Hampstead is divided

Vox elite
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The Independent Online
Leafy Hampstead, the north London redoubt of the luvvies (MP Glenda Jackson), found it could not agree on the Blair manifesto.

Novelist Fay Weldon said: "Who wouldn't want those things? Of course we all want smaller class sizes, etcetera. It's such a problem for the left and right to separate themselves nowadays. But yes, I'll vote for Blair. What we need is a new set of faces."

Helena Kennedy, the leading left-wing QC, thought that Tony Blair was describing "'One Nation' democracy and that's certainly what we don't have. What's important for Labour now is that they bring back some sense of being a politician and speaking truthfully. We've had too many lies for too long".

Henry Kelly, the radio and television presenter, could not work up any enthusiasm for "any of this politics". He added: "I don't understand this New Labour guff. It seems to be a case of Tweedledum and Tweedledee. I don't mean I want a cloth cap and ferrets on the moor Labour Party, but they seem the same as the Tories."

The poet and gambler Al Alvarez thought the manifesto was "terrific. I wish him [Tony Blair] joy on it. I think he's very brave to set out his stall so early but I feel that's probably the best thing he can possibly do because it's a show of confidence."

Astrologer Marjorie Orr said: "Yes, the Tories are tired, bored, stale and arrogant, but then you think 'oh dear. They [Labour] don't have any experience. Can we trust them?' It's all good bullshit but there's no substance."

James Roose-Evans, theatre director and writer, said he had always voted Conservative, but he would support Mr Blair at the next election. "We need a change of government. His strength is that he is strong and if he gets too big-headed his colleagues will drag him down."

Author Beryl Bainbridge, who lives just down the road in Camden, said: "My hope is that once they get in they will be much more left-wing than they seem to be at the moment. All the moves appear to be following what the Conservatives think - apart from the bit about the poor."

Joan Bakewell, the broadcaster, was concerned about a lack of commitment to the arts. "He neglects the arts at his peril. The rest of it sounds marvellously optimistic, but what one would expect.

"It reads like it's from people who've never been in power. It has an upbeatness which is refreshing."