22 days to go
ABDUL: THE CHOSEN ONE
THE opposition candidates with the thankless task of chasing Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer in Holborn and St Pancras are hoping to take him on at some hustings before December 12, but are finding his election tour to other constituencies – he was in Scotland this week – has made it hard to fix a date.
When the candidates were invited to Westminster Kingsway College in King’s Cross this week, only three of them appeared. Mr Starmer sent in Camden councillor Abdul Hai to fill in; it’s interesting to see who he trusts to be his substitute.
Conservative candidate Alexandra Hayward also did not make it. This left the stage free for Lib Dem Matthew Kirk, the Green Party’s Kirsten de Keyser and the Brexit Party’s Hector Birchwood, pictured on his feet below.
NOBODY can argue that Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer has sat back and let it all happen in relation to the hated HS2 rail line. While the party nationally has been enthusiastic about the project, Mr Starmer has opposed it – the title of one of the passages on his latest leaflet. It reads defiantly: “Our country needs improved transport infrastructure but the new HS2 railway is not the answer.”
Residents facing 20 years of building work or those pushed out of their homes and businesses no doubt agree.
The day after the local leaflets arrived through letterboxes in Holborn and St Pancras, however, the Labour manifesto was released with a pledge to “unlock capacity and extend high-speed rail networks nationwide by completing the full HS2 route to Scotland, taking full account of the environmental impacts of different route options”.
So more HS2. Not less.
NOW SHE COMES
INTERESTING developments in Finchley and Golders Green where the under-threat Conservatives brought Theresa May to help the campaign this week.
There’s no need to reheat the old lines about why she did not come to Hampstead and Kilburn in 2017 – when the constituency was supposed to be a tight marginal she saved her prime ministerial campaign visits for other areas. Two years on, and she’s trying to dig some space on the ground for Mike Freer to keep his seat against pressure from new Lib Dem Luciana Berger and Labour’s Ross Houston; for the latter, campaigners there say it looks better than it might from the outside, raising the possibility that Ms Berger could be taking more votes from the Tories than Labour, changing the dynamic of the way the seat should be talked about.
On the doorstep, does Mrs May have the same pulling power with voters now she’s left Downing Street? The first drafts of history – the political obits and greyhound speed biographies – usually tell of a prime minister who could not find a way out of the Brexit maze, and as a result didn’t get much else done.
On Mr Freer, there are plenty of Hampstead Tories who wish the country could go a ‘fixed term’ without a general election so that the endlessly talked about boundary changes might shift the map in their favour. It wasn’t so long ago that we were talking about a Mike Freer vs Tulip Siddiq box office clash for the remnants of their razored constituencies. But the changes kept getting put off.
There are still Conservatives on our patch who now believe fortunes will never change, or might even get worse, until somebody redraws the playing area.
JOHNNY Luk’s “important moment” has been ruined. The Tory parliamentary candidate in Hampstead and Kilburn opened up a letter from Camden Council that confirms he has been entered into the election only to find his Chinese name had been spelt wrong.
WHILE Theresa May may divide opinion, so does one of the Lib Dems’ star guests in Hampstead and Kilburn this week. Steve Bray – Mr Stop Brexit – is normally heard on College Green outside the House of Parliament, making life difficult for newscasters. But on Wednesday he was using his megaphone on people at West Hampstead station.
Candidate Matt Sanders insisted everybody passing by enjoyed the fun, as he threatened to bring him back to the constituency again before the campaign is over.
CALL ME KATE
IF Labour are really rattled in Islington South, as some of the more excitable spectators in the right wing press suggested last week, then Emily Thornberry is doing a good job of hiding it. She’s also on an election tour to help out in other constituencies.
It had been claimed that some mystery private polling showed the Lib Dems could be in line for an ‘Ed Balls moment’ by unseating Ms Thornberry.
It would mean overturning a majority of more than 20,000. Lib Dem candidate Kate Pothalingam is having fun with the task though, releasing a ‘call me Kate’ video after the continual mispronunciation and misspelling of her name.
As we know from previous posts, Ms Pothalingam’s family have TWO Arsenal season tickets – very north London – so what’s the Spurs guy doing lost in Islington in this film? His attempt at her name is clearly the worst.
I HATE to keep directing you to the bookmakers office. It’s a road to ruin – stay away. Thing is, it does give a rough indication of how things are moving in the absence of polling. It was striking enough when the Tories were priced at 6-1, 7-1 and then 8-1 to take Hampstead and Kilburn. You can now get 12-1, right here in a constituency they lost by only 42 votes in 2010.