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Scene has been set for a bitter election battle

PUBLISHED: 10:14 04 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:35 07 September 2010

The battle to become the MP for the new constituency of Hampstead & Kilburn is well and truly on. Liberal Democrat candidate Ed Fordham has thrown down the gauntlet by asking if Glenda Jackson is London s laziest MP – a question clearly designed to be rh

The battle to become the MP for the new constituency of Hampstead & Kilburn is well and truly on.

Liberal Democrat candidate Ed Fordham has thrown down the gauntlet by asking if Glenda Jackson is London's laziest MP - a question clearly designed to be rhetorical. It is backed up by cold and damning statistics which show that the honourable member for Hampstead and Highgate has been mentioned in Hansard, the official publication which provides a verbatim record of proceedings in the Commons, just 40 times since she was re-elected in 2005.

To put this in perspective, the average number of mentions for London MPs is 1,822. Ms Jackson's record looks particularly woeful when compared to that of members in neighbouring constituencies like Hornsey and Wood Green, where Liberal Democrat Lynne Featherstone in her first term has amassed 2,559 credits, and the mentions merited by fellow Labour travellers Frank Dobson in Holborn and St Pancras (2,508), the loquacious Jeremy Corbyn in Islington (3,193) and Karen Buck in Regent's Park and Kensington North (1,814). Only Rudi Vis with 219 mentions in Finchley and Golders Green comes anywhere near Ms Jackson's level of parliamentary anonymity.

Of course, there's much more to being an MP than mentions in Hansard. Many people would prefer their MPs to spend less time in the rarefied atmosphere of the Commons and more time dealing with local issues in their constituencies.

Has Ms Jackson done enough of this to negate the impact of her rival's slur on her workrate? It won't be long before the voters have their say, but it does remain surprising that someone so eloquent of speech and so adept at putting an argument across, has chosen to remain so silent for so long on so many issues.

One thing is for sure: Mr Fordham's revelations have helped to set the tone for the forthcoming election. It will be hot and heavy - and may the best man, or woman, win.


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