General election 2015: A look at the Ham&High’s constituencies
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With 106 days to go until the 2015 general election, residents across the Ham&High’s constituencies can expect to find politicians on their doorsteps from now until May. Tim Lamden looks at the battles ahead.
Hampstead & Kilburn
Hampstead and Kilburn is the most marginal constituency in Great Britain having been decided by just 42 votes when Labour’s Glenda Jackson clinched victory over Conservative Chris Philp in 2010.
Liberal Democrat Ed Fordham was less than 1,000 votes short of the 2010 winner - making this constituency a genuine three-way marginal.
Double Oscar winner Ms Jackson will retire this year having consistently served as MP since 1992 when the constituency was known as Hampstead and Highgate.
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Former Camden councillor Tulip Siddiq is the bookies’ favourite to retain the seat for Labour in May and recent polling shows her party is in the ascendancy.
But Hampstead councillor Simon Marcus, well-known locally, will be active for the Tories on the doorstep throughout - reminding the estimated 4,783 constituents set to be hit by the controversial mansion tax of the thousands of pounds a Labour government will take from them.
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Lib Dem candidate Maajid Nawaz, a counterterrorism expert, will hope to avoid the bludgeoning his party took in last May’s local elections.
Finchley & Golders Green
Conservative MP Mike Freer will defend his Finchley and Golders Green seat for the first time in May having comfortably beaten Barnet Labour leader Cllr Alison Moore to the seat in 2010.
Mr Freer’s victory followed the departure of long-serving Labour MP Rudi Vis who stepped down at the 2010 election after 13 years in office.
Barrister Sarah Sackman will challenge Mr Freer in May as Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Finchley and Golders Green.
The 30-year-old is well-regarded among Labour figures and is expected to give Mr Freer a run for his money.
But Mr Freer, a former Barnet Council leader, is renowned as a hard-working constituency MP and will do all he can to draw on his grassroots support to push him over the line.
Holborn & St Pancras
Four months from the election, one of the fiercest battles has already been won in Holborn and St Pancras with the selection of Sir Keir Starmer as Labour’s parliamentary candidate in the constituency.
The former director of public prosecutions beat off competition from four fellow Labour members, including Camden Council leader Cllr Sarah Hayward, to be selected as Labour’s candidate to replace outgoing veteran MP Frank Dobson.
Mr Dobson is retiring after 36 years as Holborn and St Pancras MP in May and Sir Keir is fully expected to stroll into his shoes courtesy of Labour’s 10,000-majority in the constituency.
But Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, standing for the party in her home constituency, will be looking to cut Labour’s majority and make ground off the back of the Liberal Democrats’ demise.
Conservative candidate Will Blair would surely consider a second place finish ahead of the Greens as success and Ms Bennett will be gunning to finish ahead of the Tories.
Lib Dem Jill Fraser, standing for the second time in Holborn and St Pancras, came second in the 2005 general election, just 4,000 votes behind Mr Dobson. It will be an arduous task to replicate that in May.
Hornsey & Wood Green
Labour has a 7,000-majority to overturn if it is to take Hornsey and Wood Green from the Liberal Democrats in May and the feeling is former Islington Council leader Catherine West can do it.
Incumbent MP Lynne Featherstone is a popular figure locally but she risks being caught up in a national tide against the Lib Dems.
In the wake of May’s council elections in Haringey, in which 60 per cent of Lib Dem seats were wiped out by Labour, council leader Cllr Claire Kober declared that “the people of Hornsey and Wood Green have firmly put Lynne Featherstone on notice”.
Australian-born Ms West is focussing all her efforts on getting the message out and will certainly not fail for a lack of effort.
Ms Featherstone, a coalition government minister who has served Hornsey and Wood Green since 2005, has personal wealth to draw on which will ensure a well-oiled campaign machine.
But the odds are stacking up against her with bookies and pollsters pointing to a Catherine West victory come May.
Westminster North has been a Labour stronghold since the constituency was established in 2010. Incumbent MP Karen Buck has sat in the Commons since being elected in 1997, firstly in the now-defunct Regent’s Park and Kensington North constituency, the predecessor of Westminster North.
The former Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport in Tony Blair’s government, and shadow minister for education between 2011 and 2013, is currently Ed Miliband’s Parliamentary Private Secretary.
Despite the strong odds for a Labour hold – a Conservative victory is currently attracting odds of around 5/1 against Labour victory at 1/10 – the number of well-off voters meant Ms Buck had a relatively modest cushion of 2,126 votes, or 5.4 per cent, at the ballot box in 2010, not too dissimilar from the result she achieved in 2005.