INTERESTING move by up and coming Labour backbencher Phil Rosenberg tonight (Easter Sunday): he’s told colleagues that he’s standing for cabinet at the group’s AGM on May 2 – but will not be seeking re-election as a councillor at next year’s boroughwide elections.
Pictured above on the night he knocked long-serving Lib Dem councillor (and former council leader) Keith Moffitt out of his West Hampstead seat, here’s his email to Labour group explaining his plans:
As I have now told all of you, I will be putting myself forward for Cabinet.
I have long felt that the North of the Borough needs a strong presence around the Cabinet table. As we go in to an election year, this is all the more important. With my high profile in the local area, I believe my election to cabinet would send an important signal of intent.
As you will know, many of our Jewish residents are feeling uneasy as a result of high-profile local and national incidents of antisemitism. As a proud, identifiable member of the Jewish community, I think I would be an unparalleled position to provide this reassurance. Our motion to full council is a good start, but the more we can do, the better.
My professional background is working at a national level on public policy and interfaith relations. I have brought some of this knowledge to the council through my work with Abdul Hai as Co-Chair of Camden’s Faith Leaders Forum, where we have worked with Camden’s diverse communities to deliver council objectives, from tackling prejudice to supporting our refugee resettlement work. I believe I have a lot more to give.
As Director of Public Affairs at the Board of Deputies, I am well-used to setting policy and strategic direction on a huge range of issues. I recently gave an interview to the BBC on the welfare changes, meet regularly with senior officials at the Department for Communities and Local Government and have briefed the Secretary of State for Education on areas of education policy. I believe I could serve in almost any role that our new leader wishes to assign me.
I have strong contacts across Government and the Labour Party and my role sees me regularly in Downing Street, in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition and in departments across Whitehall and I would be well-placed to make the case for Camden at the highest levels.
My day-job is based in Kentish Town, just one stop from the Town Hall on Thameslink, and my work has been very flexible in allowing me to come in for meetings during the day. Our office closes at lunchtime on Fridays all year round, which would allow me to devote set time to cabinet work. Additionally, I have already started a conversation with work about reducing my hours if I am elected. The level of work does not intimidate me and I have always lived by the phrase, ‘if you want something done, ask a busy person’.
As I have told many of you, a particular quirk of my candidacy is that I am not looking to do this on an open-ended basis. I will be stepping down from council in 2018.
I have wrestled with this decision for some months, but in the end, I am expecting some significant changes in my life between 2018-2022 – hopefully buying a property and starting a family – and the flexibility of not being a councillor will mean that I can hopefully have the occasional free evening for family. I would not rule out a return to the council in future years, but I think, to be fair to residents and to my family, it might be best to sit the next term out.
What this means is that I will be using my year on cabinet to facilitate others who might be interested next time to get a taste of what it is like. I will running a ‘shadow cabinet’ scheme where people who are interested in putting themselves forward next time can get a sense of what the role entails. We have a strong group and whatever I can do to develop all the talent, I will. I want my legacy to be better empowerment and utilisation of our widest range of talent in the years ahead. In short, I will be actively working myself out of a job.
While I will be very active on the campaign trail, not standing myself will mean that I can use the year to keep a close eye on cabinet business while others will have to dedicate themselves more fully to their own campaigns. Not having to campaign for myself will also mean that I will also be able to support group through the year from this different vantage.
I have now been in contact with everyone individually and have spoken to almost all of you, with a remaining few to speak to in the next couple of days. It has been a real pleasure. I have been blessed with good relationships right across group and it has been a reminder of just how lucky we are to have the people we have.
I wish you a Happy Easter, a Happy Passover and a Happy Holiday!