Morning update 26.09.15: No time to run for Mayor


IMG_2561SOMEBODY in scheduling at Green Party HQ might have a bit of explaining to do. Putting Natalie Bennett on the conference stage in Bournemouth on the same day as UKIP were meeting for their own get-together in Doncaster left the leader struggling for newspaper column inches this morning. The Guardian gives her speech a page lead, but the other nationals do not seem to be so interested in whether the Green surge is still surging.

Locally, Natalie is an interesting one to have watched over these last few years in which she has headed the party. People often say they are confused as to why she stood in Holborn and St Pancras at May’s general election, an obvious Labour hold regardless of Frank Dobson’s retirement. She has explained that didn’t want to be seen as a carpet bagger or a parachutist by chasing seats elsewhere, if such roles are possible on the Green side. So what will she do next? She has progressed too far to stand for Camden Council again, but seemingly not quite far enough to win a place in the House of Commons. This is why many expected her to turn up on the ballot paper for London Mayor, a way of keeping her in the headlines, post general election. If you believe the Labour mischief makers in Camden, there were some awkward discussions between her and Sian Berry about this possibility, but Sian moved more decisively and quick to share the endorsement of Caroline Lucas, the party’s only MP. But that is the hearsay of rival politicians looking in, and nothing was to be read into Sian arriving too late at conference to be in the hall when Natalie spoke yesterday. When I asked her about the mayoralty yesterday, Natalie was supportive of Sian and said that the demands of travelling the country as Green Party leader were not compatible with her running a full time campaign to be Mayor. Twice fielded in Holborn and St Pancras, will she have the appetite for a third go next time? “They say a week is a long time in politics,” Natalie said. “Four and a half years are a really long time.


TULIP Siddiq said she was not looking for an expanded role in the new look Labour line-up; not out of disloyalty to Jeremy Corbyn, more that she was still feeling her way in a new life as MP. But she has been fizzing about here and there: she’s been lined up to speak at four fringe meetings at conference in Brighton next week and she’s had a few run outs on the BBC, keeping her cool a couple of weeks when stood next to the familiarly bumptious John Mann before Jeremy Corbyn’s first go at Prime Minister’s Questions. Although it sounded like she had rehearsed what she was going to say a few times with the hairbrush, her contrasting clarity made Mann look even more purple-faced than usual. It has all caught the eye of Michael Dugher, the new shadow culture secretary, who yesterday appointed her as his PPS. It’s lucky Dugher recently saw his brief switched from transport, otherwise there may have been some awkward conversations with his new recruit from Hampstead and Kilburn about the wisdom of HS2.


FLICK comes home




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