Camden Labour candidate Adrian Cohen woken up to be told he's won Tory seat in surprise victory

Camden Council Hampstead Town councillor Adrian Cohen.
Camden Labour
Camden Council Hampstead Town councillor Adrian Cohen. Credit: Camden Labour

A Labour candidate contesting a Tory stronghold seat reportedly had to be woken up to be told he'd won, in a surprise local council election victory.

Hampstead Town candidate Adrian Cohen has been elected to Camden Council, in Labour's first ever win in the traditionally blue ward.

Mr Cohen was standing as a paper candidate in the ward, and was said to have gone to bed while the election count was underway - not expecting to win.

But according to the Camden New Journal, the newly elected councillor found himself being ushered out of bed and into the count hall where he was greeted by cheers, the newspaper reported.

Mr Cohen, who stood for Labour and the Cooperative party, was hailed for unexpected taking a Tory seat in the Labour-run Camden Council area.

Photographs of the new councillor captured him appearing slightly bewildered as he arrived to celebrate his victory in the north London borough.

Labour held the council in London's 2022 local election.

Mr Cohen is a banking and finance partner at an international law firm, founder and co-Chair of the London Jewish Forum and lay Chair of Labour Friends of Israel, as well as a member of the Labour Party Antisemitism Advisory Board.

According to the Ham & High, Mr Cohen said following his win: "I wanted to help the party by standing. I want to bring residents' concerns to the heart of the council because there hasn't been a Labour councillor to give voice to their particular concerns."

ITV London has approached Camden Labour and Mr Cohen for comment.

The victory comes as the party also regained power in Tory-held Barnet, in what Labour leader Keir Starmer has hailed as a sign of voters' confidence in the party's work tackling anti-semitism within its ranks.

What is a paper candidate?

A 'paper candidate' is one run in a seat where the party has selected a contender with no expectation of winning.

Paper candidates, also known as 'no hope' candidates, are commonly fielded in local elections across the UK.

They are generally not expected to campaign at all, on the assumption there is no real chance of being elected.

Parties sometimes struggle to find someone willing to run in a safe seat held by a rival party.

It is common in UK local elections for parties to find volunteers run to ensure the party name is on every ballot paper in a constituency - giving supporters the opportunity to vote for their favoured side.

The practise has previously led to surprised paper candidates - who thought they had no risk of being elected winning their seats - finding themselves suddenly being thrust into politics.