Harringay online

Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Below is the email sent to party members. His crime? He asked questions about the risk to old people if the Haven Day Centre closes.

Democracy is officially dead in Haringey.

Dear redacted

Re: Suspension (removal of the whip) of Councillor Gideon Bull

Please see below emails (verbatim) from the Chief Whip of the Haringey Labour Group regarding the suspension of Councillor Gideon Bull.

I am conscious that the Tottenham CLP has many new members and there maybe confusion about what this means. By way of a brief explanation and foresee questions you may have:

  • The CLP only deals with the disciplinary of members if the case they have been accused of is in regards to their membership of the Labour party.
  • All Councillors belong to a Labour Group (as well as a CLP), in Haringey they belong to the ‘Haringey Labour Group’ as Councillors are borough-wide based on the geographical boundaries of Haringey Council. (i.e. there is no such thing as a Tottenham Labour Group as Tottenham is a Parliamentary Constituency boundary not a Local Council Boundary).
  • If a Councillor is subject to disciplinary based on their role as a Councillor (not as a member of the party), then the case is dealt with by the [Haringey] Labour Group.
  • The Labour Group can impose action on the membership of Councillors to the Labour Group and not his Labour Party membership.
  • As Councillor Gideon Bull’s case is about his role as a Councillor it has been dealt with by the Haringey Labour Group.
  • Councillor Gideon Bull’s suspension is a suspension from the Haringey Labour Group and not from the Labour Party. Gideon still remains a full member of the Labour Party.
  • A suspension from the Labour Group means he is still a Councillor for the London Borough of Haringey as he has been elected to serve for 4 years.
  • The technical term for this action is called the “removal of the whip”.
  • The ability to remove Councillors from their role is covered by the Local Government Act and Representation of the People Act which has specific rules when Councillors can be removed from their role as Councillors.
  • The decision to ‘remove the whip’ (suspend) is not an action that can be taken by one person, it is subject to a vote by the whole of the Haringey Labour Group. In this case the vote concluded to suspend Councillor Gideon Bull.
  • The local MPs, the Assembly Member and MEPs have no vote and no decision making powers over the removal of a whip of a Labour Councillor.

As Gideon is still a full member of the Labour Party, he remains the Vice Chair of the Tottenham CLP and Secretary of the White Hart Lane Labour branch.

Councillor Gideon Bull has the right to appeal the decision to London Regional Board. If Councillor Gideon Bull decides to appeal and is successful then the suspension is withdrawn and you will be informed.

I hope my attempt to explain has helped.

As this is a decision by the Haringey Labour Group and not by the Tottenham CLP, I cannot not respond to any questions about the decision and I am writing to you solely to share the information.

Seema Chandwani
CLP Secretary | Tottenham

Emails from Liz McShane - Chief Whip of the Haringey Labour Group To Be Shared With Members.
(Please note there are two emails)

Dear Seema

This is to formally notify you that the whip has been removed from Cllr Gideon Bull, following the Special Labour Group meeting on Thursday 21st January,  where the Labour Group voted for the recommendation.

The period of suspension is for 3 months,  from 21st January 2016  to the end of the day on 21st April 2016.

I have written to Cllr Bull to confirm this and to formally notify him of the terms of his suspension.


Second Email [Following Request for Reason]:

Dear Seema, 

You can say it's because of Gideon’s intervention at the Cabinet meeting on 10
th November, where he spoke out against an agreed group decision, that the Labour Group voted  on a recommendation to withdraw the whip based on  concerns about comradely behaviour and collective responsibility in accordance with the Party’s rules and our own group standing orders.


Link to the meeting http://www.haringey.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/191461 the relevant part is 1 hour and 22 minutes.

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Replies to This Discussion

Gideon has drifted to the Left in recent times. At one stage, he was more "New Labour" than the Dear Leader himself (Blair). How times change. Esp when his Scrutiny Role - and the handsome salary that goes with it - was at risk

Your point being, what exactly?

And would you like to tell us your current position in relation to the Tottenham Tories.

You two were arch enemies at one stage - I seem to recall you leaving a council meeting (AGM?) early so you did not have to support (or oppose) him in a vote. My enemy's enemy, eh? Anyway, Cllr Bull - who has rediscovered the joys of Clause Four - may well be a disloyal chameleon, but it is a travesty he should lose the Labour Whip for speaking up for the vulnerable at Cabinet. 

Since when is £21k a handsome salary? And it's an allowance not a salary. Councillors are not employees.

OK, £21k in "allowances"

Wish I got 21K :S

Having found and listened to Gideon's contribution, credit where it is due (pity that, rather than making a cheap dig at central government, he failed to mention the controversial loan to Chicken T0wn, the cost of Haringey People, trips to Cannes to meet property developers, failure to collect Council Tax, failure to spend government grants (and having to return them) and, of course, the councillors' pay hike. Still, as I said, some very good points/questions.

AT close hand, I listened to these speeches as I waited to ask a question at the same Cabinet meeting (02:41:15 on the tape).

I was impressed with the speeches of both Cllr. Bull and Cllr. Peacock, who each spoke without guile but with honesty, passion and conviction. They spoke from the heart and in the case of Cllr. Peacock, without notes and while unwell.

