Haringey Council deputy leader Mike Hakata has been deselected as a Labour candidate for the May local elections – a decision which has provoked unprecedented anger from borough residents.
His 41 to 34 ousting by members in the St Ann’s ward in south Tottenham is the latest twist in a fractious selection process which has already seen former council leader Joseph Ejiofor, figurehead of what had been dubbed the “Corbyn Council”, barred from standing by Labour’s London region.
Hakata (pictured) and fellow sitting councillor Julie Davies were replaced as candidates by Tammy Hymas, a caseworker for Poplar & Limehouse MP Apsana Begum, and Holly Harrison-Mullane, a charity organiser who previously worked for former Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad. Both were reportedly backed by local members of Momentum, the group originally formed to support Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party.
Local residents publicly backed Hakata, who was appointed as council deputy leader last year after Ejiofor was replaced as leader by Peray Ahmet. As cabinet member for environment, transport and climate emergency he had spearheaded action on the green agenda, winning support across the borough for championing low traffic neighbourhoods and “school streets”.
Community website Harringay Online had rallied support for him, with residents not in the Labour party joining Hakata in leafleting ahead of Monday’s selection meeting. This took place after Hakata and Davies – both described by supporters as part of the “sensible” left – failed to secure automatic re-selection, meaning other potential candidates could then challenge the incumbents.
One resident commented on social media that Hakata was “the best hope we have of dragging Haringey out of the petrol headed dark ages”. Another added: “The idea that Mike is up for re-selection just shows how out of touch parts of the local party are. He’s been a real force for good in our community and it will be a real shame to lose him.”
His ousting was also greeted with dismay by campaigners in other others. “We are in a public health and climate emergency and Mike Hakata seemed to be the only councillor trying to solve these issues. His deselection is a huge loss for Haringey residents,” the Healthy Street North Tottenham group tweeted.
“I’m sure there are many 100s of people in St Ann’s, and across Haringey, who have had first-hand experience with Mike and Julie and know their true value,” said supporter Carla Francome. “But it sounds like many of the 70 or so Labour members who voted tonight just can’t be aware of their amazing work.”
Haringey civic mayor and councillor Adam Jogee tweeted that “Mike Hakata is such a great guy and has so much more to contribute to life in Haringey,” and another local Labour member described the decision as “the epitome of Labour’s far left concentrating inwards rather than towards people they purport to represent”.
It means the outcome of the continuing battle between the Momentum left and the more centre-left grouping backing Ahmet for control of the Labour group, currently 40 strong, remains uncertain. “It is very tight,” one party member said.
With the council’s Liberal Democrat opposition group holding only 15 seats at present, the next administration is likely to be a Labour one whose character will be defined by the seat selection outcomes. Labour members in five Labour-held wards are yet to choose their candidates in a process being closely overseen by the party’s London office.
Photo: Mike Hakata from his Twitter profile.
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