Tag Archives: Trigger ballot

Trigger action

20 Nov

On Saturday afternoon the crowdfunding campaign to challenge the result of last year’s mayoral trigger ballot hit its initial £10,000 target.

As Dave Hill reports:

Labour Party members in Newham seeking to overturn the re-selection of Sir Robin Wales as their mayoral candidate next year have hit an initial target of £10,000 to pursue a legal case against their party’s governing body

In January, Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) declined a request to investigate the affirmative nomination process or “trigger ballot” held last autumn, which saw Sir Robin endorsed to seek a fifth term as mayor despite claims that a number of “irregularities” had “made a material difference to the result”.

They are now in a financial position to issue a statement of claim, setting out the grounds which they content that their party has “behaved improperly” over the trigger ballot, both at local level and in failing at a national level to conduct an inquiry into how the process was run.

With the news coming out of Zimbabwe at almost exactly the same time, Sir Robin must be starting to feel a little nervous. This is not a good time for longstanding dictators with a penchant for gold chains.

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TSSA trailer

7 Nov

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Cllr Salim Patel, mayoral advisor and TSSA delegate

London blogger and ex-Guardian journalist Dave Hill has an intriguing account of how one union affiliate’s vote ended up in Sir Robin’s pile in the trigger ballot.

It’s well worth reading the whole piece, but the nut of it is here:

The TSSA [Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association] branch in question is its Euston one. That branch had had previous ties with the East Ham Constituency Labour Party (CLP) in Newham, and in May 2015 became affiliated to it again. A letter from the branch, which I have a copy of, informed the CLP’s then treasurer of this, said that affiliation fees and a donation of £50 had been paid by credit transfer from TSSA head office, and stated: “Our delegate will be Councillor Salim Patel.”

Councillor Patel represents Manor Park ward in Newham. His Labour Party profile describes him as a train manager with Virgin Trains. He is also one of Sir Robin’s appointees as a “community lead councillor” with additional children and early years responsibilities. For these duties he received in 2016/17 a special responsibility allowance of £8,433.39 in addition to his standard councillor allowance of £10,842.

The person in charge of running the trigger ballot was Councillor Patrick Murphy, chosen by  Newham Labour’s Local Campaign Forum in conjunction with the party’s London region for the task of procedures secretary. His duties included distributing trigger ballot papers. Councillor Murphy too was a mayoral adviser at the time, receiving a special responsibility allowance of £7,871.50. He is still on Sir Robin’s team, currently as a “delivery lead” councillor, with responsibility for environment policy.

My information is that the TSSA Euston branch received no direct communication from Councillor Murphy, unlike other unions entitled to vote in the ballot. Rather, Councillor Patel in person brought the ballot paper to a Euston branch officer, who signed it off without really appreciating what it was or giving it more than a moment’s attention. A vote was eventually added to the pile favouring Sir Robin’s automatic re-selection. The final result was 20-17.

Hill says he has contacted Cllr Patel for his side of the story and promised to update his story if he’s got anything wrong. He has not yet had any response.

If Salim Patel won’t talk to Dave Hill he should at the very least explain himself to local Labour members.As with everything else connected to the affiliate votes in the trigger ballot, this absolutely stinks.

Personal Trainer

10 Aug

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Assistant chief executive and alleged Labour press flak Douglas Trainer

An intriguing and disturbing FOI request to Newham Council (links added):

The newly promoted Mayoral advisor Cllr Patrick Murphy was the Newham Labour Party procedures secretary to the recent Mayoral trigger ballot. When he has been contacted by journalists interested in the allegations made about this process he has told them to contact the Newham Council Assistant Chief Executive, Douglas Trainer for comment.

Mr Trainer is paid by Newham Residents £111,000 per year and is in a politically restricted post.

  1. Please confirm that Mr Trainer has contacted or discussed the Labour Party Mayoral trigger ballot (and anything associated with it) with any journalist.
  2. If so the names of these journalists; when; where; how and what he said to these journalists and why he has acted as a spokesperson for the Labour Party.
  3. I understand that there are tape recordings of these conversations.
  4. Please list the social events that Mr Trainer has attended with member of Newham Labour Party including at Labour Party conferences.

