Election Daily: ‘It has broken my heart’

34 days to go

SALLY SIGNS OFF

IT seems like only yesterday that these pages were teasing Sally Gimson about waving around Jeremy Corbyn placards as she claimed the parliamentary selection in Bassetlaw, and now she has gone.

She has fought an unwinnable seat in the past for Labour, been crowded out of other selection contests and, back in the day, had to wait her turn to get a council seat after losing in Gospel Oak. She’s done some miles on her journey but it felt like she had now opened up her best shot at reaching the House of Commons.

But I don’t know how you come back from what has happened in the last few days. Stand in Haverstock? Of course not, they’ve already agreed that they need ‘conflict resolution experts’ to help sort out the Labour group. It’s going to be tougher work for those mediators now.

Maybe the much less  elbowy world of journalism (I jest), her first career, will claim Ms Gimson back.

As reported yesterday, the legal letters had been sent and it seemed a battle for her to be retained as the candidate was live, people were fund-raising for her in both Holborn and St Pancras and Bassetlaw. But today, she posted a statement declaring she will step away from this mess.

“I have decided not to risk my health and house in fighting the party I love,” she said. “I am so sad not to be able to have a chance to represent Bassetlaw. If I had fought and won the seat I would have been the first woman MP there. Many women I met were excited by the prospect – and I believe it is important that women like me are given the chance to fight seats like Bassetlaw.”

David Miliband, the former foreign secretary who we have to always mention went to Haverstock School, shared it with some breathless commentary: “The generosity of this statement is such a contrast with the people who cut down. I met her ten years ago and found her passionate, effective, committed. The truth is that while they have the power she has shown the strength. They must be afraid of her ideas.”

But the truth is there are some members in Camden who think David Miliband et al suck, but still think Ms Gimson has been treated shoddily.

Sure there are still people who say the complaints needed dealing with; some are making a stretched link with the other, more long-running disciplinary cases dealt with this week. But whoever’s side you are on, surely it should have been dealt with before Ms Gimson was even given the chance to run for the selection.

Ms Gimson says her heart is broken.

HAV A GO

ABI Wood’s decision to leave the council chamber opens the door for a new contestant but don’t expect the auditions to last too long. Labour will rush through the process by choosing someone by next Wednesday from the candidates who did not get elected at last year’s council elections. Like the those in the neighbouring Belsize ward such as James Calmus, Momota Khatoon and Sucharita Sethi, or maybe James Slater, the Countdown genius who was lively in Hampstead Town during the locals, and Becca Shirazi, who enjoyed her run in Frognal and Fitz. Maddy Raman is usually in the frame for these things too, although could be forgiven for not wanting to see another Camden Council ballot box again.The system closes the door for new candidates, however, so Holborn and St Pancras chair Sagal Abdi-Wali and others pushing for a step up would not be able to get involved.

The Lib Dems have won here in the past – Matt Sanders, now the Hampstead and Kilburn parliamentary candidate was one of the councillors – but not since Nick Clegg appeared in the Downing Street with David Cameron have they been able to repeat that success.

MARKET MOVERS

AT the last general election, a couple of Labour figures locally made a tasty profit by ‘lumping on’ Tulip Siddiq to win in Hampstead and Kilburn at the bookmakers, by which is meant they put down a LOT of money on short odds. A week ago, Ms Siddiq started off as the short odds favourite to hold her seat but Matt Sanders’ big yellow bar graph seems to have led to the bookies reassessing the state of play. The Liberal Democrats have now moved from 5-1 to 2-1, while Ms Siddiq has drifted to 4/6 with Ladbrokes. Usual advisories apply.

POWERS OF PERSUASION

IN 2015, the New Statesman raised the slightly puzzling theory that the Greens might stop Keir Starmer from becoming an MP. He went on to beat them by more than 20,000 votes. They have always given Hampstead and Kilburn a good show though. This week, they were live blogging from the doorstep with Lib Dem Matt Sanders. “The line that Matt Sanders is going for in H&K is that Labour can’t be trusted to stop Brexit, that Lab Remainers have failed and even if a candidate is personally a Remainer it isn’t enough,” they report. “On the doorsteps it was persuading a lot of people.”

LAURA AND THE LONDONER

AS you know from previous posts, one former Frognal and Fitz ward councillor and one current one will learn this weekend whether they have bagged safe seats for the general election. Henry Newman is hoping Mid Sussex pick him, while Laura Trott is in contention for Sevenoaks. Every time Ms Trott pops up for selection, however, it seems somebody somewhere tips something snippy to the press. Today’s Londoner’s Diary in the Evening Standard reminds Ms Trott of television punditry earlier this year with which she predicted that if Mr Johnson went to the polls “we would end up with Corbyn” and that she thought the Prime Minister would fail to get a new deal from the EU.

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