The Lib Dem comeback in Camden starts here?
JILL Fraser is among the Lib Dems looking to arrest the Labour comeback in Camden at council elections in Haverstock.
She will surely, as she has done in the past, benefit from a good personal vote. People, put simply, like her and arguments about whether the Lib Dems betrayed their supporters by dealing nationally with the Tories will, in the minds of some, be of lesser interest tomorrow.
The former Mayor knows the streets like the back of her hand and has served a lot of the electorate here a bag of fish and chips from a takeaway in Queen’s Crescent at some point or another. Good chips too.
And we’ve so recently seen how local popularity can have an important effect on ward by ward polls. Paul Braithwaite was, for example, the lone Lib Dem survivor in Cantelowes recently. He got around 300 more votes than his fellow Lib Dems candidates in the ward on May 6 and consequently was the only one of his team to get elected. In the case of Maya De Souza, the Green who resisted the local charge in Highgate, she got more than 400 more votes than her own colleagues. People often say they don’t even know who their local councillor is, but in Maya’s case her profile must have helped split the results.
Now, it would have been interesting to see what would have happened in Haverstock had the elections there been held on the same day that Labour took back Kentish Town, Gospel Oak and the main share of Camden Town with Primrose Hill and Cantelowes. Would Jill – and for that matter Matt Sanders, also familiar locally for his record on the patch – have retained enough support to survive the swings in Camden? I’m not sure, but the chance to whir up the ‘by-election’ machine for a one off showdown with Labour will clearly give them a greater chance of retaining seats here. It will be a close run thing.
I have no doubt that local popularity plays a part, but note that Braithwaite and DeSouza were also the first alphabetically – and no doubt benefitted from what we in the trade call “alphabetism.”
Look down the list of most elected councillors and you will see a similar trend.
They are certanly throwing a lot into it. We have now had 7 different leaflets from the Lib Dems, 6 (of which two were duplicates), from Labour. The Lib Dem ones are very targetted – both saying what they have done locally and repeating time and again that they and not Labour candidates live in the ward. It has Labour also claiming local affiliations – reasonably enough though it comes across as a bit defensive. Matt and Jill have both been excellent Councillors and it will be understandable and perhaps even right if they get back in.
Jill’s appalling lapse in supporting the Dalby St, Talacre development when it went through the early approval stages must still weigh against her but she can claim to have been Mayor for part of that period so distracted. As could Jane Roberts on the grounds of being leader of the Council.