After the recent St Ann's ward Labour party selection meeting we lost our three standing councillors. Nilgun Canver stood down, and Zena Brabazon and David Browne were deselected. In 2009 this was the site of the rather startling deselection of the illustrious Brian Haley. Considering the quorum at the Harringay Labour party meeting to select three candidates in 2010, St Ann's have an active and diligent Labour Party.
Or do they?
It was remarkable in 2009 when Brian Haley was deselected but what happened here was unprecedented. All three councillors in a safe Labour ward were replaced. It now transpires that the election to select these candidates was not as straight as it should have been. Nineteen people who were both outside the ward and had joined the Labour party after the cut-off date at the end of April had joined on one day in July. Just imagine if St Ann's councillors had to be mindful of Harringay traffic concerns to be selected? Would those bollards exist? Why was this allowed to happen?
The meeting was stacked with Haringey Labour members, not necessarily from St Ann's (26 in total) but loyal to Councillor Kober and perhaps other factions. Five people from outside of the ward voted in the election, this is all it took to swing it and come May next year your vote will be nearly worthless because this is a very safe Labour ward.
There are two things that bother me about this. The obvious and wilfully ignored corruption in the candidate selection - these people WILL be elected, just because they are the Labour candidates - these meetings are important, and the apparent barring from standing of a local Labour activist, Seema Chandwani.
To be allowed to stand in a selection meeting in Haringey you must go before a panel to be judged on your suitability as a candidate. In Haringey the panel was chaired by Luke Akehurst. Apparently he thought that Ms Chandwani would bring the Labour Party into disrepute, presumably because she embarrassed them over youth services in the borough (and I bet he was one of the people clapping loudly when Ed Milliband talked about lowering the voting age this week). Luke denied us the opportunity to vote for Seema as a councillor. As a keen follower of local politics I think this was quite nasty, I would have dropped leaflets and knocked on doors for Seema, and I'm not even a member. I wonder what he made of Charles Adje whom I see he allowed to stand for selection?
The second thing that bothers me is that rules in place to protect us from vested interests taking over our representation as residents were completely ignored in this selection process. As I've said, just imagine if a bunch of angry Harringay citizens could join the Labour party and go over and deselect anyone in St Ann's who supported the gating of the Gardens? I have looked into this myself and I know it's completely against the rules. Labour central office were alerted to this but were too busy planning their conference this week to care about it. The GRA are in shock.
Labour in Haringey do not deserve our votes because they are careless with the selection process.
Next week, on Monday the 30th, the selection meetings come to Harringay and I urge all Labour Party members to attend the meeting and vote for the best candidates, not to mention keep an eye on the voting. As much criticism as I level at the local Labour Party, at the end of the day it is up to members to take an active part in the selection process.
(Edited by site admin following legal advice)
Can I please correct one important error before this starts to appear in media around the UK.
The key fact needing correction: only five people took part in the St Ann's ward branch selection meeting who, as far as I am aware, do not live in that ward as required by the Labour Party's rules and would therefore not have been eligible to attend and vote.
As far as I know, John gave an accurate figure of nineteen people signed up as members of the St Ann's ward Labour Party branch who, it is highly likely, do not live in that ward. (Who include the five.)
John is correct about a "freeze" date in the Party's rules. This is designed to prevent people joining the party just before a ballot. However, of the nineteen, most were not eligible because of the "freeze" date; and only five took part in the selection meeting.
My statement about the numbers is based on evidence drawn from searches of publicly available Electoral Registers in Haringey and elsewhere. Plus other searches of publicly accessible websites.
So that people know clearly where I stand on this, my partner Zena Brabazon is one of the current councillors for St Ann's ward who - again as John McMullan correctly states - was deselected along with Cllr David Browne.
(Tottenham Hale ward councillor)
Folks, think you'll find that this is part of Labour HQs struggle to reign in the outspoken left of the local party machine across the country, before the national elections of 2015. Happened in Glasgow recently, although that struggle brew up in Labour HQ's face.
Claire Kober probably has a direct line to Labour HQ strategy re controlling the 'outspoken left' of the party. Haringey has after all taken over the mantle of 'loony left' borough from past winner Hackney some time ago, unfortunately. How many times do we see Haringey in the news for all the wrong reasons.
