A Report on the Camberwell & Peckham Hustings

My intention was to write a series of posts about the general election but I’m unfortunately preoccupied with a family tragedy and not in London (see end note). There was a hustings last night (30th April) where candidates of all parties addressed an apparently huge crowd. The @CP_Hustings Twitter account is worth reading for live reactions, and I’ve put together a report based on some detailed comments, from our own Dagmar and Monkeycat, and NHA candidate and hustings organiser, Rebecca Fox.


Excellent hustings tonight at the Liberal Club. The early arrivals were kettled in the ballroom whilst those crowded outside more comfortably had the first show.

Harriet [Harman] organised this brilliantly [Dagmar’s view; Rebecca Fox explains what actually happened]. I haven’t seen this done so well since the Chartist times. She is very worldly wise and put everyone at their ease.

Nick Wrack was big on anger, quite fiercesome. He has been very good at highlighting the export of the cheap folks to cheaper areas. He’s right — who will clean and wipe the arse of the capitalist city if they have to travel all day to get to these minimum-wage jobs? Good on Nick.

There were several candidates — the UKIP one [David Kurten] was by far the most bubbly and came over really well. Down-in-the-mouth, lifestyle lefties take note.

The Conservative candidate [Naomi Newstead] was great. She really does feel like a Camberwell/Peckham person. Loads of rent-a-sod socialists barracked her but she was gracious and decent about it, though you could tell she was proper SE5/SE15 fierce behind it.

The NHA candidate, Rebecca [Fox], was really nice but Harriet told her to speak up because they couldn’t hear at the back. This was a brilliant political move by Harriet. Anyone who says she lacks political sense is totally wrong. Both girls went to St Paul’s, the excellent girls school composed entirely of excellent head girls. So the senior head girl out-head-girled the junior one. This, to some of the salty old-stagers, was very amusing.

We can be proud in Camberwell that we have such good Labour, Conservative and UKIP candidates. There was a Whig [Felicity Anscomb] who I think is for the hipsters. The actual candidate couldn’t make it, he was on the way — from the 18th Century.


I missed you Dagmar. I honestly think we were at different events. Maybe sitting at the back, something was lost in translation.

At the hustings I went to the Tory candidate acted like a drunken, out of touch fool, who spent the night criticising the Labour council for using Tory policies to help sell off the Aylesbury and Heygate Estates. She may well have been sober but if only there were more Tory candidates like her. We would never have to worry about Cameron and his ilk getting into power ever again.

The UKIP candidate was pleasant but clueless, and struggled to understand local issues.

The best candidates by far were the Nick Wrack, from Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition, Rebecca Fox from the National Health Action Party, and Amelia Womack from the Green Party. Amelia was the only candidate all night who was neither laughed at nor heckled. I think that says a lot.

All three of them were the best prepared, understood the problems, and came up with some interesting solutions.

Harriet was patronising, couldn’t care less and really didn’t want to be there.

She even tried to say that the Labour party loved electoral reform. “Look! we introduced PR to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the London elections. That proves we are a fair party who love PR”.

She then went on to say that every vote counted because even if you didn’t vote for her, your vote would be registered by Ofcom and somehow, as if by magic, Ofcom now have as much power as Parliament and can distribute the voice of all the little parties. Angry? There were a few people at the back who wanted to start a revolution right there and then and throw a few chairs. Me included. But I didn’t want to upset our lovely hosts at the Peckham Liberal Club.

She did try to re-organise the chairs around the stage though so we could all see the candidates. The words deckchairs and Titanic sprung to mind.

I could say more, but I’ll only get angry!

Rebecca Fox

Thanks for covering the hustings on 30 April. Glad you thought it was excellent.

I organised the event — not Harriet Harman [as an earlier draft perhaps implied]. It *would* have been great had the incumbent MP organised an opportunity for local people and other candidates to challenge her and each other, but how likely would that have been?

I was shocked at the lack of hustings — both as a local resident/ voter and a candidate (National Health Action Party) and decided to do something about it.

There’s a massive lack of accountability locally — not just at election time, but at other times. Someone told me he had not seen a meeting like this in 40 years of political involvement in Peckham. I suspect this is because we are in a safe Labour seat but how can people be truly involved in the election if there are no opportunities to see and hear from our own candidates?

