Archive | March, 2017

Early morning at Wanstead Park station

20 Mar


via Instagram

Advertisements

Spin City

15 Mar

Mayoral ally and ‘full-time’ councillor Clive Furness has circulated his Councillor’s Report for March to local members in Canning Town North. The headline item is the recent expulsion/long-term suspension of Cllr Obaid Khan.

After rehashing the Labour group statement he has a pop at his former friend and colleague:

He has begun a disinformation campaign supported by several councillors and members in which he claims to be the victim. We should have been put on notice after the last council elections when he was arrested for fighting with opposition members at the polling station.

That’s not quite how things went down at the time, when Khan was treated as something of a hero.

Sir Robin personally bought him a new shirt to replace the one that got ripped in the fight, which he presented at the Labour victory party after Khan had been released from police cells. The mayor praised him mightily for his commitment to the cause.

And who was it, just a few weeks later, that held the mayor back during his infamous confrontation with the Focus E15 mums at the Newham Show, saving him from making a bad situation much worse? Cllr Obaid Khan.

Even by Newham Labour standards, this is an outrageous bit of spin.

Furness rounds out his section on councillor misconduct by stating with a completely straight face (link added):

Two councillors remain suspended, one pending the outcome of criminal proceedings and one awaiting action from the [National Constitutional Committee].

I wonder how he will attempt to distance himself and Sir Robin from these two when the time comes.

Co-op cock-up

10 Mar

IMG 0137

Although you wouldn’t know from this picture, the second round of Newham Co-opertaive Party’s AGM was extremely well-attended. Indeed more people turned up than for the first part four weeks ago.

The empty seats were earlier occupied by councillors and others associated with Sir Robin’s faction on the council. They departed after a monumental failure of organisation left them without any candidates for the remaining positions on the local party committee. Even an excellent speech by Co-operative party general secretary Claire McCarthy could not persuade them to stay.

Perhaps it is for the best that Sir Robin himself did not attend. He would not have been amused.

Cllr Lester Hudson, who won election to be the party chair in February, was another notable absentee. He preferred the free food and drink on offer at the LGC Awards in London. So much for his commitment to an active Co-op Party in Newham.

The second meeting was called after the original AGM was unable to complete the full slate of elections. In order to ensure there was no repeat of the bad behaviour that marred part one, part two was overseen by national and London region party officers. The atmosphere was much improved.

Unlike at the first meeting, nominations and candidate statements were required in advance for each post. Candidates that had been previously been nominated had to re-submit. A fact that had evidently evaded the leadership faction, who found they had no candidates. Cllr Clive Furness did his best to challenge this on behalf of the absent Lakhmini Shah (who had stood for secretary) but his objection was briskly swatted away by the chair.

Cllr Aleen Alarice, Sir Robin’s candidate for treasurer in round one, was present but said nothing on her own behalf when her opponent Averil Donohoe was elected unopposed. John Gray (assistant secretary) and Alan Griffiths (membership officer) were also returned without a vote being required.

The only significant election was for secretary and Gill Hay won that comfortably over Neil Wilson. Cllr Wilson will have been consoled by his later election as social secretary.

There were no elections for delegates to the two constituency Labour parties, because of the investigation into the alleged attendance of unauthorised Co-op delegates at the recent East Ham AGM. The Co-op does not have any delegates in East Ham and the West Ham delegates only remain in place pro tem.

A significant source of power and influence within the Labour party in Newham has slipped from Sir Robin’s grasp due to an almighty cock-up. Further evidence, perhaps, that his regime is unravelling.

Wrath of Khan

10 Mar

Cllr Obaid Khan, who was handed a two year suspension from the Labour party last week, says that he has been the victim of a political witch hunt.

In a statement he says

“I believe that I am being victimised for having political differences with the local Labour leadership in Newham, as well as asking for processes to be democratic and transparent in the local Labour party.

“I continue to deny the charges and I am taking advise on what further action is available to me. I do not believe that I have been subject to a fair process by any reasonable standard of natural justice in the way the Labour Party has pursued the complaints made against me.”

Cllr Khan claims that although he was initially suspended in December 2015 on the basis of his “behaviour towards other party members at party meetings and in email correspondence” he did not receive specific details of the allegations until January this year – 14 months later.

He further says that the investigation report contained material that was irrelevant to the charges and “gratuitously negative commentary by the party investigators themselves” which was prejudicial to his defense.

Two of the three complainants did not attend the hearing and were therefore unable to be questioned by Cllr Khan or his representatives.

