5 days to go
ATHIAN Akec, Camden’s ‘youth MP’, was praised for his well-rounded thought processes when he called for the legalisation of some drugs to help soothe street violence by removing the markets which feed it. NB: When the Lib Dems suggested the same thing, nobody in the ruling Labour group at the council seemed interested, but that’s one for another day. In the meantime, Athian appears in one of those ‘young lions’ style photo spreads in today’s The Times, a picture which sort of sets up the ‘Meet The British Gretas Thunbergs’ feature that follows.
Athian confirms in the article: “I think I want to be a politician”, adding: “I’m thinking of applying to do history at Cambridge next year. My school [Hampstead School in West Hampstead] sends nobody to Cambridge, but my history teacher went there, so he’s helping me. Maybe I’ll do a law conversion. My parents would be proud. Climate activism is the most frustrating work possible. You’re basically just generating a bunch of noise, but I keep doing it in the hope that something will change.”
I COULDN’T make the South Kilburn hustings earlier this week but it’s a little bit like a home fixture for Labour’s Tulip Siddiq, so the following will be of little surprise. The audience was asked to privately, and anonymously, jot down who they would vote for, after hearing them all speak at the Granville Community Kitchen. This isn’t one of the strongest parts of the constituencies for the Conservatives.
At the last general election, the eccentric independent candidate Rainbow George began his appearance at these same hustings by asking if anybody had not made up their minds about who they would supporting. Nobody raised their hand. “I’ve not got much to play for here, have I?”, he joked.
RETURN OF THIS GUY
NO words necessary as Mr Stop Brexit returns, this time to West Hampstead. Make up your own minds at home as to whether the wacky hat and magic megaphone is wearing thin as a device to capture attention. The Lib Dems insist passers-by loved him.
I’M going to keep reminding Conservative candidate Johnny Luk that he said he was “throwing the kitchen sink” at trying to beat Labour’s Tulip Siddiq in Hampstead and Kilburn… because, correct me if I’m wrong, he looks like he spent some of the last Saturday before the general election in Chipping Barnet where an operation to save Theresa Villiers in in full swing. The majority there is 353.
THE Observer goes big on tactical voting tomorrow, and even provides a map telling people who their best bet is if they want to stop Boris Johnson winning next week. Sadly for Labour, in both Finchley and Golders Green and Two Cities, the analysis suggests that remainers should vote for the Lib Dems – the former Labour MPs Luciana Berger and Chuka Umunna would be the beneficiaries.
If the Tories do end up holding the seats, however, there will be some angry totting up on the remain side to see if adding the Labour and Lib Dem votes together might have led to a different outcome in both parties’ quest to stop a Conservative MP ready to vote through the EU divorce deal getting elected.
You might think newspapers publishing a cut out guide on how to vote tactically has no real impact beyond a small number of voters. But tell that to the Tories who worked on Chris Philp’s Conservative campaign in 2010. Remember he lost to Glenda Jackson by just 42 votes. On polling day, however, the Daily Mail had urged Mr Philp’s supporters to “engineer a Labour defeat by switching to Lib Dem Ed Fordham”. There are still veteran Tories who believe this passage – which was promptly photographed and shoved through people’s doors by the Lib Dems – changed the course of history and cost them the constituency. More than 42 people would have been convinced to switch a Conservative vote to the Lib Dems after reading this advice, historians of the anecdote suggest.
IN the first post for this election, I suggested I was a little jealous that I was not reporting on a seat which was as close as Hampstead and Kilburn in 2010. FPTP gives only some local journalists the chance to have people guessing right to the end. Having said that, Camden Council has apparently had a large number of reporters asking for access to next week’s count. Obviously, many applicants were from the Bangladeshi media; watch out for those guys, they push and shove themselves into Tulip Siddiq’s face quite a lot. Italian and Danish journalists will also be in the press room.
WHO’S SUING WHO?
CAMDEN Council announced last month that it has begun legal action over the Chalcots estate fire safety crisis. Whether we will ever get to the bottom of who signed what off at the Town Hall before and after the work is sadly in some doubt, but the council is chasing down companies who worked on the evacuated tower blocks. One of the companies is Rydon, which as it happens has a subsidiary called Ryhurst which on Monday is at the High Court attempting to sue the Whittington Hospital over an abandoned land and property development deal. So, we have one public service trying to sue a company, whose linked firm is trying to sue another public service.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the case against the Whit (a case against the NHS) as the ‘height of absurdity’ when he appeared at a rally outside the hospital last week, urging Ryhurst to cancel their action.
Of course, as he popped inside the hospital, the footage shows he made sure he picked up his weekly copy of the Islington Tribune, our neighbouring borough’s best read local newspaper.
NOT A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
IN the Islington Tribune, Mr Corbyn would have read the views of his near neighbour, the Islington South MP and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, who was asked at a hustings event last week how closely ‘aligned’ she was to the leader’s politics.
“Jeremy and I are good friends and we have been for a long time. I agree with his politics and I agree with his outlook and I am very proud to be part of his team. We have discussions on issues behind closed doors which can be heated at times,” she said. “He is a man who works collectively. He isn’t a president. He doesn’t have a presidential style. This is not a presidential election. When people vote in these elections they are voting for Labour and the named candidate on the ballot paper. They are voting for a team and we are a team.”