Monthly Archives: April 2010

Guest Blog: Why I’m voting for… (part 4)

The final word in this pre-election guest blog series goes to Nick Hudgell, 25, multi-national employee, sometime map-drawer, and Kilburn resident. Though a natural conservative (note the little ‘c’), Nick has been open minded about who to vote for on May 6th – until recently that is. Here he explains why he was won over by the Conservative Party.

Why I’m voting for… Chris Philp and the Conservatives.

There's something not quite right about this photo - can't quite put my finger on it...

I love The Wire. I have watched it from start to finish. Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West) is clearly the star of the show, with his American-Irish, system-hating, whiskey-downing rogueishness. I recently learnt that some years ago, Dominic West was once a love rival with David Cameron for the affection of one Samantha Sheffield (later to become ‘Sam Cam’). If Jimmy McNulty can be bested by the leader of the Tories, I’m voting Conservative.

Seriously though, it’s an important decision. So firstly, let’s look at the national scene, which is most important to me. In terms of big party politics, there is lots of manifesto spiel, but there are some distinctive stances which can separate the parties from each other. There isn’t time or space (or enough of your patience) to go through all of the policies and pick out the reasons why I think the Conservatives are better, but I do honestly think that it is time for change…

I agree with Conservative policy on immigration (the introduction of a Border Force), and crime (cutting paper work for police and increasing prison space). I also share their stance on ID cards: I don’t want to spend 80 odd quid on a piece of plastic, and probably neither do you.

They want to create a ‘big society’, increasing discipline in school, and trying to make sure that parents understand their responsibility at home. Tick from me. And something that I think is fairly radical is a pledge to debate a bill or motion in the Commons if 100,000 people vote for it. Definitely something I agree with and something that the Conservatives have in their manifesto.

Finally, health: the Conservatives have a great stance on cancer treatment. Having had a lot of family issues with cancer, this is close to my heart and I agree with their pledges. They would let your doctor decide what drug to prescribe you if you had cancer – including new cutting edge drugs that are available in Europe.

So why Conservative change, and not Lib Dem or an Independent change? Two reasons: 1) I agree with a lot of the Conservative policies and think they would form a stronger Government. 2) If I vote for Lib Dem, we will get a hung parliament, and I truly believe that a hung parliament would be bad for our economy. All parties have ideas on how to make our economy stronger, but the best way is to have a majority government. I do not want a run on GBP, and I do not want the country to lose it’s AAA credit rating (which would make our deficit harder to reduce). Therefore, change for me is Conservative.

Now back to the local scene. Gordon Brown once said this is not a popularity contest, and for once, I agree with Gordon. If it were, then Ed Fordham would get my vote. He seems like a truly nice guy, passionate about where he lives and willing to do everything he can to push action through. I think Chris is more like The Wire’s Mayor Carcetti, very much an ambitious young man, looking for a step up in national politics. But it’s not a contest based on looks and popularity, it’s based on substance and policies. And for me, the long-term national vote is much more important than the local view. So as much as I admire you Ed, I won’t be voting for you.

I can’t compete with some of the honest and heartfelt posts below; I just don’t love you that much Chris Philp. But I’m still voting for you.

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Guest Blog: Why I’m voting for… (part 3)

As most of you will no doubt be aware, in this election, as in all others, there are a number of alternatives to the big three media- and vote-hogging parties. In Hampstead & Kilburn, one of these is Tamsin Omond who, with her fresh approach to political engagement, is proving an attractive prospect to many previously disengaged young voters.

One such supporter is Jess Cole, 21, who grew up in NW8 but more recently made the laudable move across the border to Kilburn Park. Jess met Tamsin earlier in the year, and has since put her skills as an illustrator and photographer to use on Tamsin’s campaign. In this guest blog, she tells us why.

Why I’m voting for… Tamsin Omond and the Commons.

Doing things differently: Jess Cole (middle) with Tamsin (right)

I’ve never had any interest in politics. The political system has always seemed dull and unattractive to me. Living in a city as diverse and hectic as London, with so many distractions to offer, political involvement hasn’t been top of my list.

