LIB Dems in Camden were looking their happiest since the (pre-coalition) Cleggomania of 2010 after a whole pride of TV cameras and newspaper photographers arrived this morning to take pictures of them holding yellow – maybe orange – ‘winning here’ diamonds. In demand, they amassed in Camden Square to see party leader Vince Cable shake hands with Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian prime minister who has become a Stop Brexit celeb as leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
Labour members will be quick to point out the Lib Dems have not won here, as in the Cantelowes ward, for nearly a decade. It was all quite a scrum nonetheless and the cameras followed them on a pre-organised doorstep canvass ahead of this month’s European elections.
Any door? Hmmm. These things are not orchestrated for an argument in front of the media.
The face behind the door was recognisable: the loquacious, silver-tongued Marc Vlessing, the director of Pocket Living, which has been supported by both Boris Johnson and Sadiq Khan to build micro homes across London as an answer to a shortage of affordable homes.
The right term for these properties, I think, is ‘compact’, although it has occasionally been argued that a generation of people clinging on to the dream of living in London are left accepting ‘rabbit hutches’. Journalists asked him afterwards whether he was a party stooge, to which he said that he knew there would be a knock on the door but he was not a member or activist. Zac Goldsmith met him in Kentish Town during the last London elections.
After a five minute chat. with photographers climbing over neighbours’ wall to get their shot, Mr Verhofstadt stepped down from Mr Vlessing’s front door and got on a coach, and was gone. Maybe they should have knocked on more doors while the cameras were there: what would be the worst outcome in a street like Camden Square? With the film rolling, it would have looked more natural to be seen laying out their view to an obvious Labour voter or even a Brexiteer.
Mr Verhofstadt’s swiftish departure left us in the hands of local Lib Dems, like Euro election candidate and future local leader Luisa Porritt, who were bubbling with talk of a party revival.
Others were talking about finally moving away from an endless hangover in the public’s minds: that Rose Garden coalition with the Conservatives, which plainly destroyed years of hard work to gain council seats in a place like Camden.
Also to note: Back with a clipboard and back in the game was former councillor Matt Sanders, one of Nick Clegg’s special advisers during those government days. The colonel is pictured doing organising stuff with another former councillor who remains enthused, Janet Grauberg.