Hackney Independent candidate Suzanne Moore admitted she has learned a lot of lessons from her election campaign so far.
Ms Moore, who is standing in Stoke Newington and Hackney North said:
“I’ve learnt that you need a lot of money because if you are up against party machinery you are at an immediate disadvantage, you also need to start early and have a proper team of volunteers.”
For the £500 deposit she gave to stand as an independent candidate, Ms Moore gets a free Royal Mail delivery of her campaign leaflets but has to pay for the printing of over 60,000 leaflets herself.
Ms Moore was a late entrant to the campaign and says she was motivated to stand by dissatisfaction with what was on offer:
“I live in a safe Labour seat and so I was feeling more and more frustrated that my vote didn’t really count as a vote.”
Suzanne Moore on why she decided to stand
Once a features editor for Marxism Today and now a columnist for The Mail on Sunday, Ms Moore describes herself as being from the left though she has not voted Labour for some time. “Some people probably think this is a vanity project,” she says, “but I want to demystify it for other people.”
The Labour safe-seat has been held for the last twenty-seven years by Diane Abbott. However turnout at the last election was less than fifty per cent and Ms Abbott’s majority has been declining. She says that this explains Abbott’s less than welcoming reaction to Suzanne Moore’s candidacy.
“I met her and she wasn’t very nice to me but I didn’t do this against Diane,” says Ms Moore. “My stand is against the system rather than her but I am quite surprised by how rattled she has been by it.”
Voter reaction has been supportive, but Ms Moore admits she lacks the resources to cover all of her constituency:
“I realise Stoke Newington is very different to say, Homerton but I haven’t got loads of people to go door to door.”
On the streets Ms Moore has been questioned on everything from parking spaces to the future of Cuba. However she is trying to stick to local issues such as housing. She is an advocate of re-using empty council houses and believes she could build a strong lobby group to put pressure on the council to utilise these properties.
A mother of three girls, all of whom have been schooled locally, she is concerned about the failure of primary schools in the area:
“If kids can’t read and write by the time they get to secondary school they never really catch up.”
She advocates the presence of counsellors in schools to deal with specific problems and believes gang members should be identified at an early age.
Cuts appear to be inevitable whoever gets in at Hackney Council, but Ms Moore feels that if choices have to be made then maintaining funding for primary schools should be the priority.
Another issue Suzanne feels strongly about is the Stoke Newington Festival, Stokefest, which was indefinitely cancelled by the council following over-crowding in 2008. “Too many people, is a sign that people want to come,” she said, “I can’t understand why we can’t have a mix of private and public funding to manage it.”
A popular feminist writer, Ms Moore has been disappointed by the media portrayal of women in the general election as a whole:
“I feel women have been locked out of this election, even Harriet Harman is barely visible.”
She resents the focus by papers including The Mail, on the wives: “Sarah Brown looks like his [Gordon Brown’s] carer, it’s all quite sad.” She admits, though, she was pleased by Miriam Clegg’s announcement that she was going back to work, “in an actual job!”
Ms Moore is realistic about her chances, but feels with the right financial backing she could genuinely make a challenge: “I reckon you need about £100,000 to win.”
She would like to continue being involved in local campaigns and has increasing admiration for local activists:
“You get to admire the people who plug away at issues that aren’t particularly exciting or glamorous, there’s loads of that in Hackney.”
As if to prove the point, there are three other independents in Hackney North. Whatever the outcome on Thursday, Ms Moore hopes her standing will encourage others to do likewise, particularly if, as she hopes, the voting system is set to change:
“I would like more people to come forward and do it, I could certainly give them lots of advice.”
Suzanne Moore is one of ten candidates standing for election in the Hackney North and Stoke Newington constituency. They include Diane Abbott, Labour Party, Keith Angus, Liberal Democrats, Darren Caplan, Conservatives, Maxine Hargreaves, The Christian Party, Knigel Knapp, Monster Raving Loony William Hill Party, Dr Jack Pope-de-Locksley, The Magna Carta Party, Matthew Shellwood, Green Party, Paul Shaer, Independent, and Alessandra Williams, Independent.