Tag Archives: Labour

The casual vacancy

17 Sep

Grayee 2018 Sep 14

On Friday Boleyn ward councillor Veronica Oakeshott tweeted:

After three years as a Councillor I am stepping down today to move house, closer to my family. It has been a huge privilege to serve in Boleyn. Thank you Boleyn for your friendship – I’ll miss you!

Cllr Oakeshott won her seat in a by-election in 2015 following the death of Cllr Charity Fiberesima. She held it easily at the local elections in May.

During her time in office Cllr Oakeshott successfully campaigned to keep the Champions Statue in her ward and, less successfully, to ensure the council lived up to its promise that 35% of homes on the old West Ham stadium site would be ‘affordable’.

There will be a by-election to fill the ‘casual vacancy’, most likely in late October. Labour will, of course, hold the seat easily. The real interest will be in who is selected as the candidate.No names have emerged yet, but Momentum is already organising to ensure that it is one of their people.

UPDATE:

The date for the by-election has been set for Thursday 1 November. Boleyn ward will be holding its selection meeting on Tuesday 2 October. 

Newham and the IHRA

4 Sep

No-one can accuse Newham council of not being ahead of the curve. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance ‘working definition of antisemitism’ was debated in September of last year. And, as with the national Labour Party now, there was disagreement about the 11 illustrative examples. A motion to adopt the definition in full, with all examples, was proposed by Cllr Clive Furness and seconded by Terry Paul.

Concerns about free speech and the ability to criticise Israel were raised in Labour Group and I am told there was a “left faction” led by Cllr Anam Islam who claimed many Muslim voters were ‘troubled’. There was another group, led by Rokshana Fiaz, then a backbench councillor, who championed the removal of the examples in order to maintain group cohesion. That argument won the day.

An amendment was put at council – and accepted by the proposers – that removed all 11 examples and made some other minor adjustments to the text. 

The amended motion was unanimously agreed by Council (reproduced below exactly as it appears in the minutes):

This council notes: 

This Council expresses alarm at the rise in antisemitism in recent years across the UK. This includes incidents when criticism of Israel has been expressed using anti-Semitic tropes. Criticism of Israel can be legitimate, but not if it employs the tropes and imagery of antisemitism.

This Council therefore welcomes the UK Government’s announcement on December 11th 2016 that it will adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, making Britain one of the first countries in the world to adopt it. This definition has also been adopted by the Labour Party and featured in the Labour Party’s Race and Faith Manifesto (page 12) published during the 2017 General Election. The IHRA definition defines antisemitism as thus:

This Council notes that:

Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel. However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.

Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.

Antisemitic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law (for example, denial of the Holocaust or distribution of antisemitic materials in some countries). Criminal acts are antisemitic when the targets of attacks, whether they are people or property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – are selected because they are, or are perceived to be, Jewish or linked to Jews.

Antisemitic discrimination is the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others and is illegal in many countries.

This Council welcomes support within the Council for combating antisemitism in all its manifestations.

This Council hereby resolves to adopt the above definition of antisemitism as set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and pledges to combat this pernicious form of racism through awareness raising and education; and through engagement with the range of Jewish opinion on how best to address antisemitism in addition with all communities that live in Newham.

This Council also condemns all forms of racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia and sexism and on-line abuse and we commit to fighting against them.

Gaining Momentum

22 Aug

Newham Momentum members with Chris Williamson MP

Newham Momentum members with Chris Williamson MP in Ilford

Chris Williamson MP will be in Forest Gate next month to address the Newham branch of Momentum, as part of his Democracy Roadshow. Although ostensibly a call for mandatory re-selection of all Labour MPs, these ‘road show’ events are mostly being held in constituencies held by MPs on the centre left of the party, leading them to be dubbed by some as the ‘Deselection Roadshow.’ 

Earlier this month Williamson spoke in Ilford, whose two MPs – Mike Gapes and Wes Streeting – are noted Corbyn-sceptics. A number of Newham Momentum members attended, including the chair of the council’s Labour Group, Cllr Suga Thekkeppurayil and former councillor Obaid Khan. This resulted in the invitation to for Williamson to come to Newham. I wonder what Lyn Brown and Stephen Timms make of that?

