The doughnut defence

LADIES and gentlemen of the jury, the defence submits exhibit A: One Krispy Kreme doughnut. Glazed.

Let me explain. Even before the official starting gun has sounded, blows are being traded ahead of the Camden Town and Primrose Hill by-election. The Liberal Democrats will up their attack this week on the way Labour has handled Councillor Tom Neumark’s resignation. Leader Keith Moffitt will accuse Labour of “trading on his reputation as being a nice guy” when in his last few months on the council he has been “virtually invisible”. They will note the timing of when left his job and moved out of his house as pointers to a man who knew he was probably outta here long before it was confirmed last week.

It is obviously advantageous for Labour to have the poll on the same day as the mayoral elections when their closest rivals in Camden Town, that’s the Lib Dems in this bench of the borough, risk being squeezed by wider distractions. But did they drag out Tom’s resignation to hit that date, leaving the ward under-represented while they did so?

Tom says he is pained by the accusations, hurt by the suggestion he hasn’t been pulling his weight on issues like Hawley Wharf’s redevelopment and the saving of Chalk Farm Library. And here comes the doughnut bit. When challenged about being invisible, he says it must have been an invisible man who gave Keith a ‘glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut’ at the Town Hall while he was at Judd Street chairing a meeting of the Noise Nuisance Scrutiny Panel last month.

“I am sure that Keith remembers the doughnut I gave him,” he says, irritated. “I gave them (doughnuts) to all the members of the panel and Keith was walking past so I gave him one as well. What’s happened to politics when buying people sugar sweets does not guarantee loyalty?”

16 Comments on The doughnut defence

  1. Keith Moffitt // February 22, 2012 at 11:08 am // Reply

    Yes and very nice doughnuts they were too, much appreciated, Tom. But they seemed to have run out by the development control committee later that week, at which I see Tom gave his apologies. As indeed he appears to have done for every DC meeting since he stepped down as chair in October. Check for yourself on http://democracy.camden.gov.uk/ieListMeetings.aspx?CId=120&Year=2012

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  2. So, that’s absolutely positive confirmation that Cllr Neumark has attended TW0 Council meetings since mid- October. Errrrr………and ward councillor surgeries, TRAs, neighbourhood meetings, DC Planning ( on which he technically still sits): how many of those in the past four months?

    Richard, you rightly gave the Lib Dems stick over “Arizona Man” – so why such a “light touch” here, when it is so obviously a repeat performance?

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  3. Belize Man, Arizona Man and now DC Man it all comes to the same thing people poorly selected as candidates who become elected to the highly respected role of councillor without back bone to make promised commitment to the local community that incorrectly believed in them at the door step to put the ‘X’ on the ballot paper.

    It is all about trust, commitment is commitment. As school governor of Primrose Hill in Camden Town and Primrose Hill ward for three years I know all about the commitment and going out on icy cold winter nights to a 2 or 3 hour meeting either at DMC, HASC Scrutiny or other local community meetings.

    Respect MUST be earned and not taken for granted. It is high time that selection for candidates take into account a solid delivery of community activism and not just the chore of pushing publicity material through letter boxes of their respective political parties.

    Camden needs hard working councillors with values and beliefs.

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  4. I can neither confirm or deny that assertion. But if selected to stand in either this by-election or another future election, I would like to have the opportunity to demonstrate the true value of commitment and beliefs in delivery in practice, should naturally I win an election!

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  5. Graham Peasantry // February 22, 2012 at 12:34 pm // Reply

    From my own experience, I have found Tom Neumark-Jones to be a hard-working councillor and activist. Various councillors I have spoken to were highly impressed with his chairmanship of DC, and I saw him pounding the streets of Highgate on numerous occasions last September. Camden Town was lucky to have Tom.

    And Nigel, but it depends what those ‘values and beliefs’ are. Tom’s values are standing up for the poor and vulnerable and investing in the concept of society. Meanwhile, your party is decimating the NHS and proposing means-testing cancer patients. Enough of your platitudes about ‘community activism’. Your party believes in an ‘every man out for himself’ mentality, where the vulnerable get left by the wayside.

    Nye Bevan got it right when he said that Tories were ‘lower than vermin’. Have you no shame, Nigel? If you are the Tory candidate in Camden Town (or if not), let’s wait and see what the local electorate have to say about your disgraceful government.

