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13 Apr


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West Ham Labour cancels meeting

1 Apr

Wenborne and Hedley

The CWU Postal Engineering Branch delegate to West Ham CLP (left, obvs.) in his other job.

West Ham Labour party cancelled its monthly general committee (GC) meeting last week, after rival motions were proposed on the matter of antisemitism in the party. One affirms “our solidarity with the Jewish community and the Jewish Labour Movement as antisemitism in the UK continues to rise and is found within our own party.” Another confirms the CLP’s “implacable hostility to all forms of racism, anti-semitism and Islamophobia, and its determination to fight them in all their manifestations.”

But a third, proposed by the Postal Engineering Branch of the Communications Workers Union, “refutes the allegation that Labour is antisemitic” and

rejects the current atmosphere of hysteria, denunciation and rush-to-judgement over antisemitism that is now being stoked by certain existing and ex-Labour MPs and amplified by the mainstream media…

…too often, accusations of anti-semitism are blown out of all proportion; use distorted comments or quotations taken out of context; or are levelled against those who are making justified criticism of the unjust treatment of Palestinians by the current Israeli government.

The motion continues: “This relentless focus on antisemitism is diverting the public’s attention… and side-lining other forms of racism such as Islamophobia and other prejudices against immigrants.” It alleges that allegations of bullying in the party are “a cynical tactic by those Labour MPs who have become unpopular with their local members because they are unwilling to democratically represent them.”

This all follows an ill-tempered episode during the February GC meeting when the guest speaker Dr Bob Gill, who had been invited to speak on the NHS, made a comment in which he suggested that allegations of antisemitism within the Labour Party were ‘fake’ and ‘a distraction.’ Formal complaints have been made about the conduct of certain delegates following those remarks. Arguments continued at the Executive Committee two weeks later.

Local party officers took advice from London region before deciding to cancel the meeting, telling delegates “if we simply debate these we are in danger of repeating the events of February, rather than moving forward in a more positive manner.”

The CWU postal engineering branch delegate to West Ham GC is also the chair of Newham Momentum. Last September, the group hosted a meeting with Chris Williamson MP, as part of the latter’s Deselection (sorry, ‘Democracy’) Roadshow. Williamson was later suspended from the Labour Party over remarks he made about, er, antisemitism.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Labour Party in West Ham. I am not a member of the General Committee.

Hat-Tip to Jewish News for their original coverage of this story

I won the raffle!

7 Mar


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East Ham United

3 Mar

East Ham CLP AGM

When I blogged a couple of weeks ago about East Ham CLP’s AGM I suggested rival factions, specifically Newham Momentum and those still loyal to the former mayor, would be “putting together slates and cooking up deals to ensure that the ‘wrong people’ don’t wind up in charge.”

This clearly hit a nerve and Newham Momentum responded on their own blog, claiming this was just “rumours and misinformation spread by local Blairites.” The secretary of Newham Momentum added

“Ours is a broad and democratic Party. Newham Momentum is always willing to work with those comrades who genuinely respect this proud democratic tradition and are willing to work with us to combat cuts in local services whilst campaigning for the election of a radical, socialist Labour Government under Jeremy.”

So what actually happened?

Pretty much exactly what I predicted. Very few of the main officer positions were contested. Once Tahir Mirza had secured the chair on behalf of Newham Momentum, other candidates started to drop out, leaving right-wingers Lakmini Shah and Mariam Dawood to pick up the posts of vice chair (campaigns) and treasurer, while Momentum’s Syed Taqi Shah became secretary.

The full slate of elected officers

Chair: Tahir Mirza
Secretary: Syed Taqi Shah
Treasurer: Cllr Mariam Dawood
Vice Chair Campaigns: Cllr Lakmini Shah
Vice Chair Membership: Cllr Moniba Khan
Women’s Officer: Sophia Naqvi
Youth: Azka Rasool
LGBT Officer: Victoria Mitchell
BAME Officer: Cllr Sugathan Thekkepura & Asad Shan (Job Share)
TULO: Cllr Pushpa Makwana
Political Education: Tariq Hussain

After the meeting the new chair tweeted

I am very thankful for East Ham CLP to elect me as a Chair and all of us very determined to take @jeremycorbyn vision forward, every single officer elected is true socialist

And West Ham CLP membership secretary Mehmood Mirza chipped in, saying

@jeremycorbyn supporters win landslide @easthamlabour CLP after almost 2 1/2 years of special measures, thanks to all the delegates who supported the left candidates, congratulations to @TahirMirza01 Chair CLP & @SyedTaqiShah1 to be secretary,@moniba27 Vice Chair Membership.

One view is that this is “a diverse officer team consisting of pro-Corbyn Left and other local activists.” A more realistic assessment is that it’s a stitch-up that is politically unsustainable. After years of mismanagement under Sir Robin and his crew, East Ham members deserve better.

