IN the poker game for the Labour parliamentary selection in Hampstead and Kilburn, out-there candidates Tulip Siddiq and Sally Gimson are about to be told ‘I see your Neil Kinnock and Tristram Hunt endorsements, and I raise you… Margaret Hodge and David Blunkett’.
This will come as Sophie Linden, Mr Blunkett’s former special adviser and a cabinet councillor in Hackney, makes official the long-running rumour that she will throw her hat into the ring here. Among her list of endorsements, she also claims Gavin Millar QC, who would presumably have otherwise been backing his sister, Fiona, had she not stepped away from the contest to find a replacement for Glenda Jackson.
Sophie – her challenge in H&K might be how best she presents her work with the Blair governments among those Labour members in the north of the borough who still haven’t forgiven the former Prime Minister for one or two things – says: “For me politics is not a choice but a way of life. I joined the Labour Party when I was 16 appalled at the inequality of Thatcher’s Britain.”
WITH Labour and the Liberal Democrats still working out who will stand in the Hampstead and Kilburn parliamentary constituency at the next General Election, you can’t blame Conservative candidate Simon Marcus for getting some plugs in for himself while he’s the only name on the slate. Now, the Tories must feel, is the chance to get the jump on whoever his opponents will be.
So here come some of the first of the 2015 General Election leaflets for the people of Hampstead to digest… and like night follows day, it features a bar graph.
And what a bar graph!
A classic for connoisseurs of this kind of stuff.
Despite losing the vote in Hampstead and Kilburn in 2010 by 42 votes, the blue bar still appears higher than the Labour one. Of course, a closer look shows that the Tory bar is not level with the Labour one at the base.
The Lib Dems, who came a close third last, might also wonder what scale the graph is running to. It casts them as quite a big chunk behind.
So, here we go, people, eyes down again. It looks like the old local theory is back in play: All’s fair in love and war, and election leaflets.
CAMDEN is set to re-appoint the original rock ‘n’ roll Mayor Jonathan Simpson as its first citizen tonight. He championed live music during his first stint a couple of years ago and the Labour group, despite some resistance from the Lib Dems, are supporting his nomination for another turn. Colleagues are impressed with what he has planned in terms of fund-raising over the next 12 months.
But before tonight’s mayor-making event, normally a convivial affair where political rivalries are suspended, extra supplies of green tea are on order. One of his supporters sends me a look at one Jonathan’s updates on Facebook yesterday which suggest, as he prepares for his big night at the Town Hall, he was “very close to morphing in to Malcolm Tucker” after what sounds like an unexpectedly spiky call from a reporter. Who knows which journalist? Wazzznt me.
COUNCIL leader Sarah Hayward is not shy when it comes to television work. She must have a taste for it after appearing on the local BBC news programmes, live on Sky News and in one of Newsnight‘s debating chairs already this year. Yet you wonder what she must have been thinking when the cameras stopped rolling on her head-to-head with the Tax Payers Alliance’s Robert Oxley last week.
In Channel 5′s neon news disco, the pair, perched on boy band stools, did several rounds of: ‘No, you’re wrong’, ‘no, you’re wrong’. And that was about it. The TPA say Camden pays 40 people more than £100,000 a year. Sarah and Co say it’s actually 16, and they work hard to get it.
Whatever side of the debate you’re on, this bit of television, a rage over what an unseen piece of paper off camera may or may not tell us about Camden’s accounts, gets pretty tetchy and soon the terms have been upgraded to ‘lying’ and ‘frankly ridiculous’.
The two sides have had this argument before and the TPA say Camden could be more helpful with the figures when they ask. The council say it was one of the first local authorities to take action over senior pay and chief executive Mike Cooke gets a lighter pay packet than his predecessor Moira Gibb as result. By the time Channel 5 switched to something else, there was definitely a sense – with the age old ‘who should earn more than the Prime Minister’ debate forever unsettled – of same time next year?
Once is enough, but Fitzrovia News has uploaded the footage for anybody who hasn’t seen it yet.
Or a big tree. Then we were happy loads of buskers turned up on the new paving stones. And then we weren’t happy loads of buskers turned up at our new public space.
It’s hard to argue against the improvement a flat, pedestrianised space outside Camden Town and the HSBC bank has made… but it’s a bit like the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square, it’s not quite clear what should be placed at this natural meeting point. In the absence of anything, the beatboxers have had a wonderful time. And looking out there on a rainy May lunchtime, was it all really done to provide a place for Coke to put down a flag and spread the word about sugar free cola? Free cans for all.
The red colour scheme splendidly matches with the KFC pennants draped from the lampposts in NW1, but still… we could have had a disco maypole.
NOT unlike their Labour counterparts, Camden’s Conservative group at the Town Hall has a bit of a tradition for having councillors with one eye on a parliamentary campaign. In recent years, Chris Philp, Brian Cattell and Andrew Marshall (who is still on the council) have all given it a shot in recent times while holding a seat here. Then there was Andrew Mennear’s near miss in 2005 when he was just 741 votes away from unseating Rudi Vis in Finchley and Golders Green. The seat turned Tory at the next election, kinda underlining how close he had come to escaping council politics for a seat with the big boys and girls.
But what of the current crop? Simon Marcus is already gunning for Hampstead and Kilburn and we wait to see what happens with the familiar gossip about the well-connected (and well-respected) Laura Trott possibly having a future on the Commons’ green benches.
And then there’s Dynamite Don Williams (pictured above, right). The rumour has it that local finance man for the Conservatives, growing with confidence with every Town Hall speech, is apparently keeping tabs on the Westminster North constituency, an interesting electoral battleground where Labour’s Karen Buck held off the challenge from Joanne Cash last time out.
Buck vs Williams, it’d be a classic tussle for colleagues on the West End Extra to cover, but all he tells me is: ”I’m happy working hard in Swiss Cottage.”
LABOUR London Assembly member Murad Qureshi likes very much to give it the big-I-am when it comes to supporting Manchester United. In fact, he is one of the leading members of the Labour Party’s Glory-Glory Manchester United (LONDON) Supporters Society. He’s forever banging on about this goal or that goal, and seemed quite emotional at Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. “Irreplacable”, was his breathless verdict. Poor lad. He’s taking it badly.
Yet is he living a lie? Is Murad actually a Fulham fan? A look at his gifts and hospitality register at City Hall finds him with a free ticket to not just one match at Craven Cottage, not two, but three games this season. All laid on, the register says, by Paul Dimoldenberg, one of the founders of Quatro PR (and a Labour councillor in Westminster). Not bad, this supporting your local team stuff.