Sunday, 4 April 2010

A Look @: Brent and Camden

Brent and Camden are another couple of boroughs that have been forced to share a Parliamentary seat under the new boundaries. This is mainly because Brent's three constituencies are now two (and a bit) leaving the high profile Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather without a seat at this election. But the current composition of the borough councils indicate Teather has good chance of returning to Parliament as she goes up against the incumbent Labour MP Dawn Butler in the new Brent Central seat. Labour lost control of Brent in 2006 as the Liberal Democrats sensationally gained 18 seats to become the largest group on the council. Camden was also lost to no overall control by Labour as they dropped 18 seats to leave the Lib Dems the closest to a majority with 20 of the 54 seats. Through by-elections and defections they now have 24 councillors which would indicate the political momentum in this part of London is very much with the Lib Dems.



Notional Majority

Swing Needed



Brent North

Barry Gardiner




LAB Hold

Brent Central

Dawn Butler




LD Gain

Hampstead & Kilburn

Glenda Jackson




LD Gain

Holborn & St Pancras

Frank Dobson




LAB Hold


Barry Gardiner won Brent North in 1997 on a big swing and he has made this a fairly safe seat since then. The boundary alterations have increased his majority by 2500 votes which will help him in his re-election bid. But Gardiner was in a bit of trouble over a flat he bought when he was Environment Minister, but the MP claims the property deal made a profit for the taxpayer. A 10% swing, and the potential misdemeanour, has given the Conservative candidate Harshadbhai Patel, a Brent councillor, an outside chance of gaining this seat. But the safe money here is on Gardiner who'll probably be returned with a reduced majority; Labour Hold.

Brent Central is where the real action starts. With her Brent East constituency abolished the Sarah Teather has chosen to go head to head with Brent South MP Dawn Butler for this new seat. Each MP will only enjoy a incumbency advantage from three full wards each and this is set to be a tight race. The large notional majority for Butler will not bother the Lib Dems as they made 8 council gains at Labour's expense in this constituency in the 2006 election. Also, Teather's initial election to Parliament in 2003 constituted Labour's first by-election defeat in 15 years, and was achieved on a 29.5% swing. She then caused another upset in the General Election by holding the seat on an increased majority. Butler clearly has a formidable opponent on her hands but Labour should still be, and are, favourites to win this. However, they seem to have shot themselves in the foot recently as one of Butler's campaign team forged a complaint about the Lib Dem campaign. Whether the complaint was valid or not will be lost in the spin and this episode is going to dent Labour's chances of a hold. Butler also has expenses claims to answer with her jacuzzi likely to be the one featuring in her opponent's campaign literature. With Butler's problems and Teather's track record I'm going against the bookies; Lib Dem gain.

The Hampstead & Highgate constituency lost its Highgate ward to the Holborn & St Pancras seat resulting in a change of name. Hampstead & Kilburn has also gained a few wards from the old Brent East seat which has left the former movie star turned Labour MP Glenda Jackson with a majority of almost nothing. This can't have pleased her considering she won Hampstead & Highgate in 2005 by almost 4000 votes. Jackson has been an MP since 1992 but it seems the boundary change and the political winds could put an end to her Parliamentary career in May. The Liberal Democrats hold 20 of the 30 council seats in this constituency which will be a huge help to their candidate Ed Fordham. In fact, the Conservatives hold 9 of the other 10 leaving Jackson short of assistance. I expect this will be tight considering the Lib Dem notional vote is probably slightly inflated by Teather's effect in the Brent wards but I think Labour will lose this one; Lib Dem Gain.

Frank Dobson has had his majority notionally increased with the boundary alterations leaving him a fairly comfortable favourite to win his Holborn & St Pancras seat again. He has represented this seat since 1979 and although Jo Shaw will feel she has a chance of gaining this for the Lib Dems Dobson should be able to defend against the swing required this year; Labour Hold.


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