Big Smoke: Meet Andrew Dismore (Labour candidate for Barnet and Camden)

Below you can find a recent interview I did with Big Smoke. hope you enjoy reading it!

You can read the original article here.

Dismore is the Labour candidate for the Barnet and Camden constituency seat. As one of our “ones to watch” we wanted to ask Andrew a few questions to help voters decide if he is the candidate for them!


Q: Barnet Council seems to be on a mission to close and privatise as many public services as possible. How do you propose to help your Barnet constituents retain those public services?

I have campaigned on this issue with BAPS. The Assembly cannot order Barnet what to do, but a powerful vote for Labour will send a clear message to the Conservative controlled council it is on the wrong track, and will elect me as someone who will fight the council, not support their privatisation plans as the present incumbent does.


Q: From my understanding you represented injured workers after the Kings Cross fire. Do you share the RMT’s concerns about TfL staff cuts compromising safety?

Yes, I represented members of the FBU and ASLEF and also gave evidence myself to the public inquiry at the time.

After the fire and what I learned about it I began my 20 year campaign then outside parliament and later inside when I was elected, for a new offence of corporate manslaughter, which came to fruition. I share concerns about safety on the Tube.


Q: Having been a Labour MP until 2010 what skills did you learn in Parliament that will be useful on the London Assembly?

The official job of Assembly member is scrutiny of the Mayor and approving (or not) the budget. Having chaired a select committee (Human Rights) and been a member of three others, including the Liaison Committee (which closely questions the Prime Minister 2 or 3 times a year for 2.5 hours in depth).

I have held to account and scrutinised the work of cabinet ministers, government departments, multinational companies and international NGOs. My 15 years in local government and 13 years in parliament also have given me the skills to scrutinise budgets effectively. I also have the experience of how to use political influence and contacts to get things done, beyond the strict terms of reference of the Assembly.


Q: Many of those who voted Liberal Democrat in 2010 are dismayed at the behaviour of the Lib Dems in the Coalition. The biggest betrayal is probably that of tripling tuition fees. Why should those disenchanted Lib Dems vote for you when, according to They Work for You, you were one of the MPs who voted to introduce tuition fees in the first place (as well as for ID cards and the war in Iraq)?

The record is not correct. I voted against tuition fees in the first place (see the detailed votes on Report) and would not have voted for an increase this time.

The issue with ID cards was the data to be recorded, not the ID card in itself, and see the reports of the Joint Committee on Human Rights under my chairmanship on this, which sets out the position in more detail, and indeed my record on human rights generally, for example on counter terrorism or the Bill of Rights where I was frequently at odds with the then government. I am endorsed by human rights luminaries like Sir Geoffrey Bindman, based on my record.

As for Iraq, my vote was based on the evidence presented to Parliament at the time, and hindsight was not available at the time.


Q. Camden and Barnet are very different places, what would you say the biggest difference is between them, and the largest similarity?

Both have the same wide differences between wealth and less well off people. Whilst Barnet may be seen as a leafy outer London borough, this is not typical of how it has been changing and now large parts have similar ”inner city” problems to Camden.

Transport issues raise different concerns. There are more pensioners in Barnet, and more single young people in Camden, with different needs to address too.
Q. Brian Coleman’s majority in this constituency in 2008 was pretty hefty, do you think you can over turn it – and if so why?

Brian Coleman’s majority is not large: in numerical terms it needs to be spread across 5 parliamentary constituencies. The percentage swing is about 5%, which is definitely achievable, given the way he seems to be going out of his way to alienate his own supporters and most of Barnet generally, with his parking policies.
Q. What have been the highs and lows of the campaign so far?

Low point: falling down six steps after slipping on the ice during Winter.

High point, the huge response to my campaign from normally Conservative voters who want to see Brian Coleman ousted.


Thanks for your time Andrew, and I hope you’ve recovered from falling down the steps!