The Derby MP previously courted controversy by suggesting that Labour MPs who agreed with Theresa May that Russia was behind the Salisbury poisonings were as much “political enemies” as the Tories. He suggested they should face de-selection (are you sensing a pattern here?). He has also shared a platform with Marc Wadsworth, who was expelled from the Labour party for haranguing Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth at the launch of the party’s anti-Semitism review in 2016.

Yesterday the Huffington Post reported:

A Labour MP has said it was a “privilege” to meet and listen to a talk by a controversial pro-Assad blogger, who has previously described murdered MP Jo Cox as a “warmongering Al Qaeda advocate”.

Vanessa Beeley made the comment in a tweet almost a year after Cox’s death, and has also written that “Zionists rule France”.

… She has written that the White Helmets, the volunteer group that rescues people from the rubble of Syria’s civil war, is a terrorist-linked organisation that fakes its activities to elicit sympathy in the West for a regime change plot against Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad.

Who you appear on a platform with and how their views then attach to you is a hot topic right now. Might councillors who are now so publicly embracing Chris Williamson come to regret it? It’s not just MPs who can find themselves in a re-selection battle.

Outgunned

16 Apr

Yesterday in Canning Town South…

Labour & Co-op Party canvassersTory party canvassers

The Co-op Party’s first ever canvass in Newham drew a rather larger group of campaigners than the Conservatives managed.

The Ballad of Mas Patel

19 Mar

Fgslabour 2018 Mar 17

In good Sir Robin’s golden time, when loyalty no harm meant,
A zealous Walesite councillor was I, and so I gained preferment.
To teach my ward, I never missed: mayors are by the GMB appointed
And damned are those who dare resist or touch Our Leader’s anointed!

(Chorus)
And this be law, that I’ll maintain until my dying day, sir
That whatsoever mayor may reign, Still I’ll have my SRA, sir.

When Rokhsana was our candidate declared, to ease the party’s grievance,
With this new wind about I steered, and swore to her allegiance.
Old principles I did revoke; Set conscience at a distance,
Passive obedience was a joke, a jest was non-resistance.

(Chorus)
And this be law, that I’ll maintain until my dying day, sir
That whatsoever mayor may reign, Still I’ll have my SRA, sir

The illustrious House of Fiaz and democracy’s succession
To these I do allegiance swear – while they can hold possession.
For in my faith and loyalty I never more will falter,
And Rokhsana my lawful mayor shall be – until the times do alter.

(After The Vicar of Bray)

Vile and insulting

8 Mar

Image 2

Remember how Andrea Leadsom torpedoed her own bid for the Tory leadership when she said being a mother gave her “a very real stake in the future of our country,” in contrast to the childless Theresa May? Even Tory MPs described the remarks as “vile” and “insulting.”

Well evidently Cllr Lakmini Shah doesn’t.

In a call with a local Labour member, a recording of which I have heard, she says Rokhsana Fiaz doesn’t understand how important free school meals are because “she’s not married, she hasn’t got children, so she don’t know how hard it is for parents.”

Member: “Cllr Shah?”

Lakmini Shah: “Yes, it is.”

M: “Hi, yeah, I just spoke to you. Basically, I’m with my wife right now. And she’s saying, telling me to vote for Rokhsana, but I told her that, look, you know, they are going to scrap the free school meals. We’ve got two kids in school in, like, infants and one in nursery, so…”

LS: “Yeah”

M; “…but can you explain to her – I’ve put you on loudspeaker – can you just say what you said earlier…”

LS: “Okay”

M: “…about the free school meals?”

LS: “Okay. So Robin has had free school meals for children [pause] and that cost £3 million a year to the council. So Rokhsana says parents should be… because she don’t have children, she’s not married, she hasn’t got children so she don’t know how hard it is for parents. I’ve got three children and I know how hard it is to pay for school meals.

“So they, um, going to stop this free school meals to save this 3 million. I’m not sure if it’s 3 million or 6 million a year, I have to find that number out.”

This is absolutely outrageous.

