Election daily: Do Labour only care about Nazanin when Boris is messing up?

25 days to go…


WHEN the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe comes up among MPs, there is often an assumption that she will soon be released by the authorities in Iran. Behind the scenes, there have been moments when a successful breakthrough apparently seemed almost imminent. The worldwide media interest in her story, meanwhile, has kept the sort of national focus on her case which normally leads to a positive result. That said, there can’t be any complacency and the two year anniversary of this charity worker from West Hampstead’s imprisonment has now ticked by. And she is still stuck there, with the charges against her still as perplexing as ever.

The comedian Shappi Khorsandi has valiantly kept the case in the public eye this week, not least by organising a benefit comedy gig in Holborn last week and securing column inches across the press. Her op-ed in the Independent in particular catches the eye, with the view that Labour (Tulip Siddiq aside) has not followed up on the case adequately, despite being happy to pile in on Boris Johnson when his gaffe about Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe (pictured with his husband, Richard) being a journalist risked extended the time she would be locked up.

She writes: “What took them so long? Why did Johnson have to shove his foot so firmly in his mouth before they paid attention? ‘I think he’s got to go. He’s our foreign secretary, whose job is diplomacy and representing the best interests of our country and if Theresa May was a strong prime minister she’d have sacked him a long time ago,’ Khan said. Until that point, sadly, none of them had been moved enough by the case to make any meaningful intervention. It seemed an opportunity to bash the Tories was more enticing than fighting for Nazanin’s freedom.”

And the message is always more powerful when it comes from your own side, isn’t it?  “I’m a Labour supporter, I backed Corbyn, but if you ask someone to resign for an error and five months down the line all you have shown is inaction, should there be a punishment?,” adds Ms Khorsandi. “Lefties often argue that to be inactive against injustice is to be complicit. By that reckoning, were Corbyn, Khan and Thornberry – who called for Johnson to go in November and were curiously silent on Tuesday when Nazanin marked her second year in jail – not complicit in her suffering? Labour must now demand action against the inhumane incarceration of this innocent British woman in the Islamic Republic of Iran.”


CAN Abdul Hai speak for himself? We learn this weekend that long-serving Labour member Robert Latham appears to be acting as a sort of personal communications manager for the cabinet councillor, Campbell-checking any copy about him. In a message meant for Cllr Hai but sent to this blog, he says:

“See the following in the latest Richard Osley blog: In King’s Cross, there is a Democrats and Veterans Party candidate. That ward has one of only three candidates in the entire field, it appears, who do not live in Camden: Labour’s cabinet councillor Abdul Hai lives in Morden but qualifies due to his work for Camden Town market developers Market Tech.”

Is it worth you adding a response to the blog in these terms:

“Richard, Please get the facts right. I am not employed by Market Tech but by the Camden Market Management Company Limited, the company that manages the market. My role is to deliver innovative community engagement, for example:

· Setting up work placement, work experience and mentoring for young people in the arts and creative industry;

· Delivering workshops on arts, crafts and fashion and produce goods and items which could be sold at the Market;

· Showcasing music and the cultural heritage of Camden Market together with the rich cultural make-up of the diverse community in Camden, in particular targeting groups who are socially and culturally excluded by fostering social integration and tolerance and understanding (through community events/festivals).

Whilst I currently live in Morden (forced out by Camden property prices), I have spent most of my life both living and working in Camden”

I’m sure its a one-off but it sort of makes you wonder what responses Cllr Hai has authored himself over the years and which scripts are suggested for him by friends and colleagues.

On a separate issue, I don’t think I’ve got the facts wrong by suggesting that Mr Latham, himself a former councillor, was one of the speakers against a motion which came up at a meeting of Labour members in Holborn and St Pancras recently on the subject of private work vs political work. To be clear, this was something brought up by Labour members at a Labour Party meeting. The text of that motion did not mention anybody personally, but included the text:

This CLP notes that:
1. Members of the Cabinet on Camden Council have taken Directors positions,
employment or have financial interests with property developers that are working on major projects in Camden and neighbouring boroughs.

This CLP believes that:
The actions of these councillors can give the perception of conflicts of interest to voters, and can damage the integrity of the offices held. This is not compatible with leadership positions on Camden Council.

This CLP:
Calls on the Council Leadership and the Labour Group to take a strong moral stance on this issue.

Furthermore, it calls on the councillors to recognise this perception of conflict of interest and stand down from the Cabinet.

Mr Hai has said of his own work with the rapidly-changing market in Camden: “I sought advice from the council’s legal team from the moment I decided to take up my new job. They have confirmed that there is no conflict of interest between my job and my role as cabinet member.”


THE orange ‘winning here’ diamonds were back in Hampstead Town this weekend, as Liberal Democrat candidate Andrew Haslam-Jones’ photo shows. The party has had duels with the Tories in this ward in the not so distant past and have held seats here, so activists are unhappy that the contest here should be billed as simply Labour trying to steal a grand prize from the Conservatives.

This week, there will be more news about the Lib Dems – see the to and fro over last few posts and Twitter for context – as the party has candidates at hustings and will release its full manifesto. We will see exactly how they would run Camden differently.  Given the numbers in this photo and the anger at what they see as a lack of fair CNJ interest in their campaign, the final document will presumably be longer than 384 words long.

This is the length of the manifesto the party is putting to voters in neighbouring Islington, another borough where it had a grasp on power. “In this day and age we need to keep messages simple and succinct,” the party’s chairman in the neighbouring patch, Nick Wakeling, told the Islington Tribune, in defence of its brevity. “People are busy, they have lives to lead. Instead of a huge tome we are clear on our core priorities. There’s a virtue in being succinct and absolutely clear on what our priorities are.”


THOSE Conservative leaflets in Frognal and Fitzjohns featured on these pages recently had urged residents to ‘like our page on Facebook’ if they are supporting the Tory candidates.

Judging by the ‘like’ count this evening, elections will not be won on social media alone.


A PHOTO from a past council election count which always raises a smile: 2010, former Liberal Democrat councillor and one-time Town Hall cycling champion Paul Braithwaite turns up with a toxic t-shirt simply branded ‘irritant’.

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