Mr Michael Sullivan, a local Labour Party member who helped Cllr Khan prepare his defence and who attended the hearing, said

“I have a lot of experience of representing trade union members at employer’s discipline hearings and of representing people at Employment and Welfare Benefit Tribunals. I also have a Masters Degree in Law that I undertook when I was a trade union officer responsible for members’ legal cases.

“I can say that the way the case against Councillor Khan was prepared and conducted including the material unrelated to the charges against him that was permitted to be included in the case papers would not be permitted in an employer’s discipline hearings or any Tribunal; and certainly not in any formal court.

“I believe that the conduct of this case reflects badly on the Labour Party, which has fairness and justice among it’s core values”.

Whatever the nature of the charges against Cllr Khan – which have not been made public – the conduct of the Labour party appears to be highly questionable.

And local members might ask why this case has been dealt with ahead of that of Cllr Ahmed Noor, who was the subject of a withering report to the council’s standards board. Cllr Noor’s party membership has been in ‘administrative suspension’ for close to two years.

They might further ask why Cllr Khan’s behaviour warranted his expulsion from the party when the mayor and his chum Cllr Ian Corbett remain members, despite being found guilty of breaching the council’s code of conduct due to their aggressive and bullying behaviour.

Unravelling

2 Mar

The Guardian’s Dave Hill, writing on his new blog, reports that another organisation has declared that its vote was improperly cast in last year’s mayoral trigger ballot:

A second organisation whose vote helped Newham mayor Sir Robin Wales go forward unopposed as Labour candidate for next year’s mayoral election in the borough has effectively substantiated a complaint by local party members about an aspect of the candidate selection process.

Inquiries by national officers of Bectu, the media and entertainment union, have concluded that a branch affiliated to Labour locally had not paid the required fee for 2016, the year the vote took place. In a letter to Labour’s governing National Executive Committee (NEC) sent in January, 47 Newham members had argued that the Bectu vote be declared void partly on those grounds.

Last month the national Fabian Society informed its Newham branch, which also voted “yes” to Sir Robin automatically becoming the candidate for 2018, had breached the society’s own rules for determining how votes in Labour affirmative nomination or “trigger ballots” should be cast.

The Bectu delegate that cast the vote in Sir Robin’s favour was Cllr Susan Masters, the secretary of the Labour Group of councillors. The signatory on the letter purportedly from Newham Fabians was Cllr Tahmina Rahman, mayoral advisor for New Media and Finance. Are we spotting a pattern?

Sir Robin “won” the trigger ballot by 20 votes to 17. Less these two it’s now 18-17, though arguably if the Fabians had held a proper members meeting they’d have voted No, making it 18-18. 

Whatever shaky mandate the mayor had to claim the nomination unopposed has now entirely vanished. Labour needs to cancel the result and run an open selection. It’s what members want and what they deserve.

Time for bed, sleepy head

1 Mar

Sleepy Aleen

Councillor Aleen Alarice pitched up at Newham Fabians last night, paid her £7 membership fee and promptly nodded off.

She’s ever hopeful of preferment and is Sir Robin’s candidate for treasurer of the local Co-operative party at the reconvened AGM next week.

I suggest she pays a bit more attention to what’s going on there.

Khan out

1 Mar

Statement from Newham Labour Group:

Councillor Obaid Khan has been found guilty of three charges of bullying, intimidation, and aggressive behaviour and his Labour Party membership has been cancelled with immediate effect.

This means Councillor Khan [a member for Boleyn ward] is no longer entitled to attend any Labour Party meetings or to be registered as a member of the Labour Group of councillors on the London Borough of Newham.

The decision was made by the Labour Party’s National Constitutional Committee following a two day hearing of three separate charges held on 25 and 26 February,

Labour’s chief whip Councillor Steve Bradshaw said:

“Following a long and detailed investigation by the Labour Party, the charges against Councillor Khan were deemed to be of sufficient gravity to be referred to the Party’s National Constitutional Committee.

“After a two day hearing Councillor Khan was found guilty of all three charges – two of which involved women members.

“We are pleased with the thoroughness of the investigation into Councillor Khan’s behaviour and the outcome of the NCC deliberations. Bullying and intimidation has no place in the Labour Party.”

NOTE:

Members of the National Constitutional Committee are elected by the Labour Party Annual Conference and are independent arbiters of internal Labour Party disciplinary matters. The decisions made by the NCC are final and not subject to appeal.

 

CORRECTION: this post originally said that the statement was from Newham Labour party. It is, in fact, from the Labour Group of councillors.