Kilburn MP Glenda Jackson vows to fight cuts

The last time Glenda Jackson and I sat down and talked face-to-face it was the early hours of election night, writes Kate Ferguson. We were holed up in a school hall in Camden, where the count had been delayed half a dozen times. Everyone was bleary eyed

The last time Glenda Jackson and I sat down and talked face-to-face it was the early hours of election night, writes Kate Ferguson.

We were holed up in a school hall in Camden, where the count had been delayed half a dozen times. Everyone was bleary eyed and exhausted.

The shock result was finally delivered at around 8am.

The Labour vote had held up well, especially in Kilburn, and Glenda had snatched victory by just 42 votes to become the new MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, despite lagging behind the Tories and the Lib Dems in the bookies odds.


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We had witnessed the tightest election fight in England, but all we wanted to do is go home and sleep.

Three months later and there is no whiff of election night fatigue as I meet her at a cafe in Queen's Park.

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The two time Oscar winning actress is in fighting spirit.

Her target - the Liberal/Conservative Coalition Government.

She launches into a tirade against the decision to axe Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, which derailed plans to expand and renovate several schools in Kilburn.

She said: "They never gave a single reason for axing the scheme, and now children are losing out.

"It was particularly poignant for Kilburn given that Queen's Park Community School launched a booklet detailing their plans for spending the money the day it was announced.

"The fight to reinstate the funding is not over, people are so angry."

The woman once labelled by opponents as London's laziest MP has become one of the Government's most vocal critics.

It is the new cap on housing benefit payments that induces the most ferocious attack. Under this proposal a blanket limit will be imposed on the amount a household can claim, regardless of average rental prices.

She added: "It is going to force people out of their homes in central London into the outer London boroughs. We are going to see the return of the terrible days of families being squeezed into overcrowded B&Bs.

"Labour MPs, particularly in London, feel very strongly about this and we will fight it tooth and nail."

In between campaigning against this flurry of cuts, has she had time to get to know Kilburn - a new part of her constituency which was redrawn at the last election?

She is quick to dismiss the suggestion she did not know it before. "My knowledge of the area did not stop at the border," she replied.

If she did not know Kilburn well before the election, she has certainly done her homework, and talks animatedly about South Kilburn, which is in the throws of regeneration.

"We need to make sure regeneration in South Kilburn is more than just a housing project. It must mean more jobs for local people, and open spaces for families."

So what are her favourite haunts in Kilburn? Again she dismisses my attempts at chit chat.

"I always say people are more important than places. People in Kilburn are direct and genuine, that is why I love the area."

Glenda Jackson is writing an exclusive column for the Times, launching in September.

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