Election daily: Another airing for the Representation of the People Act

12 days to go…


IT’S hard not to notice a scratchy Twitter exchange between Sian Berry, the Green councillor in Highgate, and Labour’s Danny Beales, the cabinet member for regeneration projects, especially as the threat of legal action has been dangled.

Both sides feel wronged: If you ask Cllr Berry to pinpoint where the council has failed most over these last four years, she refers to the Community Investment Programme, not in its absolute entirety but several elements of it. The CIP, however, is seen as one of the great, legacy policies by most of the Labour councillors who have held cabinet roles; using land and property is seen by many of them as visionary and they have little time for its critics.

The two sides are always going to rub up against each other on this subject, then, and in their online to-and-fro Cllr Berry took sharp exception to Cllr Beales suggesting that being against parts of the CIP meant being opposed to delivering new homes and schools. 

“Danny I have warned you before that this is an actionably wrong statement,” Cllr Berry said. “I have never opposed a single council home (of your net 278 which I *have* said should be more) and the school project is now much closer to matching my original constructive suggestions. Unlike the last time you risked action, S106 of the Representation of the People Act could apply to that tweet, and I won’t warn you again.”

Cllr Beales: “And yet again you’re threatening legal action when you and the Greens get criticism back. Rather bullying don’t you think?”

Cllr Berry: “Actionable is actionable. Just be more careful. It is possible to argue fairly, and I do, eg. I often talk about Maiden Lane as a more reasonable way to go about things physically than large scale demolition. Though better resident involvement would have been… better. And I do enjoy how you think my job is to support you without question. I’m not a whipped Labour councillor. My job is to do scrutiny and we need more like me to help keep you on track.”

Cllr Beales: “Debate and scrutiny is good. It just needs to be fair, factual and ideally not start with threatening legal action when you get some scrutiny back.”

It goes on, and later Cllr Berry accuse Labour of having a “prickly attitude to even the most polite opposition”, and Cllr Beales tweets back: “Polite opposition = I’ll take legal action  against you unless you shut up – must be a Green thing”.

Maybe it’s a Labour thing as well, as the Representation of the People Act has been mentioned and mild murmurs of things being actionable have been heard in Frognal where Labour members have been angered by some of the Conservative literature about their candidates. Both Labour and the Greens have lawyers among their candidates.

In the meantime, tetchy exchanges like this suggest the battle in Highgate is, as the young people say, lit.


YESTERDAY we had Caroline Lucas insisting there could be no alliances ahead of the May 3 elections. Maybe not, but Liberal Democrat Stephen Crosher, a former parliamentary candidate standing in Gospel Oak, appears to have to done the arithmetic and suggests that Remainers in Camden could see a reason to give the Greens “one or two” votes in Highgate, while also supporting the Lib Dems across Belsize, Hampstead and Cantelowes.


A REGULAR reader asks for clarity that the Islington Tribune will not dubiously photoshop the face of any council leader onto the body of Kim Jong-Un if Labour wipes out all of its opposition at the May 3 elections. We solemnly swear not to do that again (even if it did make that edition in 2014 extra-memorable, for lots of different reasons). The reader also pointed me in the direction of David Boothroyd’s YouTube channel, and one film in which they said we should play  ‘spot the council leader’. It’s an old 1998 Labour Party conference video which introduces staffers at Labour’s HQ, but the faces and names flash by so quickly…


CAN’T not mention it: There are a lot of claims of fickleness, that Arsenal fans who spent ages calling for Arsene Wenger to relinquish control of the club are now getting mopey and emotional that he is doing just that. The manner in which he is going sums up the problem, if you believe that Arsenal were more worried by empty seats at the stadium and a downturn in season ticket renewals than results. They could be disappointing on the pitch, it seems, but not the spreadsheets. People accusatorially say to hecklers: Happy now? Don’t you remember the league titles in 1998, 2002 and 2004. But this prosecution usually comes from people who haven’t seen the ticket prices. You can’t charge a family £200 per match and then expect everybody sit happily watching Granit Xhaka. Spurs may find the same ticket price/expectation equation when they move into their new stadium. We talk about being priced out of London; you can include football in that.


BACK in 2002, Ken Livingstone was an independent, so presumably it was all cool to have his photo taken with campaigning Liberal Democrats. Keith Moffitt on the end there, went on to be a leader of the council, Jonathan Simpson is now a Labour cabinet member and there’s Flick Rea, still fighting all these years later. Yes, you guessed it, outside the Waitrose in Finchley Road, Camden’s political battle pitch.


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