SOS Haringey: Council leaders urged to show support

THE extraordinary chain of events in Haringey has taken another turn. As you will be aware, the besieged but battling Town Hall leader Claire Kober is now up against Labour’s National Executive Committee, which this week took the unprecedented decision of asking the council to pause its property deal with developer Lend Lease.

An SOS has now gone out to what looks like all Labour local council leaders urging them to criticise the NEC for trying to intervene on an individual authority’s policy. This comes in the form of a letter shared by the LGA Labour Group which asks for a show of public support for Councillor Kober, who most people believe will struggle to hold majority support in Haringey after the local elections in May. Several supporters were deselected or departed under the threat of deselection, as the row over the HDV – the Haringey Development Vehicle – turned bloody and explosive.

Why does this keep popping up on these pages? You’re supposed to be writing about Camden, man. As we are now seeing, the rebellion in Haringey may well have ramifications for all councils controlled by Labour, including Camden. It certainly raises question as to how far the NEC, led now by a line-up signed up to the Corbyn project, should try to instruct local leaderships. The question being raised is whether the NEC will in future dictate policy to all Labour-led councils. It’s not dictation, it’s mediation, say those on board with the move.

A statement which leaders – presumably Georgia Gould included – have been asked to sign not only questions the NEC’s actions as “an affront to the basic principles democracy”, but also sings the praises of Cllr Kober and Haringey generally.

“Labour councillors around the country are deeply concerned that, in seeking to mitigate Tory austerity by proposing radical new solutions, we face calls for disciplinary action against us,” the drafted up statement. The radical new solution in Haringey has been seen as a surrender of public land through a 50/50 deal with the developers by opponents. Supporters insist it is a pragmatic way of funding new and improved homes at a time when local authorities have been starved of funding. Whose right? You decide.

Those pushing for the revolution in Haringey do not seem too bothered at attempts to whip up a rearguard, however. Several were whispering today that the arrival of figures like Alastair Campbell to defend the leadership – Campbell wrote a vigorous opinion piece in the FT today hammering Corbyn and asking him to stop the NEC’s meddling in Cllr Kober’s council – would do it more harm than good. “What they need is a real left-winger to argue these things on their behalf, but they can’t find one,” said one this evening.

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