Lakmini Shah isn’t just some random member canvassing votes for Sir Robin, she’s Cabinet Member for Work & Skills and Domestic Violence Prevention.

Sir Robin needs to take ownership of this and offer Rokhsana Fiaz a full and unreserved apology for what is being said by his campaign.

And Cllr Shah should resign as candidate for East Ham South. If she doesn’t, members should take the decision for her.

Newham council 2018 -22 (probably)

26 Feb

Forest Gate North candidates and supporters

The Forest Gate North candidates and their supporters

Over the past two weekends Labour members in Newham have been selecting the 60 candidates that will contest May’s local elections. Given the party’s massive polling lead across London and the expectation it will be taking control of true blue Tory boroughs like Wandsworth, the prospect of losing even a single seat in ultra-safe Newham is extremely remote.

One ward, Plaistow South, failed to select any candidates after members rejected both women on the shortlist. The meeting will have to be re-convened.

So here are 57 of the 60 people who will (almost certainly) be your councillors for the next four years:

(* = sitting councillor for the same ward; ** = current councillor for a different ward)

East Ham

Beckton

  • James Asser
  • Ayesha Chowdhury*
  • Tonii Wilson*

Boleyn

  • Genevieve Kitchen
  • Veronica Oakeshott*
  • Harvinder Singh Virdee*

East Ham South

  • Susan Masters*
  • Quintin Peppiatt*
  • Lakmini Shah*

East Ham Central

  • Julianne Marriott*
  • Aisha Siddiquah
  • Sugathan Thekkeppurayil

East Ham North

  • Daniel Blaney
  • Zuber Gulamussen*
  • Firoza Ahmed Nekiwala*

Green Street East

  • Muhammad Ali
  • Nilufa Jahan
  • Muzibur Rahman

Little Ilford

  • Nazir Ahmed
  • Pushpa Makwana
  • Riaz Mirza

Manor Park

  • Ken Clark**
  • Mariam Dawood
  • Salim Patel*

Royal Docks

  • Steve Brayshaw*
  • Anthony McAlmont*
  • Patrick Murphy*

Wall End

  • Jennifer Bailey
  • Omana Gangadharan
  • Lester Hudson*

West Ham

Canning Town North

  • Ann Easter*
  • Shaban Mohammed
  • Delphine Tohoure

Canning Town South

  • Rohit Dasgupta
  • Alan Griffiths*
  • Belgica Guana

Custom House

  • James Beckles**
  • Rokhsana Fiaz*
  • Patricia Holland*

Forest Gate North

  • Sasha Das Gupta
  • Anam Islam*
  • Rachel Tripp*

Forest Gate South

  • Mas Patel*
  • Tahmina Rahman**
  • Winston Vaughan*

Green Street West

  • Hanif Abdulmuhit*
  • Mushtaq Hussain
  • Mumtaz Khan

Plaistow North

  • Zulfiqa Ali
  • Joy Laguda*
  • Daniel Lee-Phakoe

Plaistow South

  • Selection suspended

Stratford and New Town

  • Joshua Garfield
  • Nareser Natalie Osei
  • Terry Paul*

West Ham

  • John Gray*
  • Charlene McLean**
  • John Whitworth*

A number of sitting councillors are seeking re-selection but have so far not secured a position (with only Plaistow South still to be resolved):

  • Aleen Alarice (sitting councillor in Plaistow South)
  • Jose Alexander
  • Andrew Baikie
  • Clive Furness
  • Idris Ibrahim
  • Mukesh Patel
  • Paul Duraisamy Sathianesan
  • Neil Wilson (sitting councillor in Plaistow South)

In addition, a large number of councillors decided step down this year, including three who were ineligible due to suspension:

  • Seyi Akiwowo
  • Freda Bourne
  • David Christie
  • Frances Clarke
  • Bryan Collier
  • Ian Corbett
  • Jo Corbett
  • Richard Crawford
  • Unmesh Desai
  • Forhad Hussain
  • Obaid Khan
  • Conor McAuley
  • Ahmed Noor
  • Rohima Rahman
  • Kay Scoresby
  • Amarjit Singh
  • Ted Sparrowhawk
  • Sheila Thomas
  • Dianne Walls

Hustings

24 Feb

Details of the mayoral selection hustings have been announced:

Dear member,

As part of the process to select Labour’s candidate for Mayor of Newham, we will be holding two hustings meetings for you to hear from the candidates and ask them questions.

