Election Daily: Former Lib Dem ‘eco-champion’ votes for Labour

3 days to go


AS was always likely, a lot of the things that Camden Council is talking about now with great enthusiasm on climate change were actually being said ten years ago in the Town Hall chamber by the borough’s first ‘eco-champion’. Alexis Rowell had been among the Liberal Democrat councillors who first pushed the Tories out of Belsize. He warned of a climate emergency and how Camden was not doing enough to respond: everything, he said, should be looked at through the lens of the crisis. Sound familiar?

In return, the Labour benches called him ‘Nut Roast’ and in some cases mocked his gusto with the another nickname: ‘the ego-champion’. They didn’t like being lectured by know-it-all.

Sometimes he was hard to talk to and you did feel a little patronised, a feeling shared by some in the Lib Dem group itself, who he eventually grew frustrated with. He moved away, supported the Greens, moved again… and now he’s back in the pages of the Guardian no less, reminding everybody of his past exploits on the council. Signing off as a former Lib Dem councillor, Mr Rowell wrote in the letters page that he was getting behind Labour at this election.

“I’ve just voted for Labour for the first time since before the Iraq war,” he said. “Sadly my postal vote won’t count for much (like the vast majority of all ballots cast under the UK electoral system) because it’s in a safe Conservative constituency. But still it felt important to make a symbolic statement. I backed Labour because their manifesto begins to draw the outlines of an ecological socialism I feel I can support. Plus it seems to me that Labour has the only sensible, grown-up policy on Brexit: renegotiate a softer version and put that or remain to the vote.”

Then he added: “But the main reason I voted for Labour was to support Jeremy Corbyn, who has been most unfairly attacked from all sides since he became leader. In the end I asked myself: “Who do you want in charge?” A narcissistic liar, born with a silver spoon in his mouth, who would Trumpify the UK? Or someone who has been right on virtually every major issue of the last 40 years, who believes in collegiate leadership and who would rather tend his allotment than betray his principles or enrich himself through politics? The answer seemed very clear


WILDLIFE presenter Bill Oddie, who lives in Hampstead, announced that he would be voting for the Greens ahead of the 2015 election. These days, his tweets are full of riddles but he’s pretty clear he won’t be voting for the Conservatives.


THE Royal Mail offers every candidate one free mailout at each election, which is why you may have got election literature last week from parties who aren’t even campaigning hard on the doorstep. The Conservatives almost missed this priceless offer after a glitch at CCHQ affected several constituencies including Hampstead and Kilburn. The usual tactic is to get this freepost on the doormat right before people who use postal votes make their choice. The delay from central office meant people had already started voting by the time the leaflets finally started reaching residents on Saturday. Tory candidates and local campaigns across the country have expressed their frustration internally.


THE award for optimist of the election goes to… drum roll.. David Brescia. The former Camden council election candidate is standing for election against Labour’s Dawn Butler in Brent Central. Of course, few candidates are willing to say they don’t stand a chance of victory when… everybody knows they don’t stand a chance of victory. But Mr Brescia seems so convinced in the Ham & High that he is in with a shot.

“I’ve spoken to former Liberal Democrat voters who voted Remain but consider the Lib Dems’ current position of refusing to accept the referendum result as ‘undemocratic’,” he insists as he lists all of the parties he will take votes from: Labour because of Corbyn and anti-semitism and the Greens because apparently they like the Conservative approach to the environment. He is 27,000 votes behind, but, hey, Tottenham got the Champions League final, so I guess anything could happen.


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