The AGM also selected delegates for the London regional conference Tahir Mirza, Victoria Mitchell and Cllrs Ayesha Chowdhury and Sasha Das Gupta.

After the meeting formally closed there were three guest speakers. MP Stephen Timms and London Assembly member Unmesh Desai spoke unchallenged, but Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz was rudely interrupted twice by the chair in an attempt to cut her her short. She ploughed straight past him. Which may be a metaphor for the next couple of years in Newham Labour politics.

East Ham AGM announced

14 Feb

After a hiatus of more than two years, East Ham CLP is going to have a meeting. And it’s an annual general meeting to boot!

All 10 of the branch (ward) parties held their own AGMs late last year, under supervision of the London regional office. Local officers and general committee delegates were elected and now – at long last – the CLP is going to elect its own officers.

The agenda has been circulated

East Ham Labour Party – Annual General Meeting 2019

The Trinity Centre, East Avenue, London, E12 6SG

Monday 25 February 2019

Registration from 6:30pm. Meeting to start at 7pm.

  1. Introductions & apologies for absence
  2. Election of CLP Executive Officers for 2019/20 (at least half (7) must be women)
    • Chair
    • Vice Chair
    • Vice Chair Membership
    • Secretary
    • Treasurer
    • Women’s Officer
    • Policy Officer
    • BAME Officer
    • LGBT+ Officer
    • Youth Officer
    • Disability Officer
    • TU Liaison Officer
    • Political Education Officer
    • Social Media Officer
  3. Election of up to 4 Regional Conference delegates (at least half (2) must be women)
  4. Nominations for Regional Board
    • Chair
    • Vice Chair
    • Women’s Officer
    • Disabilities Officer
    • Ethnic Minorities Officer
    • LGBT Officer
    • 2 CLP Reps from Section 5 – City of London, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Barking &
      Dagenham, Havering & Redbridge (at least one must be a woman)
    • 2 NPF Reps (at least one must be a woman)

No doubt rival factions are busy putting together slates and cooking up deals to ensure that the ‘wrong people’ don’t wind up in charge.

There was evidence of this at a number of the branch AGMs. At the Manor Park ward AGM an alliance between Momentum and Sir Robin’s former allies, led by former deputy mayor Ken Clark, backed a mixed slate of Momentum and right wing candidates and effectively blocked supporters of the new mayor. 

This unholy alliance was born at the council Labour Group AGM back in May. Momentum-aligned councillors were elected as Group chair and chief whip, while the Walesite old guard held onto the chairs of Council and overview and scrutiny. Subsequently the same coalition has voted together to push for the referendum on the future of mayoralty to be held at the same time as the London elections in 2020, against the wishes of both Rokhsana Fiaz and Sadiq Khan. It is also jointly campaigning against plans to reform the Every Child a Musician programme.

It is worth keeping an eye on East Ham. While the two camps may be happy to ally for now to keep the mayor’s supporters out, there is a bigger prize in prospect and both factions want to grab it for themselves. At some point parliament will vote on new constituency boundaries, with the likelihood that one or both of our sitting local MPs will have to re-apply to be the candidate . One of the safest seats in the country will soon be up for grabs. It could all get very messy.

 

Newham Transformed

13 Feb

New blog post from Cllr Daniel Blaney (East Ham North), on Rokhsana Fiaz’s first budget and the “change of direction after Robin Wales”:

“The Mayor [of Newham] has set out a clear ambition for housing in Newham, with a particular focus on increasing social housing stock in the borough.  This will require significant Council capital investment to complement the £107 million Greater London Authority grant under the Building Council Homes for Londoners programme.”  That is the introductory paragraph of a paper at the December 2018 meeting of Newham’s Cabinet, approving a business plan for Newham’s “Housing Revenue Account” – the obligation to account separately for Council-owned social housing.  Its technical material, and language quoted is a little dry, but perhaps it illustrates best the political change emerging from the replacement of Sir Robin Wales as Mayor in May 2018 with Rokhsana Fiaz.

The February 2019 budget is new Mayor’s first budget.  She and her cabinet colleagues regularly tout this as a ‘transitional’ budget, clearly frustrated it doesn’t in itself demonstrate the sum of the political ambition, but marks a significant change of direction. A more radical, transformative 2nd budget is to be prepared over the next twelve months.

In reality, the housing aspects of this first budget are already radical and transformational. The fact that the “Housing Revenue Account” business plan is being transformed, is a demonstration of the role of actual council housing in the new Mayor’s priorities, both in terms of investment by building new council housing, and in investment in existing stock, improving the housing of existing tenants in their current homes.

There’s much more detail in the full post, covering free school meals, the London Living Wage and changes to funding the Every Child… programme.

Good stuff.