SO where are we with Labour’s arduous attempts to construct its council elections team? Last Thursday, Roger Robinson, Paul Tomlinson and Samata Khatoon were re-selected to stand in Somers Town under the new autos system – with Cllr Robinson surely on course now to set some kind of long service record. The three sitting councillors in Regent’s Park enjoyed a pass too, the previous evening.
Oliver Lewis was re-selected in Highgate on Wednesday as well, and will be joined on the ballot paper by Maddy Raman (pictured), who has been diligently trying to become a councillor for years, and Anna Wright, who later became the subject of a slightly terse Twitter exchange involving Highgate resident (and former council finance chief) Theo Blackwell.
If all three Labour candidates are to be elected in that split ward of Highgate next May it would spell the end here for London Assembly member Sian Berry, the only Green councillor in Camden. There’s been split ballots in the ward before though and Labour know that one argument coming their way is whether they will really need to secure yet another councillor at these elections, where a giant majority is possible. See the near one-party state of Islington as a guide.
In a funny way, the presence of more energetic Tories, including belfie king and former parliamentary candidate Henry Newman, may actually assist Labour here if it plays into a don’t risk it narrative which will be spread around left-leaning voters who seem happy with the idea of retaining some form of Green voice on a Labour-run council.
Tonight, the ward by ward selections return to King’s Cross. Jonathan Simpson and Abdul Hai, cabinet level councillors, have already been re-selected through the autos. The final slot is open due to the exit of Sarah Hayward and must be filled by a woman under the party rules which say every ward must have a mixed-gender slate of candidates. The left of the party are pushing hard here for Georgie Robertson to be selected but are coming up against a push it to go to Sucharitera Sethi.
Members who have no allegiance to either have told privately how they feel under pressure to side with one or another and have not appreciated the backstage jockeying. People, nevertheless, seem more interested in this one today than the group election for chair of the housing scrutiny committee back at the Town Hall, where Sabrina Francis, Larraine Revah and Paul Tomlinson are up for the job.
Of course, the real explosion of tension around these candidate selections came in the Swiss Cottage Community Centre last week when the rebellion which had led to a selection meeting in West Hampstead being shut down last Monday came out again in a motion aimed at halting the selections. It was brought forward at a meeting of members in the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency and also called on Mike Katz to step down as head of the campaign forum and familiar demands around the freeze date for participation. Demanding the terms of Mr Katz’s unlikely surrender may have been a bit of an ask for the rebels, who were thinking big. But then that may make the slim three vote difference between the motion’s ultimate failure and it actually getting passed even more startling to the organisers, who must have found it a little close for comfort.
Next stop: King’s Cross, then Cantelowes on Wednesday.
If you are marking your card at home against the first list of approved candidates, some of the results are below:
Nash Ali REGENT’S PARK
Sorin Floti FORTUNE GREEN
Julian Fulbrook HOLBORN AND COVENT GARDEN
Abdul Hai KING’S CROSS
Heather Johnson REGENT’S PARK
Samata Khatoon ST PANCRAS AND SOMERS TOWN
Oliver Lewis HIGHGATE
Awale Olad HOLBORN AND COVENT GARDEN
Richard Olszewski FORTUNE GREEN
Maddy Raman HIGHGATE
Roger Robinson ST PANCRAS AND SOMERS TOWN
Lorna Russell FORTUNE GREEN
Nadia Shah REGENT’S PARK
Jonthan Simpson KING’S CROSS
Paul Tomlinson ST PANCRAS AND SOMERS TOWN
Sue Vincent HOLBORN AND ST PANCRAS
Anna Wright HIGHGATE