WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY
A MONTH or so from polling day in Camden, you might ordinarily think a major public display of anger, essentially aimed at one party and its leader, would have some sort of consequence at the ballot box. We have reached a position, after all, where some candidates appear to be are asking for your vote on May 3, while at the same time telling us the party they represent is not a safe space for Jews; not really something you’d put on a leaflet.
Council leader Georgia Gould, who is Jewish, was among the demonstrators in Parliament Square last night. But if you ask if she was there to pour criticism on Jeremy Corbyn, her likely response is that she joined the demonstration to support a wider mission to rid politics, including the Labour Party, of anti-semitism. This may point to a way out for Mr Corbyn, if he takes a convincing you-spoke, we-listened approach. This is why some of his supporters, locally, say as ugly as the protest looked for Mr Corbyn last night, there is an opportunity here for him. The rally said ‘enough is enough’ and Mr Corbyn’s apology (most recent draft) offers a similar sentiment; the question is whether the leader can convince the protesters he really is on the same page.
Many say this is unlikely and far-fetched, but Mike Katz, the former Camden councillor who is hardly a fully signed up member of the JC fan club, put it this way inside a thread of tweets yesterday: “For me, this is not about undermining the fact that Jeremy Corbyn is Labour’s leader. That is beyond doubt. His mandate is beyond challenge. But with great power comes great responsibility. No, this is a challenge to him to *lead* the Labour party – and the wider movement – out of this toxic situation and make all parts of Labour safe for Jews.”
THERE was national screentime for Labour councillor Phil Rosenberg ahead of yesterday’s protest, on Channel 4 and ITV. He used the platform to link Labour’s time under Jeremy Corbyn with a rise of anti-semitism, due, he said, to a lack of clear punishment for offenders. “More and more people thought this was a fine thing to do,” said Cllr Rosenberg, who is stepping down from the council in May and currently boycotting local Labour Party meetings. There was still time to get to his final full council meeting at the Town Hall, but after the demo that had just been, his tweet notifications must have been buzzing throughout.
NON UNIFORM DAY
MORE to come on the dewy-eyed goodbyes and the final council meeting of term, but apply sunglasses and spare a moment to take in Camden Mayor Richard Cotton’s suit. If only he could’ve persuaded chief executive Mike Cooke and borough solicitor Andrew Maughan, sitting next to him, that pink suits are fine for council meetings. I’m sure they’ve got one in their wardrobe too. That would’ve been a picture.
CONSERVATIVES LOSE ANOTHER CANDIDATE
JUST when they finally thought they had a full slate of candidates for May, the Tories have only gone and lost another one. Bloomsbury candidate Tim Barnes has been seduced by the election battle on the other side of the Camden-Westminster border and will stand in the West End ward. Mr Barnes stood against Keir Starmer in the general election last year. An appeal for a new candidate in Bloomsbury went out this morning.
Add Mr Barnes’ name to a list of chosen candidates who did not make it to polling day which includes Nick Grierson, Ian Cohen, Helen Harris, Hamish Hunter, Charlotte Kude…
ALTHOUGH Theo Blackwell is clearly not a superfan of the Camden New Journal and specifically its leader columns, here’s something nice about him. When Labour lost power in 2006, several party members suddenly seemed to lose interest in the job of opposition and drifted away. Not Mr Blackwell, who was among a group of councillors who worked their way back to the cabinet table by being a constant presence in those wilderness years. I don’t miss the tone of his weekly critique of the CNJ; he can have a bullish way with words. But when the council packed up for the elections last night, it seemed a shame his contribution didn’t get one more mention. Here he is at Haverstock School in 2010, pre-beard, pre-data, as Labour came storming back in Camden.