Halting the Momentum

Momentum 007

One of the few advantages of the modern age is that you can get the Sunday papers on the continent on the same day of publication. OK – we might not get the supplements , but really, who needs know about Dry January diet and exercise tips and what our astrological signs have in store for us in 2018?

The only downside is that it does nothing for our blood pressure especially when Her Ladyship has a habit of lovingly ringing articles that I may find interesting/infuriating. One such ring of ire was reserved for a letter published in The Sunday Times titled  ‘Labour executive wrong to meddle’.

“Did you have to?…..” I harrumphed ” you know it bring on my Sandie Shaw Syndrome – there’s always something there to remind me “

“Oh dearest do stop griping – take two aspirin and tell me how you feel in the morning ………”  chirruped Her Ladyship .

So here goes.

It comes to something when leaders of Labour councils write to the establishment’s favourite mouthpiece ‘a-whingin’ and a-whinin’ about their own party’s National Executive Committee (and more particularly the Momentum element – although the dreaded ‘M ‘ word is studiously not used). You won’t be surprised to read that among the signatories were Mayor Joe Anderson  ( how many Mayors does Liverpool need f’chrissakes?) and your very own ‘leader’ (ha!ha!ha!) on Wirral – Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies.  The full letter is re-printed below . The list of signatories can be found here : Sunday Times letter and signatories

This internal clash of ideologies and political approaches comes as a result of the Labour NEC calling a halt on the Labour administration at Haringey Council wanting to get involved with Lendlease and develop a controversial housing scheme. The signatories consider that the Labour Party owe the leader of Haringey Ccouncil , Claire Kober  ,’a huge debt of gratitude’ :

LABOUR EXECUTIVE WRONG TO MEDDLE
It is a vital and long-standing rule of the Labour Party that individual Labour Groups, consisting of democratically elected Labour councillors, are sovereign bodies. As such, they have the ability, within available resources, party rules, and the law, to determine the most appropriate policies to serve their local communities.

Labour Local Government wishes to make it clear to all members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) that they have no right or justification to interfere in or influence the legitimate actions of locally elected representatives. Such actions are not just outside of the party’s rules, but an affront to the basic principles of democracy.

We are extremely disappointed at the circumstances in which an issue in Haringey was brought forward and discussed by the NEC. Haringey Labour Group was not informed that such a discussion would take place, no advance notice was given, and no papers were produced, meaning the NEC discussion took place based on opinion and speculation rather than facts.

This sets a dangerous and alarming precedent and we ask the NEC for categorical assurances that such circumstances will not arise again in relation to this or any other Labour Group.

Labour councillors around the country are deeply concerned that, in seeking to mitigate Tory austerity by proposing radical new solutions, we face calls for disciplinary action against us. Such calls are uncomradely, disrespectful, and wilfully ignore the difficult and challenging role that we play in doing our best to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.

Councillor Claire Kober has an outstanding record of improving the lives of residents in Haringey. Claire became the leader of Haringey Council in 2008 at the age of thirty, assuming the immense personal responsibility of leading a council in crisis following the appalling public service failures that led to the death of Peter Connelly (‘Baby P’).

Under her inspirational leadership, and despite suffering funding cuts of over 40% since 2010, the Haringey Labour Group has delivered the fastest improving schools in the country and generated billions of pounds of investment in the borough, and in 2017 the council won the Children’s Services of the Year award. We believe the Labour Party owes her a huge debt of gratitude for turning around a failing authority and as a result protecting thousands of the most vulnerable children and adults.”

However we feel we get a better insight into why certain Labour Council leaders such as Mayor Joe and Power Boy Pip would hold Cllr Kober in such high regard from a bravura (and brave) letter of resignation from one of her own Haringey councillors ,Cllr Stuart McNamara,which was written last November. The damning indictment of Kober’s leadership (which can be read in full here) includes the following claims:

Somebody has to call you out on your wrecking ball tactics and horrific wasting of public money on nonsense vanity projects whilst council services are starved of cash or sold off to the lowest bidder, making horrendous Tory government cuts even worse. This government and its behaviour towards the most vulnerable in our society is an absolute scandal; I am not suggesting they are not the core cause of the council’s financial predicament, rather that your ideological determination to pursue out-dated and maverick policies, whilst losing sight completely of the Labour values we are supposed to stand for, has made a very bad situation immeasurably worse.

The council’s reputation and recent history had warranted change and you came to us at a time of crisis at Haringey Council when a fresh direction was urgently needed. Like many people, I initially supported your leadership. You had, and still have, a right to be objectively and fairly judged on the merits of your leadership. Sadly, and on that basis, your leadership has been largely focused on the ideological pursuit of a poorly thought-through version of a commissioning and out-sourcing council.

You have projected a falsely positive view of Haringey to other local authorities and people of influence elsewhere in local and central government that is increasingly divorced from the reality on the ground. You have also placed a far higher importance on having good relations with private developers than with others in the Labour Party in Haringey and with residents, the very people we were elected to support and represent.

You are generous with council resources, waiving rents and large payments from powerful organisations when it suits you and you condone councillors dining out and enjoying corporate hospitality when the meals on wheels service has been cut. All too often, Labour councillors and residents find out about these things after the event, through member enquiries or FOI requests.

All you would need to do would be insert Wirral for Haringey and you’d  have a pin -point accurate description of Power Boy Pip’s administration except you wouldn’t get anyone brave enough within his cabal of careerist and complacent councillors to tell it like it is.  And as for the telling the Labour NEC ‘it has no right or justification to interfere in or influence the legitimate actions of locally elected representatives ‘,  perhaps Pip needs to think about matters closer to home and remind Birkenhead MP Frank Field about Wirral Council’s ‘sovereignty’ and ‘party rules and the law to determine the most appropriate policies to serve our communities’ and then ponder as to why Momentum is gaining,er , momentum and scaring the Blairites. We’ve long said that with feeble local political opposition the only thing that would sort the local Labour group out would be their own members – pass the hors d’oeuvres things could get really interesting in the run up to the local elections in May.

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