They spoke on behalf of residents. Whether one is indifferent to what they said or not; or agrees with what they said or not, they should not be faulted for what, how or why they said, let alone punished for it.

It seems that any criticism is intolerable.

The purpose of punishment in these circumstances cannot be to quell or silence such experienced Councillors. The sole purpose must be pour encourager les autres – to frighten the rest of the Majority Group.

It's a poor state of affairs for a local group that on the national stage, lays claim to democracy and standing up for the vulnerable. Not all the Majority Group are nodding puppets; allegedly some are quite bright and I cannot believe all its members are happy with this lesson in obedience training.

Haringey Councillor
Liberal Democrat Party

First please let me reply to Justin Hinchcliffe's comment above.

You're right, Justin, that at one time Gideon Bull and I fell out badly. But let me be clear that what's happened now is nothing to do with 'enemy's enemy'. There are simpler and more straightforward and better reasons to support the position Gideon and Sheila Peacock have taken. Reasons to deplore the punishment meted out to them. (Sheila has had a "warning" and been removed from the unpaid Party post of Assistant Labour Group Whip.)

Moving to the more general discussion, I should make clear that I don't attend Labour Group meetings - being neither a councillor nor holding a senior post in the local Labour Parties. So the direct information I have is what has been sent to all members of Tottenham Labour Party. And is now posted here by P.Knight. (Who incidentally, I don't know.)
For newer members of HoL, I should add that I was a Labour councillor until May 2014. (I'm now a just a Party member.) I too had the Party Whip taken away for three months. It was for voting against the appointment of Nick Walkley as Chief Executive. (There's more on HoL's back pages in the unlikely event that anyone's interested.)

Neither Cllr Gideon Bull nor Cllr Sheila Peacock voted against the Party Whip. In fact they didn't vote at all at the so-called "cabinet" meeting; where their comments were deemed "uncomradely". This is for the simple reason that they aren't members of Cllr Claire Kober's cabinet and have no vote. Nor, as far as I can see, have they broken any rule about cabinet collective responsibility - again because they are not cabinet members.

These may be important technical points for the application of the Party Rules. But again, they are not the main issue. In my view, I think Justin Hinchcliffe is right - not in his digs about Tony Blair, Clause 4, and drifts to the Left - but when he says:
"It is a travesty he [Gideon Bull] should lose the Labour Whip for speaking up for the vulnerable at Cabinet".
Yes, it is a travesty. And the same for Sheila Peacock getting a "warning" for speaking out at the same cabinet meeting.

Clive Carter who was there, is clearly right that both of them spoke: "with honesty, passion and conviction. They spoke from the heart and in the case of Cllr. Peacock, without notes and while unwell."

In the heading to this discussion thread, P. Knight - whoever she or he may be - writes that: "Democracy is officially dead in Haringey". It isn't, of course, but appears to be under severe attack in the Haringey Labour Group. And that's serious, not least because there are currently enormous policy questions under discussion. Plus a depleted and very weak LibDem opposition.

Earlier today I tweeted a quotation by Nelson Mandela to Cllr Liz McShane the Haringey Labour Group Chief whip. It said: "I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles".  It seems that neither Claire Kober or Liz McShane are fans of friends with independent minds.

As 25 January is Robert Burns Night I also tweeted lines which seemed apt, from his poem "Here's a Health to Them That's Awa. 

"Here's freedom to them that wad read,
Here's freedom to them that wad write,
There's nane ever fear'd
that the truth should be heard,
But they whom the truth would indite."

I've suggested to my fellow Tottenham Labour Party members that a wise Council leader who isn't an autocrat trying to amass power and scare her colleagues into supine obedience, would actually welcome criticisms and suggestions from Sheila, Gideon and others who were honest and heartfelt in their views about frontline local services - especially for the most vulnerable residents. And would welcome debates and disagreements, in public as well as in private. Because out of challenge and dispute come wiser heads and far better decisions.

An intelligent and wise Council leader (or cabinet member) should value and respect people who are prepared to tell them things and produce evidence which disputes their views and plans As George Orwell wrote: "If Liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."

The last thing a sensible Council leader needs is silence and sycophancy from colleagues. As Martin Luther King once said: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter".

When leaders act believing they must silence and punish all and any dissent, their regimes have become truly rotten.

Claire must surely know that Momentum is behind her, Joe and her rotten cabal? As an addendum, I should add that Claire was very nice and normal when she was first elected in 2006. As they say, 'power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely'.  This administration is arrogant, heartless, incompetent, wasteful and out of touch. Still, people keeping voting them back in - like dogs returning to their vomit. Wish we had PR - it is needed, perhaps, now more than ever. 

How did I miss this pearl Justin? The electorate of Haringey are "like dogs returning to their vomit" because they vote for a Labour administration rather than a Conservative one?

Wrong (again!). Our constituency, assuming you live in Harringay, is a one-party state. Every councillor is Labour - no Conservatives, Greens, Independents or Lib Dems. Pretty much been like that since 1971. Anything would be preferable to this arrogant and out-of-touch clique who have been running and ruining Haringey for decades.



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