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Council leader Sarah Hayward and Sir Keir Starmer bid to replace Frank Dobson

PUBLISHED: 16:33 30 July 2014 | UPDATED: 11:24 31 July 2014

Cllr Sarah Hayward. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Cllr Sarah Hayward. Picture: Polly Hancock.

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Camden Council leader Sarah Hayward and former director of public prosecutions Sir Keir Starmer will go head-to-head in a battle to replace Labour’s outgoing Holborn and St Pancras MP Frank Dobson at next year’s general election.

Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: PA/Stefan Rousseau.Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: PA/Stefan Rousseau.

Cllr Hayward, 39, confirmed her interest in the safe Labour seat just days after Mr Dobson, 74, announced his decision last Tuesday to step aside at the general election after 35 years in parliament. Today, Sir Keir announced his candidacy for the seat.

The decision from Cllr Hayward, a Kentish Town resident, comes just two months after a resounding local election victory for Camden Labour – her first as leader – in which her administration tightened its majority rule of the council by 10 seats.

She told the Ham&High: “You can’t choose your timing in politics. In an ideal world this opportunity would’ve come up in a year or two’s time. But you have to try to take opportunities like this when they come along.

“I think I’ve achieved a huge amount as a council leader. I’ve changed national policy, such as getting the HS1 and HS2 link cancelled.

“There are a large number of other policies led by the council, and me as leader, that are now Labour national policies. I can take that 
experience into parliament to deliver that for Holborn and St Pancras and the country.”

Sir Keir, 51, who stepped down as head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) last year, lives in Kentish Town with his wife and two children.

He said: “Our constituency needs an MP who will continue Frank’s principled campaigning, fight to get the Tories out of power and be able to influence a future Labour government.

“I believe I can bring my experience as a human rights lawyer, DPP and campaigner to do that. I am only too aware of the impact that politics has on the daily lives of all of us.”

Sir Keir has the support of a number of notable Labour figures, including Fiona Millar, Trevor Phillips, Joan Bakewell and Tessa Jowell.

He is also backed by Labour’s Hampstead and Kilburn parliamentary candidate Tulip Siddiq.

Cllr Hayward, who was elected as a King’s Cross councillor in 2010 and ousted Cllr Nash Ali as leader in 2012, noted that she was already “playing catch-up” in the contest to replace Mr Dobson.

She said: “I think other people have been working it for a long time while I’ve been focusing on the council.”

West Hampstead councillor Angela Pober confirmed she would also be putting her name forward for the seat and former Camden Council leader Raj Chada said it was “likely” he would contest the selection.

It is understood Kilburn councillor Thomas Gardiner is also interested in standing to replace Mr Dobson.

London Assembly Member Top Copley this week announced his decision to drop out of the race in order to support Cllr Hayward’s bid.

All prospective candidates must now wait until a timetable for selection is drawn up between Holborn and St Pancras Labour Party and the national party before submitting their candidacy.

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