Prime minister was ‘on the ballot’

Friday, 13th May

Boris apologies

‘For a majority of the minority Boris Johnson was on the ballot’

• I WASN’T sure what kind of message to send regarding the future of the O2 Centre redevelopment after the May 5 elections.

Should I play the blame game, should I make unrealistic promises that mimic the populist style that seems to be en vogue these days, or should I just bow out?

I think I’ll stick to simple reality. We lost this local election. By we, I mean in the case of
my colleagues Calvin Po, Don Williams and me in South Hampstead, the political opposition to the plans for the O2 Centre, lost this election.

This for me was about deciding what the future of our neighbourhood would be. A future between a concrete jungle or in a neighbourly standard where I hoped to one day raise my own children.

A majority of a clear minority decided that was not what this election was about. For a majority of the minority Boris Johnson was on the ballot.

Can, or will I blame them? No! Partygate, Rwanda, who could blame anyone?

As a private person, a resident, I say Johnson will be gone, the disaster of his government will be over, but the O2 Centre will be there for ever. And Johnson will not go because of this local election.

The 02 Centre site in Finchley Road 

But what paved the way for this minority who voted on this, to win the election is solely that none of us political activists, whether Tories, Labour, Liberal Democrats or Greens, were able to convince the majority of voters that casting a vote was important.

A shamefully low turnout is a defeat for everyone in politics. We failed!

I may not speak for others, but I will take lessons from this in how I should do politics. And I start doing that now.

Even though we lost the election, we represent a strong portion of the electorate.

With the O2 Centre petition, one of the largest petitions in Camden’s history, I accept the responsibility of a mandate from over 2,000 signatories from our neighbourhood.

In this capacity I will not be partisan. On the eve of the election, Camden Council leader Georgia Gould took me aside and expressed her respect for our commitment to fight for this particular residents’ issue.

She pledged that she would not ignore this and would take it into account in her consideration of a possible better outcome for the O2 Centre.

We often expect this kind of behaviour from political leaders, but we rarely get it. So, I thank her dearly for wanting to be such a leader. But I will not only thank her for that, I will remind her and her colleagues.

To all the residents who have placed their trust in me and my team in this election and through our petition, I promise not to stop working for you.

In doing so, I can count on the support of my friends and outstanding Conservative councillors, Gio Spinella and Andrew Parkinson.

Achieving a better outcome for the O2 Centre and ensuring what is best for our neighbourhood will continue to be my endeavour.


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