THE curiosities of Camden Labour’s council election selection contests continued last night. Councillor Mike Katz (far right, in the picture, not politics) was de-selected in the Kilburn ward as the party sat down to decide who will stand there at next year’s council elections.
There had been talk earlier in the year that Thomas Gardiner, often appearing restless to colleagues about the Labour group’s direction and progress, and his wife Maryam Eslamdoust, the councillor who irritated the leadership with comments about racial divisions at Camden Town Hall, might be open to an ambush. “Well, that was all in their f***ing minds”, was the blunt assessment of that idea today from one frustrated member.
The annoyance is because after the internal vote last night, Thomas and Maryam (also pictured) were re-selected and Mike, cast as a New Labour eagle in a nest of lefty voices, lost his place on the slate. Either the plan to bump them off had never existed or it had been warded off in the weeks running up to the vote.
Labour’s selection process for council election candidacies has proven itself to be a bit of a bear-pit ordeal before, throwing up surprise results and more than once generating bad feeling. There are reports that only eight people turned up to the meeting, slimming the number of votes needed to cause a surprise. But this one is the biggest shock of the current rounds of ward selections because it was generally felt outside of Kilburn that despite differences of opinion and talks of conspiracies, all three of the sitting councillors would be able to clinch their spots again without any blood staining the carpet.
For those who feel sympathy for Mike in the group – people who know the wait he endured to get on the council in the first place – there is anger and frustration today. Strong, asterisk-laden words like those above are being used which are probably a little too furious to keep using on these pages. Those with less sympathy in the Labour group said Mike had fallen into a trap that had originally been designed for others and that he should have worked at making sure his supporters were there to vote.
The killer is surely that Labour has almost finished picking the entire team for next May’s elections. The line-up is almost full and there is not a similar opportunity to the one seized by Councillor Abdul Quadir last month when he hurried to another ward following de-selection in Bloomsbury. There is not really another ward for Mike to get a second run at, particularly when, you’d imagine, he’d want to stick close to the Brent Central parliamentary constituency. And all this follows the blow of seeing his hopes of running for the Commons in Hampstead and Kilburn kiboshed by the imposition of an all women’s shortlist. It’s a jungle out there.