The huge turnout (440 at the venue, 700+ watching live on Periscope) is a testament to the desire to be involved in *our* election.

Please tweet @CP_hustings or email cphustings@?gmail.?com if you would like to help improve local democracy and put on similar events in future.

I’m going to be largely unavailable for a few more weeks, so if anyone would like to contribute to the blog or Twitter account in my absence, please get in touch (peter@​camberwellonline.​co.​uk) or, if you’ve contributed before and have a user account, please feel free to post on your own initiative.

Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

59 thoughts on “A Report on the Camberwell & Peckham Hustings”

  1. This was a brilliant report Dagmar, thank you. I’ll look forward to reading MC’s, too — not that they’ll apply to me. I have spent the last three years since moving here blissfully unaware that Kate Hoey is my MP, not Harman.

  2. From Dagmar’s description, it sounds like Harriet Harman was chairing the meeting rather than there as an ordinary prospective candidate equal to the others.

    Was she really in a position to organise it brilliantly, or tell other candidates to speak up like she was their headteacher at the school debate club? If so, what better demonstration do we have of the patronising arrogance with which Labour continues to treat this constituency.

    Incidentally, wasn’t the Green Party candidate there? The local green candidate is actually a deputy leader of the Green Party, though on a job share arrangement. Very progressive!

  3. The Green was nice, but weak. Nick Wrack was bostin’. The Conservative was good — you could tell she was a real woman and a South Londoner. In other circumstances, you know she’d have taken the hecklers apart, each one bone by bone.

    The UKIP chap, who I now discover is a chemistry teacher from Bognor who has travelled the world learning people chemistry, was quite possibly the best personality.

    Camberwell is doing well — you are lucky to live here, James J. We’re lucky to live in London. Some parts of London are depressed and depressing — Tottenham immedately springs to mind. I met Kurdish lads rehoused to my home town who “had to move” after the riots of 2011.

    We’re lucky to have Harriet Harman as our MP. She’s a very practised and tough politician.

    The hustings was excellent. We’re actually all in the same boat and it showed.

    Camberwell/Peckham is not everyone’s cup of tea. My advice to people feeling weak about it is leave for the Cotswolds, Dordogne or Dorset — anywhere where they may feel more comfy.

    Monkey, I saw you there and waved enthusiastically. It was a victory sign, comrade.

  4. Dagmar, I am not questioning whether Camberwell and Peckham are nice places to live. I’m questioning whether democracy is serving us properly in this ultra-safe constituency.

    By the way, what do you mean when you describe people as “weak” and suggest they should move away from here? Weak is one of those vague terms which are often used for justifying prejudice and bigotry. You know, against the weaker sex, the weaker races, the weak and feeble, the weak of mind, all the people who aren’t strong enough to succeed in a super-competitive world.

  5. Harriet Harman did not even organise the seating — it was done alphabetically by Zoe Williams, the chair. Someone in the hall audience suggested putting the chairs on the stage, which Harriet and others wanted to do but we had already tried that in the set up and it wasn’t safe, with 11 candidates.

    What Harriet *did* do was turn up last so saw the crowd outside and help us all (candidates) come to a decision about how to help the people outside take part in the event, by going outside to speak to them. But it was a decision by all the candidates to do this.

  6. I for one would like to thank Rebecca Fox and her team for organising the CP Hustings last Thursday.

    At last an opportunity for us all to see the candidates face-to-face and make our own minds up.

    Harriet’s ‘entourage’ were prevented entry when she arrived (late), as the club was at capacity and the crowd outside had swelled to hundreds. I’d like to buy the door-lady a drink!

    A great shame that a couple of candidates were not there to represent themselves:
    — Prem Goyal (APP) There was little or no explanation for his absence.
    — Yahaya Kiyingi (Lib Dem) who was ill and replaced by “Jonathan” at the very last minute, who, in my mind, was unfairly treated and derided by much of the audience.
    * Note to both candidates* If you are not going to turn up (for whatever reason) at least give your replacements an opening statement to read on your behalf, explaining your absence and aspirations for the forthcoming election!

