Contest to lead Haringey ‘Corbyn Council’ hots up as Lendlease seeks meeting

Contest to lead Haringey ‘Corbyn Council’ hots up as Lendlease seeks meeting

Update 19:10: I’ve been told that the result of the “indicative secret ballot” reported below was as follows:

  1. Zena Brabazon 69 votes
  2. Joseph Ejiofor 30
  3. Peray Ahmet 14
  4. Kirsten Hearn 12
  5. Felicia Opoku 3

I’m told that in the end the outcome was announced at the venue. Opoku is the councillor whose bid I was unable to confirm when I published this report this morning. Like Ejiofor, she represents Bruce Grove ward.


At least four Labour councillors are believed to be in the race to become the next leader of Haringey following the party’s winning a reduced majority in the borough elections on Thursday.

Sources say that current deputy leader Joseph Ejiofor, who was re-elected for Bruce Grove ward, Zena Brabazon (Harringay), Peray Ahmet (Noel Park) and Kirsten Hearn (Stroud Green) are definitely standing at this stage. There is an unconfirmed report that one other councillor has also entered the contest.

All five took positions opposing the previous administration’s plan to form a joint venture  property development company with regeneration giant Lendlease during a fraught candidate selection process earlier this year, which saw many sitting councillors who had backed the plan de-selected or standing down after losing initial “trigger” ballots to rivals backed by Momentum, the campaign group that supports the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

Two other councillors firmly in the Corbyn camp, Emine Ibrahim and the newly-elected Khaled Moyeed, are understood to be running for the post of deputy leader.

Haringey Labour’s manifesto rejected the proposed company, known as the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV), as a means of supplying new housing in the borough, though in a statement released after Thursday’s election results came through, Jonathan Emery, Lendlease’s managing director of property, reiterated the company’s interest in working with the council, saying “we look forward to meeting with the borough’s new leader and cabinet” to “discuss how we can work together to best deliver their vision”.

The new Labour Group leader, who will automatically become now former council leader Claire Kober’s successor, will be elected by the party’s 42 Haringey councillors at its annual general meeting on Tuesday.

That vote will be preceded this evening by a group leadership contender hustings, which all local members may attend, concluding with what the event’s organisers call an “indicative secret ballot”, restricted to ward branch delegates to Haringey’s two parliamentary constituency organisations.

The results of the ballot will passed to Labour’s local campaign forum in Haringey, a body whose responsibilities include running internal elections and overseeing the work of councillors. The forum will then put forward what is characterised as an advisory shortlist for councillors’ consideration when voting on Tuesday.

The role of the indicative ballot and the local campaign forum is seen by critics of Corbyn supporters in Haringey as an attempt to influence the outcome of the leadership contest. Corbyn supporters dominate the ranks of branch delegates and the local campaign forum. However, it is stressed by organisers that, in line with Labour rules, the indicative ballot is not binding on the Labour group.

Labour’s council majority was reduced to 27 on Thursday due to the loss of seven seats to the Liberal Democrats in the west of the borough, the largest reverse in terms of seat numbers suffered by Labour in London, which made gains in the great majority of boroughs. The re-selection process had already ensured that the new Labour intake would be far more in line with the views of Corbyn, himself a former Haringey councillor, prompting one local activist to anticipate the next administration being seen as the country’s first “Corbyn Council”.

Pointing out that Labour has consolidated its position in some wards, Ejiofor told a reporter from the Ham & High that those seats lost could have resulted partly from “substantial media attacks”, although the anti-HDV campaign, organised by Momentum and allies from other political parties, has enjoyed aggressive national support from commentators on the Guardian.

Interviewed by a fellow Corbyn supporter for Red Pepper magazine, Tottenham constituency party secretary Seema Chandwani, who was also the local campaign forum’s procedures secretary for the re-selection process, claimed that the Lib Dem resurgence was aided by what she called “unpopular decisions”, “ridiculous ideas” and “ludicrous policies” on the part of the council over the past four years.

Speaking at the count on Friday, local Lib Dem leader Liz Morris said that antisemitism, Labour splits and a “local, Momentum-led Labour Party” had persuaded residents to vote for her party instead of Labour.

Emery said that the partnership Lendlease formed with Haringey under Kober remains “designed to build more than 6,000 homes and create more than 20,000 job for local people”, along with “community facilities” and “long-term investment focussed on the needs of the next generation”.

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