SHE has been pretty open about the fact that you wouldn’t mark her down as a Corbyn disciple (she was backing Liz Kendall last summer), so perhaps there is little surprise that Camden Council leader Sarah Hayward has joined the calls for Jeremy Corbyn to be replaced at the top of the Labour Party, less than a year after he won the vote of members.
In an emailed statement to Labour councillors at the Town Hall, which unsurprisingly has upset left-wingers in the group, one of whom angrily/cattily suggested this afternoon that by sending it out she is “acting like the MP she was not chosen to be”, Sarah criticises the Islington North MP’s handling of the EU referendum and says he must go now, not for his politics, but his competence (or, to her mind, lack of it). While some internal rivals say it’s not her place to “stoke up the divisions”, her view is supported by several councillors who have made similar noises on Twitter over the last 24 hours amid the shadow cabinet exodus.
“These are extraordinary times. The unprecedented nature of these times, mean that governing also requires a strong and effective opposition. Sadly we don’t currently have that,” her email this afternoon said. “Earlier today Keir tendered his resignation from his Shadow Immigration post and I have supported his decision to do so. Although, as you know, I didn’t back Jeremy in last summer’s leadership election, I did accept the result and have been loyal to his leadership. Two things have changed in the last few days: the deliberate attempts by him and his office to frustrate the Labour In campaign – a position supported by almost all of us; and his response to David Cameron’s resignation. That was an opportunity to seize the post referendum agenda and it has been missed.”
She added: “The country is on the verge of its biggest crisis since the second world war. The suspension of trading in shares of major banks and house builders is of very significant cause for concern and could have a significant impact on Camden. In this context it is not tenable to have a leader who lacks the capacity to shape the post referendum debate. Now more than ever we need someone who can force Labour values in to the exit negotiations. I do not believe that Jeremy is that person. This is not about his politics, this is about his competence. I know some of you will be disappointed in my stance. But first and foremost my concern must be what is in the best interests of Camden – I believe that is the Labour values we deliver – but we need this to be supported by Labour values shaping our post EU future. Under the current leadership, the national Labour party is, I believe, unable to fulfil this role.”
It puts her at odds to some extent with Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq who tweeted on Sunday that Corbyn was not to blame for the Brexit vote and that it was time for Labour to unite. A lot has happened since then, though, and Sarah’s call for a change of leadership does follow Keir Starmer’s resignation from the shadow Labour team in the Commons earlier today. In online comments, his decision has already been supported by Camden councillors Theo Blackwell, Phil Jones, Danny Beales and Sally Gimson.
“People here are so gutted about the EU and Keir’s decision reflects that,” said one cabinet councillor. “The point is we are the Labour Party – not the Jeremy Corbyn Party.”