Some good news and some bad news for Momentum’s Tom Peters this week. The good news is he starts a new job as John McDonnell’s political advisor on Monday. The bad news? He failed in his bid to be selected as a Labour candidate for Haringey council.
Peters won 47 votes from Labour members in the leafy north London suburb of Muswell Hill – 28 fewer than this nearest ‘moderate’ rival. Momentum has successfully taken over Haringey, after activists deselected a swathe of Labour councillors. But it couldn’t manage a clean sweep in Muswell Hill, where just one of three of its council candidates won the right to stand in London elections next May.
One of London’s finest Victorian and Edwardian suburbs, N10 used to be rock-solid Tory territory – but a growing population of bohemians and arty-types has given it the nickname “Muesli Hill’. An influx of Guardian readers and media professionals – Robert Peston calls Muswell Hill home – means N10 is now an enclave for liberals who would like to live in nearby Hampstead but can’t afford to. Tory dominance is fading as the retired accountants and solicitors move out or die off and the battle for political dominance is now being fought between Labour and the Lib Dems.
There is every reason to think Labour could pick up all three seats this time – having won back one from the Lib Dems in 2014. Rich pickings for Momentum, in theory. But in practice, only one member of Jeremy Corbyn’s Pretorian guard was selected this week. The successful candidate was Pete Chalk – who was a leading light of the “Chartist Collective”, a rather odd post-Trotskyist group made up former members of the International Marxist Group who chose not to follow its former leader Tariq Ali when he briefly turned IMG into a political force on the left in the late 1960s. Chalk is now experiencing his first political comeback since the second Summer of Love.
Yet more proof, as if it were needed, that if you wait long enough even the most ridiculous political fads come back into fashion.
Image by Philafrenzy (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons