A LETTER signed by council leaders attacking Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) for calling for mediation across the bloody party divid in Haringey is under the microscope after Camden’s Georgia Gould said her name was included even though she did not sign it. Cllr Gould’s name is prominent on the list of leaders appearing in the Sunday Times who say the NEC was wrong to answer a call from Labour councillors in Haringey, the rebel ones likely to take control of the council in May, to get involved. The split is largely hung on the Haringey Development Vehicle, a mammoth deal with developers Lend Lease, which has been viewed as a surrender of public land by opponents but a pragmatic way of getting new and up to scratch homes during a time of austerity by its backers.
Cllr Gould’s inclusion raised eyebrows among the left-wing of her group, particularly after she was being praised internally just yesterday for trying to take a collaborative approach to developing a council election manifesto with members at a private meeting Covent Garden yesterday. Several insiders said they had come away thinking people may be listened to in a way they hadn’t before, regardless of whether they are members of Momentum, Progress or neither. To wake up to Cllr Gould involving herself in the divided politics of Haringey then came as a shock, even if the issues involve stretch beyond one local authority and feeds a wider debate into to how much influence the NEC should have over local councils.
Readers of the blog on Friday will know how the appeal had gone around to council leaders across the country asking for them to sign the letter praising Haringey leader Claire Kober and pushing back against the NEC, which has ended up in the Sunday Times. Asked why she had made the decision to sign it – as her name is there in black and white – Cllr Gould said this afternoon she had NOT signed it and that she had been clear with the organisers, and there must be some mistake. She said it was not for her to “comment on or criticise” other councils. Camden has
“As Labour councillors we are all on frontline of this Government’s enforced austerity and I believe we are trying to do our best to deliver for residents in tough times,” she added. “I am fully focused on working with all Labour councillors and members on delivering for residents in Camden and don’t want to comment on or criticise the path other Labour councils have taken. It is important councils work up their own policies and responses with their residents councillors and labour members.”
Islington’s Richard Watts has not signed the letter.
As questions are asked about who gave permission to be on the letter and who didn’t, Cllr Gould’s name has now been taken off the list published by the Sunday Times. It is understood Cllr Gould had actively told the organisers of the letters she would not be signing it this weekend.