I’m a North West Londoner, born and bred, and have spent a large portion of my life exploring the area, the places and the people. The lack of a community feel, and any kind of excitement for young people to offer has always been apparent. My friends and I spent much of our youth in local parks, amusing ourselves with cheap thrills before being chased away by angry authorative figures. I never gave much thought to the idea that there could be something much more stimulating on offer, if only someone would take initiative.

After completing my school years, I took an Art foundation course which was fairly uninspiring, so I took off on a years travel. During this time I discovered true community for the first time. Seeing people interacting together, treating each other equally and sharing jobs amongst themselves was incredible – a small village seemed like a big family. So when I returned home, I embarked on a search for this feeling I discovered whilst away.

I met Tasmin briefly at her ‘Pedal Power Protest’, a huge bike ride through London she held in the summer of last year. I was impressed by the huge turn out and enthusiasm of all attendees, and felt grateful for someone having organized such an event. So, when I noticed Tamsin in a local paper, and read that she was running for MP of Hampstead and Kilburn, I felt a strong appreciation and urge to get involved. It’s a great feeling, to know that a young, fresh and inspired person has interest in developing a place that I have many past associations with. Tamsin’s giving locals another option, and providing us with a chance to be a part of a much needed change. As I said before, I’ve never felt inspired by politics – and that’s exactly why I’ve taken an interest in Tamsin’s campaign.

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Guest Blog: Why I’m voting for… (part 2)

The second instalment in this pre-election guest blog series comes courtesy of David Lewy, 26, who has been living at the upper end of Kilburn for the past year. David has recently joined Glenda Jackson on the campaign trail, and here explains why he’s backing her, and the Labour Party, to be re-elected come May 6th.

Why I’m voting for… Glenda Jackson and the Labour Party.

When David met David

Let me say at the outset that although I am a Labour Party member, I don’t claim to be representing the Labour Party – these views are all my own.

I will be voting Labour because my life is better than it was 13 years ago, and the country is a better place to live, too. I don’t pretend that the Labour Government has been perfect but it represents the values I believe in – equality, social justice and opportunity for all.  I will be voting Labour because they are still the best hope of creating a fair and equal society, despite what Nick Clegg might think.

I will be voting Labour because I don’t want change for change’s sake. When I met David Miliband on his visit to Hampstead and Kilburn a few weeks ago, he hit the nail on the head: he described how the Conservative Party’s head and their heart are not in the same place. Cameron claims he has changed his party, and they might think in their heads that they have changed, but deep down in their hearts they are still the party of Thatcher, tax breaks for the rich and want to lead the UK to the marginal fringes of Europe.  I will be voting Labour because their head and heart are in the same place – looking out for ordinary hard-working families in this constituency and beyond. When I was out campaigning in Kensal Rise last week, there was a strong level of support for Labour and a striking aversion to the prospect of Cameron and Osborne running the country.

I will be voting for Glenda Jackson because she has been an independently minded MP who is not your average career politician. She is not afraid to vote against her party when she disagrees with them – exactly the sort of person I want as my MP. I will be voting Labour because a vote for any other party in this constituency will result in a Tory MP and possibly a Tory government.

George Osborne running the economy as we recover from a recession? No thanks. Times are tough and many families face real challenges as the impact of the global recession is felt across the country, but I had to laugh when Cameron said in the first leaders debate that “there isn’t a family that hasn’t had to make cut backs”. How about yours, Dave? It is never right to slash and burn our public services as the Tories would do. I want a government that cuts the deficit in a sensible and measured way.

I will be voting Labour because, as Eddie Izzard argues, this is a brilliant country. I won’t let the Tories tell me that Britain is broken – that’s not the country I recognise locally in Hampstead and Kilburn or across the land.

I will be voting for Labour because I don’t believe that public sector workers deserve to be labelled as waste. I think they do a great job serving Britons with schools, healthcare and other services. I am voting Labour because as the son of an immigrant, unlike the Tories I believe that immigration has enriched our culture and economy – just look at how vibrant and varied Hampstead and Kilburn is. That’s why I enjoy living here, and want to carry on doing so with a Labour MP representing me.

