The future of Haringey Council’s ambitious redevelopment plans for the borough appears uncertain following a string of successes for the Momentum wing of the Labour Party and its allies in their campaign to deselect sitting councillors who’ve backed the plans.
Five ward branch selection meetings last night saw six out of seven sitting councillors who support the creation of the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV), a proposed 50/50 joint venture company with property giant Lendlease, fail to secure automatic re-selection from local members to defend their seats at next May’s borough election, while those who have opposed it were endorsed.
At least two of the “triggered” councillors have decided to stand down and most if not all are expected to be replaced by anti-HDV candidates. These outcomes follow the selections of anti-HDV candidates for five other wards earlier this week, replacing pro-HDV councillors including Alan Strickland, Haringey’s cabinet member for housing, regeneration and planning, who stood down after losing the initial re-selection vote.
The number of anti-HDV Labour candidates so far selected stands at 26 compared with seven against, already strengthening the chances of an anti-HDV majority in the council’s Labour group following the elections next year and placing the position of council leader Claire Kober in doubt, even though she has been re-selected in her Seven Sisters ward. Labour currently holds 49 of the 57 Haringey council seats and is expected to comfortably retain control of the borough.
The HDV proposals are not yet finalised and it is not known what approach Kober and her councillor allies, who currently outnumber those opposed to the HDV, will now take to the plan. However, a spokesperson for Lendlease has re-affirmed the company’s commitment, saying it recognises that “with a project of this size and duration there are many points of view” and claiming to have made “significant investment in beginning to understand the need of the borough” during a public procurement process of more than 18 months in all. “We believe the partnership approach of the HDV and further consultation with the communities affected will ensure that local people benefit from its success from the outset,” the spokesperson said.
Monday’s selection ballots saw victories in Noel Park ward for Emina Ibrahim (sometimes spelled “Emine” Ibrahim), who is currently a councillor for Harringay ward, and Khaled Moyeed. They will contest the ward for Labour in May in place of Strickland and sitting councillor Stephen Mann. The third Noel Park councillor Peray Ahmet had already been re-selected. Ahmet, the current cabinet member for environment, is seen by some Kober allies as positioning herself for a future leadership challenge.
Ibrahim, a national vice chair of Momentum, the group formed to back the leadership of Labour by Jeremy Corbyn, is being spoken of in Labour circles as a possible parliamentary candidate for Chipping Barnet, where the Tory majority was slashed to just 353 in June’s general election. Moyeed, a solicitor, is believed to have worked as an adviser to Lutfur Rahman when he was independent Mayor of Tower Hamlets. (Moyeed has been contacted for comment. In depth coverage of Rahman’s mayoralty here).
Members in the Tottenham Green and West Green wards also completed their selection of full slates of anti-HDV candidates on Monday. One of the pro-HDV West Green councillors de-selected, Eugene Ayisi, was brought up on the Broadwater Farm estate, which is under consideration for demolition under the HDV proposals. One of the two anti-HDV candidates who will defend the ward for Labour instead of Ayisi next year is Ishmael Osamor, the son of Kate Osamor, the Corbynite MP for Edmonton. She is reported to have personally nominated him.
In a sign of how fraught the selection struggles have become, Seven Sister councillor Joe Goldberg, a cabinet member and strong supporter of Kober who is standing down as a councillor next year, tweeted the following day: “I thought the Labour party was against nepotism but it seems a habit on the left that is too rewarding to resist”.
Tuesday saw an anti-HDV candidate fill a vacancy in Bruce Grove ward. All three Labour candidates there are against the joint venture plan.
Last night’s five shortlisting meetings, at which sitting councillors sought automatic re-selection, saw only one pro-HDV councillor avoid having to face a challenge from other prospective candidates – cabinet member Elin Weston who went through narrowly in Hornsey. Another, Jennifer Mann, was triggered by just one vote, suggesting that the selection run-off vote on Monday may be in the balance. Seeking to join sitting councillor Adam Jogee as a candidate in the anti-HDV camp is Dana Carlin, senior caseworker of Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP and shadow home secretary Diane Abbott.
In Stroud Green, where turnout exceeded 100, pro-HDV councillors Tim Gallagher and Raj Sahota were triggered by large margins. Sahota has decided to stand down, telling supporters in an email that he hopes his successor councillors “remember that their role is to act as a representative for all the people in this ward, and not just pursue an ideological agenda advanced by any narrow political sect”. He added:
Much was said last night about why I should be deselected because of my stand on the HDV. Before I sign off I ask you to spare a thought for the many thousands of people in temporary accommodation in Haringey and those in substandard, damp and overcrowded accommodation in Tottenham. The HDV offered some realistic prospect for them that they could be rehoused sometime soon in decent accommodation. I wait to see, with little optimism, what solutions the new leadership of the council offers to their problems.
The reference to “new leadership” suggest Sahota thinks the ousting of Kober inevitable. Harringay ward, which Emina Ibrahim will no longer contest, re-selected its two other anti-HDV sitting councillors, while Bounds Green ward, which has three pro-HDV sitting councillors at present, saw one stand down and the other two facing challenges. Finally, in St Ann’s ward, pro-HDV councillor Barbara Blake has decided to stand down after being triggered, and there was already one vacant seat. However, anti-HDV councillor Noah Tucker was automatically re-selected.
Tucker, a senior figure in Haringey Momentum, is the brother of housing activist Pilgrim Tucker, who has been prominent in campaigns relating to the Grenfell Tower fire, and of Calvin Tucker, with whom for several years he ran a website called 21st Century Socialism. Now removed from the web, the site has been described as reflecting the more pro-Soviet strand of British communism.
In July, Noah Tucker opposed Haringey Council’s adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-semitism. In a June 2016 Facebook post he described allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party as “part of an orchestrated campaign” designed to “undermine and isolate the Labour leadership in preparation for an internal party coup against Jeremy Corbyn”. The antisemitism definition has been adopted by a number of Labour-run councils across the capital without controversy, but the relevant meeting in Haringey was disrupted by heckling. Tucker won his St Ann’s seat at by-election in October 2016. He has been contacted for comment.
Further indications of the strong feelings accompanying the Haringey selection process have been provided on Twitter by former Haringey Labour councillor Alan Stanton, who last week invited followers to “imagine the privilege, joy and fulfilment” to be experienced were Strickland removed from the council. A series of subsequent tweets by Stanton mocking councillors who’ve expressed regret at Strickland’s withdrawal include one directed at Crouch End councillor Sarah Elliott, in which he likened Strickland to a stray pet and Elliott to his distressed owner.
Stanton was suspended from the Labour group in December 2012. The Tottenham and Wood Green Journal reported the then group whip saying that Stanton had isolated himself from the group and refused to attend its meetings. Stanton described his suspension as “a badge of honour”. He is married to re-selected Harringay ward councillor Zena Brabazon, a strong Corbyn supporter and opponent of the HDV.
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