Labour AGM: An unchanged line-up around the cabinet table

THE ‘more of the same’ manifesto which Labour came up with ahead of the local elections looks set to be delivered by a more of the same cabinet, with none of the party’s backbenchers pitching for promotion at Monday’s AGM.

Council leader Georgia Gould had emailed her new team of 43 councillors ahead of the meeting with a soapy appeal for the new members of the gang to be given a soft landing. Needless to say, the occasional tussles for places on the executive which unfold at the AGM are not always the warmest evenings in the local party’s calendar.

She didn’t ask people not to challenge the existing cabinet members and the message went out close to the deadline for nominations, so the official explanation is that this was not a ‘play nicely’ directive, as it has been described by more sceptical voices. She has got her wish for a calm evening, however: the same ten councillors who sat on the cabinet before the election will do so again, unopposed, now the polls are done and dusted.

Some of the more Corbyn-enthused member say they were tempted to stand, but even with the arrival of some new like-mined colleagues do not feel they have the numbers within the group to guarantee a breakthrough. There are usual grumbles about internal voting systems being unfair and so on, but after an emphatic Labour win in Camden last week, they are not even in the mood to stand as ‘send a message’ candidates.

The absence of any public jostling for those cabinet position enhances Cllr Gould’s standing: unlike her predecessor who had to fight contests to lead (winning one by just a single vote, and another by just five) she was elected to be leader unchallenged. Now Cllr Gould has delivered a record number of seats in the chamber and nobody in the group believes that her cabinet is due a reshuffle; or nobody believes it can be reshuffled, either way the end result is the same. There are Labour council leaders across the country who would kill to hold such power, backed by both the public and her party.

On the outside courts, there will be some voting for positions. It’s Thomas Gardiner vs Abi Wood for chair of licensing, and Douglas Beattie vs Richard Cotton for chair of housing scrutiny. These roles are voted on by backbenchers only so the internal numbers work out a little differently.

Meanwhile, as reported during the election campaign, Maryam Eslamdoust and Sabrina Francis both said they wanted to be deputy mayor to Jenny Headlam-Wells. Leo Cassarani and Jenny Mulholland run for the position of campaigns and communications officer. This role was held by Marcus Boyland, with the carousel moving him to the chair of group role vacated by Cllr Wood.

You wouldn’t put such contests on pay-per-view, and so, for the first time in who knows when, the local Conservative AGM in Camden may be more interesting than the Labour one. That in itself is a win for Cllr Gould.


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