Love them or hate them, it is looking increasingly likely that the Conservatives will be the only party to mount a convincing challenge to the Labour ignorocracy at the local elections in 2022.
Over more than a year I and others have been in frequent contact with the opposition parties in Camden on controversial matters in Bloomsbury, and to discuss longer term issues that could be resolved with political or legal action.
Leaders Oliver Cooper of the Conservatives and Flick Rea of the Liberal Democrats have both featured relatively often on Save Bloomsbury, with both having shown a genuine interest, concern, and even passion for the things that are discussed here.
And while the Holborn and Covent Garden ward in the south has two respected councillors (Sue Vincent and Julian Fulbrook) and one seemingly alright councillor (Awale Olad), the King’s Cross and Bloomsbury wards are home to six councillors entirely ignorant of local affairs.
It’s these two wards that are in need of a political shake-up.
The main question to be asked for a long time was: Lib Dem or Conservative? Many doubt that the Tories could ever win a seat here, with such a high proportion of students and social housing tenants.
But recent elections around the country have shown that the arbitrary division between left and right is being blurred further every day. And we all know that Camden’s Labour cabinet, while donning red ties, berets, and cufflinks, think in a profoundly right-wing and authoritarian way on matters of development, consultation, and traffic. They are truly Labour In Name Only.
Naturally one would assume that a Liberal Democrat campaign could appeal to traditional left voters in this area.
But leadership of the Lib Dems was recently handed down to Luisa Porritt, the mayoral candidate. Intrigued by her campaign and views on this area I emailed to ask if she had any plans to make a political challenge in Bloomsbury or King’s Cross, to which I received no response at all.
And a similar email to the Green leader Sian Berry also went ignored.
That’s the sort of responsiveness we’re used to from the politicians we don’t want to have.
Compare that to the Conservatives, who have already met with local groups, written up and distributed letters relating to Belgrove House and Selkirk House, and continue to ask for input on local issues that could feed into a campaign in 2022.
It seems only one party really has the appetite to make a challenge here. But would people look past party lines to support a group that could make a difference?
Personally I don’t have any political allegiances or belong to any political party, I never have, and nor does anyone that I know. ‘Having a politics’ seems to be an intellectual, abstract thing. To most people it’s just practical matters that matter.
Council incompetence? Veolia sweepers smoking spliffs on the job? Officers treating residents with disrespect and disdain? Disgusting council house conditions? Enormous ugly towers? These are all things that actually affect people beyond the abstract intellectual realm of left and right.
Perhaps a campaign pointed at local issues like these could make an impact. Labour’s councillors wouldn’t even know where to start on these things, despite engineering most of these problems admittedly with their arseholes rather than their heads.
It may be that the Lib Dems and Greens arrive late to the party. But personally I don’t see any real intention from them to get elected here. And given that they haven’t engaged with local groups or people on their manifesto or candidates yet, I don’t see the difference between them and the problematic administration we already have.
The thing is that with enough effort, manpower, and ingenuity, all of Labour’s councillors here – including the despised but influential Adam Harrison – could be given the boot come next year. But how is this manpower mobilised and motivated?
Nobody has those answers yet. If you are interested in campaigning or have any ideas, you can comment or contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.