A subject that has been bubbling under the surface on this blog is the matter of what our elected representatives are doing for the area. We live in a democracy (imperfect yes but a democracy) and so we are responsible for electing our representatives every four or five years.
This year on 6 May 2010 we will have a chance to vote twice – first for our Member of Parliament and then for our local borough Council. I intend to cover the local elections in a post later this week but today will look at the General Election.
The electoral situation in Camberwell like so many things is complicated – if we take Camberwell to be the SE5 postcode area rather than purely Camberwell town centre then we are covered by three constituencies: Camberwell and Peckham (the main part of Camberwell town centre), a part of Dulwich and West Norwood (the area either side of and South of Coldharbour Lane and around Ruskin Park towards Herne Hill) and a part of Vauxhall (South of Camberwell New Road until the border with Southwark on Flodden Road – includes roads such as Paulet Road and the area around Myatts Fields Park).
All three of these constituencies are represented by Labour MPs all of whom had fairly safe majorities at the 2005 election. The Electoral Commission has redrawn the boundaries slightly since the last General Election but not generally enough to shift the balance of power significantly.
The demographic profile of the area (or certainly Camberwell and Peckham, Vauxhall and the Camberwell part of Dulwich and West Norwood) is that of poor inner city (over 50% of people living in council/housing association housing, consequent low rates of home ownership, very low rates of car ownership, high levels of poverty etc etc) with pockets of wealth so you would expect Labour to be dominant.
The results at the last election show that in Vauxhall and Camberwell and Peckham Labour took over 50% of the vote (and in Camberwell and Peckham Harriet Harman received over 65% of all votes cast) and so it would be virtually impossible for Labour to lose in either of these constituencies. (Stranger things have happened but only where there has been a scandal/other event which has distorted the picture.) Dulwich and West Norwood is more marginal – here Tessa Jowell at the last election gained 45% of the vote with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats gaining just over 20% of the votes each.
My personal feeling is that the situation is unlikely to change significantly in any of the constituencies as the Labour vote may diminish slightly but is likely to to remain generally firm. Any increase in the Conservative vote is likely to be at the expense of the Liberal Democrat vote (just look at the results of the London Mayor election in 2008 when the Lib Dems were squeezed in the main Boris/Ken race). Of course the whole matter could be distorted by low turnout but assuming levels of turnout similar to the 2005 election I dont expect any of our MPs to change.
So who are the candidates locally?
The UK Polling report website or the Guardian website are good (generally unbiased) sources of information and no doubt you will receive leaflets and other literature over the next few weeks telling you who to vote for. Here I identify the current MP and the main players (especially those who have Camberwell connections)
Camberwell and Peckham constituency (see Guardian profile)
Harriet Harman (Labour) – incumbent MP since 1982, Leader of the Commons and deputy leader of the Labour Party. Website
Columba Blango (Lib Dem) – Southwark Councillor (Rotherhithe), former Olympic athlete. Website
Jenny Jones (Green) – Southwark Councillor (South Camberwell), Londonwide Member of the London Assembly (elected on the party list). Website
Andy Stranack (Conservative) – Community worker, lives in Peckham. Website
Vauxhall constituency (Guardian profile)
Kate Hoey (Labour) – incumbent MP since 1989, known for ‘independent’ stance on many issues. Website
Glyn Chambers (Conservative) – lives in Vauxhall. Website
Joseph Healy (Green) – Has been involved in Southwark campaigns. Website
Caroline Pidgeon (Lib Dem) – Londonwide Member of the London Assembly (elected on the party list) and Southwark Councillor (Newington), lives in Camberwell. Website
Dulwich and West Norwood constituency (Guardian profile)
Tessa Jowell (Labour) – incumbent MP since 1992, Olympics Minister. Website
Kemi Adegoke (Conservative) – lives in Herne Hill, Systems Analyst for RBS. Website
Shane Collins (Green) – lives in Lambeth. Website
Jonathan Mitchell (Lib Dem) – lives in Dulwich, Southwark Councillor (East Dulwich), stood last time. Website
(These are the Camberwell connections/ information/ website I could find — if you know of anything else please add)
So will you vote? What will these candidates do for Cambwerwell?