Nash resignation: who next?



IT has been an open secret at the Town Hall for some time that Nash Ali was unlikely to see out four years as leader of Camden Council, but the people who helped elevate him to the number one position have always believed this should have been his decision rather than that of his colleagues.

In a resignation letter not too hard to decode, he makes it clear he has been edged out of the hotseat before he would have wanted. “Sarah has now forced the issue,” he told members.

He then writes how he wants the group to avoid divisions and lasting scars with important elections ahead. The smoothest way to do that would be to hand Sarah the reins – ‘here you go’ – but it’s not as simple as that: Nash asks others, the ‘loyal’ members who refused to stand against him, to come forward and make a fight of it. There are at least two more names that instantly come to mind if a contest was to develop ahead of May 14.

For those who weren’t altogether tuned in (maybe they were busy doing constituency work) there is some surprise tonight that Sarah has ‘forced the issue’. Twice it has been remarked, privately, that she was only one vote or two away from losing her place on the cabinet at last year’s AGM, yet that less than ringing vote of confidence from colleagues has transformed into a tilt at the top job this time around. True, the landscape has changed and there have been friendlier relations in recent months. Some wounds have healed. But there is discomfort at the way this latest development has been handled. Last week Labour was agreeing ways to make their AGM less bloody. Now members could be split for the next few weeks over the most important position of all. And as, under the new rules, the new leader picks who will get the best jobs in the new cabinet at the Town Hall, it may become important for many to be seen picking the winner.

In the recent past we have had coronations in Camden’s Labour Party rather than contests – people stepped aside for Raj Chada in 2006. Nash is appearing to advocate the opposite, and asking for more faces to state their case.

Sarah is nothing if not ambitious. One colleague told me that they “admire her bravery” for taking on Nash this year, when risking upsetting his supporters and others who were aware he would be leaving next May annyway. Nash had also come into his own with his work with the community after last summer’s riots. He always seems more comfortable out and about, rather than in the council chamber.

“You have to make up your mind whether you want a grassroots campaigner as your leader or a policy wonk,” said a well placed source. “When the riots kicked off, Nash was good with the community but there are other issues that need tackling. It’s a hard call.”

Sarah has led the fightback against HS2, one of the most importat issues facing Camden, in recent weeks and is a hands-on executive member. She also took on Eric Pickles over the crisis at The People’s Supermarket. But will anybody take on her?

4 Comments on Nash resignation: who next?

  1. Obviously this is a tremendous shock and surprise. Every time I asked Sarah Hayward (politely) how her plot to replace Nash was going she always told me there was no plot and I shouldn’t ever believe her capable of such dastardly underhand scheming. Even when given the opportunity to confirm her plot in private in front of just Richard Osley and myself at the town hall, she chose to deny all knowledge of her own intentions. Richard then smiled sadly and shook his head…

  2. David Douglas // March 14, 2012 at 11:51 pm //

    Sarah and Andrew should take the Danny Baker Sport aid thing and swap the Shirt of Hurt, Not Con and Lab but Newcastle and Arsenal. Bet it would raise hard cash at Town Hall for SportAid

  3. Sarah Hayward has shown real leadership in the face of the biggest threat to

    Camden since the ‘motorway box’ scheme in the late 60s – High Speed Two.

    HS2 at Euston will be bigger than 17 Emirates Stadiums and the land take described as

    “minimal” by HS2 will in itself be larger than St Pancras.

    The London Box scheme promoted as being in the national interest would have dissected

    London and Camden with a series of high speed motorways

    Like HS2 it was promoted on a predict and provide basis. Fortunately it was stopped by

    public opinion although we can imagine the West Way (a piece of it) sweeping into the

    proposed Camden spaghetti junction.

    Following in the steps of Sue Vincent who seemed almost alone in perceiving the threat

    to Camden from HS2, Cllr Sarah Hayward has mastered her brief and is not afraid to tackle

    the issues however complex and no matter how disingenuous HS2s tactics.

    Unfortunately the same cannot be said of Nash Ali who told a packed meeting on the

    Regents Park estate that he was there “to listen”. That went down well.

    Despite being invited to the Public meeting HS2 did not attend this (or any other meeting)

    Ed Watson identified the environmental credentials of the new 100% bigger Euston by

    saying that it would be better insulated. The crowd roared their approval.

    Putative Leadership contender Theo Blackwell has said…. well, nothing about HS2.

    As far as we know. Perhaps he has not grasped its implications for his Borough.

    Note to all parties: Even if you don’t have the energy to tackle the HS2 Euston Issue head

    on, No one will lose any votes by being against HS2.

    Keep on leading from the front Sarah. Someone has to and you will earn the admiration

    of virtually all of your Camden constituency.

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