Can Gordon save Glenda? The PM comes to Kilburn

Sadly, I missed all the excitement of Gordon Brown’s hardcore day of touring London seats, including our very own Hampstead & Kilburn. Disappointed to have been unable to cover this for you, I’ve asked the very partial (but also the very present) Mike Katz, local Labour activist and council candidate for Camden’s Kilburn ward to write a few words. Also read Richard Osley’s account here.

“I’m sure the North London Tavern on Kilburn High Road has had its share of excitement, but today must have been a cut above the norm.

Dozens of Labour party supporters, local press and TV crews crammed into the pub’s upstairs room to hear the rallying cry for the last week of the election campaign from Hampstead & Kilburn’s Labour candidate Glenda Jackson, and the Prime Minister.

Gordon Brown was in great form, especially for a man who has just spent the last month on the road, and a bullish mood saying he was going to ‘fight every single moment of the day until Thursday’ to make people aware of the threat to jobs and the economy if the Tories take power. Glenda was full of passion too, talking about the importance of realising the potential of “our greatest natural resource – our people”.

Much of the news coverage focused on what happened afterwards. Some local Lib Dems turned up to heckle, so most of us bounded outside to ensure they didn’t have the last word. There was some largely good-natured badinage and a bit of jostling but nothing too serious.

Given our enthusiasm, and the fact that we were trying to stay on the pavement to avoid the traffic, we all ended up crowding round the door on Christchurch Avenue making it more or less impassable – so it’s no big surprise that Mr & Mrs Brown had to use an unorthodox exit (through the cellar, I believe). I didn’t actually see them come out, just heard a big cheer and the crowd instantly moving off afterwards. All that was left was to crowd round a BBC reporter and chant ‘Glenda, Glenda’ to make sure no-one was left unsure of the hearty Labour support in Kilburn.

Some people do this every day in the election campaign. It was fun, but once was enough. I prefer a gentle stroll from door-to-door myself.”

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  • G

    Ed Fordham is the only option to prevent a Tory win:
    Ladbrokes odds and corresponding winning probabilities:
    Liberal Democrats 1.50 -> 58%
    Conservatives 3.50 -> 25%
    Labour 7.00 -> 12.5%

  • Anonymous

    How does Christchurch Avenue fit in? Is there a secret exit from the Black Lion?

  • Mike Katz

    In response to G:

    The greatest worry for most of the people we’ve been talking to is the spectre of a Tory government of one sort or another – and the threat that would bring to our economic recovery and public services.

    It only stands to reason that one less Labour MP makes it easier for Cameron to get into No 10. The more Labour MPs there are, the harder job he has. The current electoral system isn’t fair, but equal shares of the vote for each party would deliver many more Labour and Tory MPs than Lib Dems. The majority partner in any hung parliament would be either blue or red. The system isn’t fair, and needs changing, but these are the current rules. Labour wants a referendum on electoral reform; the Tories don’t.

    Thus, a lot of voters we talk to understand that voting for Glenda is the best way they can guard against a Tory victory. Also, given Nick Clegg’s statement that he would form a Government with Cameron, but not Brown, it is easy to understand many voters fears about the outcome in national terms of voting Lib Dem in H&K.

    Also, I’m bound to say that I don’t think many punters or bookies have an accurate view of what is happening on the ground in the constituency. We were out all day today and had positive responses across the constituency. There are still a lot of people who have yet to make up their mind and are listening to what we have to say – and we aren’t finding huge blocs of committed, unswayable Lib Dem or Tory voters.

    PS – It was the North London Tavern, and the exit is on Christchurch Avenue

  • Anonymous

    just for accuracy, side entrance of North London Tavern is in Cavendish Road.

  • I wish I'd known about this. The only candidate I've met is Tamsin Omond at Kilburn tube.
    Not one candidate has knocked on our door.

  • What I don’t understand is why Labour have left it so late. They clearly have a decent chance of winning…but it’s only in the final week that they’re throwing resources at it. I received my very first hand-delivered Labour leaflet over the weekend – I nearly fell over in shock. And now heavyweights Brown and Darling are coming in…surely the Fordham and Philp campaigns will have eaten too much out of he Labour vote by now for them to have much of a chance? I know they have other battles to fight (Holborn & St Pancras, Brent Central) but this was there for the winning. I can’t see it staying Labour now.

    Talking of giving up, Sarah Teather was wandering around Sainsbury’s car park in Willesden Green on sunny Saturday. She looked a bit lost. I thought to myself, “don’t you have more important things to be doing than picking up washing powder?”

    Like msmarmite, I’ve not had anyone knock on my door…the local councillors have made it in, but that’s only because we’ve had local residents’ meetings at our flat a couple of times!

  • Mike – I don’t think there are many “unswayable” Lib Dem voters full stop. The Lib dems are the sort of party you have to make an active choice to support – you don’t get many “dyed-in-the-wool” Lib Dems who only choose them “because I have done all my life” like some Labour/Tory voters do.

    PS – Mike – nice write-up, especially given that it comes from an activists’ point of view it makes good reading.

  • Nick

    Eoghan, it will be interesting to see what voters who were considering giving the Lib Dems a chance will do now Clegg has signalled he is prepared to drop his party’s demand for electoral reform in return for a few crumbs from the Tories. It means the only was to ensure that the political system will change is to vote Labour. If Labour is the largest party, there will be (at least) a referendum on changing the voting system and reforming parliament. This was Clegg’s big chance and it looks like he is bottling it.

  • Anonymous

    Ed Fordham has been around West Hampstead several times, and there's at least one Lib Dem leaflet through my door each day. Chris Philp doesn't seem to be too fussed (perhaps focusing on Hampstead). Perhaps Glenda hasn't been able to get here for all the Jubilee line suspensions from SE London…