Labour AGM: First names on the teamsheet

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THE Labour AGM always has its winners and losers, however they decide to handle the edgy issue of choosing who should have a seat at Camden’s council cabinet. Maybe it could be described as a nice headache for leader Sarah Hayward to have, as she looks across a room of so many councillors. But voting in your best team from a squad of 40 is a headache nonetheless, and the larger the group, inevitably, the harder it is to please everyone.

And so it was that the election glory glow was dimmed a little among some of the last week’s winners as the spoils were divided up internally on Wednesday evening. Ears pricked straight away when Sue Vincent, a former deputy leader at the Town Hall lest not forget, was removed from the planning chair role. It was hard to see where she had put a foot wrong in what from the outside looks like a pretty thankless role. But the group opted for former mayor Heather Johnson instead, a choice apparently sold, rightly or wrongly, as a match-up between a candidate pledging to squeeze the most out of developers and one who as looking to curb their excesses.

There was joy for Georgia Gould, rewarded for not scarpering off to be an MP as the whispers said she would, and Sally Gimson, who very publicly did have such scarpering in mind but still ended up with the top vote in Highgate, and is therefore entitled to say to this week: So, nerrr. Both were elevated to the cabinet.

Jonathan Simpson meanwhile moved up too. He would eat his own knuckles, you get the impression, if he was left feeling frozen out on the backbenches, having failed in previous attempts to land a cabinet role and now accustom to being bigger news after two very successful stints as mayor.

It all meant Nash Ali, who was leading the whole show two years ago, dropped onto those now crowded backbenches, a democratically-decided demotion which has left a lump in the throat among friends who at one time wondered whether he should ever have been challenged for the number one role in the first place. 

Sarah, however, has been more dynamic and holds the power. As said in the last post, harking back to that heady night when she took control in 2012 and the thinness of her original victory is becoming less and less worthwhile, for the Haywardites now outnumber the Tulipistas. This was said to be the reason that members did not vote in bigger numbers for Thomas Gardiner, who has waited long enough for a turn in a senior role. A couple of sources said his rally for cabinet had been somehow hampered by the mess in Kilburn last year when Mike Katz  – let’s hazard a guess and call Mike a Sarah backer – was de-selected in their ward. Thomas has always said he was as shocked as everyone else when Mike was ditched from the ticket.

Any arguments that the group is still split down these grounds was clearly lost on some of the new influx, a few of whom were perplexed to find themselves straight off the bat being bombarded by politicking for positions. There was also the retention of Maryam Eslamdoust as licensing chair for the conspiracy-busters to fall back on.

As Sarah noted, despite losing Tulip Siddiq and Valerie Leach, the cabinet retains its 50/50 gender split, a clear positive in a layer of government overloaded with men. The complaint surfacing by some today, however, was that it had suddenly got whiter with the loss of Nash and Tulip and the failed bid by Samata Khatoon to get in. The figures do apparently show, though, that Abdul Hai was the most popular councillor in the first round of cabinet votes.

It’s a discussion for another day, perhaps, while we wait to see how the new top table gets on.

But there’s time for one final thought before bed, and that surely must be the message new councillor Angela Pober immediately sent out by reportedly putting in her own application for a cabinet seat, this just days after her maiden win in West Hampstead. As impressive as the Labour earthquake in the north west was, it’s a plucky thing to do so very early on in a council career. Mark your cards, folks, there’s a bit of ambition there.


5 Comments on Labour AGM: First names on the teamsheet

  1. Camden Angel // May 30, 2014 at 2:40 pm //

    Sarah Hayward is surrounding herself with people she is comfortable who all happen to be white and very, very middle class.


  2. Paul Grant // May 30, 2014 at 3:16 pm //

    Not all of them are white and how do you know the background of the people involved?


  3. Camden Angel // May 30, 2014 at 8:00 pm //

    Paul Grant seems to know a lot. I am happy to be corrected who did Tory Sarah choose as her token ethnic minority? Plus u can watch council meetings on the internet & it is easy to tell that she is choosing middle class white people unless they are weirdos who put on silly voices.


  4. Stephen Wilkes // May 31, 2014 at 8:33 pm //

    What I find really amazing is that Cllr Sarah Hayward is getting so much praise for increasing the Labour majority on the Council by 10 seats during a time when Lib Dem seats are collapsing across the country.

    However Cllr Nasim Ali won 15 seats for Labour in 2010 when Labour was losing seats across the country.

    Is it prejudice or racism that ensured that Cllr Ali did not get the praise he deserves.

    Even people within the Labour Party did not believe Camden Labour would win those seats in. 2010 but Councillor Ali did not give up.

    Cllr Ali Cabinet was a very diverse one that was representative of Camden with good gender and ethnicity balance.

    This new Cabinet is too middle class, white with the token BME member.

    Why did the Camden New Journal praise Cllr Ali the way they are reporting Cllr Hayward’s achievements???

    I have spoken to lots to people from different communities and they agree with my sentiments.


    • Richard Osley // May 31, 2014 at 8:41 pm //

      In defence of our paper, to say we did not cover Nash is a little unfair, in fact he was on the front page twice after the win in 2010 – most notably with the promise to stop selling council homes. We also did an in depth feature on his background and the work he had done before being a councillor in the community. In his year as Mayor, he was rarely out of our pages due to the number of commitments he made.


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