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)
Couple with 2 children? Just curious, most people I know in Harringay have between two and three.
There are quite a lot of 'onlies' at the mid age of primary schools and early secondary schools John. House prices have dictated that; we have seen an influx of above average earning families having to move into Haringey (and out now tbh) in the last 5 years or so.
With their bending of the rules to suit their stacking of the meeting I'm afraid they let the shopkeepers get someone selected. I thought they had enough representation already and as for them joining the Labour party, that's just to get elected: shopkeepers are the Bourgeoisie are they not?
Why does this "happen to us"? It happens because they are the people who want power and we are the people who want representation. I could have gotten five people from Harringay along to that meeting and swung it the other way. I've been talking about doing that in our ward selection panel since 2010 but that still seems morally wrong. Joe Goldberg promised me keen young Socialists for Harringay so they should be there to select, if just a half dozen of the local Labour members get along to the meeting and select them!
Shopkeepers, honestly. Since when were shopkeepers part of the Labour movement?
"Since when were shopkeepers part of the Labour movement?"
For a start, John, Google: Rochdale Pioneers; Cooperative Society; Co-operative Party; USDAW.
Well of the top three links for that search two are now for this discussion. I think the point I am making is that our shopkeepers are capitalists and employers. Why is the Labour party giving them representation. The place to have representation in Harringay is the GLSG and the shopkeepers already have two people on there. Now they will have three, a 50% increase. We will have five...
When were people who work for banks and international financial institutions part of the Labour movement ?
As you obviously have 'secret knowledge' about the internal workings of the local Labour Party, who the 'secret masters' are, and what is happening, perhaps you would share with those of us who could attend this meeting where it is. And if that means, as far as a red-blooded socialist warrior like you is concerned, I shouldn't be there, I'm sorry you feel that way. Your comments about "shopkeepers" sounds like pure Stalinism. Perhaps that's why you are so at odds with a democratic political party. I'm no admirer of the leadership on Haringey Council, but sniping at the local party from the safety of your Stalinist bunker is not doing anyone any good here. But then, perhaps you'd rather gather your forces, get tooled up, and organise a purge, or perhaps, Pol Pot-style, send us all to re-education camps.
I am not clear from this post if John McMullan was or was not present at the selection meeting. I was. I am an ordinary Labour Party member, living in St Ann's. I am not active in the local party, but I went along to take part in the democratic process. I have been a member of the Labour Party since 1980, and a member of the labour movement (as an active trade unionist) for much longer than that. If there was some kind of "stitch-up" going on at the meeting, it was not apparent to me. I am happy to share my notes of the meeting, and on the addresses given by candidates for selection. Now, of course, maybe I am just a naive and stupid political illiterate, or maybe I am a "Kober Kabal" running-dog propagandist, masquerading as an ordinary Labour Party member. Obviously John McMullan knows much more about this meeting than I do, even though I was there. The number of voting members was 26, so any candidate needed 14 votes to be selected. The meeting was conducted in a fair and open way (in my view, having conducted or been part of hundreds of similar union meetings). Mr McMullen's comments about one selected candidate are particularly unfair. He is not just some "local businessman", he is a local pharmacist who has been in the area for years. He made clear links between health/wellbeing, housing standards/costs, and household income and employment. I thought this was an important point for our ward. He also made, talking about the St Ann's Hospital development, the clearest and most "Labour" point, that "St Ann's Hospital site belongs to us, and we should have the say in how it is developed". Those weren't his exact words, but it is as close as I can get from my notes. I felt this was the strongest statement of any of the candidates. He stressed the importance of local business in the context of providing employment for people in the ward.
I was personally surprised that (present Councillor) Zena Brabazon was not selected, as I felt she made a very clear and strong statement, and seemed very able. However, that is my personal reaction. I was only one of 26 voting members.
I was there too. It was, on the face of it, clear and democratic. It has since emerged, though, that five people in the room were not eligible to be there. There was no way to check this on the door because the observers, who were there to oversee the process, did not have access to the electoral register. Why would they? The system relies upon people telling the truth about their addresses. The party needs members and activists and most people are usually honest.
When anybody joins the Labour party, they sign a declaration saying they are registered to vote (if they are eligible to do so) at the address on the party card, and that they actually live at that address. As many as five people in the room had put themselves down as residing at addresses in St Ann's ward, when they actually live elsewhere. Although they were ineligible to vote, because they joined the party too late, it is extremely worrying that more than a dozen people (out of a total membership of about 100) joined on one day in July.
Alongside the five voters who should not have been there, there was a lot of score settling going on. David and Zena are great local councillors but the leader barely speaks to them. There were a few dirty tricks at the meeting. One member for example called for a break in the meeting in order to try and prevent one of the candidates from leaving on time to get to her own ward meeting, to select her own council candidates. It was obvious to those of us who knew what was going on. Another candidate appeared, to some of us, to be reading pre-written answers to three questions that were supposed to be sprung on candidates at the meeting itself. There is a big question mark hanging over some of the other addresses now that the investigation has begun. It seems the local party will have to have much better systems for checking where people live and will need to have sharp words with some individuals and they know who they are. This sort of thing doesn't belong in Labour politics. It isn't big and it isn't clever. The selection meeting will have to be rerun.
Declarations: I hold no formal office in the local Labour party currently, but have in the past. I also count Zena and David among my best friends.
I don't share John McMullan's apparent disdain for "shopkeepers". I spend a lot of time talking with local traders/shopkeepers in Tottenham who are a valuable part of the local community. Whether or not they live locally, the majority provide goods and services which contribute to making our High streets more lively and interesting and safer places. This of course includes local pharmacists. Which is why I support independent local pharmacists like the one in White Hart Lane currently under threat from the nearby GP practice.
But frankly that's beside the point. Adding to what Julie has posted, the central point here is that in all Labour Party shortlisting and selection meetings everywhere in the country the Labour Party's candidates are chosen according to clear rules set out in a National Rulebook which is updated annually with any amendments which the National Party approves. Christopher Fowler as a Labour Party member is entitled to go online and download a copy.
My reading of the current rules is that they clearly stipulate that people taking part and voting in shortlisting and selection meetings should be Party Members whose subscriptions are paid up, and who live in the ward concerned and - if they can be registered - are on the Electoral Register to vote in that ward. They also need to have joined the Party before a “Freeze Date”.
John McMullan posted that nineteen people who have signed up as members of St Ann's ward Labour Party branch do not live in that ward. As far as I know, there is strong evidence to show this figure is accurate. John mistakenly assumed they all attended the selection meeting. Many couldn’t - because several of them joined after the Freeze Date. I believe that the correct number was five which I posted as soon as I read what John had put on HoL.
There is a wider point, which John McMullan and Will Hoyle have both raised. It applies not just in Haringey but across the country. Where one party's candidates get overwhelming electoral support, a party's private selection meeting becomes - in effect - a small "selectorate" for the local councillors. This is not a healthy situation for democracy.
National politicians know and say that many people hold them in contempt. In too many cases that contempt is well deserved. Our system needs to be cleaned up.
(Tottenham Hale ward councillor)
Well, if there were indeed five people voting who were ineligible, then that would have made a huge difference, based on my notes of the announced number of votes in all the rounds for different candidates. I didn't know anyone else in the room, and was certainly not in a position to know who was, or was not, a member of the local ward. If the allegations made are true, then it seems to me the whole selection voting process was flawed, and the process should be repeated, with much stricter controls.