Camden News
Publications by New Journal Enterprises
  Home Archive Competition Jobs Tickets Accommodation Dating Contact us
Camden New Journal - COMMENT
Published: 10 January 2008
A colossus and a radical: sad loss of dedicated politicians

IF it can be said that a ­dedicated councillor can make a difference to the lives of ­ordinary people, then Camden is all the poorer this week ­following the death of Roy Shaw and Jane Schopflin.
While some may believe that the political service of Jane Schopflin, who served 17 years at the Town Hall, would place her in his shadow, her contribution is, nonetheless, of great significance.
A lifelong radical she, along with Margaret Little, now deceased, and Flick Rea, laid the foundation in the 1990s of the Lib-Dem machine that now ­dominates Camden politics. Embattled, alone, they ploughed on, buttressed with the Lib-Dem tactics of street politics, until ­others were able to join the ship. She stood for honour and ­integrity, and opponents ­recognised those qualities.
But Roy Shaw was in his own right a colossus. Not only because of his political longevity – he started in the 1950s before the borough of Camden was carved out of three political constituencies – but, more importantly, because of his masterful ­­shrewd­ness as a centrist Labourite, ­shaping policies, especially in the halcyon years of the 1970s, that put the borough nationwide on the municipal map.
He was an old-fashioned Labour man in the Fabianist sense and, while critics felt uneasy with his compromises, they were the sort of political compromises that idealists judge they have to make on the road to their goals.
Many people in Camden benefited from his commitment. That’s Roy Shaw’s great

THE story of a family’s ruined Christmas at a hostel in Belsize Park sums up what’s wrong with the public sector today.
The biography of the hostel tells it all. First run by the Royal Free as a nurses’ hostel, it was sold off in the 1990s by the hospital’s short-sighted directorate, and, even then, too cheaply.
Once it fell into the hands of a private landlord, it was leased back to Camden Council, at a high price, to ­provide a haven for the ­homeless.
Today, the landlord, ­responsible for repairs, fails to meet them.
Result: unlocked front doors and open house for burglars. All this exemplifies the ­damaging inroads being made by private companies into municipal housing, schools and hospitals.
Ten years ago, the amount of money drained off by private firms from public institutions ran into millions of pounds. Today, under New Labour, the bill swells into billions.
It is doubtful to what extent the taxpayer gains. At the ­hostel, it is the loser.

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Camden New Journal, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to The deadline for letters is midday Tuesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld. Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

Comment on this article.
(You must supply your full name and email address for your comment to be published)







Theatre Music
Arts & Events Attractions