On Thursday evening, newly announced parliamentary candidate Tamsin Omond held a launch party for her campaign. Cub reporter @Moyasarner, who knows Tamsin, went along and reported back for West Hampstead Life.
“Some 40 people gathered in the Swiss Cottage Community Centre on Thursday night for the launch of an election campaign that aims to change the face of politics.
Tamsin Omond, 25, the new parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, is being filmed, photographed, and interviewed. More twenty-somethings wearing black and white ‘Vote Tamsin’ badges and broad smiles welcome new arrivals. Three men in their sixties sit in silence at a table in the corner. One drums his fingers on the tabletop.
At 6.40, Tamsin takes centre stage. Founder of environmental activist group Climate Rush, she has been hailed in the press as an eco-poster girl. She is the leader of a new political party, The Commons, but she doesn’t look like a politician. With her shock of short blonde curls, her flat pumps and low slung black trousers, she looks cool. And she wants to make local politics cool too.
She promises an Obama-style campaign, using social media, which she mentions five times in her speech. She will use online tools to engage young people in a constituency where 61 percent of under-30s did not vote in the last election [Ed: she’s apparently revised this down to 40 percent now]. “If you encourage them to vote, then you have a landslide,” she says. She wants to build “a low carbon, community-led constituency,” where residents use mobile video booths to say what they want and where they want it.
The room then divides into five groups, each centred on a member of the campaign team. We discuss ideas for social media (again), outreach (with various community groups), canvassing (door-to-door visits to draught-proof houses), and events (fancy-dress parades down West End Lane). I suggest they start by following @WHampstead on Twitter. One gentleman suggests we hack into a mystery database containing the contact details and favourite meeting places of all the young people in the area. The rest of us exchange looks of alarm.
A person from each group stands to read the suggestions. Most are more practical and less criminal than Hacker Man’s. Praise be.
On my way out, I pass a queue of people signing up to help with the campaign. Good news for The Commons’ social media guru John Grant, who says: “If we engage large numbers of young people and connect them with politics, and get a conversation going about what democracy is really supposed to be, we’ve already won.”
West Hampstead comment: Mobilising one section of the electorate can be a winning strategy. Boris Johnson did it in the mayoral election by focusing almost exclusively on outer London boroughs, recognising that winning these would be enough to put him in office. Any measures that get young would-be voters engaged with politics are a good thing, but young people are only one part of the consituency and it will be interesting to see whether Tamsin makes efforts to engage with other demographic groups in her campaign.