21 days to go
THE Green Party launched their local campaigns with a get-together under the bridge in Camden Gardens earlier. The message was that if people want to vote for them then they should do so without fearing that it will split the vote and allow a Brexiteer to win in either in Hampstead and Kilburn or Holborn and St Pancras. They are pretty honest about it being impossible to win here, but said a healthier Green vote would be a signal to the likely Labour winners that they need to take climate change seriously, not just with words but with actions too. It would also, of course, help with the platform needed for the lower hanging fruit at the London elections
In 2017, Labour’s Tulip Siddiq went to the Green Party and discussed whether they might consider stepping aside amid her party’s concerns for survival. The Greens ultimately did field a candidate but the fact everyone knew the discussions had taken place probably had some effect on people who support the party. Ms Siddiq’s fears were unfounded as she won a majority of more than 15,000 and this time has not been in touch.
“I think not this time,” said Sian Berry, the party’s co-leader, when asked if there was a risk for remainers that they could provide the Tories with a course to victory if they split the vote. “If there was, she [Ms Siddiq] would have come and talked to us, but she didn’t ask to.”
Ms Berry is particularly happy with the party’s pledge to create a universal basic income, which seems on the face of it even more left wing than Labour’s manifesto. And, you know, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour has been described – not by me – as ‘hard left’.
“We are certainly about transforming the country in a direction which is broadly socialist,” said Ms Berry, when asked if her party was more left wing than Labour.
“But we are a different kind of party from Labour. Labour is very top down, their Green New Deal is called the Green Industrial Revolution. If you look at Labour, you see a lot of top down organisation, a lot of committees made up of big wigs who decide what happens. We are very much more about community action and empowering people from the bottom up to solve our biggest problems.”
The party also unveiled Hunter Watts as their candidate for the Haverstock by-election, which will be held on the same day as the general election and follows Labour’s Abi Wood’s resignation from the council. He is pictured on the left with Kirsten de Keyser, the parliamentary candidate in Holborn and St Pancras, Ms Berry and David Stansell, who is standing in Hampstead and Kilburn.
Asked whether he thought a vote for the Greens could open the door for the Tories, Mr Stansell said: “Tulip did, let’s face it, a very good job at the last election by increasing her majority: She got a very high share of the vote. And we can see the so-called Lib Dem surge is not happening. I think they’ve made some strategic errors on the revocation option; I don’t want to slag them off, it’s just my personal opinion.”
He added: “Tulip has a good reputation, she’s done quite well, she’s met the needs and desires of constituents with regards to good old Brexit – turning up a day or two before she gave birth at the House of Commons for that key vote. I think people are quite loyal to her, so if people vote Green then it is very unlikely to let a Tory in. The Tories are in a solid third place and they are pretty toxic when I go around on the streets. Boris Johnson is viewed as a total liability and totally disconnected from people’s everyday lives across the whole of the constituency whatever group they come from.”
ONE thing which was slightly surprising, given the school walkouts and student protests, was the make-up of the Camden Greens who gathered in Camden Gardens for the launch. It wasn’t so much a youthquake as a woollyhatquake. The old theory goes that the older you get, the more conservative and Conservative you get. Maybe not in Camden. It might be the other way around.
Even in the Labour Party in Camden, some of the main players in the rebellious relations inside the local CLPs are feisty older members, rather than nextgen activists.
NOT IN CAMDEN ANY MORE
WHILE Conservative parliamentary election candidate Johnny Luk insists his party are ‘throwing the kitchen sink’ at Hampstead and Kilburn, local members are hardly on the beat round-the-clock. Take Councillor Gio Spinella, who of course hasn’t always seen eye to eye with some of his Hampstead colleagues and barely conceals his frustration with Boris Johnson and other Brexiteers.
Rather than canvassing in Camden, he was down in Stroud today helping out his former council colleague Siobhan Baillie, who looks set to be elected as a new MP there next month.
The former Swiss Cottage councillor Roger Freeman also made the trip west.
While the Conservatives are now 12-1 at the bookies to win in Hampstead and Kilburn, Ms Baillie – once shut out of a shortlist to be the parliamentary candidate here – is 1-3 to take the seat from Labour. There are people back in Camden who will be delighted for her, some less so. A lot happened behind the scenes – not all of it reported – during those times.
Little note: Lib Dems are back out to 3-1 to beat Ms Siddiq.
THE Conservatives’ struggles at May’s European elections in Hampstead and Kilburn have led some pro-Brexit tactical voting sites to advise that they should vote for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. One of the biggest, TacticalBrexit, has concluded that the “seat will almost certainly be won by the Labour party”, adding: “We recommend all Leave voters to vote Brexit Party in order to send as strong message as possible that Brexit must not be softened after the election.”