40 days to go
WHERE YOU BEEN?
YOU’VE had to go three days without an update – I deny I had a jar of ale to mark the CNJ‘s 40th birthday this week – but you’d probably need much longer than a few days to:
a) umpire the events which lead to Ali Hassan Ali departing the Conservative candidate list in West Hampstead and joining the Labour Party.
b) keeping track of the behind the scenes negotiations at the Town Hall relating to an extra full council meeting before the elections in May.
IT’S too late to change the Conservatives printed manifesto so if you turn to page eight, you’ll find a photo of police officer Ali Hassan Ali and see him listed as the candidate for West Hampstead and recommending more neighbourhood police bases are opened up around the borough. But at some stage between the document’s sign off and its return from the printers, a disagreement between the leaders of the party and Mr Hassan Ali grew so intense that the candidate had gone.
To unpick the claim and counter claim here would probably need sight of every single email or perhaps more relevantly every single WhatsApp message; Tory fast messaging seems a little more testy than the Labour ‘tweeters’ WhatsApp group.
Mr Hassan Ali thinks there was a plot to remove him, despite his inclusion in the manifesto print run, and says he has come to realise that the Conservative local election machine is not as ‘well oiled’ as he thought when he signed up. Hadn’t seen D-Dog’s 50 year-old risograph then.
He has had lots of choice words to say about group leader Oliver Cooper and Hannah David, who is running the campaign in the north west. In return, those guys say Mr Hassan Ali was being abusive online and wanted to ask him about this – only for him to then resign when he was called in. They question how much work he was putting into the election.
Mr Hassan Ali, a former police officer who left the Met saying it was racist and sexist, denies this too.
The party denies trying to get rid of him.
Basically everybody denies everything and that mess kept on going this week until Mr Hassan Ali could be found tweeting that he had now joined the “right party” and showing a message that said he had joined Labour. Quite breathless stuff, but it’s not the first time the Conservatives have not been able to take their original line up of candidates through to election day.
WHERE to start with this one too? What we do know is that Camden is going to have a full council meeting on Wednesday April 6. That’s in the middle of school half term, but any activist with children will have already been advised against popping over to the gite when there is an election on. It’s also during Ramadan; the council would have had to hold one next week to avoid that.
Scheduling clashes aside, the content of what will and won’t be discussed is the crunching subject in a million emails, drawing in the mayor, the chief executive and the borough solicitor and leading to 101 claims of obstruction.
The Conservatives want an extra meeting to finally get to a motion on high rise buildings – in short they want the Labour councillors to be pushed, albeit indirectly, to say where they stand on the idea of tower blocks which could soon be popping up on the 02 Centre and Murphy’s Yard sites. They are two skyline-changing regeneration projects which we will be talked about for months and years to come, and Camden’s planning department has reams of objections to both.
The mayor, Sabrina Francis, said Camden was already planning an extra meeting to have a debate on Camden is responding to the Ukranian refugee crisis and now also wants to discuss equalities following the child q search case.
Later, the Lib Dems and Greens saw what was going on and decided they had urgent motions they wanted to have discussed before the polls and teamed together to ask for a second extra meeting. The Conservatives are angry about that, believing their chances of securing the extra session were hurt by the sudden queue. There have been debates about how urgent is defined.
The chief executive, Jenny Rowlands, has ruled then there will be on session and that the Tories, Lib Dems and Greens can have their motions at the end of it.
It’s because Camden is almost ruthless in the way in shuts off meetings exactly at 10pm and rarely discusses any of the motions that are suggested by councillors – to the point where you wonder why motions are even included in the agenda if nobody wants to get to them – that this final verdict has been met with scepticism.
Certainly, nobody from Labour is saying: Towers and tall buildings? Let’s have a vote. Needless to say, It’s a hot potato around West Hampstead, Fortune Green and South Hampstead wards – although on the latter, the Tory machine has two approaches: Cllr Cooper talking at meetings and arguing with chief officers that a meeting on the subject shouldn’t be obstructed, and then its candidate turning up with a petition – and a party hat – at the Town Hall.
Councillors have also been told that the wording of motions and comments during open session will be “vetted” to make sure they don’t break pre-election operating rules. No doubt you’ll all be tuning in a couple of weeks.