I’m thinking of the moment footballer (also: Tony Blair’s former press man) Alastair Campbell spoke on the radio and said he was thinking about standing as an MP in 2015.
Wow. If he meant his home patch, the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency, where Glenda Jackson has indicated she will retire, undefeated, at the next general election, insert words cat and pigeons here.
“All I’ll say to you is I get a lot of people asking me, particularly when I’m up here, and I do think about it and I am thinking about it and I don’t think there’s a fantastic rush. We sort of know when the next election is,” he told Iain Dale on LBC during Labour conference week.
Alastair Campbell, MP for Hampstead and Kilburn. To think – he didn’t mention a constituency – but to think.
The very idea eventually wheels us back to Camden 2006 if you’ve read the world according to Wauchope – or ‘Camden: A Political History‘, the book written by former leader of Camden Conservatives Piers Wauchope.
Rather than play up too much his party’s own appeal at those historic council elections which saw Labour temporarily concede power at the Town Hall to a Tory and Lib Dem coalition, Piers wrote of how the appearance of Campbell – and Tony Blair – during the campaign had played into the hands of Labour’s adversaries. A picture of Campbell launching the campaign was supposedly a ‘gift’.
Wauchope (now a UKIP councillor in Kent) wrote: “Three weeks before the poll, Tony Blair visited the recently renovated Cromer Street Estate. A delighted Chada seized the opportunity and posed for photographs alongside the Prime Minister. This followed on from the Labour election launch where Chada had allowed himself to be photographed with communications strategist Alastair Campbell for the New Journal. The photographs were a gift to the opposition.”
His assessment of Labour’s defeat went on: “New Labour had become increasingly middle class, there were no manual workers on the Labour benches,” he writes. “The last three Labour leaders were a banker, a child psychiatrist and a solicitor… on the estates Labour faced candidates such as Lulu Mitchell [Con] and Jill Fraser [Lib Dem], both of whom a decade or two ago, would have been seen as natural Labour voters.”
Ever the diplomat, the then Labour leader Raj Chada responded to Piers’s book with this simple one-liner: “It’s true that in the 2006 elections we wanted to talk about local issues where we had a good record in Camden but it was hard to get away from the national debate.”
Still, Alastair Campbell, MP for Hampstead and Kilburn. Imagine.