After ousting Labour’s council leader in Haringey, Momentum and its allies are hoping to do the same in Newham.
An article in the Canary signals the start of an assault on Labour’s east end enclave as the hard left begins its second London campaign to oust long-serving local councillors who are deemed ideologically impure.
Newham has the third highest levels of child poverty in the UK, figures from the End Child Poverty coalition show. The Alt-left site’s article goes on to list other measures which show that Newham’s residents are struggling, including higher levels of debt, more people renting private accommodation, and above average levels of violent crime.
Instead of criticising the Tories’ cuts to police budgets, failure to build enough homes and tackle unfair practices in the private rented sector, or cuts to welfare, the article blames the local Labour council.
Local councils have seen their budgets cut by more than 40% since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, with the poorest areas facing the biggest cuts. Newham has seen half its budget slashed. Despite this, the London borough gone further than any other council in tackling rogue landlords (prosecuting over 1,200 and 25 letting agents), introducing universal free school meals before the Government introduced the policy, and providing children in poverty with musical instruments and free lessons.
But sensing an opportunity to remove another local Labour administration whose approach has been too ‘pragmatic’, The Canary decided to omit any mention of George Osborne’s assault on local government.
Robin Wales, Labour Mayor of Newham, is facing a reselection battle after members voted for an open selection in a trigger ballot which closed on Sunday. The process began in January, after Labour Party lawyers overruled the previous trigger ballot held in 2016, which Wales won, in the face of a legal challenge.
Wales, who is seeking a fifth term, and Momentum-back local councillor Rokhsana Fiaz are the only declared candidates currently, with applications closing midday on Monday 19th. Ballots will open on 1st March and close on the 16th, with the result being announced that afternoon. The successful candidate will then face the public in the local elections on 3rd May. With Labour taking all 60 seats in 2014, whoever triumphs amongst Labour members will be odds on favourite to win the Mayoralty.