Milliband maybe rolling out eye catching 'squeezed middle' policies at conference this week, but being the privileged Primrose Hill boy that he is, I hardly think he's planning to let the outspoken left of the party dominate the Labour machine.
Land banks (sat on for years, if not decades) by so called house builders are part of the loony right's economic policy Stan. Grabbing that land isn't the answer but utilizing it for housing is. If you've got a good way of how that might happen let us all know.
The rules are that only those who live in the ward can vote, they have to have been paid-up members of the party for six months i think. Can anyone else go as an observer? We had one observer at the tottnm green selection, as well as someone from central office (?) who was there as an independent observer. There was much checking of registers and names before we got to the actual votes, though we didnt have to show party cards (I have spares from previous years without a date so probably not hard to get). Can non party members, and even maybe press, attend the meeting? As this is the crunch area for cronyism, it should be wide open.
Becoming a member is hardly rigorous - fill in an online form and have a monthly direct debit for three pound something. No need to turn up to meetings, no idea who the other 70-odd members of tottnm green are, except i saw about 20 strangers at our shortlisting and selection meetings.
Is this what Ed means by a mass movement of active members?
This all sounds pretty appalling if true - but as someone who's a bit shy of politics (mainly for precisely the sort of reasons detailed above) can anyone with experience comment on whether this is broadly-speaking the kind of thing that goes on everywhere - or is it particularly bad in Haringey?
I tried running as an Independent in 7 Sisters after poor old Fred Knight (a true gentleman of the Old School) died and there was a bye-election just after the Baby P storm broke.
My platform was that the chaos in the Social Services department had resulted from the local Labour Party prizing ideology over humanity and that they would review this ethos only when people showed an inclination to vote elsewhere. I stuck to that and made no comment whatsoever about my political opponents but discovered later that Labour were circulating all sorts of truly vile accusations about me, racist being just about the mildest. Since I am Jewish and part of my family Jamaican, this was especially ridiculous but it didn't stop them anyway and there is nothing like calling someone a racist to invalidate them even if it is plainly obvious that they are not. I suppose that proves my point about ideologically-driven people losing all sense of personal morality to further a "greater good".
It seems that lesson number one in modern politics is that you have to be prepared to lie and slander in support of your chosen creed because by the time the voters have found out, it will be too late anyway--think of all those spin doctor confessions coming out now. Independents on the other hand tend not to have the advantage of any sectarian opiate for their consciences so they are in a much weaker position.
One more thing -- on election night, my husband (a professor of mathematics) was absolutely certain he saw votes counted in my favour that did not appear later on in the results. He could have been mistaken of course. Mind you, I have never known my husband previously or since to be mistaken about anything to do with counting stuff.
So, running as an Independent in this part of the world? ...It would need a revolution.
Some people may have noticed that I posted two versions of my comment this morning. The first was longer and had some of my opinions. On reflection I decided to strip these out and stick to what I'm confident are confirmed facts.
In the same way, sticking to what I know, my answer to one of Stan's questions is: Yes, complaints have been made to the Labour Party - both the London Region and National Office.
I'm not speculating about what was said or announced or done at a meeting I didn't attend. Nor about what other people at National HQ or elsewhere may or may not be thinking. Although it seems highly likely that the top priority of staff in the Labour's national and regional offices was helping to run the successful Conference at Brighton. Not pondering emails from Haringey
What I can tell you is that at selection meetings where I was the secretary or party observer, ballot papers and the record of members attending were all retained in case of a possible challenge.
The £500 per week social security cap, which came into effect in Haringey in April this year, leaves families with the following amounts to spend on their housing costs:
Couple with 3 children = £173 per week
Couple with 4 children = £108 per week
Couple with 5 children = £43 per week
Where in Harringay can you rent suitable accommodation for these prices? The cap is devastating our community and our schools. And now the temporary Discretionary Housing Payments offered by Haringey Council are starting to run out. Things are about to get much, much worse. This neighbourhood is rapidly becoming gentrified and will be all the poorer for it.
What do Haringey Labour have to say about this? Why are they spending their time in self-interested musings about selections when people are really suffering in this community?