If the allegation here is true, it is extraordinary. Why on earth would Cllr Murphy think it appropriate to refer press enquiries about an internal Labour election to the assistant chief executive of the council?

And why would Mr Trainer agree to respond to them? He is explicitly forbidden from “acting on behalf of the party … in dealing with non-party members.”

This is no doubt a consequence of Labour’s total grip on power in the borough. Senior officers and councillors alike have come to believe that the council and the party are one and the same.

Note: I linked to the LB of Havering guidance on politically restricted posts because no equivalent page appears to exist on Newham’s website. Which is in itself telling.

It’s all kicking off

1 Aug

Virtual reality

Virtual reality (pic via @NewhamLabourWTF on Twitter)

The Newham Recorder reports that 30 local Labour members are threatening to take the party to court over the conduct of last year’s ‘trigger ballot’.

Letters sent by Irvine Thanivi Natas (ITN) solicitors to GRM Law, the firm acting on Labour’s behalf, [allege that] procedural rules were “breached” as they were applied differently to different affiliated organisations without their full understanding of what the rules were.

This meant some trade unions with several branches voted more than once, while others with more than one branch believed they only had one vote.

Claimant David Gilles said: “Reluctantly we’re having to resort to legal action to get this vote re-run.”

There’s a lot more information, including full access to the letters exchanged by the two sides’ solicitors here.

The grounds for the complaint are:

  1. The rules were inconsistently applied in respect of which Affiliated Organisations (AOs) could take part
  2. The rules were inconsistently explained; those running the trigger ballot process failed to ensure (a) that AOs were properly informed of voting rights and (b) that the process was fairly run
  3. Labour’s NEC failed to carry out a proper investigation, despite prima facie evidence of impropriety
  4. The NEC endorsed Sir Robin when there was strong evidence that process was flawed
  5. The rules wrongly applied: some AOs were allowed to vote more than once

The result of the trigger ballot was never really in doubt. Sir Robin was always going to find enough votes from among the affiliates to over-turn the results from ward parties. The fact that no agreed list of affiliated organisations was ever published, or even shared with the officers of the two constituency parties, meant the whole process was wide open to abuse.

Despite the protestations from Newham Labour and the national party that everything is fine and that rules were followed, this is not going away. Local members have had enough of trickery and deceit. To borrow a phrase, they want “straight-talking, honest politics.” 

Sir Robin should be worried. His name is not yet certain to be on the ballot paper next May.

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.

Fabian update

1 Feb

The following statement has been issued by the national Fabian Society regarding the recent mayoral trigger ballot (my emphasis added):

Since early December the national Fabian Society has received a number of complaints from members regarding the process followed by Newham Fabian Society in the re-selection of the Labour Party candidate for mayor of Newham. The society has concluded that the process followed did not comply with the national society’s bye-laws governing local Fabian societies. All but one of the people involved in the decision are no longer in office, following an AGM held on 11th January.

Upon receiving the complaints, the national society contacted the (former) officers of Newham Fabians and they responded helpfully to our inquiry, providing information and justification for their actions. They told us that the nomination had been made by the society’s officers and by its delegate to East Ham Constituency Labour Party, using the same procedure used in 2013. They also said that their interpretation of the society’s bye-laws was that no process for a mayoral re-selection ‘trigger ballot’ was specified. 

A committee of the national society’s executive met on 24th January to consider the complaints. It accepted the statement from the officers that they acted in good faith. Nevertheless, the committee determined that the national society’s bye-laws require a vote of members in the re-selection of a mayoral candidate and therefore concluded that the Newham Fabians nomination had breached the society’s rules. 

The national Fabian Society has instructed the new officers of Newham Fabians to write to their members to inform them of these conclusions and offer apologies on behalf of Newham Fabian Society. It will also provide support and supervision to the new officers in their future administration of the society. 

The Labour Party has been informed of the outcome of the society’s review. Any further inquiries about the Newham trigger ballot should be directed to the party.

So the rules were broken in order to deliver a vital extra vote to Sir Robin.

The officers in question were councillors Tahmina Rahman and Unmesh Desai. But who is (or was?) the Fabian’s delegate to East Ham CLP? And, given Newham Fabians hadn’t met for four years prior to last month’s re-launch AGM, who nominated them?

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.