ANOTHER Conservative leaflet has appeared with its authors worrying about the possibility of a ‘hard left’ takeover at Camden Town Hall. This time the dispatch uses former Labour council leader Sarah Hayward’s words in a bid to attack Jeremy Corbyn’s party. Cllr Hayward had been on the Sunday Politics defending Claire Kober after the Haringey council leader had stepped down railing against a Corbynista conspiracy, which she suggested had helped puncture a major development deal.
You may remember current Camden leader Georgia Gould’s noticeable silence on that matter, but Cllr Hayward was ready for the cameras. During the discussion she was asked if sexism/prejudice was a new thing inside the party and Cllr Hayward, who is stepping down in the King’s Cross ward, replied: “I think the atmosphere has got very, very difficult internally within the Labour Party since Momentum has been on the scene.” Those words are now being posted through the doors of voters in key wards as the Conservatives continue with their narrative that once these elections are over, the left wing of the Labour party, or the ‘hard left’ wing of the party, will have the numbers to command more seats around the cabinet table.
It’s not wrong to say that there may well be more councillors enthused by Corbyn’s leadership in the chamber after May 3, particularly if Labour make gains in wards held by the Conservatives (are they really worried in Frognal?). But reports of a master plot in Camden are slightly undermined by the fact that every Labour councillor who wanted to stand again has been reselected in their wards, including the many who signed a letter calling for the leader to resign not so long ago.
If the plot is on, then its organisation in Camden has been astonishingly easy to frustrate. In Haringey, some of the sitting councillors knew they were in trouble from the moment they arrived at their re-selection/selection meetings. There were a few rows, one meeting got postponed, some people think the process was skewed here in Camden, but each Labour councillor was, one by one, re-selected. You have to go back to 2013 to see a genuine ousting, the surprise deselection Mike Katz in Kilburn.
What might be interesting would be to ask the Tories or any user of the term ‘hard left’ to explain what they mean by it and see how it matches up with the candidates they are applying it too. These days ‘hard left’ is a label which seems to be quite casually used, to an extent we probably wouldn’t use ‘far right’ with the same liberal measure. I haven’t heard of any of the new councillors looking to confiscate tennis club memberships and torch Buckingham Palace yet, but we’ll see.
By the way, the leaflet is blotted out on the screen because it also makes reference to Labour councillor Douglas Beattie’s use of Aneurin Bevan’s ‘lower than vermin’ quote in February. How Cllr Beattie phrased his words is in dispute with warnings of legal action rumbling in the background for those who veer from the transcript.
A MAYOR’S NIGHTMARE
THERE’S admiration for any councillor who becomes mayor and then faces the painful job of refereeing full council meetings. And looking at the candidates list, here’s a scenario which could make the task harder.
* Lib Dems win certain seats in Belsize, West Hampsteaad Camden Town and Swiss Cottage
* Conservatives also have success in Swiss Cottage and Camden Town (this routine relies on some split wards), win a seat in Cantelowes and King’s Cross and hold seats in Frognal and Belsize.
* The Greens gain a seats in Holborn, Hampstead and Kentish Town.
* Labour hold seats in Fortune Green, Kilburn, Cantelowes, Somers Town and win the slate in Highgate
The council chamber could have two Cllr Robinsons, two Cllr Russells, two Cllr Masons, two Cllr Newmans, two Cllr Roberts, two Cllr Fox(e)s, two Cllr Khatoons, two Cllr Pawlyns, and a Cllr Gardiner versus a Cllr Gardner. That’s before we get onto having a Cllr Anna Wright and a Cllr Anne Wright in the same room. Sounds fun for anyone with a gavel calling people to speak.
Don’t worry, Cllr Headlam-Wells, it won’t happen.
FORMER Conservative group leader Claire-Louise Leyland’s life beyond the council chamber is beginning with exciting news. Cllr Leyland, stepping down next month, told friends today that she has got engaged to her Canadian bae Ian Vaculik. Congrats to them both.
SAJID JAVID WITH HIS FAVOURITE WEEKLY READ
LOCAL Government Secretary Sajid Javid joined the Conservative troops earlier at their favourite spot: yes, outside the Waitrose in Finchley Road. More coming in the CNJ this week on his views about the Chalcots estate crisis, but basically he accepts the council was right to order the evacuation last summer but believes Camden has mismanaged the whole refurbishment of the estate. He arrived early, obviously wanting to a grab a copy of the Camden New Journal for all the election latest.
HERE’S some more yellow on the page for those feeling left out, but it’s also a snap which is relevant to how long the Chalcots saga has been going on. The then Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ming Campbell arrived at the estate in 2006 for a look around and an interview. He answered questions in a top floor flat in which the window sounded like it was going to cave in at any moment. What was sad was that tenants. regardless of which party they supported, had been complaining about the faults in the towers for at least seven years before this photo. To really get the bottom of what went wrong on the estate (hopefully somebody will), you probably have to make 1999 your starting point.