    It was the Peckham Peculiar on twitter who said it best:”[great to see] so many people attending the hustings in a supposedly safe seat.”

    I would have loved to have seen a more diverse audience (I more than appreciate this was the first one, and who knew what would happen!)
    Perhaps, with the help of CP hustings, we can roll out a series of hustings next election to venues that represent all communities in the constituency. I’d happily help. (old bingo hall ‘the lighthouse’ on Camberwell Rd for instance…we’d all fit in there!)

    In short:
    Thanks to CP hustings for lighting the political fire in me.
    At last! I know what way I’ll be voting on May 7th.
    I’m voting with my conscience.
    We all should be.
    Bring on the revolution!

  7. I meant to say,

    “Amelia, Nick and Rebecca were the only candidates who weren’t heckled and laughed at”.

    Sorry Nick Wrack and Rebecca Fox. You were great too! I think all three of you gave me plenty to think about.

    And so far, no-one has mentioned the Cannabis is Better than Alcohol Party candidate!

    Nor have we mentioned that the candidates did their opening statements on stage, so that everyone could see, instead of at the tables at the front of the hall.

    What with the retro look of the hall and the gold lame curtains, it was more like a comedy stand up routine in a working men’s club at times. And just as fun!

  8. Rebecca & Monkeycat — thanks for setting the record straight. Was mystified by Dagmar’s account.

  9. Cannabis!

    That makes me mystified.


    James — don’t be weak if you want to speak, is my advice to a politician. AndyYes, I think people who don’t like it here in Camberwell/Peckham should piss off. You understandy?

  10. Hey, Monkeycat, man. Was you inside, bruv? I was outside, so yes, we were at different events, deffo.

    Who you going for? Mayweather or Pacman?


  11. I think we should keep this clean. I’m sorry, James. You cleverly conflated two things to make me seem like a mad Maoist cripple-cleanser, Stalinist gulag-strutter or local SA Gaueleiter and I maybe should have taken this steaming, putrid concoction more gracefully.

    What I liked about the hustings was its general good nature. The crowd could have been more diverse — they were clearly just all nutters — but in my experience the actual people of Peckham are generally about their business, striving and thriving, ducking and diving, bobbing and weaving.

    Well done for Rebecca of the NHA — and let us remember, comrades, that Camberwell is an NHS town where the cripples come to be well — for single-handedly organising the hustings and in particular for luring Zoe Williams back to Camberwell from the Clapham or Kennington of the mind — she used to live here — to chair it inside.

    I couldn’t get in — I was part of the barmy army outside — Monkeyman, you must have been at both, as a photographer, right, in the media elite, bruv?

    You were lucky. I only went to see Zoe Williams.

  12. But Dagmar, you’ve left me in a crisis now. What if I like somethings about Camberwell, but not everything? Can I stay and try to improve it in my own quiet way or should I still just piss off back where I came from?

    What’s clever is how pretty language can hide pernicious ideas.

  13. Anyway, I’m pleased that it was just a misunderstanding about Harriet organising the official hustings. That would have been totally inappropriate, but she deserves credit if she helped in improvising an additional outdoor hustings last week.

    Got a couple more flyers in the post today. Prem Goyal from the All People’s Party claims that over 16000 voters have already promised to vote for him. If only half that number actually do vote for him on Thursday, that would still be a huge achievement for a new, local party.

    And Joshua Ogunleye is standing again this year, still promising a workers revolution. He really is the sweetest revolutionary with the biggest smile. Here he is in 2010:

  14. I think it was Rebecca FOX (you can say that again!) who organised the Peckham Liberal Club hustings. I agree with you, James, just because we don’t like some things about an area doesn’t mean we should cleanse ourselves from it. I’m sorry to be so intemperate.

    I love your sentence, “What’s clever is how pretty language can hide pernicious ideas.” This reminds me of the luscious verse of Algernon Charles Swinburne, who clothed the longings, achings and agonies of sado-masochism in the most delicious, silken purple poetry.

    That WRP chap is pretty, too, but like the SWP before it, the wish for civil disorder leads to the charnel house of hate. My point is hate has no place in Camberwell/Peckham which is rapidly becoming one of the unassailably real parts of London where all manner of toff, thug and nutter live relatively happily together.

