Camberwell votes 1: the General Election

General election 2010 in Camberwell

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?

180 thoughts on “Camberwell votes 1: the General Election”

  1. Well I dont want to split hairs over the precise terminology — I was giving a broadbrush summary. 99%+ of the voting population would accepot for all intents and purposes it is a democracy. Yes it is has an un unwritten constitution but it is a democracy (or democratic monarchy if thats more to your taste).

    Similarly with the candidates: each constituency has a range of fringe candidates also standing — UKIP, Workers Liberty, probably also English Democrats and all sorts of other parties none of whom are likely to attract enough support to keep their deposits (you need 5% of votes cast to keep depost). Wait until the nominations close on 20 April for the full list.

  2. my bad 🙂 i misunderstood the bit in which you ask people to add any other candidates

    as your blog post is only a personal account of who’s standing in camberwell, we can leave the discussions about definitions of democracy, how democratic or representative a first-past-the-post electoral system actually is, debatable efficiency of the said system, alternative theories and practices etc for a different one?

  3. Reading back I seem to come across as over officious — sorry I didnt mean it that way, I was merely trying to keep things focused; as an active participant in party politics discussions for 20+ years I have seen people spend many hours worrying about the minutiae failing to grasp the bigger picture!

    Anyway back to shopping — when I walked past the large 99p shop tonight it was closed and it looked like there was no stock on the shelves, I think that is where the branch of Peacocks will be.

  4. Good job Mumu.

    The Tories don’t have much of a chance round here of course, but their Camberwell candidate wasn’t what I expected. Interesting case.

    I forgot that the council elections are on too. I look forward to NOT voting for Sandra Rhule, if she’s standing again.

    I think I’ll protest vote Green again. This planet is going to hell, and fast.

  5. Anyways, I tried the food in The Tiger. I had a burger and she had steak and kidney. My burger was juicy, bap nicely toasted, accompanying chips were fantastic — heavy and soft. The steak and kidney was OK, but the accompanying veg was a bit thin and I was glad I didn’t order it. After clearing both plates we were still hungry so had to get a portion of chips in.

    Overall, the food was fine and the chips superb. Service was good, and we didn’t wait too long. It was perhaps a pound or two pricier than we’d have liked and that we finished our meals still hungry wasn’t great either. But I’ll definitely be trying the other options.

    We sort of wondered if we should’ve stumped up a few more quid and gone to The Bear, where we recently had a BRILLIANT meal. I did the boudin noir (black pudding) and she enjoyed the duck. Extra greens and chips too. Then onto some of the guest ales. It was really busy too, which was a good sign.

  6. @SouthLondonJohn

    I’m not certain but according to the couple of people I spoke to in the Joiners Arms there had been a stabbing in or around Paddy Power. There was certainly forensics on the scene when I went past.

  7. I’ve noticed more and more people have been hanging around that corner outside Paddy Power.

    There’s been a bit of a revival in that end of Brixton Market that opens onto Coldharbour Rd. Some interesting food options within. Worth checking out one Saturday.

  8. Thanks for the information guys. How much better it was when there was an estate agent on that site.

  9. This is obviously the LibCon Executive’s fault for not stepping in and preventing powerless local councillors from approving Paddy Power’s planning app.

    VOTE LABOUR! (I just wanted to be the first to say that on this blog for 2010 elections).

  10. @mumu: i think, for the benefit of everyone who has not been in the area for 20 years, a historical, local and national context would be really helpful.
    at the moment, all i’m hearing is a mantra how camberwell is labour territory, which, without a context, must mean that they are clearly doing something right. for them & for camberwell?

  11. @Regeneguru, just to help me find my way through your maze of irony and sarcasm, are you saying that planning decisions on bookmakers are taken at the community council level? Are local councillors really free to veto this sort of thing? If so, it’s pretty astonishing that there are now so many, not just in Camberwell, but all down the Walworth Road and elsewhere.

  12. regenuguru

    Correct, yet again 😉

    Betting Shops along with Fast/Junk Food Joints and Off Licences are a potent mix of anti-social nuisance…especially concentrated in such intense clusters…as we have in Camberwell

    What are the chances eh? Another stabbing…Forget about it Jake, It’s Chinatown!

    Still I’ve noticed there’s been no skullduggery outside MacDonalds since they got their nice green makeover — I’m absolutely convinced that upvc signage and harsh neon lighting also brings out the “beast” in human beings…

    I’m voting Green…have been doing so the past 6 years

    There I said it!

  13. I concur with Regenuguru. Vote Labour. The Conservatives will get in easily with a handsome, been-to-a-good-school majority. But watch out for Jon Cruddas and a move within Labour to get straight again instead of all metro-clever, oleaginous and reptilian. True posh people never posh it up like the effete Etonians and the New Labourites. Anyway…

  14. @ James — a link to the minutes for the betting shop approval is here.

