Archive | November, 2016

Sunday Bloody Sunday

30 Nov

Labour members in Green Street East received a letter yesterday cancelling their Trigger Ballot meeting on Sunday.

As chair of your branch I am writing to you personally on a matter of grave importance to our ward.

Over the weekend you may have received a letter advising you of a labour Party Green Street East ward branch meeting, to be held at a Restaurant in Forest Gate, West Ham on Sunday 4th December 2016. This notice was sent without the agreement of our branch and was in fact kept concealed from the Chair until I received an email on Sunday night. Since then members have approached me personally for an explanation as to why a Ward meeting was planned on a Sunday afternoon, outside the Ward and outside the Constituency. After further investigation, and as your democratically elected chair I wish to inform you that this meeting is formally cancelled.

As Sunday is the last date for meetings and members need seven days notice that means members of Green Street East will have no say whatsoever in whether they want to re-select the sitting Mayor.

The letter goes on (at some length) to say that the meeting is being cancelled for two reasons:

  • because the meeting was outside the ward and constituency (and is on a Sunday)
  • because the Secretary sent out the email (allegedly without the Chair’s agreement)

This is patently nonsense.

Firstly, Manor Park’s (very well-attended) meeting wasn’t held in Manor Park, Forest Gate North’s was held in Forest Gate South, and Thursday’s East Ham Central meeting isn’t being held in East Ham Central. There is nothing in the rules about holding the meeting in the ward, so what is the problem in Green Street East? 

Secondly, there are no rules about which day Labour party meetings are held. In fact in 2013 ward selection meetings for councillors were held over a whole weekend. I don’t recall anyone complaining about that at the time.

And finally, these trigger ballots are about the Mayor of Newham – the whole borough. Constituency boundaries are irrelevant. 

The letter sent to all eligible members in Newham by Patrick Murphy, the procedures secretary, at the start of November stated clearly:

You will receive a letter from your ward secretary advising you of the arrangements. (my emphasis added)

In Canning Town South the chair and other members of the executive were surprised to see receive a letter telling them the meeting was on a different date to the one they had all agreed. Presumably the secretary changed the time; there was a similar story in Custom House. In both cases the meetings went ahead and members voted.

But there is obviously something odd going on in Green Street East. Members were originally told the meeting was happening on Tuesday 24th, but the Chair sent out a text saying the meeting was being postponed and another date would be arranged. They were then told it was going to be on Sunday. Now they are now being told it isn’t and there’s no time left to organise a different date.

It appears that someone doesn’t want Green Street East to meet and is going to considerable lengths to make sure they don’t. 

What on Earth is going on? Perhaps the chair, Ayub Darbar, could explain. I will be very happy to publish his response.

In the meantime, Green Street East members should keep their diaries free for Sunday. Maybe the meeting will get ‘uncancelled’ and they’ll get their shot at democracy.

Co-op coup

22 Nov

James Beckles 2016 Nov 21

Picture from @james_beckles on Twitter

Last night Newham Co-operative Party said yes to democracy by voting No in the Newham mayoral trigger ballot.

It was 37 votes to 36. That may seem like a narrow win but in the context of Newham Labour politics, it’s an extraordinary result.

According to reports, 15 of Sir Robin’s Yes votes came from councillors on his vast payroll.

Two more turned up but were unable to vote because they weren’t actually Co-operative party members. And in a moment of pure comedy gold, one of them produced her Co-op loyalty card, thinking this would get her a vote.

Who was this? Cllr Joy Laguda, the supposedly-independent chair of council and ‘civic lead’ (a polite legal fiction, she’s actually a paid mayoral advisor) for adult social care.

As it stands

18 Nov

After the first set of trigger ballot meetings, the score stands at nine wards to three in favour of automatically reselecting Sir Robin Wales as Labour’s candidate.

