Connecting Crouch End and Hornsey with news, views and information
Hornsey Councillor Adam Jogee has risen quickly since his 2014 election to the giddy heights of Chief Whip of Haringey's majority Labour group.
Adam is concerned about the uncomradely behaviour of twelve of his colleagues (apparently there were another ten willing to join them) who organised the recent Overview and Scrutiny Call In. They were worried about cabinet's decision to flog Hornsey Town Hall to Hong Kong based FEC and, in a development worth £85m or so, be content with only four units of affordable housing out of a total of 123.
He is particularly disappointed with the ensuing media scrutiny and negative public attention. So, to prevent further outbreaks of scrutiny, challenge and transparency, Adam and his Whips team will be having a bit of a chat with all members of the Uren Twelve.
As he kindly points out, this is to prevent other actions which "... could have far greater consequences."
As far as I know, Adam is not a Trotskyite or Momentum member but I'm sure the Great Leader would be proud of him.
Chatting last week to an old guard Labour Councillor, I was told that if it were in the gift of of Tottenham councillors, the deeds of HTH would not be heading off on a slow boat to China. The main impetus for the sale (with some very honourable exceptions) is coming from Labour councillors representing or living in wards in the west of the borough.
In an excellent 2014 interview with Exposure Adam declares that he want to be "... Hornsey's voice in the town hall, not the town hall's voice in Hornsey. " How he reconciles this admirable sound bite with attempting to silence colleagues' voices about Hornsey Town Hall is a matter I am sure the eloquent Adam will have no difficulty in explaining away.
So Cllr Jogee has come down on the rebels like a ton of marshmallows, or perhaps, given his role here, walnut whips. He writes
" . . . we simply cannot be in a situation where Labour members are calling in the decisions made by our own Labour Cabinet, as and when they feel like it . . ."
which is just wrong in so many ways. The "call in" is the only mechanism that anyone anywhere has to review cabinet decisions. To deny it to the greater part of the elected council is surely deeply undemocratic. And I am absolutely sure that given that this high handed , unreasonable and despotic response was entirely predictable the naughty Labour Callers In did so not because "they feel like it" but because of a deeply held belief that a better decision was possible.
Very sad. And pretty much the reason why, for years, I've been unable to participate in party politics - the first rule of the Labour Party (and for all I know the others too) is, "always obey the whip and never question the party line". No alternative viewpoint or reasoned counter argument is allowed.
Which is why we're where we're at with the Town Hall of course. It doesn't matter whether there were alternatives, or useful suggestions, or concerns, or logic - Haringey HQ are always in the right, the council must be obeyed, all resistance must be crushed.
Of course weasel words continue to be deployed in public. While Jogee was sending out his letter (authored by whom?), Cllr Strickland was 'welcoming scrutiny and the opportunity to go deeper into the issues of the decision to select the preferred bidder', and one of the Crouch End cllrs was boasting on twitter of Haringey's profound wisdom of allowing the six hours of debate and scrutiny.
It's what you get in a one party state I suppose.
The thing is, though, that even in Haringey, Labour isn't the only game in town. One of the key things that this debacle illustrates - though it has been quite clear for some time - is this: electing left leaning Labour Councillors in Haringey is not useful. Much as we might admire them personally, and much as they have their head, their heart and their politics in the right place, they are still subject to the Labour whip.
One of the other parties that might shift the discussion and the agenda if represented on the Council is the Green Party. There haven't been any Greens on the council before, so no baggage; they don't have a whip and certainly not a Labour whip; they will shift the agenda because they will raise issues that other won't or can't.
So let's not stand back and continue to leave the field free for the Labour Cabinet to do as they please. They don't represent many of the residents in Haringey. Well, at the next election we all have a chance to vote for people who will. The Green Party will be there, in force.
Mark Crouch End - I expect many people will understand your reluctance to get involved in Party politics. Not least when you observe a "one-party state" in Haringey. An impression which is hardly contradicted when Sarah Elliot one of your ward councillors, and former leader of the LibDem opposition decides to join Labour.
But by not getting involved you vacate the space. Especially now as we approach the 2018 local elections. And the selection of candidates by the parties.
As most people now know there are in effect, two Labour Parties. There was always a left-wing and a right-wing. As a longstanding Labour Party member and a former councillor I was always on the right-wing. But then a whole lot of people joined who, judging by their policies and general political attitudes I couldn't distinguish from Tories.
As you may know, they like to think of themselves as "progressive" "moderate" and "Centre Left". And many of them belong to an organisation called "Progress". Broadly speaking in Haringey they seem to me to resemble the Barnet Tories and that borough's enthusiastic commitment to outsourcing as much as possible and selling-off as much property as they can to developers as quickly as possible.
As a former Labour right-winger I've never had a problem with what - in the last century - used to be called a "mixed economy" with local public services being provided by a blend of: local councils; private sector companies and the voluntary/not for profit sector. But our own current local "Progress" councillors seem besotted by the corporate private sector.
So it was obvious to me that when Cllr Claire Kober bought in Nick Walkey from Barnet as Chief Executive (and he in turn brought in his own people) that this was the plan.
In fact I'm only surprised that the Dear Leader and her Nicksputin haven't gone the whole hog and moved to outsource parts like the Parks, the Parking Service and the nurseries. I expect that and more are coming shortly. The Parks will become dependent - perhaps almost completely - on commercial letting income; I expect to see a privatised Parking Service proposed, following the Barnet example. It will be a disaster and if you don't believe me have a look at this blog. http://lbbspending.blogspot.co.uk/
If you want to see a Barnet style borough, Mark, then carry on sitting out the politics. But before you decide, do please take a look at the four Barnet Bloggers.The Barnet Eye; Mr Reasonable; Mr Mustard and Broken Barnet.
But the problem with the party political space is not that it is vacant, but that it is overcrowded. An analysis of the vote in Crouch End when Sarah Elliott was a Lib Dem show an overwhelming majority of votes for not-the-Labour-Party. Problem is the Greens, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives, with a small contribution from UKIP, share the votes out in too small portions. Opponents of the Kobertories should form themselves into an alliance of 'not-the-Labour-party' and remove this fragmentation. Better surely that there be one or two opposition councillors in many wards, then that the egos of a few who want to see their names on a ballot paper get massaged.
|ARTHUR Jason Joshua||Labour Party||1,451||Yes|
|DORON Natan||Labour Party||1,435||Yes||Total Labour votes||4,136|
|ELLIOTT Sarah||Liberal Democrats||1,342||Yes||Total non-Labour vote||7,899|
|HALEY Brian||Liberal Democrats||1,099|
|HARLING Pamela Jean||Green Party||855|
|HARTE Patrick Duddy||Liberal Democrats||1,101|
|KEEVER Lourdes Margaret||Labour Party||1,250|
|NORWOOD David||Green Party||658|
|PRICE Evan David Lewis||Conservative Party||397|
|SHERWOOD Julian Alexander James||Conservative Party||462|
|SLEAT Matthew Peter||Conservative Party||419|
|SYKES Greta||Green Party||705|
|THOMPSON Peter Thomas||UK Independence Party (UKIP)||214
Adrian, can I suggest that focussing on the election is to adopt a "frame" which omits Mark Crouch End's point. Which I take to be what happens after the supposedly democratic elections; when the current Kobertory Party swings into Yes-Leader-No-Leader-pick-me-leader mode of top-down, centre-out control-freak operation of the Haringey political machine.
Which still has a facade of democracy. But, as will be apparent to anyone who has attended or viewed current Council meetings is dominated by the features Mark lists. (I've taken the liberty, Mark, of separating your comment into bullet points as I feel they each need to be acknowledged.
● Obey the whip
● No questioning the party line.
● No alternative viewpoints
● No reasoned counter argument
● Dismiss or ignore any useful suggestions
● Ignore people's emotions and concerns
● Ignore logic and evidence.
I've often described the KoberTories as a 101 Council. This is so in several senses. As Mark puts it: "Haringey HQ are always in the right". I jokingly say: "There are always at least 101 reasons why Claire Kober is always right; and 101 reasons why residents are wrong.
There's another 101, which I borrowed from the numbering of beginners' courses in U.S. universities. In Koberville there's little or no learning from experience among politicians. And more and staff who do know things are leaving at an ever increasing rate and taking their knowledge with them.
And let's not forget Orwell's Room 101. where you meet your nightmares.
However, I suggest we also need to consider the steps before election day. Asking who chooses the pool of candidates for each party? And who chooses the choosers? Then, what's the system in each party for selecting who will stand for each ward?
Perhaps people think the U.S. Electoral College system is dysfunctional in not selecting the candidate with most votes? But please consider the Haringey Labour Party's system where ward branch members will get 5 - to 10 minutes to hear shortlisted candidates. In the past such selectorate meetings might have consisted of one to two dozen members. In some ward branches this key meeting simply re-anoints the current threesome. In a "safe" ward they, in effect, elect the councillors.
Currently the Kobertories are still in charge and the Dear Leader and her acolytes will be fully exploiting the advantages of that. These include the threat of deselection; patronage and the payroll vote; and control of the Council propaganda channels. Plus appeals to Party loyalty which are used to override principles, decency, and telling the truth.
Perhaps people think things were always as bad as they are now I can only try to persuade them that in the past councillors did occasionally vote against the whip. And spoke up without getting threatened, bullied or suspended. To give an example, the late Cllr George Meehan, - for all his faults and he had a few - actually listened and would trim course. You also knew you were talking to a man with socialist principles who wasn't there as a career move.
Can it change? Of course. And it already has with the two recent by-elections. The explosion of new members supporting Corbyn may be the mechanism. But it needs new people to step up and challenge a rotten dysfunctional regime.Which dysfunctions for the benefit of a few.
Adrian, your suggestion of an alliance of Not-the-Labour-Party seems impractical. Though given the Scottish experience, maybe I should be less sure than I am. Anyway, it's not an option for me. I am a socialist and will continue voting for left wing candidates. My hand will simply not move over the ballot paper and vote for a Tory. Even if they are wearing a red rosette.