Morning update 14.09.15: Local councillors have their own mandate, says Theo


THEO Blackwell has compiled his now regular digest of points to take from a major Labour Party event, ruffling a few feathers of the revolutionaries in the process. An out-and-proud Blairite, moderate, moderniser (you pick the label), he raises several concerns about how the party may react to Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide leadership victory. The reason that some of his local colleagues who hold contrasting views have been itched by his piece is that he raises the possibility of this all affecting council candidate selection choices in the future, and argues that local councillors have their own mandate which is not directly bolted onto what the national leadership of their party does. 

Theo Blackwell“Being directly-elected, local councillors and leaders have their own (slightly different) mandate, of course, and as it stands there are tighter rules on their selection than for the Leader of the Party,” The writes. “How long that lasts is a question which will be answered over the next four  years. Newer, more militant Corbyn supporters may be keen for councils to resist cuts by not implementing budgets, like I experienced during this debate on welfare cuts in 2013 in particular. ‘Debate’ could spill in local branch meetings and ultimately through to councillor selections in the coming years, starting next year.”

There’s that mention of councillor selection choices. The next Town Hall elections may be three years away but the stirring never really goes away. In the background, the left of the party fear the right of the party will react to Corbyn’s lead by trying to shore up its remaining power bases, such as councils like Camden where the core of the leadership did not support the Islington North MP. But at the same time, the right of the party in places like Camden are alert to any attempt by the left of the party to use Corbyn’s ascension as ammo for de-selection plots against them. 


johnmillsIN my own experience, one of the most refreshing things about the businessman John Mills is that he is accommodating almost to a fault when journalists ask for his opinion. When he was finance chief at the Town Hall, he had a different approach to the media than the rest of Dame Jane Roberts’ cabinet: he’d take the call, answer the question, say what he thought. Thankfully, Camden’s cabinet nearly all do that now, but back then it was a rarity. As the head of the JML shopping empire and Labour’s biggest donor, however, his quickly-available frankness means he pops up in the newspapers with an almost clockwork regularity. His uncertainty about Ed Miliband’s leadership earlier this year was an easy story to get for the nationals, even if he had not meant to sound as destabilising as he did close to general election. The nationals know how to get a ‘Labour’s biggest donor has….’ story because he does not hide away his thoughts, and it was not surprising then that before the weekend was out the Telegraph had him explaining that his funding for the party was going to be paused in the wake Corbyn’s victory. He’ll fund research for the moderates instead.

On this occasion, it’s more than a soundbite. The concern for Mills, whose sister-in-law Tessa Jowell lost out to Sadiq Khan in the mayoral selection contest last week, will have been heightened by the appointment of John McDonnell, the old head of Camden Council’s policy unit, as the new shadow councillor. But it comes at a time when Labour is already fighting government reforms which could limit trade union reforms, another key funding pipeline.


imageTHERE may be lots of snarky jokes about how quickly Ed Miliband has apparently been forgotten (see above); about how May’s general election already seems like an age away. It certainly seemed a little ghosty when Miliband popped up on television on Saturday explaining how new members were flocking to the party and that membership in his own constituency had doubled… since his resignation as leader. Still, near neighbour Giles Coren may tease him, but if you spent even a brief five minutes at the York Rise street party yesterday, you could see he still has an army of fans in NW5 who have not forgotten his contribution. Every two minutes, he was stopped for a selfie request. One wag joked as the cameraphone clicked: ‘I didn’t recognise you without your beard.’ The Milifandom lives.


IS there something we should be reading between the lines, or the raised eyebrows, in the BBC’s reporting of how delegates at the TUC Conference in Brighton have reacted to Jeremy Corbyn’s victory? It was hard to tell yesterday afternoon. 


REWIND: A tweet from Lucy Powell sent during the leadership contest. She’ll no doubt be spending more time in the Commons tea room with Jeremy Corbyn after being appointed his shadow education secretary last night.

REWIND: Telegraph columnist Dan Hodges, our old MP’s son, saw this tweet from July hit the 2,000 share mark over the weekend. He might ask whether any of the drol re-tweeters really believed themselves that Corbyn was going to win back July but I’m not sure they are listening.

4 Comments on Morning update 14.09.15: Local councillors have their own mandate, says Theo

  1. Keith Sedgwick // September 14, 2015 at 12:15 pm //

    Any Labour Party member reading Theo’s digest will spot immediately, the problem at the heart of New Labour’s philosophy; it was always for Wonks.

    Theo really ought to get his colleague Cllr Fulbrooke to regale him again, with his well-honed, apocryphal tale, of the politician who encounters a disgruntled constituent, the punch line being, “that’s all very well, but what are you going to do about people p*ssing in the lifts?”

    People need to be housed, food needs to be put in their bellies and money in their pockets and plain simple truth is, this can’t be done by a bankrupt nation, which is exactly the state in which we were left by Blair and Brown. Whilst busy spending thirteen years divvying up the nation’s proceeds to more and more, they failed to notice that the proceeds of the nation were actually becoming less and less. The sad irony is, for a party that claims to represent the poor, in their thirteen years, comparatively, the poor got poorer and the rich got very much richer, including Tony Blair himself.

    Politicians are judged on outcomes not processes and this ultimately is why New Labour will die. It was always about process and never about the outcome that really matters to ordinary folks.

  2. chris knight // September 14, 2015 at 3:58 pm //

    Well well! The funs now officially begun, and you can hear the Labour sides plotting standing in Judd St. It seems that Corynites and a certain Mr Fawkes have very similar ideas, it also seems we wont have to wait for November the 5th for the fireworks, on reflection both Fawkes & Corbyn both have the same ideas for the British Parliamentary system.!

  3. Heart Transplant // September 14, 2015 at 7:00 pm //

    Not quite sure whether Mr Fawkes was as popular, though. Fifteen thousand new Labour party members straight after Corbyn was announced labour leader.

    Sadly, the numbers of ordinary Tory party members have quite simply gone up in smoke!


  4. Chris Knight // September 16, 2015 at 10:52 am //

    HT you need to check your facts, membership applications for the Conservatives have received a massive surge in numbers and are rolling in daily along with their cheques and donations, and all thanks to Jeremy Corbyn.

    Cheers Jezzer.

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