Is the tape on?

AFTER Labour party members privately asked for an end to ‘planted’ questions in council meeting and the to-and-fro came to be a story in the CNJ, Bloomsbury councillor Sabrina Francis tweets a separate directive: “If people stopped leaking emails that would be great too.”

Now, I know this is going to sound a little rum but I don’t feel that many of the ‘leaks’ we have seen over the years in Camden have been as dastardly as some people suggest. Of course, some relate to quite angry political differences – if we are talking Labour it’s worth noting that both ‘sides’ occasionally partake – but more commonly these info drips stem from a place where people feel that a valid point has not been fairly addressed.

I know, I know… not all/any of you believe me, but there you go.

Things have changed, however: we now have people tweeting directly from private Labour Party meetings or writing newspaper columns giving accounts about what are discussed at them. It’d be interesting to know what the rules really are. Certainly, they do not include bringing a Press TV camera in behind the scenes, as was seen in Enfield this week.

The sheer audacity of that caper was met with inevitable shock, particularly given who was doing the filming. But as all technology is scrunched down into one single gadget – great quality photo, video, audio records all largely available for those with the best phones – bundling out an email about a technical point like scrutiny committee questions may soon start to seem very retro.

When the audio leak of Pete Willsman’s ugly rant about ‘Trump fanatics’ in the Jewish community at a meeting of Labour’s NEC reached the Jewish Chronicle, few said stop leaking or is this taping legal?, it was more important to most that the recording exposed his comments. Understandably, we talked what he had said, not how we all came to hear him.

There have already been Labour party meetings in Camden where members have suspected others of discreetly recording proceedings with their phones; two or three people have told me they had started to assume people might be doing so when speaking at them. With opinion becoming polarised and rows developing about behaviour at meetings, the possibility of this has apparently been raised out loud by members during at least one Labour constituency meeting in Holborn and St Pancras. So far it’s been dismissed as 1970s-style paranoia.

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