Interview: Ed Fordham

Monday afternoon at Ciao Ciao on Kilburn High Road, and the staff are enjoying some quiet time between lunch and dinner. Sitting across the table from me is Ed Fordham, a regular here, and looking quite at home, sitting back, relaxed and enjoying the occasional sip of his cappuccino. Ed is the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate in the new Hampstead and Kilburn constituency, and he certainly looks the part: cheery-faced, smartly suited, and with his oft ringing but, for politeness’ sake, ne’er answered blackberry sitting beside his coffee on the table. Likes: diversity. Dislikes: Tories.

Ed Fordham

He stood for election unsuccessfully in 2005, but now, only a few months away from the next general election, and with the constituency boundaries having been redrawn in the Lib Dems’ favour, Ed is quietly confident about his chances: “I’ve been involved with the Lib Dems for nearly 20 years, and we’ve never run a campaign on this scale, that wasn’t a by-election. For the first time in a century here in Hampstead and Kilburn, the Lib Dems are at risk of winning.”

There are, however, two large obstacles in his way. The first is current Labour MP for Hampstead & Highgate, Glenda Jackson, who has been MP here since 1992. Ed is conscious of not making this a personality-based election campaign, as Jackson is a household name and two-time Oscar winning actress. However, she is also the least active MP representing a London constituency. Ed, on the other hand, hopes to be an active voice for the community.

“I hand sign about five thousand letters a week, and when people pop up on Facebook or Twitter, I reply.” Keeping the conversation between himself and his potential constituents open is crucial to the future success of his campaign. Former US governor of Vermont, Howard Dean, compared Fordham’s use of social networking sites, and his understanding of the importance of grass roots politics, to one Barack Obama. I think that’s about as far as the comparison could go, but Ed was understandably flattered nonetheless.

Kilburn’s very own Barry O’Bama

The second obstacle is the campaign of Tory candidate Chris Philp. According to projections by Rallings & Thrasher, the Lib Dems would only need 474 votes to defeat the Labour party in Hampstead & Kilburn. The conservatives are way down in third, some five thousand votes behind. However, the Tories are using figures from the Ken vs Boris mayoral elections, an entirely different contest, which put them ahead of Labour and Lib Dems both. Ed sees this as a final role of the dice for the Tories:  “There is a level of panic in the Tory campaign the likes of which I’ve never seen before. I think they’re pushing their luck and they’re panicking, using figures which favour them.”

Ed reckons that the Lib Dems’ strong presence on local councils along with Sarah Teather having consolidated her 2003 by-election victory in Brent East sends a message to voters, “I’m going to point out that there’s a pretty high chance that if they vote Lib Dem, they’ll get a Lib Dem MP.”

And what if they do? There’s a great deal of speculation at the moment on what would happen in the event of a hung Parliament. On his hopes for his party at the coming election, with a wry smile, Ed acknowledges, “the only answer I’m probably supposed to give is a Lib Dem majority. But if no party has a majority, then there will be intensive negotiations based, I hope, on policy, as in Scotland, where the Lib Dems hammered out an agreement with the Scottish Labour Party.”

But on a personal level, he makes it quite clear where he stands: “ABC – anyone but Conservatives.” When discussing the Conservatives, Ed’s usually unwavering smile fades, “I suppose that’s the driving force in getting me started in the first place. I saw what they did to my own community and my own family when I was growing up, which I haven’t really forgiven them for…”

The Lib Dems are currently seeking legal advice on one particular element of the Tory campaign, namely claims made by Chris Philp’s newsletter that the Lib Dems supported the closure of the Royal Free Hospital’s stroke unit. Onto his second cappuccino, and Ed Fordham is now visibly annoyed. “I completely take issue with the cheeky sodding Tories saying we supported the closure of the stroke unit. The stroke unit was never under threat of closure.” In a decision supported by clinicians and medical staff, a new acute stroke unit will be opening at UCLH instead of the Royal Free, but no changes are being made to the existing stroke unit in the Hampstead hospital. Ed feels strongly about this, “so when the Tories say ‘save the stroke unit’ – there’s nothing to save. I think [Philp] is being a disingenuous, lying, cheating toad – he’s just trying a cheap trick.”

And what if he should defeat the Oscar winner and the toad? After a moment’s thought he answered, “if I win, I’ll want to walk down Kilburn High Road saying thank you to everyone, and go to my favourite Indian restaurant for a meal with my mates. If I lose, I’ll want to hide. I’ll grow a beard and go work on a farm in India.”

So, all you floating voters, come election day, if nothing else, consider whether you want Ed to support a local business by dining in Kilburn, or add to his carbon footprint by flying to India to sample the real thing…

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12 Comments

Filed under People, Politics, innit

12 responses to “Interview: Ed Fordham

  1. Nick

    What is his favourite indian restaurant – and how often is he in Ciao Ciao – I’ve never seen him there!

  2. Often in Shamrat, ask Parvez, and pretty regular in Ciao Ciao – often about 8am or @ weekends
    Ed

  3. David

    Nicely written and highly informative. Keep it up.

  4. Will

    A very informative interview. Ed comes across as a very approcable, down to earth guy and the fact he’s already commented on this feed would suggest he’s not just full of hot air like most other politicians. A much more effective approach than Chris Philp thrusting a newsletter into my hand as I stagger to work in the morning!

  5. Nick

    Shamrat – the one next to Nandos / furniture store / opposite Woody’s grill?

    Is that good?! It always looks empty?!

