera folk having no clue about who he was talking about. In truth, the Labour council found Mr Walter a thorn in its side when he helped organise the fightback against plans to privatise their homes “through the back door”, to use one of Mr Walter’s phrases, in the mid-2000s. But even those who were on the opposite side of the debate on PFIs, stock transfer and Almos, had a grudging respect for his housing obsession. You wonder what Mr Walter, who died in 2009 aged 51, would’ve made of the Labour Party under Mr Corbyn now. Maybe he’d be a candidate at next month’s elections.


WHAT will canvassers be told if they knock on the Hampstead home of Simon Franks in these final weeks of campaigning? The LoveFilm founder is named all over the place as the millionaire ready to help fund a new centrist party for the politically homeless. The nationals have been struggling to secure interviews about the possible project, but the Daily Mail did send a reporter to NW3. “At their £3.8million mansion in Hampstead, north London, his wife Carolyn refused to talk about her husband’s new venture,” the paper reported. “She said ‘Simon is not here, I know nothing about it and I am not prepared to comment sorry.” Yes, yes, but there are more important things: How will they vote on May 3?


WE covered James Slater’s impressive run on the Countdown quiz show when he was announced as Labour’s candidate in Hampstead. He is an octochamp! But what would have happened if he had come up against the Conservative council election candidate, Sanjoy Sen, who has taken on the challenge of an even more difficult TV test.

Mr Sen appeared on several shows of Only Connect, the BBC show which most of us would watch in awe of anybody who can get a single question right. The recordings have host Victoria Coren revealing a little bit more about the Kilburn candidate, who has moved to the area from Scotland. Most interesting: He was once ‘led away for questioning from the Che Guevara monument in Cuba’.

In the meantime, we demand a Mastermind challenge between Mr Slater v Mr Sen. It would be box office gold.


LORNA Russell, the Labour councillor in Fortune Green who has plugged away on the backbenches over the last four years, was promoted to the top table for the party’s manifesto launch at the JW3 Centre last night. She chaired the session alongside Keir Starmer, Tulip Siddiq and Georgia Gould. If re-elected in Fortune Green, will she be encouraged to fight for a similarly prominent seat ahead of cabinet elections at Labour’s AGM next month?


LABOUR members on the doorstep in Highgate ahead of the 2014 elections probably did not need to work their clipboards too hard when they knocked on Ed Miliband’s door. Put him down as a likely Labour voter! Here we got a chance to see the then party leader in his weekend civvies as the customary Twitter team shot was taken. Stephen Bush, the New Statesman commentator, helps out, fourth in from the left. His forecasts are worth reading because, from what I can tell, he speaks to more people on the ground than your typical political journalist being spoonfed freebies in the lobby,


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