    On this particular occasion cllrs deciding were:

    Councillor Althea Smith (chairing) — Labour, Nunhead
    Councillor Sandra Rhule — Labour, Brunswick Park
    Councillor Jelil Ladipo — Lib Dem, Newington

    The following unelected council officers deserve mention (and, indeed their photographs published as for councillors), since officers tend to make policy under the noses of our limited elected representatives:

    Dorcas Mills, David Franklin, Kate Heap

    Historians will probably concur that the real “wasted vote” in our current era was a vote cast for any of the major parties, particularly locally.

  15. See folks, what have I been saying about Sandra for like the past two years or something?

    Telling it how it is. Always have been. Food reviews to local politicians to helpful hints and discussion. Your friend forever, Phil G.

  16. Am loving this condition:
    Any ATM made available for use on the premises shall be located in a place that requires any customer who wishes to use it to leave any gaming machine or betting machine in order to do so.

    What a classic. That’s the extent of Labour’s controls on gambling. You can’t just swivel your seat and take tenners out of the ATM to feed them into a rigged slot machine. No, you have to get off your fat ass to do so, cos that way you’ll gamble less. Plus it’s health n safety. 5 a day and all that.

  17. But maybe this idiotic clause is what caused the stabbing?

    Think about it. Hapless gambling yoof loads up £30 or £40 into the gambler in the belief that surely, eventually, this sodding thing is going to ‘pay out’.

    But yoof runs out of money, has to leave the spot for the ATM on the other side of the room, which charges him £2.50 extra for the withdrawal.

    Back at the gambler he finds that an older bloke bored of the dogs / horses has decided to pop £2 in. That £2 frees up the £50 jackpot. Argument ensues as to whose cash it is. Yoof draws knife. Bloke calls mate with fighting dog and tells him to get over. Drama follows…

    A tale for our times.

  18. Phil G

    I think there is more than just a kernal of truth at the heart of that argument/scenario…

  19. OMG regenguru I agree with you vote labour! Cuts to public spending means job losses in the private sector, the majority of construction is publically funded BSF, housing corporation etc. Tories will come in and cut these programmes which will see huge redundancies across the sector.
    And they have very dodgy views on equality especially on gay rights.

  20. help/advice: i just started doing a daily round-up of anything to do with the elections (part one here: as there’s so much going on absolutely everywhere — does anyone know if there’s a technical way of setting up a filter news something that would look at national news/blogs then pick out the news only about the local parliamentary candidates?
    thanks x

  21. Hi, nice post Mumu. Thought you might like to know that the Labour candidates in the Southwark wards of Camberwell are as follows:

    Camberwell Green:
    Kevin Ahern
    Cllr Dora-Dixon Fyle
    Emmanuel Oyewole

    Brunswick Park:
    Cllr John Friary
    Norma Gibbes
    Cllr Ian Wingfield

    South Camberwell:
    Stephen Govier
    Cllr Peter John
    Cllr Veronica Ward

    For info on Labour policies in Southwark, including a local manifesto, have a look at

    If anyone’s interested in helping chuck out this incompetent Lib Dem / Tory Council of ours, or in joining our active & friendly local Labour Party, let me know via Twitter @andrewhewitt10 or andrewhewitt10@​googlemail.​com.


  22. Thought for the day…

    “If there are only foolish minds and bodies there’ll be nothing serious to annihilate. In the highest government positions almost no human beings have been seen for decades now, anywhere in the world… Mankind must recover it’s imaginative powers,recover living thought and real being, no longer accept these insults to its soul,and do so soon”

    Saul Bellow — Humboldt’s Gift (1975)

    I hope we can get our Village Hall…Are you listening Labour? Time to reverse 40 years of decay in Camberwell and prepare a coherent town planning policy — We are at the centre of the borough…The neglect has gone beyond the pale — Are you all up to the task?

  23. SOME NUMBERS (and things to consider in addition to the niceties when you vote)

    As Vince says, Labour sold it’s soul to The City and do whatever they are told in the doom loop in which banks game the regulators. In return, the city has been a feeder club for Labour. Brown’s cabinet have given 23 bankers honours since 1997. Four of them scored life peerages, and seven were knighted. Three were made government ministers.

    Meanwhile, the Labour treasury has facilitated the biggest transfer of wealth in history from the coping class to Britain’s asset class — or new aristocracy. £1000 Billion of bailout money so far, and counting.

    Bank of England estimate of cost of recession? £7 Trillion. Toxic assets in the global banking system? $2000 Trillion (source: Labour party assessment on banking crisis)

    In short, this is the election of monumental financial lies and monumental public debt. Be wary of the mood music, crocodile tears for the poor (Champagne Socialism) and electioneering in all it’s forms. I havn’t mentioned oil & gas wars in the Middle East yet, which reminds me, I’m sure the thoroughly decent Robin Cook is sobbing in his grave at the betrayal of socialism.

