Election daily: Don’t mention the w… ipeout

8 days to go…


LABOUR Party candidates are re-thinking expectation management as the final knockings of this year’s council election campaigns approach. There is apparent internal concern that while the team are still very confident of taking new seats, failing to advance from the current majority of 24 next week would suddenly start to look like some kind of failure for the relatively new leader Georgia Gould, after all the talk of a wipeout victory in Camden.

The idea that viewing a 24-seat majority, still a vice-like grip on the council chamber, as a downer is a curious thought, but the most superstitious are eager that the party does not over bet in these last days of campaigning.

“By telling people we can take nearly every seat, we are now playing into a narrative of how we want to crush democracy,” says one fairly well-placed insider. “Quietly confident would be the better option, and then see what happens.”

You’d need someone with a psychology degree to decipher all of the reverse mind games and boomerangs at play here.

Some of Jeremy Corbyn’s critics don’t want it to look easy to take the whole council at a time when the Labour leader is facing protests about anti-semitism in the Labour Party. A very large would win would also trigger: ‘We won because of Jeremy’ versus the ‘we won despite of Corbyn’.

Others think the hard work put in on the ground over the last few weeks goes unheralded if the story is set up in headline print as ‘Labour to win a landslide’, and then, as if it didn’t take any canvassing and organising, Labour does just that.

Then there are those who genuinely think the story of Labour advancing further than it ever has before in Camden is overblown, partly because of the threat of a protest Brexit vote, and partly because of immovable loyalties to particular candidates and parties among voters likely to actually participate in elections.

“I’m told a poll is coming out on Thursday which isn’t good for Labour in London,” tweeted the Guardian columnist Owen Jones, for a bit of late jitters. “It’s been a hellish few weeks for Labour. It’s not in the bag in the local elections. Not even close. This is a wake-up call. If you don’t vote and encourage others to vote, Labour will lose.”


WHEN the bookmakers first opened up their markets for this year’s local elections, Labour was pegged at 1/7 favourites to win a majority in Barnet (i.e. bet £7 to win a profit just £1). Again looking at the prices purely as a guide – don’t gamble – it must be slightly alarming for the party to see the odds drift right out to 6/4. This maybe some guesswork by the bookies who believe anti-semitism protests will in particular affect north London boroughs, eating into recent form guides. Maybe it is something else, but someone, somewhere has learned something to give them a wobble.




IN 2006, the Tories scalped a seat in the Highgate ward through Paul Barton, who perhaps was not expecting that he’d actually win and after a couple of years he stepped down. The Greens won the resulting by-election. Imagine, however, just imagine, if the Conservatives were to repeat the trick in the ward this time and Simone Finn was elected, or to call her by official title Baroness Finn, of Swansea.

There she’d be, Baroness Finn, a former special adviser to the government and a close friend of Michael Gove, on the red benches of the House of Lords in the daytime and arguing for weekly bin collections on the green seats of the council chamber at night. Sadly, the Baroness’s busy schedule meant she was unable to attend the hustings in Highgate last night, a petite affair organised by the Croftdown Residents Association which saw around 30 people on fold-up chairs. And with the Labour and Greens in intense combat in the ward, you’d have to be a wildcard gambler to bet on the Tories to win again here this time.

Hustings report coming up later.


OBVIOUSLY, my favourite journalists covering the neighbouring borough are the soaraway Islington Tribune’s Samantha Booth and Emily Finch, they’re great, but from afar I admire the way Ramzy Alwakeel edits the Islington Gazette. This week, rather than take a photo at a certain angle or pretend the hall was packed, the paper conceded the council elections it had organised had seen a “terrible turnout”. Not every paper would put it like that at about their own event. Fair play to him, I thought, and good on the paper for arranging one in the first place. It makes you wonder, beyond politicos and journalists, how many people in the wider public actually care that the council elections are… NEXT WEEK.


THE parties should be starting to get the first postal vote data. None of it can be reported here under electoral rules.


HERE’S two fresh-faced leaders to be in the Haverstock School sports hall in 2010 as Sarah Hayward and Georgia Gould celebrate seeing Camden Council back in Labour’s hands. Cllr Hayward took over the leadership of the council in 2012…

…and passed the baton on to Cllr Gould in 2017.

2010 & 2017

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