29 days to go
LABOUR selected their candidate for the Haverstock by-election this evening (Wednesday), with members in the ward backing Gail McAnena Wood. This has been seen as a selection victory for the left of the party. Ms McAnena Wood had been one of the three candidates who kicked up the Tory turf in Frognal & Fitzjohns at last year’s council elections. They didn’t win in the Conservative-held ward but did better than expected after a campaign which both puzzled and impressed colleagues, depending on where they thought resources were best allocated.
You already knew from these pages that Jack Fleming is standing for the Lib Dems and Catherine McQueen is running for the Tories. No word from the Green yet. As alliances are in vogue and if they are fed up with the size of the Labour majority at the Town Hall maybe they could step aside and form an ‘anti-one-party-state-alliance’.
VOTES AT 16
THE government resisted the idea of quickly lowering the voting age before this general election, but did nobody tell Conservative candidate Jonny Luk? He has spent campaign time visiting South Hampstead High School to reassure them that Labour’s proposed reforms of private schools will not come to pass. His Labour rival Tulip Siddiq gave a lukewarm response to the idea when it was raised at her party’s conference in Brighton but she did say that she thought independent schools should pay more tax.
OLD BILL KNOCKING
THERE’S a piece in tomorrow’s CNJ about the gusto with which the Liberal Democrats are treating Hampstead and Kilburn. Matt Sanders will tell you that it is impossible that the ‘remain vote’ will be split to the extent that Mr Luk can slip through and win: the calculation there is that he insists the Tories cannot advance much past the 25 percent who voted to leave the EU in the referendum, leaving 75 percent to play for… which cannot be divided into two portions less than 25.
It’s a bit of a mouthful on the doorstep but he’s going with it. Labour, while insisting that it’s just between them and the Tories, are questioning why the Lib Dems are pushing it so ‘aggressively’ when there are Brexit-supporting MPs elsewhere that could be targeted. Gina Miller, the Brexit-fighting businesswoman, has now officially endorsed Tulip Siddiq amid the different messages about tactical voting.
Doorknocking Lib Dems, however, had a particularly favourable time in the Hampstead part of the constituency on Monday evening. I observed on the understanding that I would not report who they were speaking to and at which door, although I only followed with the assurance that there weren’t stooges behind the doors. Lord Brian Paddick was there too, getting stuck into the canvassing.
From what I saw, this is good ground for Ms Siddiq’s opponents: some of those who said they had supported Labour in the past, or even liked Ms Siddiq personally, said they could not vote for her this time because of either Labour’s performance on Brexit or their belief that anti-semitism was rife in the party. There was talk of Tories lending their votes for one election too.
We have been here before though. This isn’t a Labour ward, and it’s a big wider constituency which usually isn’t won or lost in the affluent roads in Hampstead. Canvassers I have spoken to from both the Lib Dems and Labour have said that you can spend 15 minutes per door talking about withdrawal agreements in Hampstead and put the voter down as positive or a maybe, but in the estates in south Kilburn people who answer the door want answers to more urgent and immediate issues to do with public service cuts and, that chief topic, housing.
WHEN people talk about whether Sir Keir Starmer will one day lead the Labour Party, some of the alert signals that are raised is that the party won’t go for another man from north London and that he speaks too much like a lawyer.
In his relatively brief time as MP, he has actually stopped sounding so much like he is addressing a courtroom (which makes it easier to get down quotes) and occasionally lets his sense of humour out. This week, in between the textbook election attack line tweets which all candidates put out, he retweeted his appearance in Franny Armstrong’s film about the McLibel trial with the self-deprecating gag: This is what I looked like before Brexit!
In the replies, the youthful Mr Starmer was compared to Egg from This Life, tennis player Dominic Thiem, musicals actor Patrick Wilson, comic Ed Gamble and Rimmer from Red Dwarf.
AND NOW FOR TONIGHT’S LATE FILM
IF you can’t wait for election night, get yourself in the mood by watching eight and half hours of webcam footage from the last count, left online by Sky. Spot yourself, and see who was supporting who two years ago.