It is an annual pleasure to attend Westminster North MP Karen Buck’s magnificent fundraising dinner. It has found a spiritual home at the Phoenix Palace restaurant in Marylebone. Word has spread far and wide and tickets sold out weeks ago. Karen commends a strong personal loyalty from both activists and constituents.
Arriving early I had the opportunity to catch up on City Hall affairs from London Assembly Member Murad Qureshi. Murad and I are pictured with Camden Labour activist Diana Broad and my partner Chris Underwood.
Guest speaker, Foreign Secretary David Miliband, gave us a rousing speech with his trademark stringent intellectual analysis. David’s contention that there are three myths we need to rebut – that Labour is going backwards, that there are no great causes left and that the Tories have changed – resonated with his audience. I certainly know from my own experience in Europe that the Tories are still the hard right nasty party and that there are more than enough great challenges, reducing poverty and improving education to name but two. It is also nonsense to believe that Labour is doing anything other than progressing, as the Prime Minister’s support for the Robin Hood tax shows.
The event was again compered by Mathew – I’m going to tell you lots of funny stories about Joanne “Cash for Questions” - Taylor. Mathew is gaining such a reputation for being very good at doing this sort of thing that he’s now in demand by Labour Parties across London. A special thanks was also given to Helen Hegarty who organised the whole show as she also did last year. Helen did a fantastic job in ensuring everything ran smoothly- no mean feat with 150 guests and a celebrity speaker. My personal thanks to the Phoenix Palace restaurant who put on their customary excellent spread.
Karen rounded off the evening with a call to all of us to campaign as hard as we can, or even harder if we can manage it. We know now that Labour has a strong fighting chance and it’s up to us to make sure Labour is returned to govenment in a few months time. Karen is one of the most respected and highly regarded MPs in London and, I suspect, in the country as a whole.
Tributes were paid to Karen during the evening, in particular from three local government colleagues, Paul Dimoldenburg, Leader of the Labour Group on Westminster Council, Jane Roberts, former Leader of Camden Council and Lambeth Councillor Florence Nosegbe. They will,of course, be candidates on the London Borogh elections due on 6 May.
We owe it to all our Labour councillors, to Ka ren and to the Labour Party to do everything we possibly can to make sure Labour gets back into government and wins for Labour in London. The Tories may have Lord Ashcroft’s millions. We have something far stronger – a real belief in our policies and our government and the will to win.