Alt-left websites and, amusingly, the right wing Sunday Times have depicted an influx of new Turkish and Kurdish Londoners into the Enfield Council Labour Group and the post-election replacement of Doug Taylor as council leader by Nesil Caliskan as a sinister form of ethnic entryism. As On London has already reported, the reality is much messier than suggested by this narrative, which has been spun by local Corbynites who think Caliskan too right wing. Meanwhile Caliskan’s leadership style has not immediately endeared her to several members of her own cabinet.
As if all this wasn’t enough to perturb Enfield residents, the council’s Conservative Group is hardly looking like a credible opposition – or a terribly pleasant one. Last month, Southgate ward Tory councillor Stephanos Ioannou was suspended by his party following complaints about his posting on Facebook a 1974 front page of The Sun newspaper, which, in its coverage of the long-running conflict in Cyprus, described Turks as “barbarians” in its headline. Ioannou, who was reportedly chair of Conservative Friends of Greece at the time, now sits as an Independent.
Then, last week, Bush Hill Park ward Tory William Coleshill too was suspended due to remarks he made at the council meeting on 20 September. Labour councillor Susan Erbil had proposed a motion criticising government education cuts. Coleshill argued in response that pressure on school places was a result of “mass migration” and, to the outrage of Labour members, asked Erbil if, “When the Erbil family entered this country, did they bring a classroom with them?” He too is now sitting as an Independent.
Coleshill’s suspension was almost immediately followed by a third reverse for the Tories, with his fellow Bush Hill Park representative Jon Daniels resigning as a councillor, citing a desire to spend more time with his family. He acknowledged that it is “a difficult time for Enfield Conservatives”. A by-election will be held in due course.