They will be held at:

Tuesday 27 February at 7pm at Royal British Venue, 30A Church Road, London, E12 6AQ

Thursday 1 March at 7pm at Old Stratford Town Hall, 29 Broadway, London, E15 4BQ

Entry is restricted to members who are eligible to vote in this selection. Please bring your membership card or other ID with you and you will only be allowed to attend one of these meetings not both.

We look forward to seeing you next week.

Thanks,

London Labour Party

There doesn’t appear to be a mechanism for members to pre-register a preference for which session to attend and it isn’t clear quite how people who go to the first one will be kept out of the second. But I’m sure the rule-abiding members of Newham Labour Party wouldn’t try to do anything improper!

Over and out?

15 Feb

Councillor Forhad Hussain is not seeking re-selection as a candidate for the elections in May.

He has written to residents and colleagues to let them know:

After eight enjoyable years serving as a local elected councillor in Plaistow, I sadly write to inform my ward residents and local Labour colleagues that I will not be re-standing as a councillor candidate in the upcoming local elections in May 2018. I have thought about this decision a great deal, it was not an easy choice to make but I feel that I need to focus on my young family and develop my career further outside Politics.

However, this is not the end of my involvement in Politics. I will continue to help the Party to win in May’s local elections and in the next General Election to bring in a Labour government.

I would like to thank the Mayor, my local Councillor and Labour party colleagues, council officers, and most importantly Newham residents for their continued support during my time as an elected Councillor and Cabinet Member.

It has been my honour and privilege to represent Plaistow North. I will always cherish the memories I have of working with local residents to deliver many successful community projects. Some key highlights for me include the development of First Avenue Community garden, Plaistow Big Local Glen Rd Murial Project, our first Christmas Tree and Lights switch-on outside Plaistow Station, saving our local library and converting it to an oasis of community activity, the Queen’s visit to Lister Community School and the Tour de France and the Paralympic flame going through Plaistow High St. There are so many more highlights I could mention!

I am really proud of these achievements and my part in making them happen and believe that they have left a lasting legacy in terms of community cohesion.

I want to wish good luck to potential candidates in the Newham local labour Councillor selections. If selected and elected, you have a huge responsibility to help Newham residents improve their lives and support them in the continued challenges they face in everyday life under this vicious Tory government.

My final message to new Councillors: please always remember the reason why you became public servants. Put the interests of Newham residents’ first and deliver local services to improve the lives of our residents. Most importantly do this with a smile on your face! ☺

Many people thought Cllr Hussain would announce a run at the mayoral nomination once the trigger result was formalised. If he was considering that, he’s obviously decided against.

That he’s also decided to stand down altogether is a big surprise. I’m not sure what it says about the state of the Labour Party in Newham, but it’s not good.

Data warning

7 Feb

Selection meetings for the 20 ward Labour parties to select their candidates for the council elections in May have been confirmed for 17/18 and 24/25 February.

Martin Tiedemann, regional organiser of the London Labour Party has written to all of the long-listed candidates – rumoured to be more than 100 people – to remind them of the code of conduct and rules for selections.

Membership lists are only available to short-listed candidates… and we will therefore not be providing lists to any candidates, given sort-listing and selection will happen at the same meeting in Newham.

Some candidates, including sitting councillors and CLP or branch officers, may have existing copies of membership lists in relation to the roles they hold. These lists must not be used to canvass for support fore the upcoming selections.

Improper use of membership data, including passing on to other candidates, may be a breach of law or of Labour’s rules, and may put your position on the longlist at risk.

Given that membership data has so recently been mis-used in Newham, this is pertinent advice. But it really hands an advantage to sitting councillors and branch officers. They almost certainly don’t need to use the data to talk to their members – they already know who they are and how to reach them if they want a chat. And I’d be hugely surprised if they resisted the temptation.