    Whatever your political persuasion, think very carefully for yourself about who and what you are voting for in this election.

  24. A new choice for Camberwell:

    The Camberwell Party

    No Camberwell Green candidates signed up to the Seven Pledges for Camberwell Village Hall prior to the closure of nominations. The major parties didn’t listen and so now the Camberwell Party is going to bring political discussion back to Camberwell Green.

    Join in the discussion about Camberwell. If you like what we’re saying, join the Camberwell Party.

  25. James J

    Fantastic! — I would vote for you if only I didn’t live in Herne Hill Ward…

    I will offer any assistance I can though…Camberwell is very close to my heart despite the technical boundaries of voting constituencies — I still think of myself first and foremost as a resident of Camberwell.

  26. sorry if i’ve missed it but where can i find a list of candidates and manifestos for the LOCAL elections in southwark? i am in the south camberwell ward. i can’t see anything on southwark’s website. thanks. claire

  27. @ Claire, the official list of candidates is released tomorrow. It should go on Southwark’s website after that. It will also be available in local libraries.

    So far neither the Liberal Democrats nor the Conservatives have announced their candidates for South Camberwell or any of the other Camberwell wards. It seems they’re not really interested in campaigning seriously in this area. You are lucky though because in South Camberwell you have a genuine choice between Labour and the Green Party. You will find information about their manifestos on their local websites:

  28. I’m sure this blog attracts a readership beyond the borders of Camberwell. I heard just last night that there is an excellent independent candidate standing in Peckham ward in the elections. His name is Phil Bale and I know him through the Friends of Burgess Park. He set up his local TRA; he’s been hugely successful in getting funding for the improvement of North Peckham including Calypso Gardens; and he has been at the forefront of campaigns to improve public transport in that area.

    Basically, in the last few years, he’s done more for Peckham than Peckham’s actual councillors.


    shouts the headline exultantly on the front page of Situationist International Times. The paper has another sinister Daily Maily story, that a new notice has appeared on the railings of the old children’s playground in Lucas Gardens:

    “Adults must be accompanied by children.”

    Now the playground will be surrounded by adults gazing longingly at the place where they used to frolic with their tots — and arrested for their gawking by the paedo police and exposed in the Daily Mail.


  30. I’ve been saying I’m voting Labour and got a kicking for it on pub trade websites, so I’m saying I’m voting Labour here too. I have a dreadful memory, I THINK I’ve already said it here anyway. Labour Labour Labour.

    Having said this I am disillusioned with politics. Nothing new really. Maybe I’ll vote Green.

    Paddy Power, that really pissed me off. Even before the stabbing. Maybe the stabbing had nothing to do with Paddy Power? There’s been loads of killings in Camberwell in recent years.

    I’m reading the Mao Tse Tung’s biography. What a shithead, total and utter, he was.

  31. There was an electric landlady from a Camberwell pub talking about the nasty pubcos on bbc news this weekend. Her name was something like Hilary Frances, if memory serves. Anyone know which pub she runs?

  32. Gabe, the official list of candidates for the general election hasn’t been published yet. However, Columba Blango and Jenny Jones are also candidates for the council election so I can tell you that Columba lives on Grove Lane and Jenny lives in Cottage Green, both in Camberwell.

  33. I have just been for a walk around Denmark Hill Station. The houses on Windsor Walk are being gutted of doors, windows, internal walls and roofs. They do not have scaffolding around them and I can find no planning application in relation to theses works. I have the feeling they are just making them completely un-inhabitable to firstly prevent squatters and secondly to hasten their deterioration so that they can eventually deem them structurally unsound, knock them down completely and build some monolithic shit in their place. Meanwhile on the other side of the road the recently restored station roof has been plundered for its lead before its even been finished. The metal is peeled back and torn and the new slates lie cracked and smashed from the heavy feet of a pikey idiot. Its a depressing state of affairs..

  34. Do people STILL steal lead off roofs?

    I thought that died out in the 70’s!

    I hope they are not going to demolish those houses on Windsor Walk…They truly are unique…

  35. I got an invitation from a charming young man yesterday. He was actually inviting me to join the government.

    As it turns out he’s not even a member of the government himself. He’s hoping that by asking me to join I would then return the favour and ask him to lead it. Very odd.

    Ultimately I am not really interested in governing as I am busy with my home brew kit. I will therefore have to decline his invitation and in doing so will be unable to invite him to lead it. Shame because he seemed very nice, if perhaps a bit posh.

  36. Yeah, I don’t really get that bit of the Tory campaign. A bit more devolution would be good. But do I want to get involved in running the schools and services? No, not really, to be honest. Got better things to do. And that’s what we pay good salaries and pensions to town hall lackeys for.

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