IT was so late it was early when counting finally finished for Labour Party members in Hampstead and Kilburn. The final results of voting for positions like constituency chair and so on were only finally known at some stage in the early hours of this morning. Some suggested a general election count would’ve been speedier.
This, by all accounts, followed a lengthy session attended by more than 100 at the Kingsgate Community Centre in which disputes were raised about everything from the possible lateness of the meeting – ‘we’re paying for babysitters’ – to delegates who thought they were allowed to vote being turned away, and the voting system: members were told, for gender balance, that they had to support a certain number of female candidates.
Rewind a few months for a bit more context, and you’ll remember the resignation of Leao Neto from role of chair, a bloody fallout and the accusation and counter-accusation that followed. Some complaints, fired from both sides, relating to different incidents remain outstanding; this is the Labour Party after all.
The end result of this to and fro is that Katherine Bligh, by a handful of votes, has been named the new chair, edging Marc Harris to secure the position; a win for the left slate. Similarly, Rebecca Shirazi will serve as vice-chair (campaigns) having won by a slightly larger margin from James Slater, the former council election candidate in Hampstead Town. Cathie Hammond is the other vice-chair. Further down the list, there was another close win for the left as Richard Chadwick and Connor Borrett were named secretaries ahead of Tom Happold and Alistair McLaughlin. Sara Callaway pipped Nazma Rahman for BAME officer, Peter Firmin polled ahead of Mike Katz for trade union liaison officer and so on.
Interesting scorelines for anybody who has been following the often acrimonious relations inside Tulip Siddiq’s constituency. Also of interest, however, was news that membership levels have fallen a fair wodge. Numbers were reportedly hovering around 2,500 when Ms Siddiq was re-elected to parliament two years ago, but the number of paid up Labour card-carriers in Hampstead and Kilburn is now just under 2,000.