THE Liberal Democrats are not going to pursue Labour councillor Richard Cotton’s view that Angela Pober’s move to become an independent councillor should lead to a by-election in West Hampstead. This may sound like a surprise given she sits in a ward which they once controlled. Not scared of a fight in a swing ward, former Lib Dem council leader Keith Moffitt instead insists Labour needs to look at the precedent. “When Jonathan Simpson went over [from Lib Dems to Labour] and when John Dickie did it, Labour didn’t say, ‘well the people didn’t actually for vote for them as Labour councillors, there should be a by-election’,” he said yesterday, referring to the example set by councillors who had joined Labour after winning elections with a different colour rosette. “I think everyone knows Angela wouldn’t win as an independent, but I’m not sure if it has ever happened in Camden where someone has defected and said I will resign and stand again for my new party, or as independent.”
TOXIFICATION STRATEGY LATEST
AFTER his spiky open letter to new Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq thanking her for handing the Tories victory in the 2020 general election by propping up Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership selection with her nomination, Conservative councillor Gio Spinella continues with his efforts to make sure local Labour is strapped firmly to the new look of the party nationally. As reported on these pages before, this is the ‘toxification’ strategy, based on a view that Corbyn is an electoral disaster. On his feet at last week’s full council meeting, Gio went as far as asking council leader Sarah Hayward as to whether the Hamas flag would soon be flying over the Town Hall, a reference to Corbyn’s use of the word ‘friends’ when introducing a meeting at which members of Hamas were present.
It’s understandable that the Conservatives want a big Labour failure on a national level to be shared with Camden’s Labour group. In essence, they want a Corbyn disaster to pave the way for Labour to be defeated in Hampstead and Kilburn. There are doubting members on the Labour benches, however, who say wonder if Gio risks toxifying himself if his attacks don’t incorporate a little more subtlety.
ANOTHER TESTER FOR CORBYN ON ISRAEL
THE Jewish Chronicle reports that new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has yet to respond to an invitation to speak at the Labour Friends of Israel at the party’s conference in Brighton next week. “It is traditional for the party’s leader or spokesman on foreign affairs to address the event. Mr Corbyn has a long history of anti-Israel activism,” the newspaper says. Hilary Benn, the new shadow foreign secretary, has confirmed his attendance, so that tradition seems unlikely to be broken. But there is obviously an interest in Corbyn himself showing up, perhaps to mend some bridges and improve relations. Joan Ryan, the Enfield MP who is organising the event, told the JC: “I have written to Jeremy and invited him to our reception at conference. It’s the start of a process. What I will do over the coming weeks and months is have open dialogue with the party’s new leadership.”
HARINGEY Council are still working to convince everybody their new logo was money well spent.
CONSERVATIVE Andrew Marshall gees up the Tories to consider Tim Barnes for the Barnet and Camden selection contest ahead of next year’s London elections.