Islington Council leader’s bid to challenge MP Lynne Featherstone for Hornsey & Wood Green at general election
PUBLISHED: 17:00 02 May 2013 | UPDATED: 21:13 02 May 2013
The next general election will be about policies not potholes, says the award-winning Labour council leader who has set out her stall to challenge Lynne Featherstone as MP for Highgate in 2015.
Islington Council leader Cllr Catherine West is set to spend the next two months convincing the 1,200 Hornsey and Wood Green Labour Party members that she is the right candidate to unseat the Liberal Democrat MP.
Cllr West comes with good pedigree to recommend her – not least, the fact she was voted the best council leader in the country by the Local Government Information Unit, where she was praised for being a “do-er and a thinker”.
But it is her experience in successfully fighting the Lib Dems in Islington – her website boasts she “specialises” in it – which will probably attract the most interest.
“I understand how the Lib Dems campaign,” said Australian-born Cllr West, who is a British citizen.
The mother-of-two also says she will rely on Highgate residents’ sense of “fairness” to help her secure victory if she is selected to stand as candidate for the Hornsey and Wood Green constituency.
She hopes people’s sense of social justice will help her win the seat whether they are affected by the welfare cuts or not.
Cllr West has already outlined the grounds on which she would fight Ms Featherstone. Top of the list of concerns is the future of the Whittington Hospital, the privatisation of the NHS, youth unemployment and opportunities, and the loss of public services, in particular, the cuts to local policing.
Her campaign would be based on “policies, not potholes”, she says – a dig at previous Lib Dem campaigns, which have focused on local issues.
Instead, Cllr West wants to focus on the widening inequality gap, which she believes has increased under the coalition government, in which Ms Featherstone is a minister.
“I think there is real scope to bring people who are fair-minded on the Highgate and Muswell Hill side, with the people who are affected by the welfare changes in Hornsey and Wood Green during the election period,” she said.
“This is about policy – whether people think [what the government is doing] is right.
“I think people are fair-minded. I think, most people here think, young people should be given a chance, they think the hospital should be part of our everyday lives.
“This government is increasing inequality. I don’t think that’s what people thought was going to happen when they put a cross next to the Lib Dems at the last election.”
Cllr West, who lives on the Islington side of Hornsey Lane on the fringes of Crouch End and Highgate, now faces a two-month campaign for selection after nominations for the all-women shortlist closed yesterday (Wednesday).
She is no stranger to the constituency as her son attends Highgate Wood School, in Crouch End, and her daughter is to start at Hornsey School for Girls in September.
“People think Upper Street and Angel when they hear Islington, but this area is home really,” she says.
“It feels very natural to be here. I am committed to Hornsey. For my family it is the most local, I know Haringey Council as well. I feel I understand the area.”
Catherine West will learn whether she has been selected to stand for Labour in Hornsey and Wood Green at the end of June.
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