24 days to go
NOT QUITE DAILY
OK, so not so election daily, but that’s because it’s all got a little pacier with this election campaign and, folks, we’ve got a newspaper to produce as well. Since I last wrote, we’ve had two big hustings, the release of the final candidate list and the bonus full council meeting. Plus: I’m still trying to transcribe Conservative activist Nic Careem’s
speech question from the hustings audience in West Hampstead last Thursday evening… it went on that long. The main feedback I have had during the pause was ‘can you make the text bigger?’ – perhaps a clue to the demography of the audience for this gear.
COUNCILLOR… WRIGHT, WRIGHT, WRIGHT
Just in case you didn’t see Sabrina Francis’ powerful contribution to last week’s full council meeting, see the full thing above
WE don’t know who is going to be the next mayor of Camden, but even if she is re-elected in Highgate – you can bet your lunch money on it not being the current deputy Lorna Russell. The tradition has it that the deputy is promoted to the main gig the following year, but that chance was sacrificed for Cllr Russell when she defected from Labour to the Greens last autumn. Labour is not wiling to share the mayoralty, even though it was happy to do so when in opposition; Nurul Islam was appointed during the Lib Dem and Tory coalition between 2006 to 2010.
Whoever is chosen, inevitably by the Labour group, will be in the hotseat for chairing four years of full council meetings. They’ll have a job on their hands in the supremely unlikely* likelihood of ALL of the following happening: the Lib Dems win two seats in Haverstock and one in Camden Town, the Tories have some joy in King’s Cross and South Hampstead, the Workers Party get a seat in Somers Town and the Greens also score in Camden Town + Primrose Hill ends up one Labour and two Tories
For that could leave us with two Councillor Coopers in the council chambers, two Miahs, three Wrights, two De Morais’, two Frasers, two Russells, two Parkinsons, two Greenwoods and two Frasers. Other scenarios could see two Kirks and two Frosts elected. Good luck to the next Mayor…
IF you want to vote Green on May 5, you may find yourself unable to do so depending on where you live in the borough. In 2018, the party stood candidates in every ward apart from Regent’s Park. If you go back to the 2010, there was a ‘full slate’. There are no deposits to be lost at this election, so the main parties are usually able to scrabble together enough WAGs and HABs (see above) to have coverage across the borough with the ‘paper candidates’.
But the Greens have only managed to put up 12 candidates (three of them are in Highgate) for these elections across Camden as a whole. This includes the late recruitment of Alex Smith and Peter McGinty, the Camley Street campaigners who were trying to form their own party but ultimately were unable to get the paperwork sorted in time.
LIKE MOTHER, LIKE SON
THERE’S another family link to spot in the Tory line-up: Richard Hayward stands in Bloomsbury. No, he’s not related to former council leader, Sarah – he’s actually Alexandra Hayward’s son. You may remember Ms Hayward (above) from her briefish stint standing against Sir Keir Starmer in the Holborn and St Pancras parliamentary constituency in 2019.
LOCAL CONSERVATIVES FOR LOCAL PEOPLE
YOU will know by now that when you see the ballot paper in the polling stations on May 5, it will not simply say ‘The Conservative Party’ next to the Tory candidates. No, these are the ‘Local Conservatives’.
Not, then, those National Conservatives: the ones awkwardly being pursued over whether or not they partied in Downing Street while we were all on lockdown, and if the chancellor and the chancellor’s wife’s tax affairs are arranged in the right spirit.
Oliver Cooper and Co have been for a long time veeb following the ‘policy’ that they are only prepared to comment on issues that local councillors can have a direct influence. Readers may remember it helped anybody who supported Brexit – in a borough where the figures show most people didn’t – avoiding to have to publicly nail their colours to the Leave mast.
TALKING of Lorna Russell’s defection above, surely the Lib Dems haven’t forgotten the front page story about her side-switching? Their latest ‘it’s a two horse’ race leaflet is already a history relic, suggesting as it does that two Labour councillors are still in place in Fortune Green. The NW neighbourhood is actually the only ward – for now – represented by three parties: Labour, Lib Dem and Green.
APPEARING at a hustings last week, Georgia Gould, the council leader, was answering questions on the future of the 02 Centre site when she flipped it and brought up the hole at 100 Avenue Road as a comparison. This is where the existing buildings have been knocked down already, but work on Essential Living’s tower of luxury flats has stalled.
She blamed the Conservative Secretary of State (it was Greg Hands wot dunnit) for overruling Camden Council’s initial rejection of the scheme. The same riff came up at the West Hampstead Amenity and Transport group’s hustings on Thursday night: Why-oh-why, did the Tory Secretary of State overrule our opposition etcetera etcetera? The strength of that initial, much-celebrated opposition at the Town Hall to the Swiss Cottage skyscraper is interesting to note, especially if you rewind the tape back to the night of the very first planning meeting. It’s long time ago now, but the record shows that more Labour councillors either voted for the plans or abstained, than the number that actually voted against it.
The blame game can run all night on this one. In the meantime, the hole is a big hole.
CLLR Gould and London Assembly member Anne Clarke were among the main guests at Labour’s capital wide election launch on Friday, as Sir Keir Starmer and Sadiq Khan appeared to give ‘rousing’ pep talks to the activists knocking on doors for these elections.
It’s understandable they chose Barnet as the location as the election over there is so much closer than the one we will observe in Camden. That said, given the identity of the local speakers who were front and centre, we will have to assume the New Journal‘s invitation simply got lost in the post.
To cover the event, we were asked to make do with a press release and photos. Surely, we are not still on the naughty step for asking about deselected candidates?
IT was good to see that that doyenne of the local Liberal Democrats is not disappearing from the scene even if she is no longer a councilor. One moment she was in a chair watching hustings at the synagogue in Dennington Road on Thursday, the next Flick Rea was suddenly up like a whippet explaining the ins and out of planning law and advising against any candidate publicly stating how they would vote on the 02 Centre proposals. You can take the girl out of Camden Council’s planning meetings but you can’t... or something like that.