42 days to go
Happy Halloween, careful who’s knocking on the door tonight. They might have a lot of… leaflets.
I’VE said before on these pages I do not endorse parting with your money on gambling and the whole idea of betting on elections, to me, is dubious. But, without polling in individual constituencies, it is interesting to see how bookmakers price up some of the seats we are reporting on. As explained lots of times, these are markets are not really specialist areas for bookies, who make their money on racing, football and addictive online games. They blundered for example by offering 8/1 on Labour’s Glenda Jackson, a sitting MP, before she won in 2010. To reduce their losses, they often limit the stakes, while still hoping you’ll come for the novelty wager on the outcome of Hampstead and Kilburn and stay for the 3.20 at Leopardstown.
Disclaimer complete, a look at Ladbrokes who always like to try and get ahead of their rivals and price up early, so they get written about on blogs like this. In doing so, they can’t make up their mind who will win in Two Cities, where frogmarching Tory MP Mark Field is stepping down and Chuka Umunna has slid in as the Liberal Democrat candidate. They cast it as a two-horse race, and they don’t mean one which includes Labour, who are still searching for a candidate.
No market for Hampstead and Kilburn yet, but they have opened up Finchley and Golders Green with new Lib Dem Luciana Berger as the market leader. She is taking on Conservative MP Mike Freer. Labour had hoped to be the main challenger.
Remember: 1. this is just a blog, 2. bookmaker odds are just a snapshot, 3. don’t waste actual money on them.
SO LONG SEEMA
MORE MPs announced that they have decided not to stand again, several sadly citing the abuse that politicians are facing. Even on a small scale, I know the abusive insults which people try to leave on this blog about our local politicians. The filter settings were upped last year, they mostly get blocked and I don’t see them now unless I look under the lid. But it’s not a pretty sight when I do, so I can only guess what it must be like at a national level for MPs.
One name which may have slipped through the radar on the departures list is Conservative Seema Kennedy, who even Labour MPs liked for helping with cross-party policies to combat loneliness in the wake of Jo Cox’s murder. She was first elected to South Ribble in 2015, so has had her fill already in only four years at the House of Commons. It’s also just over four years since Ms Kennedy put her name forward for Tory parliamentary selection in Hampstead and Kilburn. She was overlooked at an open primary for Simon Marcus… and the rest is history. Ms Kennedy looked elsewhere and got elected in Lancashire. Mr Marcus, mentioned here yesterday, lost to Tulip Siddiq and was last seen standing for the Brexit Party.
PURDAH ON THE HS2 EXPRESS
HAS the early election saved HS2? The ol’ nothing can be done during ‘purdah’ line is doing the rounds in relation to the government’s review of the rail line. The Oakervee report had been due soon with lots of people from Camden interested in what it will spell for Euston and the years of disruption ahead, but it is unlikely to see public eyes now before the December 12 election.
Purdah is the pre-election day period in which unelected civil servants and council offices are not allowed to do anything which may sway voting intentions. In the world of local journalism here and elsewhere, however, it’s viewed by reporters, unfairly of course, as five weeks of feet up on the desk for press officers. I know Camden’s comms teams hate that characterisation but there’s been some gems over the years.
ONE of the factors in play at Hampstead and Kilburn – a constituency described by the Evening Standard last night as a “wildcard” seat and a “three way marginal” – will be who out of Labour and the Lib Dems (and the Greens) can establish themselves as the best Remain bet for those still hoping that Brexit can be prevented. The area, after all, heavily voted to remain at the 2016 referendum. In the background, the Conservatives may wonder if such a quarrel could water down the voting strength of both parties and leave a path open for their candidate; quick reminder Tory contender Johnny Luk voted remain himself but now says he supports leaving so that democracy can be honoured.
Given how well the Lib Dems performed at the European elections in May, however, the party may be disappointed with Best For Britain, the pro-EU group backed by Gina Miller, who are already telling tactical voters they should vote for Tulip Siddiq. It has launched a ‘Get Voting’ online dashboard, which asks people to fill in their postcode and then declares who it thinks they should vote for if they want the best chance of getting an MP who will fight Brexit.
Postcodes in both Holborn and St Pancras and Hampstead and Kilburn postcodes are returning recommendations for a Labour vote. In contrast, Best For Britain’s dashboard says tactical remainers should vote for Liberal Democrat Luciana Berger as their best bet in Finchley and Golders Green.
JLM WITHDRAWS HELP
WHILE Ms Siddiq may be getting help from Best For Britain, she can no longer expect no help on the ground from the Jewish Labour Movement, who announced this morning that it will not work on the election campaigns of most Labour candidates. “Fighting racism, prejudice and intolerance is at the heart of our Labour values – it is the failure of the leader and his supporters to live these values which has led us to take this stance,” it said in a statement.
This has been reported by several news outlets, but it’s interesting that the Guardian adds the passage: “JLM credits its campaigning work as securing Labour wins in Bury South in 2017 and 2015, Leeds North West in 2017, holding Hampstead and Kilburn in 2015 and winning Hornsey back in 2015 from the Liberal Democrat minister Lynne Featherstone.” Amid such acrimony – which has included several flashpoints at CLP meetings in Ms Siddiq’s constituency over the last two years – not every local activist will agree that it was the solely the JLM which ‘secured’ the Labour here victory in 2015. We will now see though what difference not having their campaign support will make on December 12.
Meanwhile, Dame Margaret Hodge, who survived a trigger ballot and was reselected in Barking, has told the Jewish Chronicle that Ms Siddiq was one of the “Muslim sisters who helped me enormously.”
DON’T GO PRO
FORMER council leader Dame Jane Roberts adds her thoughts to Camden’s councillor pay rise debate by sending a letter published in today’s New Journal. It’s a different take on having professional local politicians.
“I urge caution at any move that promotes councillors working full-time in their role,” she writes.
“Remember that councillors are non-executive: their role is to represent their constituents, to work closely with local communities and to make decisions on the strategic direction of a local authority. They should not be a separate political class. Even council leaders should not be required to work full time in their position. Why? Because if councillors are expected to be full-time, then an even narrower group of people will stand for election in the first place. And, once elected, full-time councillors may well have too much to lose in leaving office and stay too long when in any healthy local democracy, we need reasonable fluidity into and out of elected office.”