Tag Archives: Labour

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.

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.

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.

Silvertown tunnel

25 Jan

Councillor James Beckles (Plaistow North) on his blog today:

Monday 23rd January it was our first Newham Labour Group after the Christmas break. On the agenda was a motion calling for the rejection of plans for the Silvertown Tunnel.

The arguments for the motion were compelling, arguments about the health consequences for people living in the surrounding area.
It was put to Labour Group that the motion be amended effectively taking out the strength and force from the motion.

This was put to a vote. I voted against the amendment, however the amendment was passed. The amended motion was then put to a vote and was passed. I voted against the amended motion on the grounds that it was watered down and the substance of the motion was lost.

I support the regeneration opportunities happening in our area and the potential these have to uplift people and place. However this should not be at the cost [of] residents’ health.

To understand exactly what happened you need to read the motion that was originally put by Cllrs Conor McAuley (Custom House) and Ann Easter (Canning Town North), and what the wrecking amendment moved by Cllr Ken Clark (cabinet member for Building Communities, Public Affairs, Planning and Regeneration) took out.

The full text is below, and the red section (also in square brackets) is what got taken out:

Newham Labour Group notes that:

  1. TfL have consulted on building a 4 lane tunnel at Silvertown next to, and in addition to, The Blackwall Tunnel, which the former Mayor Johnson said will double road capacity across the Thames at this point and help ease congestion. 
  2. It is widely acknowledged that you cannot build your way out of congestion and that a more appropriate strategy would be to improve conditions for walking and cycling as well as make public transport more affordable. 
  3. The additional road capacity would lead to a significant increase in motor traffic in Newham (particularly in Canning Town) and significantly worsen air quality in this borough. 
  4. [Newham and London already suffer from poor air quality and building this tunnel is totally incompatible with Newham and London meeting their air quality targets.

Therefore Newham Labour Group calls upon Newham Council to reverse its position on the Silvertown Tunnel and call upon Mayor Sadiq Khan to cancel the project. 

Further,] Newham Labour Group urges Newham Council and the Mayor of London to investigate alternatives such as continuing the A406 south beyond the A13 and across the Thames east of the Woolwich Ferry.  

The motion was amended and passed. So Labour group declines to note the poor air quality in Newham and won’t be calling for the cancellation of the Silvertown Tunnel project.

As one councillor tartly put it later, ‘Every child a breather’ is clearly not one of the Mayor’s priorities.

No Mandate

9 Dec

The Newham Labour party Trigger Democracy campaign has sent out a powerful email to local party members, telling them that Sir Robin has no mandate to continue as the mayoral candidate without a proper, open selection.

On Monday, you’ll have heard media reports about the Labour Party Newham Trigger Ballot result in which the current Mayor is claiming victory. What you won’t know is that his ‘victory’ is on the back of shady affiliate organisation votes. While 11 out of 9 Labour Party branches voted decisively for NO, the vote of those Newham Labour Party members don’t count because the Mayor has ‘gamed’ the process through 11 secretive (including some very small) affiliate organisations. 

So the Mayor can only claim a false victory. He has lost the confidence of Newham Labour Party members and has #NoMandate.

#NoMandate Charge Sheet

Charge #1: Newham Fabians co-chaired by GLA Member Cllr Unmesh Desai and Mayoral Advisor Cllr Tahmina Rahman, didn’t hold a meeting with all its eligible members and in line with the Fabian Society’s  constitution. It is unclear if they are even a paid up affiliate of East Ham Constituency Labour Party! The Fabian Society’s General Secretary is now investigating this breach of their rules and voting irregularity. 

Charge #2: The Christians on the Left affiliate organisation didn’t even hold a formal vote at their meeting. They thought a discussion chaired by Mayoral Advisor Cllr Clive Furness  to ‘canvass opinion’ was sufficient . 

Charge #3: The BECTU affiliate organisation made up of one (that’s right, ONE) member unilaterally voted to reselect the sitting Mayor. That one vote cancelled out the votes of the entire East Ham Central Labour Party branch where 59 members voted. @BECTU HQ is also investigating, as they weren’t aware of the vote either. 

Charge #4: A GMB representative with no connection to Newham signed all four of the Newham GMB affiliate votes while no meetings were held with local Newham GMB members. So while the current General Secretary was happy to endorse the Mayor openly and the GMB is campaigning against LIDL for not respecting the voice of its workers – they clearly can’t be bothered to respect the voice and votes of local Newham GMB members. 

Charge #5: The national TSSA Trade Union have no record of an eligible TSSA branch affiliate in Newham and are currently investigating where this mysterious TSSA vote for the Mayor has actually come from. 

Charge #6: The Procedures Secretary, Cllr Pat Murphy  who oversaw the rigged Trigger Ballot process is a paid Mayoral Advisor, depends on the mayor’s goodwill for his livelihood and highlights a fundamental conflict of interest. He’s the one that’s tried to stop Labour members in Green Street East branch from even holding a trigger ballot meeting. 

Charge #7: The vast majority of Newham Labour Party members who took part in the Trigger Ballot process voted for an open selection not the automatic reselection of the Mayor. But because of the dirty tricks by some of the Mayor’s supporters and fraudulent actions of some dubious affiliates, their vote has been disregarded.

So how can Sir Robin Wales claim ‘victory’ when he clearly has #NoMandate. 

Campaigners are asking party members to email Sir Robin, asking him to respect the votes of members and agree to an open selection, and to sign a petition calling on the Labour party to do the same.

Party says no

5 Dec

After the final set of trigger ballot meetings, the score stands at eleven wards to nine in favour of an open selection for Labour’s 2018 mayoral candidate.

The detailed results are: 

Ward Yes No
Beckton 16 3
Boleyn 3 36
Canning Town North 17 21
Canning Town South 6 8
Custom House 7 6
East Ham Central 29 31
East Ham North 20 23
East Ham South 26 8
Forest Gate North 13 30
Forest Gate South 34 21
Green Street East 5 32
Green Street West 36 32
Little Ilford 23 36
Manor Park* 29 28
Plaistow North 27 17
Plaistow South 12 19
Royal Docks 11 1
Stratford & New Town 11 34
Wall End 20 18
West Ham 8 20
Totals: 353 424

* Second ballot. The first ballot tied at 30:30

In addition to the wards two affiliates, the Co-operative Party and the West Ham Women’s Forum, voted No; Christians on the Left did not vote but the chair determined the consensus was for Yes.

Whatever happens with the remaining affiliates (but I think we can all guess…) it is absolutely clear that ordinary party members want an open selection.

It would be a travesty if Sir Robin denied them one.