33 days to go
AN ORDER FROM ABOVE
THE Tories… whisper it… may finally have a candidate in Holborn and St Pancras, although it has not turned out as expected for the activists still flying the flag in the south of the borough. The party has been training up some potential candidates for several months, from which Will Hall was expected to be chosen to stand against Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer, Lib Dem Matthew Kirk and the Greens’ Kirsten de Kessler.
But today they learned there will be no selection contest. Instead, the party is naming the candidate themselves – or ‘imposing’ them, as it was described today.
Step forward then Alex Hayward, a councillor from the Three Rivers area, near Chorleywood, who was said this afternoon to be the chosen one.
Nobody locally was immediately aware of a link to Camden, although the party is understood to have been keen that a woman would stand here this time. Needless to say, as with any imposition, there is some frustration among the membership that Ms Hayward will now be expected to pick up the ropes quickly if she is to effectively lead the campaign in the constituency, which was already an unenviable task given Mr Starmer’s gigantic majority.
Will Hall knows the patch and was keen to do it. Ben Tansey, who missed out to Johnny Luk in Hampstead and Kilburn, had also been a possible candidate. All of this has been done under ‘snap election’ rules, however, meaning normal procedure did not need to be followed. No vote for the members.
The added internal frustration is bubbling around the question as to why the party did not pick a candidate at the same time as Mr Luk was selected. Everybody knew an election was coming and there were locals ready to fight it.
The Conservatives are realistic of course to know this is not a target seat on December 12, but the importance of a reasonable performance should not be taken lightly. Into the New Year, Shaun Bailey will be asking all Londoners for their vote in the mayoral elections and London Assembly candidate Roberto Weeden Sanz will also not want people in Camden thinking the Tories have given up on them.
THE LIB DEMS HAVE A CANDIDATE TOO!
HAVING once held three seats in the ward, the Liberal Democrats will be hoping to make inroads in the Haverstock by-election following the resignation of Labour’s Abi Wood. They have swiftly appointed a candidate: Jack Fleming, a choir-singing charity worker, pictured on the left of the Lib Dem doorknock photo last night.
THEY may not have met across a hustings yet, but best of enemies Tulip Siddiq, the Labour parliamentary candidate defending Hampstead and Kilburn, and Tory rival Jonny Luk were all smiles after running into each other at the same lunch spot earlier.
“By coincidence, Tulip Siddiq and I are having lunch in the same place today,” he said. “We may have very large political differences but it’s a good sign that we can run a democratic campaign and still be respectful to each other. We need more of this in our politics.”
Let’s see if they can keep that up, or whether someone in the Conservative party at some point decides to get personal and mention the famous aunt, the scrap with Channel 4, and so on. Her opponents haven’t always been able to resist that temptation.
JOHN Mann, who virtually changed his Twitter handle to ‘LordJohnMann’ the milisecond he entered the unelected second chamber, has slightly become a parody of himself. Now, it’s Keir Starmer’s turn for the furious tweets after the debacle in Bassetlaw. I wonder what people did before furious tweets.
Mr Starmer had endorsed Sally Gimson’s selection in Bassetlaw, which she won – only to then be removed due to complaints things about things that may or may not have happened in CLP meetings in his Holborn and St Pancras patch.
“Sad to see Sally Gimson arrive home from Bassetlaw,” he tweeted in more considered tone. “A dedicated woman of principle, who always speaks up for those least heard. In public or in private unflinchingly considerate and respectful. Proud to have endorsed her.”
In between helping to launch dozens of other people’s campaigns, Mr Starmer is also known to have raised Ms Gimson’s case behind the scenes.
On top of her statement yesterday in which she honestly said that her heart is broken, Ms Gimson today writes on the “brutality” she has felt on the New Statesman‘s site.
TULIP Siddiq looks, from the look of her campaign leaflets at least, like she is going Corbyn free again for this election and playing on her personal vote in Hampstead and Kilburn… as the one who fights Brexit on all fronts.
It’s her name on all the pledges – Tulip, Tulip, Tulip – and a plea to judge her on her record; that’s code for judge me on my stance to things like anti-semitism and not that of others in the party. It includes her promise to never vote for any Brexit deal as well, an offer which you won’t see on Labour leaflets in every part of the country.
The one we tease her about every election, however, is the insistence that she grew up here.
There’s no doubting she’s been in Camden for a long, long time: she did her time in a lot of thankless council meetings, got married and had her babies at the Free. But her own blog says she “moved to the UK when she was 16”. So I guess, it depends what we all mean by ‘growing up’.
CORRECTION: This post said that Ms Siddiq went to a school in south London, when she actually went to the prestigious Royal School in Hampstead.
WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER
IT’S back to Frognal – for now – for Henry Newman, who this evening missed out on selection in the prize seat of Mid Sussex. He was beaten to the safe seat selection by Mims Davies, the chicken runner MP who had just given up her seat in Lib Dem threatened Eastleigh. Bit of a stinger, but no doubt he’ll get there one day.