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Guest Blog: Why I´m voting for…

Many people will be leaving the choice of who they vote for up until the last minute, when they set foot inside the polling booth itself, but others will have long–since decided. This series of guest blogs aims to provide an insight into the minds of these decisive party champions. And by the way, it’s not preachy, it’s politics.

Kicking the series off is Jack Holroyde, 24, who lives on the South Kilburn Estate, and whose (self proclaimed) “defection to party politics” seems to have accompanied his move to the area from Twickenham. Jack is a keen supporter of the Lib Dems, recently helping Ed Fordham on the campaign trail.

Why I´m voting for… Ed Fordham and the Liberal Democrats.

Winning here... Jack Holroyde

It would be so easy to talk about Nick Clegg’s performance in debate. About Labour’s failings, Cameron’s ‘dinosaurs in the closet’, his ‘Big Society’ assumptions, or about Brown’s surveillance state.

I could say, vote X, get Y.
Or vote Y, to keep X out.
Or vote Z, in order to get Y an overall majority in the commons.
Or being told that X is rubbish, so I HAVE to vote Y.

Truth is, I’m utterly sick of being told who to vote for and what’s wrong with ‘X party’.

I’ll tell you why I am voting Liberal Democrat, and why I am proud that Ed Fordham is the LibDem candidate.

I won’t insult your intelligence by explaining minutae of national policy – I’ll allow you to draw your own conclusions from the manifesto.

I’m going to vote for the LibDems because I believe that the way things are is NOT how they need to be. Because I believe in fairness – and I believe that the party can deliver that.
I’m going to vote for the LibDems because I believe that an MP works for their people – and never again should we see the corruption and greed we’ve uncovered over the last few years.

Working with Ed is a pleasure.
I’m going to vote for him because I believe that he can make being his constituent a pleasure.

When I saw Ed learning a speech in Somali, so that doors could be opened and a hand extended to this deeply insular minority group, I knew I was working with a man who would always stand up for those with little public voice – not just to win votes, but to ensure social cohesion, freedom from ignorance, conformity or fear.

I know that Ed will work tirelessly for this community, that he will extend a hand where it needs extending, that when he sees intolerance, he will highlight it, try to understand it, and work to make things better – not out of oneupmanship, but out of a desire to do some good for those that need it most.

I will vote for Ed Fordham of the Liberal Democrats because I have hope.

I hope that we can have long lasting, sustainable economic growth, based on sound principles and an understanding of the need to tackle climate change – fast.
I hope that people disengaged from politics will see it reformed – fast.
I hope that children will have a fair start at school.

I hope that the people of Hampstead & Kilburn can see for themselves what a hardworking, local MP can do for them – and that on May 6th, they will give Ed Fordham of the Liberal Democrats a mandate to represent them in Parliament.

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Hampstead & Kilburn: the movie

I’m sure you don’t need reminding that our new constituency of Hampstead & Kilburn is one of the most marginal in the country, and a key election target for all three major parties. You’re no doubt having to wade through piles of propagandist leaflets each morning as you step out of your front door, only to be met by groups of chirpy campaigners, firing further leafleted ammunition at you. It’s a jungle out there, but you are not alone.

Nathan Williams is an award-winning freelance TV producer, working on shows including Horizon and Battlefield Britain. More importantly, of course, he also happens to be a proud Kilburn resident. As such, he has turned his experienced hand to producing a short video about Hampstead & Kilburn, with the sole intention of giving you, the confused voter, a clear picture of the current voting situation in the constituency. In Nathan’s own words, “I made the film out of exasperation at the seemingly incompatible claims I kept getting through my letter box so I thought I’d find out the truth.” I reckon he’s done a mighty fine job of it. See for yourself:

To find out more about Nathan’s work, or to get in touch with him, just visit his website. You can also follow Nathan on Twitter.

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NW6 Springwatch #1

It’s Spring! The season where the natural world rubs the sleep from its wintry eyes and springs to life (hey, maybe that’s why they call it Spring). It’s the time of year when the birds and bees, and all those other lovable critters, start getting jiggy with it. It’s the classic story: girl meets boy, boy flutters feathers to display virility, girl is young and naive and falls for feather-fluttering flirtation, boy and girl have a few too many acorns down at the local Oak, girl falls pregnant, boy and girl have shotgun wedding in Vegas and move into nest in leafy North London front garden, they live happily ever after.

