Election daily: Luciana’s lament

15 days to go…


LUCIANA Berger, a former council election candidate in Camden, was trending on Twitter this evening and appears on the front page of the Daily Telegraph tomorrow after her contribution to a House of Commons debate on anti-semitism.

“They have called me Judas, a Zio-Nazi, and told me to go back to Israel,” the MP for Liverpool Wavertree said. “We have a duty to the next generation. Denial is not an option. Prevarication is not an option. Being a bystander who turns the other way is not an option. The time for action is now. Enough really is enough.” She was one of several Labour MPs who told of their anger and fears about the treatment of Jews in politics, particularly within their own party.  The whole session made you wince.

Last year, commentators suggested Labour MP Tulip Siddiq could pay heavily in an area like Hampstead and Kilburn because of the party’s ongoing failure to convince some Jewish supporters that it was doing enough to combat internal prejudice. Ms Siddiq, for lots of different reasons, actually went on to win by more than 15,000 votes at the general election. Labour candidates in next month’s council elections are nonetheless facing similar warnings over how the issue could dent the party’s vote at a local level. Some say it could puncture their efforts to take Tory seats in Belsize, where the issue has been raised on the doorstep quite regularly, and in Hampstead, where the party was hoping a long shot might come in, on a good day.


AT election hustings in West Hampstead last week, the political parties came up with lots of different ideas to combat poor air pollution: stiffer penalties for engine idling, more charging points for electric cars and campaigns to encourage people to swap cars for public transport.

When it comes to air pollution around schools, however, the Conservatives in neighbouring Islington have revealed a completely different and eye-catching policy: close the schools and move them into less polluted areas. It sounds like quite an undertaking and Ed McGuinness, a Tory candidate in Highgate West, admitted at a hustings last night that “clearly it would cost a lot of money”. But he explained: “Once we are in the council is that within the first week we will start an audit of the pollution around all of our primary schools. We would move the primary schools in the most polluted areas to areas which are less polluted.”

Will the Camden Tories be keen to adopt a similar policy?


SOME free top tier advice from the former leader of Camden Council as the appalling Windrush fiasco continues. “First rule of governing. NEVER (and I mean NEVER) publicly attack the civil servants/officers advising you,” tweets Labour councillor Sarah Hayward, who is stepping down from the Town Hall at the May 3 elections. “They work damn hard and they only advise, you decide. Rudd has messed up. May has messed up. They should it admit it and solve it.” Such coaching leave us hanging for the second rule of governing…


CHANNEL 4 News are not going to let it go and this evening played more footage of Tulip Siddiq thanking the Awami League for its support in her political career. We also saw Islington South MP Emily Thornberry and Labour councillor Abdul Hai on a visit to Bangladesh during Alex Thomson’s latest film, and some confusion over whether Labour do or don’t see the AL as “sister” party. The programme’s chief correspondent is following up reports of people who have been ‘disappeared’ in Bangladesh where Ms Siddiq’s aunt, Sheikh Hasina, is the prime minister.

Once again, the picture with Putin surfaced in the film (it’s been shared every now and then ever since Ms Siddiq’s selection contest) and the ‘one phone call to auntie’ line came up. Mr Thomson, meanwhile, could be found directly trying to ask a question on human rights to Sheikh Hasina herself at an event in London this week, only to be shut down. A letter written by Ms Siddiq in which she said she ‘deplored the use of extra-judicial detention and any human rights abuses anywhere in the world, including Bangladesh’ was read out, so there was no need for a run-around in West End Green this time.

While Ms Siddiq says she has no influence over her aunt, you get the feeling this one will come up again.


THE different approaches to counting up the council elections vote in Camden and Islington has been confirmed. Impatient Camden will count through the night (or until 2am at least), while Islington will lock it all away and start work on Friday morning with all results not likely to be in until around 6pm on Friday (May 4) afternoon.


“I MAKE no apology for the council modernising the Mayoralty,” says Westminster leader Nickie Aiken after an insider raised concerns in a letter to the Westminster Extra that, among other things, the Lord Mayor’s dress code was being “downgraded”.

Cllr Aiken added: “At a time when local authorities have major financial decisions to make it is unacceptable for a modern, progressive council like mine to retain an antiquated Mayoralty function. Therefore, to ensure the First Citizen of Westminster remains relevant in the 21st Century we have introduced a slimmed down and more efficient office. The author of the letter is obviously out of touch.”


HERE’S the aforementioned Luciana Berger when she was briefly on Labour’s candidates list for the 2010 elections. She is distantly related to Roger Robinson, who she was running alongside in St Pancras and Somers Town. Ms Berger was later selected to run for parliament in Liverpool Wavertree, thus avoiding at least four years on the green benches of the Town Hall and becoming another Camden graduate to reach the House of Commons. The late Peter Bradshaw, who had been unseated in Bloomsbury by a whisker in 2006, was called up to replace her on the ballot paper.


%d bloggers like this: