The Independent London Newspaper


Islington Council leader faces contest in race to be MP

Cllrs Claire Kober and Catherine West

Cllrs Claire Kober and Catherine West

Published: 23 November, 2012

TOWN Hall leader Catherine West is understood to be locked in a battle with her counterpart in Haringey over who should take on the Lib Dems in Hornsey and Wood Green at the next General Election.

Both Labour councillors feel they are best placed to unseat Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone. With a majority of 6,875, Ms Featherstone is thought  by Labour stategists to be vulnerable because of the Lib Dems’ unpopularity.

Cllr West, who has led Islington Council since 2010, was shortlisted in the selection process for Labour candidate in Hornsey and Wood Green in 2007.

She is well placed to be selected this time round. But Labour sources say her Haringey counterpart, Councillor Claire Kober, 34,  is also dusting off her CV as she runs the constitueny’s local authority.

The battle illustrates a debate raging in the Labour Party over the number of young high-flying ‘career’ politicians being selected for seats.

Labour’s leadership  has called for more candidates to be drawn from ordinary walks of life to better represent party members.

Islington has drawn fire this year because five Labour councillors – all with fewer than two years’ experience at the Town Hall – have bid for parliamentary seats. Only two have been successful.

Lucy Rigby, 29, a lawyer who was selected to fight the Lincoln constituency, resigned her Holloway ward seat.

Jessica Asato, 31, an advisor to Labour politician Tessa Jowell, has been chosen to fight Norwich North. She has, however, retained her St George’s ward seat at the Town Hall.

Haringey’s Cllr Kober is a former national vice-president of the National Union of Students and worked for a charity before being elected in 2006.

Cllr West, a former linguist who came to Britain from Australia in 1998, has been a councillor for 10 years and leader of Islington’s Labour group since 2004.

She told the Tribune that there was no formal selection process yet for Hornsey and Wood Green. While she did not rule out a bid to become an MP at some stage, she had not formally applied to be a candidate anywhere. “If I do, I will make a public announcement,” she said.


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