    Hate is OK in the “Daily Mail” areas of the country where they even — or especially — hate the people next door. As Ruth Rendell said — and this goes for a lot in politics:

    “The knives of jealousy are honed on details.”

    If we were voting for a good local MP, we should probably vote for the Conservative Naomi Newstead, but unfortunately her party want to crash the country.

  15. I saw Nick Wrack at Peckham Rye Station this morning giving it some. The workers getting off the bus from East Dulwich on their way to private sector or central government jobs in the city are a Tough Crowd for the socialist message, especially at that volume that early in the morning. On the other hand, they are frequent rail users and know all about privatisation.

    The green people were also canvassing, a little apologetically, off to the side. But they seemed to be doing quite well. That’s the thing about The Greens: they are low key, but clued up.

    Naomi, the conservative, is a friend of a friend. She is local and is very nice, apparently. We need more entrepreneurs around here, but the conservatives have caused disabled people to lose their spare rooms and single-parent families to be moved miles from home. That’s a tough sell.

  16. My preference is Proportional Representation under the Mixed Member Vote system…In an area like ours Labour wouldn’t need to fear…they would still be ahead but with Greens, TUSC and NHA reminding them of their responsibilities…

    It would be good for everybody…do you see?

    Thank you all

    I drink my tea

  17. I thought the hustings were fantastic (outside crew). A glimpse of Scotland comes to Peckham — by which I mean the woeful and divisive reporting on Scotland and the SNP by ‘national’ media has missed the real story which is the level of engagement in local politics & election issues — as I hear about it from mates up there. Anyway hustings very welcome.

    Any election night events in the area? I see from Huff-post Cam&Peck results due c. 3am.

  18. Stonking Labour results in the two constituencies in Southwark. Good. Labour are the true party of the city. Why’s that, do we think, in places where people live closely together. Funny that.

    It seems a shame Simon Hughes got so humiliated when Clegg got in. Hughes was respected in Bermondsey.

    Anyway, let’s roll over and get stuffed by the toffs.

    1. Breakdown of results for Cam&Peck. Swing to Labour, but biggest +ve swing to Greens.

      63.3% share of the total vote
      +4.1% change in share of the votes

      13.2% share of the total vote
      +0.1% change in share of the votes

      Green Party
      10.1% share of the total vote
      +7.1% change in share of the votes

      Liberal Democrat
      5.0% share of the total vote
      ‑17.4% change in share of the votes

      4.7% share of the total vote
      +4.7% change in share of the votes

  19. As Dagmar suggests…

    I’m really quite proud to live here rather than some hopelessly lost constituency in the Home Counties or Kent…

    Also, word on the street in Camberwell & Peckham is nationally speaking at least — We know who did it! 😀

  20. Was at the count for the NHA. Will report on this when less tired.

    Push came to shove yesterday.

    Gabe, I talked to Naomi’s mum. Naomi’s great, isn’t she? She probably should be our MP. She went to Lyndhurst Primary.

  21. On a more positive note, Southwark Council is consulting on changes to the parking restrictions in the East Camberwell zone.

    They are asking if people want to have reduced times similar to Herne Hill so that you only have to pay between 10am-12pm. Other options are possible, but this always seems like a very sensible compromise to me. You can do a very quick online survey here before 5th June.


  22. @monkeycat

    Don’t know why the embed thingy doesn’t work for you…Camberwell is on the ley lines so I expect it may be connected to that 😀

    Actually, Cameron won with just 24.4% of the eligible vote of the 66.1% who bothered to go to the polling station…so not unlike Ronald Reagan’s 26% back in the day — this is the problem with the First Past The Post system…

    A few years ago, I read a book called The Spirit Level — Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better by
    Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett… and it changed my life, I would recommend it to anybody who considers themselves to have a social conscience and sense of reasonableness…



  23. Oh Dagmar, I really hope you are joking.

    As Cameron is saying:

    “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone”.

    I’d rather have a parliament with only Labour MPs than one Tory MP. Period.

  24. I’m sorry to read about your personal tragedy, Peter.

    Going back to an earlier comment about Simon Hughes. He won Bermondsey against Peter Tatchell by using the fact that he was gay in his campaign against him. This played well with the voters at the time and subsequently revealed Simon Hughes as a hypocrite of the first order.

    There was a wonderful free performance by Amazing Bodies in Dulwich Park at the weekend sponsored by Southwark Council. They should be applauded for trying to do the right thing in the face of huge cuts. You can read about it at storieswithsam.com (I don’t know how to make a link).

  25. Eusebiovic, I also read The Spirit Level a few years ago. Good isn’t it?

    It was an eye-opener for me in the sense that it shows that we are all better-off (even the rich) with more equality in society. That’s intuitively obvious, but it’s good to have the charts and research to show that. I assume this is what Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” is about, although I have not read that.

    Dagmar, I doubt the country is better off under conservatives, but it depends on how you look at these things. Conservative governments do not generally reduce inequality, but entrench it in favour of the 1 percenters. I do agree that talking to the candidate’s Mum might be a good thing.

    Monkeycat, an all Labour parliament would be terrible, IMO. They do some good things, but too many of them would would create a statist, big government, with no regard for the ecological impact of the modern British lifestyle.

    Some conservatives are okay, the same as some labourists are okay.

    Maude, Simon Hughes was our MP when we lived up that way. He was quite popular with the local, locals. At that time is was an achievement to get the Green vote above the BNP. Come to think of it, the ‘kippers did better than the Greens nationally in this election. Funny old world, eh.

  26. Peter, I could find no end note about your trouble. All the best from us, eh? We are perturbed that our founder is mysteriously distressed.

    Naomi Newstead had balls of steel to stand for the Conservatives in an entitled Labour seat. The Dagmarettes go to state schools in and near Camberwell and are doing very well. I say no more. Good luck to Naomi, she is a proper Camberwell lady.

    Old Peter Tatchell, I remember him vividly from the 1983 Bermondsey by-election. He twittered round the constituency on a lady’s bike with a basket on the front like the leader of the GaySoc at a uni.

    I thought at the time, I can’t see the Millwall-supporting burghers — or, indeed, burgers — of Bermondsey going for this. They chose a gay man with a different sense of identify, instead, and a Liberal, who successfully proved that Liberals were excellent localists by being a popular and effective constituency MP.

    This time around Labour made a huge effort with a large army of active members and supporters. Like Hughes said in his goodbye speech, part of his constituency had been having elections since 12-something and he’d been the longest serving local leader in that time, 32 years. He done well. His party didn’t. So he went.

    Tatchell’s out, outrageous perversity made him an excellent, indefatigable campaigner in the end, trying to rugby tackle the oppressive and ridiculous Mugabwe and getting assaulted by his goons for his pains.

    Probably, today’s Millwall fanatics would vote for him for having the sheer balls to do that. Mugwabwe was an honoured guest at Putin’s — another tit like Mugwabwe — Mayday parade just gone.

    The Conservatives have 331 seats, Labour 232. Britain’s cities are red, the provinces where the shire toffs and cap-doffers live are blue. This is not surprising.

    What is weird is that Conservatives don’t really like British people and that New Labour people don’t understand them at all.

    My mother is 88, has had a severe stroke and is in a home. When told the Conservatives had won the election, she said, “As usual.”

    This is better commentary than any amount of gushy, Guardian-reading, piss-and-wind why-oh-whining.

    New Labour lost because they insisted on calling the electorate “You poor things”. This did not go down well — though some people are still acting like New Labour actually won, on nice tone-of-voice alone” “Oh, the poor foreigner! Oh, the poor poor!”

    Tonight down Margate the Hamlet will take on the Ukipper’s team in the rain in the play-off semi to see who may progress up to the Rothman’s, whatever it’s called.

    There ye may see amongst the Hamlet fans what real, ordinary, everyday, hardworking-family proper socialists look like. They like life. They like a laugh. They want something out of life, even if it’s just a win tonight.

    They are not here to suffer. They do not look to the heights of Islington, Hampstead and Highgate to see how to think, talk, act and live. And the Hamlet fans include posh lawyers, council jobsworths, women, children, you name it.

    And if their team loses, they will not sit in their own mush, drinking chardonnay, whingeing on about the wight-wing pwess wot done it and eyeing their next trip to Tuscany.


  27. Hamlet lost 2–1 in the rain in Margate. We must find solace in the fact that Harriet Harman increased her majority and is now Prime Minister until she is replaced by the winner of “Britain’s Got Talent”. Maybe she can play for Hamlet next season.

  28. Yes, I remember the campaign in Bermondsey, I was here/there. I also remember the libdem candidate (or what ever they called themselves then) saying Harriet Harman couldn’t do the job of MP because she was pregnant.
    Simon Highes is on his way to the House of Lords, he has the credentials to fit in very well.

    “Labour needs to look not just for short-term tactical opportunities‑a chance to split or defeat the government-but also for inspiration. Otherwise this defeat really could be the end”.
    I think it is.

    peoples assembly.org.uk
    20th June

  29. I tend to agree, Maude. Labour are now like the Celts, beaten back beyond the muddy marshes of Walworth (“Celt place”) to Camberwell (“Celt place”) and to the Celtic fringes. You’ll always get Labour up north and in Wales. The Scots will vote Labour again if there is a proper Labour to vote for — but there may not be. People finish “uni” now with appropriate degrees and go straight into “policy” and so on in the most arrogant plastic way, looking down on everyone around them.

    I remember in 1979 having a feeling of foreboding that this was going to be big. Anyway, Labour had run out of steam completely. Sure enough, the radical Mrs Thatcher had three terms and rode the shareholder value of the 1980s like someone out of a “Pet Shop Boys” song.

    I have to tell you now, that I have the same foreboding again. The fair-play of 1945 will be dismantled morale by morale, teacher by teacher, nurse by nurse, doc by doc.

    The pompous, puffing Conservatives hate the state. They like prep schools and ridiculous, suburban taste — ruched curtains and the like.

    In 1945 there was an embarrassed silence from the British establishment as it realised that people who fought six years in the war deserved something other than the Victorian penury and grovelling they had enjoyed up till then.

    I have to tell you now, that the fellow-feeling of 1945 has long gone, that shareholder value is king, even though it gnaws at the very bones of Britain.

    I say to you now.

    We have the blues.

    Will the last true Brit please turn out the light.

  30. I have a piece of paper in my hand, on it, a picture of the Queen and some other bits. I will exchange it for beer at the Hermits Cave tonight.

  31. But with regard to earlier comments re Naomi I’m with my hero, Dennis Skinner.
    “There’s only so many things you can do in life and if you think I’m going to spend my waking hours thinking about some decency in some Tory or other, you can forget about it.”

  32. This is worth a read…certainly beats what the rotters who own the newspapers want you to believe anyway…


    p.s — On a different note, a great shame that Dulwich Hamlet lost to Margate in the play-off but as we are talking about proper football here, everybody is looking forward to next season already!

    Dulwich Hamlet FC are The Spirit Level — we are very lucky to have them in our midst…on our doorsteps

  33. Stop Press****
    New cheese man at Camberwell Green Market today. He’s from Batch Farm in Shepton Mallet, via the Elephant and his cheeses are jolly delicious. He plans to be here every third Sat of the month, and is there today until 2pm.
    Other new stalls include a plant stall as well as a lady selling tiny weeny cakes.

  34. Surely, that should be tiny winy cakes or teeny weeny cakes. Tiny weeny cakes sounds a bit rude…

  35. Those links are really interesting, thank you.
    Must read Spirit Level, has been on bed side table for ages will now get to grips.
    Terry Eagleton, Why Marx was Right, worth a read.

  36. Tony Blair gave Labour its “We’re really a religion” bent. Now it’s blasphemy to say they lost the election when they could have walked it if they’d seemed like real people instead of aerated preachers.

    So “Vote Labour, live Conservative”, well-meaning, metropolitan, “May move to Dorset” Labourish types are looking for excuses. The main reasons we have, coming in on the teleprinter, for Labour losing are:

    * G4S (the old comedy, bungling Group 4) losing full ballot boxes

    * The fascist press

    * Labour voters not voting Labour

    * Shy Tories

Comments are closed.