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    • Keith Sedgwick // February 22, 2012 at 2:30 pm // Reply

      So Graham, I guess “standing up for the poor and vulnerable and investing in the concept of society” includes, cutting Meals on Wheels and compounding the resulting isolation of its previous users for human contact, by cutting the Good neighbour scheme. I guess it also covers cutting Luncheon Clubs for elderly people, too frail to cook for themselves, and cutting the free decorating service elderly Council tenants used to enjoy. All this Camden Labour has done with the help of Neumark ans so much more.

      If this counts as “standing up for the poor and vulnerable”, you can spare me your concern. I’m less worse off without it!

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      • con. sidekick // February 22, 2012 at 3:49 pm // Reply

        keith – neumark was just a scrutiny cttee. member ;
        your concerns vis elderly, meals on wheels et all should be dealt with via meric and john, chairs of housing and health scrutiny cttee’s.
        …as for you being worse off,
        best discuss with your own clr’s = sean, larraine and theo ; they may help !

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  6. Sarah Hayward // February 22, 2012 at 12:48 pm // Reply

    Yes, that’s right. Lets do what we always do and rip each other apart. Despite the fact that a) Tom is a popular and respected local councillor across party lines and b) there’s no way Tom could have forseen that his wife would get a job in Washington when he was selected to stand or elected to the council in 2010 c) he is one of the hardest working and most diligent campaigners in Camden.

    What Tom has actually done is what we all do. Balance a range of competing personal and professional commitments with ever increasing demands of being a local councillor. When breaking point came he made a very difficult decision that Camden council was the thing that had to give. I’m personally sad because my friend is moving to a different continent and sad for Camden because there’s no doubt Tom is an absolute star as a councillor and a politician and a professional.

    So go on, go down this road if you want, for petty short term political gain. But the long term consequences of what you do are put ever higher expectations in the minds of the public and ever more demands on the people who become councillors. Reducing the pool who are available to do it, if they aren’t independently wealthy, have very understanding spouses (my own circumstance) or retired.

    This is a far cry from someone just not bothering to turn up for six months – Tom was last at a council meeting less than a month ago. It’s a far cry from moving to a different continent and not bothering to tell anyone about it (including by rumour their party leader) and expecting to still be able to stay on as a councillor.

    So Keith & Paul, go down this route if you want. But do so in the knowledge that Camden Lib Dems don’t win the battle of the attendance (I’ve checked and I’m confident of that), Tom’s attendance has been exemplary and is still better than average. Actual no party wins this one. We all come off losers. And so do Camden’s residents.

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  7. con. sidekick // February 22, 2012 at 1:19 pm // Reply

    …would have been very pleased to stick the boot in ; however, as rightly pointed out by majority of camden council membership, and indeed residents- Thomas Neumark is a good man and was elected, for the right reasons ; exercising the rights of his constituents.

    It is regretful, the Fib Dims are making a song and dance about it ;
    but then, thats the Fibs for you !- idiotic !!

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  8. Come off it Sarah. I’m not attacking Tom – indeed I wrote to him when he stood down from DC Planning in October to say what a good job I thought he’d made of it. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for clarity on what meeting Tom has been able to attend since October. My suspicion is not of Tom but of the Party choosing to encouraging keeping stum on Tom’s decision to sub-let his home and quit his job in London last November. If Tom can point to lots of meetings attended, as you, Keith and I can, then I take it back. But missing half a dozen Planning DC meetings since October, whilst technically still being on the Committee, tends to suggest that he’s been elsewhere. And who can blame him? I certainly don’t. BTW, I don’t think Tom has resigned yet, so when is a resignation a resignation?

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  9. Thanks Graham ( sounds like AKA Julian F. ) and Sarah and so “Here endeth the lesson” by Labour. Should be an interresting by-election!

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  10. Keith Moffitt // February 22, 2012 at 4:41 pm // Reply

    Just to be clear Sarah – I like and respect Tom (and his doughnuts!) and like many others think he did a great job as chair of DC when Dave Horan died and Tom stepped up.

    And as someone who has a long-term partner who comes from the other side of the pond and has had to spend long periods of time there, I know how tough that can be – I’ve struggled with those separations throughout my 18 years on the Council.

    In this particular case the timing seems to be the issue, as Paul has quite rightly said.

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  11. Keith Moffitt // February 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm // Reply

    Just realised that previous message was a bit ambitious – sadly it was my partner who’s spent months on end away from London, not me!

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