IT’S all been a bit tetchy at recent Camden Labour group annual general meetings. Last year’s event was particularly strained and we are coming up to the one year anniversary of Sarah Hayward’s ousting of the former leader Nash Ali. Her gamble just about paid off when she sparked a leadership contest that she eventually conquered by a single vote. This time around, however, it is suggested there will be none of the annual bickering or knifings for chief positions. Nobody has signalled an intention to challenge Sarah for the leadership nor for a place on her executive as the AGM looms on May 9. There may be a little tug-of-war for the stewardship of licensing and scrutiny commissions but, by and large, it should be a much calmer evening with the cabinet make-up unlikely to change. It’s in Islington where there’s been a bit of a squeeze: Catherine West reshuffled her top table and then days later said she wanted to be off herself via the route of becoming the next MP for Hornsey and Wood Green.
Are the calmer waters in Camden’s Labour circles a vote of confidence for Sarah after a year in charge and a Gospel Oak by-election win pegged on the scoreboard? Has she unified the divided group? It’s something for the CV if she has. There have been leaders in Camden who have gone before her who never cracked that perennial challenge. The least charitable within the group remain sceptical: their line is that the splits remain under the surface but, with only a year to go until the boroughwide elections, now is not the time for jostling. The focus is shifting towards who will actually get to stand as a councillor when Camden votes next May. The more intriguing shuffling of the pack may come after that.