Election Daily: Hot drinks

37 days to go

INDEPENDENT PHIL

ANYBODY who wants to stand in the council elections is running out of time to get themselves on the ballot paper. Nominations close on Tuesday and then we will see if there are any more independents willing to try and upset the norm. We already know that Phil Cowan, a well known community activist, is going for it in Primrose Hill. If you missed the interview when he first declared his intentions a few weeks back, it’s HERE.

Today, he was at the council dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, signing in officially as a candidate. It’s always a tough gig running as an independent – which is perhaps why some previous independents are now attached to political parties this time around. Nobody has managed to win ‘on their own’ – if that’s the right phrase – during my time.

You can find Phil outside Camden Town tube station helping to feed rough sleepers each week. Homelessness is a critical issue in Camden and you should’ve seen the CNJ‘s Isabelle Stanley’s regular explorations into the problem. Sadly, it is often the least read subject in the paper, but we persevere in highlighting the concerns, the tents on the street – and the deaths.

Phil isn’t out there with the soup for the votes – and, despite the scale of the problem, maybe there isn’t votes in this issue anyway. Cold as it may sound, but it’s not something you see much debate over; compared to fly-tipping or cycle lanes at least. When has any of our councillors or candidates written a letter to the CNJ in respond to or further Isabelle’s stories? It’s not often, and not often does anybody else.

Everybody knows ‘it’s bad’ – and I’m not suggesting anybody doesn’t care – but they have their own issues and problems; everybody is just trying to scratch a living.

You probably have to go back to Richard Cotton’s mayoral year since it was last a sharp focus and raised week in and week out.

Funnily enough, Mr Cowan won’t be up against Cllr Cotton, who has chosen the Camden Town wing of the ward after the boundary changes split of the territory.

Maybe that choice is itself a sign of where Primrose Hill is going on May 5; perhaps Lazzaro Pietragnoli would’ve moved to Haverstock ward – who. knows? – if he had not resigned last autumn. It would’ve been interesting to see how any of the existing Labour councillors tackled the new Primrose Hill borders.

The switcharound is a factor, I think Mr Cowan has suggested, that made it easier for the indy to stand in Primrose Hill, as he is up against a whole new slate of Labour and Tory opponents and not having to try and unseat anyone he has worked on campaigns with in the past or may have praised.

There has already been a word of warning from an old sage, though.

Former councillor Andrew Marshall, a Tory for a long time but a Lib Dem after the Brexit vote, tweeted this assessment of our interview with Mr Cowan: “What this doesn’t cover is how much of the new ward electorate looks to Swiss Cottage or indeed St John’s Wood or Englands’ Lane, not Primrose Hill village. Ward size always challenge for indy candidates.”

We’ve not too long to wait to find out.

DRINKING CHOCOLATE

WE learned yesterday how Starmer the charmer – ©Will Blair wins support within the party: ‘Drinking chocolate’. I think that means a hot chocolate, but the details were revealed by Labour councillor Simon Pearson – one of ‘The Seven’ – in a letter to the CNJ in which he was still arguing about how Labour should define anti-semitism and the frustration with the selections/deselections process endorsed by the leader.

“Back in 2014 when a hitherto apolitical Sir Keir Starmer was seeking selection as a parliamentary candidate, as a local branch chair I was one of the first people Keir came to seeking support, I recall he even bought me a drinking chocolate,” he wrote.

“Now he is quite happy to dismiss me and other councillors as not delivering what is best for Camden, even though election literature I have seen takes pride in achievements that we have brought about. A funny old world.”

JUST FOOLIN’

WELL done to the Labour councillor who briefly got me, and I gather others, by setting a Whatsapp hare running this morning that Oliver Cooper – the leader of the Conservatives – had suddenly resigned. Luckily, we don’t rush all this gossip to web. Cllr Cooper, rest assured, is very much standing again. He lines up among the Tory candidates in Belsize.

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