  6. Local Tory

    “I think they’re pushing their luck and they’re panicking, using figures which favour them”

    “a disingenuous, lying, cheating toad – he’s just trying a cheap trick”

    Funny isn’t it? I’ve found in life that people, especially liberal democrats, often accuse others of what they are doing themselves. So, on the two points he puts in play above, maybe “Honest Eddie” can explain why:

    1) He insists in using five year out of date voting figures that NEVER ACTUALLY HAPPENED ANYWAY? Hey Eddie: a lot’s happened since 2005. (Answer: because it means he doesn’t have to admit the Lib Dems came third in the GLA elections, in 2008 third in the mayoral elections in 2008, third in the european elections in 2009, are third national opinion polls, and will come third in Hampstead and Kilburn and nationally in the general election.)

    2) Why, on the 15th of June 2009, the Lib Dems voted AGAINST this motion:

    “This Council also notes that the Royal Free’s specialist stroke unit has consistently been rated one of the leading units in the country, recently receiving a 96 out of 100rating, compared to 84 out of 100 at UCH (which is itself a good unit). The Royal Free’s stroke unit also has a much lower than average mortality rate. This Council notes that one of the reasons why the Royal Free’s Unit is one of the top rated in the country is that they have a multi-disciplinary approach to tackling thrombosis relating to both cardiac and stroke patients.
    This Council notes with alarm NHS London’s plans to move the most important parts of the Royal Free’s stroke service to UCH, creating in effect only one acute stroke centre in the Borough where currently there are two. This will additionally lead to longer journey times for first admittance for stroke patients in the north of the Borough, and for patients coming from Barnet and even Hertfordshire. A few minutes can make a huge difference to stroke patients. The plan would also undermine the Royal Free’s current way of working.
    This council therefore opposes NHS London’s plan”

    (Find the minutes online here:http://democracy.camden.gov.uk/democracy/committeedocs?id=e1820df9-924c-11de-872e-69727ea675c2&frm_yr=2009&frm_mth=6&to_yr=2009&to_mth=8)

    This was only ever about emergency admissions as Eddie very well knows, assuming he can read (the clue is the phrase “first admission”, Eddie). He is being, what’s the word, “disingenuous”, in pretending otherwise. BTW Eddie, will you be writing to your Richmond Park LD chums, calling them “disingenuous, lying, cheating toads” for “campaigning” to “save” Kingston hospital, a hospital which they know very well is under no threat at all? http://www.zacgoldsmith.com/default.asp?contentID=153

    “Mike O’Brien, the Health Minister, said in Parliament that; “the Liberal Democrats have a record of running scare stories and asking people to join the campaign by sending in their addresses, petitions and email addresses. They can then canvas those people. It is all about elections.”

    Indeed it is, my friends, indeed it is.

    Eddie’s latest leaflet says the election is about the sort of person we want to be an MP. Damn right it is. And it aint a Lib Dem spin doctor from Planet Westminster.

  7. Local Tory: I’m not sure that screaming in CAPITAL LETTERS about how awful figures are that didn’t happen really works when those figures are ones commissioned by BBC, ITV and Sky? Unless perhaps they’re all in on a secret Lib Dem plot to make up fake numbers just to do down the Tories :-)

  8. Dan, didn’t mean to highjack your blog but as Local Tory is quite agitated i ought to point out that in fact the motion presented to full council was not voted against by the lib dems.

    There was a main motion calling for the stroke unit to be saved.

    The lib dems put forward an amendment (which called for the unit to be saved but under the terms of the proposed new unit at UCLH and RFH)

    But they didn;t vote against the main motion – precisely to avoid you claiming they voted to close the unit. So they didn’t vote against, so you made up the fact that they did.

    You’ll find it’s called not telling the whole truth…
    [sigh]

    Ed

  9. Local Tory

    “Local Tory: I’m not sure that screaming in CAPITAL LETTERS about how awful figures are that didn’t happen really works when those figures are ones commissioned by BBC, ITV and Sky?”

    Yea, sorry about the caps, lying LDs get my goat. My bad.

    The BBC aren’t using them now are they? Five year old speculative figures from an academic in Devon are five year old speculative figures from an academic in Devon, even if commissioned by Martin Luther King and Pope John Paul II. Eddie still can’t explain why he isn’t using real, up to date, consituency results. Because they show he lost.

    “You’ll find it’s called not telling the whole truth”

    Thanks Eddie. From you that’s praise indeed. You’re technically right, your chums proposed a wrecking amendment instead and then when that was lost they abstained. They still support the closure of the emergency unit don’t they?

    You forgot to condemn your Richmond park LD mates and their bogus “save Kingston hospital” campaign.

    Congrats on your own growing fame btw:

    http://www.nastylibdems.org/2010/02/duplicity-in-camden.html

  10. Anthony Dunn

    Dear Local Tory,

    Could the fact that Tory Central Office are also basing their national campaign on the Thresher and Rawlings figures – which you and your mates in H&K are studiously ignoring – be causing you more than a little discomfort? It would appear so judging by the hysterical nature of your response!

    It’s been a source of considerable amusement seeing the right-wing meejah marching to their orders from Andy Coulson/Tory Central Office in recent days with the “Nazi slur” front page in the Daily GetsMuchWorse and the Torygraph’s last ditch expenses claims. Then there’s Tim Montgomerie’s Conservative Home website revealing just how far off the script the Tory campaign has strayed. The fundamentalists are already demanding red meat and a lurch to the right: hang ‘em, flog ‘em and cut taxes! All the carefully scripted attempts to cover over the true nature of “I’m alright Jack, so what right has anyone else got to complain?!” Toryism falling apart at the seams.

    So get this: the Tory party does not have a divine right to rule. It never did and we will fight this from now until kingdom come. Your evident discomfiture serves only to fuel our determination to take on this mindset.

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