SARAH Hayward looked every bit the leader as she oversaw Labour’s dominating local election win in Camden on Friday night, and certainly ready to shelve that millstone reminder that she only won control of her group by a single vote in the messy leadership contest she triggered two years ago.
The writer AN Wilson claimed when Frank Dobson was returned in Holborn and St Pancras 2010 that Labour could field a pig in a red rosette and still win here, and there is an argument that the trend across London was so much in Labour’s hands last week that big victories were assured in council elections too, regardless of who was in charge.
But when Sarah heads to the local group’s AGM this evening, she should go with a mighty spring in her step, as a leader who has taken more seats than any other in Camden’s 54-seat era. Who would set themselves up in a leadership contest now, against a party boss who has gone to the voters and confidently come back with 40 wins? Plus: anybody even thinking about it must know that her support within the group has almost certainly expanded with the latest influx of Labour faces. It’s not stirring too much to suggest the likes of the newly-elected Rishi Madlani in Bloomsbury and Danny Beales in Cantelowes could reasonably be assumed to contribute towards this.
Might this prove a stumbling block for any Tulipistas hoping for jobs when key positions in the group are decided this evening? Who knows with this lot. The more there are, the harder it is to predict. A group vote will decide the people who will make up the top table of ten, and the leader – Sarah – then slots those winners into the cabinet roles she thinks they are best suited too. All of the current cabinet members who held their seats have asked to stay on, but Valerie Leach’s loss in Highgate to the Greens and parliamentary candidate Tulip Siddiq’s decision to concentrate on her new mission leave two places open without the need for a fight. So, at least a couple of new faces are ready to clamber on board.
Sources say Sally Gimson, who the polls ranked as Highgate’s most popular councillor, has thrown her hat into the ring, as has Kilburn’s Tom Gardiner, who has waited patiently for a turn. Also in there are Samata Khatoon, who possibly thinks her loyalty for backing Sarah at every turn should be rewarded with an elevation to the cabinet, and Jonathan Simpson, whose record-breaking year as Mayor is reaching its midnight hour leaving him in search of a new challenge. And then there’s Georgia Gould, who has also put herself forward, whose re-election in Kentish Town answered the cattiest whisperers who said she would be off to Parliament, or at least trying to be, by now.
For the other roles, Maryam Eslamdoust faces a push from Maeve McCormack for the head of licensing, while Awale Olad’s role running the environment scrutiny committee may also be subject to challenge
UPDATED: News this afternoon that new West Hampstead councillor Angela Pober will also run for the cabinet, while Heather Johnson could challenge Sue Vincent for the planning chairman role. Larraine Revah will be named deputy mayor unopposed.