“I am standing in this election because I see our voice being ignored and our support being taken for granted..I am running on the issues people face every day, on the issues no party machine can fix.”

Andrew Feinstein is standing as an independent candidate in Holborn and St Pancras against Keir Starmer. He is not affiliated with or part of any political party and has an outstanding manifesto which prioritises his constituency but would be a fine one for any political party to adopt and take to the country. His “people’s manifesto” was drawn up after consulting with local community organisations.

Canvassing on behalf of Feinstein was a fascinating and rewarding experience, but made me realise what an enormous amount of work is still to be done. With an electorate of 75,475 in the constituency, many living in flats, it feels like an almost insurmountable task to reach everyone. I did not see any Labour Party posters on display anywhere in the parts of the constituency I walked through on the way to meet the group of canvassers.. 

The only disconcerting part of the experience was squeezing into a tiny lift to take us up to the top floor of a high-rise block of flats. The views were sensational. Then began the task of knocking on doors and gradually working down from floor to floor.

One of the most striking things I found was that no one had a good word to say for Sir Keir Starmer. Of course our sample was not large enough to be indicative of views throughout the area but, although people we spoke to are disenchanted with the Labour Party, they are even more disenchanted with Starmer. Some are clearly unsure of who to vote for, and most of them had not heard of Andrew Feinstein. The people we spoke to were unfailingly pleasant and almost all were interested in what we had to say. One man answered the door and said he did not wish to speak to us because he is an Israeli and a Zionist, but was nevertheless very polite. And one person said she simply did not want to discuss the election or politics. 

Some people spoke to us for some time about their grievances, about their disappointment with the Labour Council, about the Conservative Party and their disgraceful record in government, and their disappointment at the opposition. There was a sense that they were very disillusioned about politics. However, they were as a rule extremely interested to know about Andrew Feinstein and readily took leaflets from us, listened to what we had to say and asked questions. Several people said they would look Feinstein up on YouTube and listen to his speeches. They were interested in the fact that he has had considerable political experience as an MP in South Africa, and that he resigned because of the corruption he encountered, and that he is a local resident, living in the constituency for some 20 years.

They were also impressed that local people urged him to stand and that he took some time to think about it.  And about the backing he is receiving from Roger Waters, Yusuf Islam and Lowkey, who held a concert in support of his campaign and for Gaza. Several people asked about Gaza and were most interested in his support for the Palestinians and his knowledge about the arms trade.

All these conversations took time and, even people who are not eligible to vote, were very happy to talk about the local area and were interested in what we had to say. Quite a number of people are on the electoral register because they are European electors, who can vote in the Mayoral and London Assembly elections but not in general elections. 

Unfortunately there were a number of people who were not at home, although we did manage to speak to people who were returning from work or shopping or exercising their dogs. There was a surprising number of dogs for a high rise! We left leaflets for those we missed but other canvassers will return later to try to catch them at home. Andrew himself will aim to return in person to speak to those who were undecided but might be swayed to vote for him.

The day was hot and grew hotter, and we felt lucky to be somewhere which was in the shade for the whole afternoon. 

The impression I had overall was of friendly, concerned people who are eager for change and to find a way out of their disappointment or disillusionment and for life to become easier for us all. Very few appeared to have no interest in politics. I think, if my impression is correct and applies to a wider range of the residents in the constituency, Andrew Feinstein might be in with a chance, certainly of denting Starmer‘s majority if not overturning it.

The main problem is that not enough is known about Andrew. Clearly many people have not heard his name, there has not been time to reach everyone and there will not be time to do so, despite the impressive organisation of his campaign and the amount of funding that has been raised. But Keir Starmer should take heed and should be worried that someone so principled, and with such a clear vision for how society should be, is running against him. Apparently the Labour Party has allocated a considerable sum to promoting Starmer in the area, particularly online. Labour may pour money into this area when it comes to campaigning, but Starmer is not well-regarded. Many people are concerned about issues such as struggling to obtain a GP appointment, the cost of food and heating, public service cuts and the increased use of foodbanks, which now stands at one in 10 in Camden. Andrew is determined to address these issues if he is elected and he is backed by the borough’s trades council. Echoing many people’s observations, Andrew says, “What we haven’t seen is our MP fighting for local people on all these issues”. If only everyone locally knew about Andrew, his integrity, his commitment to the local area, his experience and vision, they could elect an MP who would do just that.

The best way to enjoy the Election Special is by reading the PDF. You can find it here or just look through here.

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