After the Mayor Boris Johnson, Brian Coleman, the GLA incumbent for Barnet and Camden is the second biggest Conservative scalp in London. We must give ourselves the best possible chance of taking his seat, which should never have been won by the Tories in the first place. To win, we need the candidate with the very best chance of maximising the Labour vote across Barnet and Camden and pulling in disillusioned floating voters. I believe I am that candidate.
Having fought 8 elections for Labour in local government and Parliament, I do not see this selection contest as a practice run, nor do I need some kind of profile raising exercise with an eye to some future opportunity.
I want to stand against Coleman to win. And I believe together, we can win. Defeating the Tories here would be a huge blow to the Conservative led Government and their Lib Dem sidekicks.
Coleman’s majority is 5.4%. In 1997, I overturned a Conservative majority 3 times as big to win Hendon for Labour. I have the track record of experience, energy and enthusiasm to do the same again for Barnet and Camden, so we can see the back of Coleman once and for all.
My already high profile gives me substantial voter recognition not just in Hendon but beyond, especially in our opponent’s Barnet heartlands where the largest numbers of Labour voters can be expected to be, and where I am well placed to attack his support and give us a real head start in the battle to come. As my endorsements show, my reputation throughout the London Labour Party and with the trades unions will attract substantial help and support as the election proper approaches.
Coleman is not making himself many friends by his increasingly politically eccentric behaviour: indeed, he is turning into a caricature of himself. But we cannot rely on him to implode and hand us the result on a plate. I know our opponent, his strengths and weaknesses and I do not underestimate him. He is already campaigning against me, as I am the candidate he most fears: he has virtually said as much to Ken Livingstone! In the end, the 2012 GLA election can only be won by campaigning hard and locally on the key issues: policing and emergency services, transport, housing, responsibility for the cuts, London’s economy and the environment.
As your candidate, I offer you my reputation for hard work and remorseless and innovative campaigning to fight with you to ensure that the Conservatives are defeated, giving us the springboard we need to retain Camden’s parliamentary seats and Camden Council, and to regain Barnet Council and Hendon and Finchley and Golders Green constituencies at the next General Election.