There’s lots of chat and speculation about who will become Labour’s candidate for the Vauxhall parliamentary constituency and therefore the likely successor to the outgoing Kate Hoey as its MP. According to one Labour contact in Lambeth “the world and his wife” are after seat, which Hoey retained at the 2017 general election with a 20,000-odd majority.
The most intriguing name in circulation is that of Joseph Ejiofor, leader of Haringey Council since May 2018 on the back of the successful Momentum-led campaign to oust sitting councillors who didn’t declare opposition to a proposed joint venture company between the council and developer Lendlease.
Is there any truth in the rumour that Ejiofor (pictured above, left, marking the 150th anniversary of Finsbury Park)) has plans to cross the river and forsake the Civic Centre in Wood Green for the green benches of Westminster? Asked by On London, he declined to comment but even so provided the following statement:
“I am proud to be leader of Haringey Council and would only consider leaving to do something special. Vauxhall is a constituency that is 25% African Caribbean and 50% BAME, a constituency that would have had Martha Osamor as its MP had Neil Kinnock not intervened 30 years ago. The Labour Party should have a national team of candidates that look like Britain, and hence many Black activists think it would be appropriate for Labour to select a Black candidate for Vauxhall. For that to happen credible Black candidates need to throw their hats in the ring.”
Which some would interpret as a long way of saying “yes”. If that reading is correct, Ejiofor’s competitors will include Lambeth councillor Ibrahim Dogus, who announced his wish to be the next Labour MP for Vauxhall with an article for New Statesman last week. Dogus uses that platform to make clear that he politely disagrees with Hoey about fox hunting (she’s in favour) and on Brexit (famously ditto). But he stops short of declaring outright opposition to Brexit, saying only that he’s against the sort that “harms local jobs and businesses” and so on, and stressing that it mustn’t “drown out other pressing issues”. It’s basically the Full Jeremy pitch.
Dogus is an interesting figure, a Kurdish refugee who has become the current (ceremonial) mayor of Lambeth, a restauranteur, social entrepreneur and publisher of the newspaper Lambeth Life. Ejiofor has had to demonstrate considerable resilience as leader of Haringey, being obliged in that role to cope with a Labour Group consumed by in-fighting, live with barely-concealed plots to replace him in the top job, and face criticism for making some of the practical trade-offs that come with power.
The only sure things about the contest to succeed Hoey are that there will be plenty more people wanting to join in and that it will be very closely fought.
Update, 13 September 2019: Another Vauxhall hopeful is Lambeth councillor Claire Holland, who has been endorsed by Westminster North MP Karen Buck as “a fantastic campaigner” who is “utterly dedicated and very, very smart”. Not a bad recommendation.
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