After my first interview with Tamsin Omond before the election kicked off, we agreed we’d speak closer to voting day to see whether her ideas had resonated with Hampstead and Kilburn constituents, whether she had a cliché’s chance in hell of becoming an MP, and whether that confident manner would be battered and bruised by electioneering.
“I think it’s going really well. About midway into the campaign we realised that whatever our ambitions had been, it was best to keep them small and beautiful.”
Day after day of door knocking, flyering and general canvassing have certainly tempered Tamsin’s ambition. “Whether we get 20, 40 or 2,000 votes I think we’ll be chuffed,” she argues initially. Probe a little deeper though and there’s a less flippant answer. “I’m not going to predict that I’ll win but I do need some votes. We would like a mandate to continue to build over the next four years, but to do that we need to get some votes, so anything between 200 and 1,000.
Tamsin urges anyone who might have been thinking of voting for her to do so, or if people are disgruntled with the others, then vote for her. She continues to argue forcefully that she’s not denting the other parties’ votes at all.
“I met a woman on the High Road,” she says (not spotting the leaders’ debate rhetoric), “who was shouting , ‘How dare you stand here, you’re going to split the left’. But I found it really easy to say that none of those votes naturally belong to Glenda or anyone else.”
Tamsin has focused her campaign largely on Kilburn, with some door knocking in West Hampstead and Queens Park. She has canvassed at all the tube stations but otherwise ignored Hampstead where the houses are further apart, there’s only one person in during the day, and they “like to have long conversations, before telling you they’re voting Liberal Democrat.”
In Kilburn, immigration is the overwhelming issue – she’s the only candidate I’ve spoken to who says this – although it is usually related to housing, drugs or benefits issues. She expresses real concern over the popularity of the far right but says that when she talks to these voters, it’s often a matter of explaining why some of these problems have arisen and having the discussion. These are not intransigent people.
Assuming she doesn’t win the seat, what next? She is determined to build on the platform she has created here, and excitedly tells me that six council candidates across the country have said they will defect to The Commons if elected. She also needs to focus on fundraising if she is to mount a more serious challenge in four or five years time.
And for those undecided voters, or those who have never voted before. Why should they put a cross next to Omond on the ballot paper. “Because I’ll be the most enthusiastic conversation starter they’ve ever known.”
It’s a tight race here in H&K, and many people will be casting their vote for the main three parties. But if the idea of something different appeals, or if you are disillusioned with the whole system, head down to the polling station and consider giving Tamsin your vote to help her build something more credible next time round.