Brighton ’16: Keith Moffitt will not stand for the council again
AS the only Liberal Democrat to be leader of Camden Council, Keith Moffitt gets his own page in the political history of the borough. But, while he is still intending to be heavily involved in local campaigns and a figure in uniting those who want Britain to stay in the European Union, he confirmed at conference that he is not planning to try and win a council seat back at the next Town Hall elections, now less than two years away. Keith, pictured with Councillor Flick Rea and former mayor Jill Fraser up the i360 tower on the Brighton seafront, says it is time for a ‘new generation’ to come through.
Rivals will take this as code for what he may think of the party’s electoral prospects in Camden, and a fear that they may end up like the Lib Dems in Islington, who went from running the authority to being left without even a single seat. But if anywhere might be tempting for the party to go full throttle, it’s his old West Hampstead ward. There Labour’s delight at winning all three seats in 2014 has been tempered by the loss of Angela Pober, who went independent after claiming Labour was running a ‘save the library’ campaign under false pretences, and a long and weary battle with some residents over development policies.
The Tories – still convinced the public has not taken to the direction in which Jeremy Corbyn has taken Labour – are said to be targeting the ward too, which potentially could split the vote and reduce the margin needed to win in what are small ballots. The Lib Dems can’t count prime target wards in Camden on two hands at the moment, so circumstances like this will be tempting to someone, somewhere. It just won’t be Keith.
My decision not to stand again isn’t because I think we can’t win in West Hampstead – just the opposite! After 20 years on the Council including four as Leader of the Council and four as Leader of the Opposition, I’m enjoying “normal life” and don’t want to wind the clock back. But as you say, West Hampstead still holds the Lib Dems in high regard, and I look forward it having Lib Dem councillors again.
I read with some disappointment and some understanding of Keiths position it is much the same as mine in many ways. I worked closely with Keith during the Con/Lib administration and have to say he ran the Council in a very fair and balanced manor.
2006/2010 was a golden period for Camden after 35 years of Labour and Keith justly deserves his page in its history.
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