Mrs Jay in her front garden, in my front garden

Well, I’m pleased to report that this fairytale is playing out directly outside my window, as I write these very words. Two Jays have started to build a home for themselves in amongst the vines enveloping the English Elm tree in the front garden. Naturally, until yesterday, I knew neither what a Jay, nor an English Elm looked like, but after extensive research on Google Images, I feel I can speak with some authority on the matter.

Jays like: trees, acorns, insects, berries, Kilburn.

Jays dislike: owls, Peregrines, me noisily opening my window to take a better picture of them.

Over the course of the Spring I hope to keep you updated on this young family’s progress. According to Wikipedia, we can expect 4-6 eggs laid, which should hatch after 16-19 days, the chicks fledging some 21-23 days later. The Jays are currently putting in the finishing touches to their little nest – a lick of paint here, an Ikea shelving unit there – so no signs of any eggs just yet.

the nest - under construction

Although I have no idea how to spot the difference between a boy-Jay and a girl-Jay, I feel it is only right that we give Mr and Mrs Jay some proper names. Please leave your suggestions in the comment box below, and hopefully we can name them within the next week or so.

Also, if you have any photos you’d like contribute to the NW6 Springwatch, send them to springwatchnw6@yahoo.co.uk and I’ll include them in a future post, or put them into a public gallery for all to see. Happy Springing!

Correction: Having consulted an actual expert, I can confirm that the tree is in fact some sort of Cherry tree, not, as stated above, an English Elm. Apologies.

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On the Kilburn question

On the tiring daily commute from the hands of one of its anoraked distributors to the train seat/street floor/bin where it will end its journey, the London Evening Standard is dispassionately fondled by tens of thousands of Londoners. And if you were one of its bleary-eyed, inky-fingered readers yesterday evening, you may have already spotted that the property section’s ‘Spotlight’ was shining brightly on our very own Kilburn and Queen’s Park.

The article mentions that property prices in Kilburn are 25% lower than in neighbouring Queen’s Park, and several assertions are made, by the paper and the consulted estate agents alike, that are undeniably true: the area is family-friendly, ever-gentrifying and on the up (read ‘increasingly expensive’).

But one comment in particular, from one Alan Isaacs, of the Queen’s Park Partnership, caught my attention. Alan made the somewhat ominous prediction that, “within a few years, Kilburn won’t exist. It’ll either be Queen’s Park or West Hampstead.” Now, although it is a matter of some consensus that the borders between Kilburn and its slightly posher neighbours are blurring, with the area’s traditional communities being replaced by legions of young professionals, this is, nonetheless, fighting talk from Alan. But there are those who would proudly defend Kilburn, and seek to fight fire with fire.

West Hampstead, I mean East Kilburn, I mean... I don't know what I mean anymore!

Last month, a Facebook campaign to rename West Hampstead and Queen’s Park stations East Kilburn and West Kilburn respectively, did the rounds on the blog- and tweetospheres. This proposal supposedly makes sense, geographically speaking, and is backed-up by a ten-point manifesto, which contains such gems as, ‘7. This will make residents of Queens Park (West Kilburn) and West Hampstead (East Kilburn) feel more “edgy”.’ And ‘9. Having got used to their new West Kilburn or East Kilburn address Kilburn High Road will not be as scary to our more delicate neighbours.’

People got talking, support started building. On March 31, the Ham & High reported that the Facebook group’s numbers had ‘already swelled to 287 members.’ But maybe it’s time that everyone held their horses, proverbial or otherwise. Bearing in mind that 5,000 signatures are needed before TFL will even consider a proposal to rename a station, and that the group has now, a few weeks on, ‘already swelled’ to an almighty 385 members, there is some way to go before the campaign – or ‘bit of fun’ as it should probably be labelled – succeeds in its stated mission.

One thing’s for certain (or at least possible): the battle is being fiercely fought by both sides; on the one hand, the strong arm of tradition, backed by estate agents, with their insatiable thirst for high ceilings and cash-money. On the other, a handful of graduates armed with laptops and a little too much time on their hands. Oh well, at least they tried.

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