LIKE there’s never been a typo or two or seventy in the Comden Nwe Jouranl.. But come on Conservative website team, it might not be a chief target but you can’t spell Cantelowes like that. Cantalose – that’s just guessing.


Oops! Another minor mishap

SORRY: Two in one day for the Tories.. but just try loading up for a minute. The address sounds like it’s going to be the big website for Tories in the south of Camden but give it a read and it’s stuck in a timewarp. Margot James, not George Lee, is still announced as the parliamentary candidate for Holborn and St Pancras.

James lost against Frank Dobson in 2005 but deffo now mixing it with the top rank is now settling down for an easy run to Parliament in a safe seat elsewhere (She’s Ms Important in the Tory party these days, saw her looking the part on The Andrew Marr Show the other day).

The remnants of her days in Camden can nevertheless still be seen at and revives memories of a campaign which failed do Dobson too much damage. As the screenshot below, pulled from the site tonight, shows (if it makes you squint, click on it for a bigger version). For some reason, she did odd things like conjure up her own name for Camden School for Girls in Camden Town, repeatedly referring it to by the American-sounding Camden High. Like it was a something out of a teen cheerleader book.

In the website text, she puzzles about why all schools can’t be as wonderful as Camden High. That’s a whole different story, a debate for a different day.

(Btw: For the new and fully up to date, supersmart website, you can check George’s progress by clicking this sentence)

Margot James website

Pilgrim’s wotsit


I THINK in the modern parlance of Twitter this might be called something like #toryfail, a minor error unnecessarily amplified in the run up to the elections.

Perhaps anxious to show how much they care about Hampstead Town ward – a neighbourhood which will see Conservative and Liberal Democrats do battle in council voting on May 6 – sitting councillors Chris Knight and Kirsty Roberts delivered leaflets door-to-door showing their fighting spirit against a divisive planning application in Worsley Court this morning.

“We shall be writing to object to these proposals,” they say in the circular addressed to residents of Willow Road and Pilgrim’s Road.

Pilgrim’s Road? There hasn’t been a Pilgrim’s Road around here for, why, 50 years… I think you will find, Monsieur Knight, the road you wanted there was Pilgrim’s Lane. A small point, but one that hasn’t gone unnoticed in the street.

Eco-Champion: The sequel

CAMDEN Council’s energetic ‘eco-champion’ Alexis Rowell is not standing for re-election in Belsize ward but the Liberal Democrats I’ve spoken too don’t seem to think it’s a major crisis for their first team. I gather there are plans to appoint a new ‘eco-champion’ in the next administration who would work alongside a new ‘executive member for sustainability’ at the Town Hall, should the party maintain its hefty share of power at the May 6 elections. In fact, the Lib Dems are planning a greener than ever agenda for the post-Rowell era which will aim to cut carbon emissions across Camden by 40 percent by 2020.

Bicycles don’t grow on trees

Bike promo pic

CAMDEN is to become ‘the first authority  in the country’ to use a new invention which turns lampposts instantly into locking stations for bicycles. I know so because we got the press release last week. Sounds like a decent idea, but has someone somewhere overegged the problem of finding somewhere to lock up your bike. The picture above came with the press release, apparently to illustrate what can happen if there is nowhere to go. Who’d have thought people were, from the look of this, hiding their bikes in trees?

Ed M keeps the press onside

IS ED Miliband now the man who the Camden Labour Party think is now the acceptable face of their government for switched-on voters in the area? The environment minister’s not such a bad bet and so was called into launch the party’s manifesto for council elections on May 6 at the London Irish Centre on Friday night. His delivery was a measured battle cry.

Four years ago in the same room it was Alastair Campbell who did the honours. He was a livelier speaker than Miliband. I remember him rambling out anecdotes about his own experiences with the British Lions rugby team and confidently threw out funny line after funny line. I can’t recall the words but there was also a barb at the New Journal’s coverage that had the hall in hysterics.

Shame for those laughing was that Campbell’s appearance at the 2006 launch was later claimed to have done more harm than good for the council candidates. Campbell’s connection with Tony Blair and Iraq was apparently too much to stomach at a time when the war was a gaping electoral wound.

