35 days to go
Draw breath everyone. Yesterday, the day job had to take first priority and every time I sat down to write an election daily, something else happened. Where do we start?
IT was brave of Keir Starmer to say at his campaign launch on Saturday that all Labour infighting goes out of the window once a general election is called. Just a few days later – and you must have been living under a rock not to know – former Camden councillor Sally Gimson was told by the Labour NEC that she would not be endorsed as the parliamentary candidate in Bassetlaw. And the reason? Complaints traced back to the bad-tempered CLP meetings in Mr Starmer’s own patch, Holborn and St Pancras.
While an election campaign is supposed to be in full swing, Ms Gimson then has called in the lawyers and is fighting to keep her candidacy at the very moment she should be fighting the Tories or the Brexit Party. Mischon de Reya have warned Labour not to impose a new candidate as lawyers’ letters fly about, and are posted on Twitter.
If Labour do lose Bassetlaw on December 12, this episode will be cited time and again. For the party is not all coming together, as Mr Starmer suggested, it is having a public fight just weeks from polling day.
Most people reading this blog had probably never concerned themselves with Bassetlaw’s politics before, but this case has deep ramifications here in Camden. It can’t be ignored that Ms Gimson’s supporters are looking Maryam Eslamdoust, the Mayor of Camden, who has been name-checked on social media as one of the complainants. And of course, whenever Cllr Eslamdoust is mentioned, it isn’t long before somebody forges a link to staffing in the national Labour Party.
As you can imagine, the left say people are seeing a conspiracy where there isn’t one and if Cllr Eslamdoust did make a complaint, she wasn’t alone and it was because of genuine concerns. There is a story of one stormy meeting, when Mr Starmer’s re-selection was being confirmed, where doors were banged and voices were raised, but when I heard about that at the time I just thought that was par for the course for Holborn and St Pancras CLP; and that it sounded even more childish because Mr Starmer was never going to face a trigger ballot.
Ms Gimson, as you will have seen on Twitter and on TV, calls it all a smear campaign and denies what she describes as ‘vague’ allegations.
Despite stepping down from the council last year, Ms Gimson has an addiction to our local politics, can’t resist putting herself up for roles at these meetings which even though they have become a weary war of attrition, and as a result has entrenched friends and enemies.
Even by the standards of Camden’s political sharking, over all these years, however, I have rarely heard as much anger in the last 48 hours than the rage that is meeting Ms Gimson’s removal as the Bassetlaw candidates. Not all, but even among some members who are not really on the same page politically as Ms Gimson within the party see this as a ‘step too far’. There are also those who may agree that the NEC had to look at the complaints, but also say that this should’ve been resolved before she was allowed to stand for selection and then win the candidacy. We all knew there was an election coming.
Seriously, the fury is real, people have Whatsapped about how this will never be forgotten, that a line has been crossed.
Maybe it will die down, maybe it won’y, but some of the pro-Sally councillors are going to have go back to Labour group meetings in Camden and work with the same people who they believe helped contribute to Ms Gimson’s derailment. Those conflict resolution experts that council leader Councillor Georgia Gould is bringing in to heal the now barely-concealed divisions in the Labour group better come quick.
THE Labour Party’s deputy leader Tom Watson announced last night he was stepping down at the election. An excuse – any excuse – then to post his infamous (to me) appearance on Andrew Marr’s show.
WE reported today how Abi Wood has decided to call time on being a councillor, meaning there will be a council by-election in the Haverstock ward at the same time as the general election on December 12.
But does it end there? Conservative Henry Newman, a councillor in Frognal ward, has been shortlisted in the final three in the Mid Sussex seat, a prize opportunity given it’s a Tory ‘safey’ previously represented by Sir Nicholas Soames, although you know what happened there. If he wins the contest on Saturday – and some powerful people in the government will know doubt hope he will, after all that bag carrying for Michael Gove – Mr Newman will surely resign his council seat under the expectation of being an MP by Christmas.
Standing in his way are Mims Davies who is trying to switch constituencies from her seat in Eastleigh – the Lib Dems are loving what they see as a chicken run, but she insists it’s inspired by family reasons – and Virginia Crosbie.
I wonder what the belfie opportunities are like down there.
‘BROXTOWE FOR BREXIT’
LAST year, Calvin Robinson was one of the Conservative candidates unable to stop Labour taking the Tory-held Swiss Cottage council ward. A lot of water has clearly passed under the bridge. He’s now – as hinted on the pages a few days ago – launched a campaign as a Brexit Party candidate in Broxtowe, the constituency where Change UK’s Anna Soubry is deep danger of defeat.
FILL IN THE BLANKS
KEIR Starmer took the lead in the Camden New Journal’s GE2019 coverage today by virtue of being the only election candidate in Camden to hold a launch or a campaign event in the first week. The policy at the CNJ, broadly, has been over the years to cover the campaigns that put in the most effort and more importantly show signs of getting close to being elected. It’s only fair to the readers.
So if the candidate you like isn’t in the paper as much as you like, ask them what they have invited us too so far or whether they have covered every door in their constituency yet. In the Conservatives’ case, we don’t even know who the candidate in Holborn and St Pancras will be.
For fullness: I had a call from somebody who ‘is going to vote for Farage’ this afternoon, ‘but he’s never in the CNJ’. The Brexit Party has yet to tell me who is standing in either Hampstead and Kilburn or Holborn and St Pancras.
Election Daily back tomorrow