The detailed results are: 

Ward Yes No
Beckton 16 3
Canning Town South 6 8
Custom House 7 6
East Ham North 20 23
Forest Gate North 13 30
Forest Gate South 34 21
Green Street West 36 32
Manor Park* 30 30
Plaistow North 27 17
Royal Docks 11 1
Wall End 20 18
Totals: 220 189

* Result of the first ballot. A re-vote was taken, even though two people had left. The final result was 29 yes, 28 no, with one vote declared spoiled. 

 In an interview with the Newham Recorder Cllr John Gary said

“It is neck and neck… the wards that were always more likely to vote yes were held this week.

“The wards that are more likely to vote no are more likely to vote next week.

 “There is already an earthquake in Newham politics; there has never been a challenge like this in Newham wards.”

The decision to hold the trigger ballot early, thereby disenfranchising hundreds of new party members, is the subject of a complaint to Labour HQ. And at the London Labour conference last week Jeremy Corbyn promised to raise the matter with the national executive.

Trigger mortis

11 Nov

The Executive Committee of West Ham Labour Party agreed on Wednesday to submit an emergency motion to the London regional conference tomorrow (Saturday).

As you can see from the text, party members believe that Sir Robin and his cronies have been playing fast and loose with the rules in order to rush through his re-selection:

This Regional Conference notes:

  1. The Labour Party Rule Book states that all Local Campaign Forums (LCF) must hold annual AGMs after May each year at which an executive has to be elected. Where a LCF fails to elect an executive, the Rule Book implies that the entire LCF makes executive decisions.
  2. That the Newham LCF did not hold its 2015 AGM until March 2016, and failed to elect an Executive at that delayed AGM.
  3. Since the last meeting of the Newham LCF on the 31 May 2016, new delegates to the LCF have been elected by West Ham and East Ham CLPs.
  4. That a trigger ballot timetable on re-selecting the current directly elected Mayor of Newham to be the Labour Party candidate at the May 2018 local elections was approved at meeting with the London Region Director on the 25th October 2016 and some members of the Newham LCF.
  5. That the whole of the current Newham LCF members weren’t notified about this meeting taking place.
  6. That London Regional Board members were not notified by the London Region Director of the planned meeting with the Newham LCF or the proposed trigger ballot process.
  7. At the meeting on the 25th October 2016, a procedural secretary was also appointed who is a is paid mayoral advisor to the current Labour Mayor of Newham seeking re-selection. This potentially creates an unacceptable conflict of interest.
  8. Based on the Trigger Ballot timetable agreed by the London Region Director and some members of the Newham LCF, only members of the Labour Parties in Newham who joined on or prior to the 25th April 2016 will be eligible to participate in Trigger Ballot meetings held by eligible branches and affiliates. This freeze date will mean that hundreds of new members in Newham will be disenfranchised
  9. Branches and affiliates in Newham will have to meet and vote on a ‘affirmative nomination’ to re-select the current directly elected Mayor Sir Robin Wales between the 14th November 2016 – 4th December 2016 and there is emerging evidence of procedural abuse happening where NEC guidelines are being ignored. For instance, officers in one branch in West Ham CLP had the date of the branch’s Trigger Ballot meeting determined by the Procedural Secretary without their knowledge.

This Regional Conference resolves:

  1. That the current Trigger Ballot timetable in Newham be suspended and withdrawn;
  2. The London Region Board oversee an investigation of alleged procedural abuses in conjunction with the NEC Organisation Committee;
  3. That the Newham LCF calls an emergency meeting where all new LCF delegates elected at the respective East Ham and West Ham CLP AGMs to elect its new Executive. Where possible this should be constituted as the Newham LCF’s 2016 AGM which hasn’t taken place;
  4. That resolves 3 should be followed by a new Trigger Ballot timetable, set and circulated before 31 December 2016.

If the motion is carried the current process will have to be stopped and a new timetable agreed. This may allow hundreds of new party members a say in who gets to be the mayoral candidate. And that’s a good thing.