I don’t know about that,” Ed Miliband nonetheless told me on Friday night. “I think Alastair Campbell is a great guy. I’m local and I was happy to do it. We have a dynamic team here.” (He had actually also stressed he was local in his speech from the stage, in fact he mentioned he went to Primrose Hill Primary School – the one near to his brother David’s home that isn’t so well used by the Miliband clan these days)

Miliband was generous with his time, as approachable as he was adept at sidestepping the awkward questions and pushing through the good news. He certainly wasn’t making enemies with the local press during a tour of the borough that seemed to last all day. Visiting Fitzjohns Primary School in the afternoon, he ran into a Ham & High reporter. The paper filed a quick web report which said:  “The Dartmouth Park resident said he is a regular Ham&High reader and as a child he once featured in a photograph in the paper playing backgammon with his brother David in a competition.”

Fast forward a few hours and to the Irish Centre, it was my turn to shake his hand and the Camden New Journal’s turn for some flattery. After introducing myself, Ed said: “Ah, I was with your competitors earlier today I’m afraid. Obviously, obviously it’s the Camden New Journal I always read. I mean the Ham&High is still charging.”

I wondered if he had said anything as spiky about the New Journal to the Ham & High. Who knows? I guess if it had still been Campbell working this job he would have told both papers to our faces how we were getting it all wrong.

Happy Birthday Keith

Keith MoffittEVERY local politician, candidate and helper must now, by election law, spend every night from now until May 6 stuffing envelopes with leaflets. But Keith Moffitt is entitled to a night off. It’s his birthday! The Liberal Democrat leader of Camden Council hits the big five-seven today. I wonder if he thinks four years in the big office at the Town Hall has aged him, but he’s not doing too bad on five and half decades is he?

I had Keith down as ten years younger.. but then appearances can be deceptive. The Conservative councillor Keith Sedgwick told me he had pegged at 45 when I met him on Monday night. Cheeky.

Paolo Wauchope

A COUPLE of people asked why I signed off a post about Camden’s former Conservative leader Piers Wauchope’s admiration for Sian Berry with the words: ‘Calm down, Paolo’. The answer isn’t thrilling.

When Piers was in Camden, councillors on the Labour benches nicknamed him ‘Paolo Wanchope’ after a gangly Costa Rican footballer, a bit of a cult striker who played for Derby, Manchester City and West Ham. He once scored an amazing goal against Manchester United. The contrast between the two men made his opponents laugh. And that’s it. That’s the joke.

You might not think it hilarious, but I’m told it did catch on in the Town Hall corridors.

Piers Wauchope

Paolo Wanchope

Piers Wauchope

Face to face with the next Prime Minister?

David Cameron at Saga eventYOU know all this already – but oh my days (as the kids say on the top deck of the 253 bus) tonight was a timely eye-opener for me… Dave is much slicker than I realised.

My first time in the same room as David Cameron was a lesson in quick-talking political PR. No wonder Labour, unfairly or not, cast him as a salesman. With a note perfect routine, he clearly left the lecture hall at the Wellcome Institute in Euston enchanted as he took unseen questions from Saga readers, and what seemed like a few starstruck party members as well.

And although polls show a narrowing and a Tory lead apparently drifting, there was a rhythm with Cameron tonight, a gathering of pace to it all, which should still deeply worry Labour’s campaign team. He despatched questions  like a tennis player having gimmes lobbed up to him in the warm-up. Some of them were gimmes, but, still, he smashed them away.

His energy, whether Labour think voters will see it as bluster or a breath of fresh air, has to be matched in some way if Brown is to survive.

It’s true Cameron bounced away questions that he had no answers to tonight, like where crucial budget cuts will slice in a Tory government’s first year. But here is a man who has swallowed the media training manual, capable of wheeling away from trouble and dancing back onto the front foot in a blink. He doesn’t forget his lines and his mind is clearly bubbling with possible lines of attack. He knows how to quickly douse the fire. We didn’t hear too many new policies, but here was a powerful reminder of how the masters of appearance and presentation often get the best positions on the starting grid.

Kermit and Gonzo: Voting Glenda?

WE all know Hampstead and Highgate MP Glenda Jackson used to be an actress.. but it doesn’t do us any harm to remind ourselves every now and again of the gusto and relish she used to throw into that former life. They say she hasn’t been energetic enough in her local campaigning recently, but look at her go in this classic clip… could she still send Chris Philp and Ed Fordham to walk the plank?