HARINGEY COUNCILLORS have postponed until May a final decision on the controversial redevelopment that would scrap seven council estates and transfer £2 billion of property assets to a joint venture. By then, a very different looking Labour Group is likely to formally end the project.
The decision came after Labour’s NEC, now with a clear left majority for the first time, urged a rethink. Claire Kober, Haringey council leader, announced her resignation, alleging bullying by the left, accusations widely reported in the media as part of a takeover by Momentum and the ‘hard left’.
In fact, the truth was somewhat different. According to detailed reports of Labour’s NEC, it wasn’t Momentum supporters but the trade union delegates who raised the HDV, fearing it would hit local authority workers’ pay and conditions. The NEC’s local government representative, Nick Forbes, offered to mediate and a motion was agreed, urging that no final decision on the HDV be taken until after May’s local elections.
This was passed unanimously, which makes the open letter criticising the decision in the most hostile language to the Sunday Times a few days later all the stranger - as Forbes was touting for signatures across local government to lament an intervention of which he was an author.
In a widely circulated series of tweets, Seema Chandwani, secretary of Tottenham CLP, suggested Claire Kober was conflating her perception of sexist bullying with widespread opposition to the HDV. Seema tweeted: “The comments Ms Kober has made about new members are seriously unfair. I'd respect it a bit more if she spent any time with them. Ms Kober has never attended one social event, one fundraiser or one new members’ event in four years. She rarely joins us campaigning.
“It takes two to build a relationship and slagging off members in a newspaper is not leadership. We all have different constraints on our time, but if you can lunch with property developer PR agents ten times who attack our MP on social media, you can at least come to one quiz night. Sexism is a serious allegation and Ms Kober cited a couple of incidents, one where someone sang a Sting song to her from the public gallery. This was at a public meeting (CLPs don't have public galleries). Why has Momentum or Corbyn been blamed for this?”