Haringey Momentum has failed to stop sitting Councillor Barbara Blake – who was deselected earlier this year – taking the place of outgoing council leader Claire Kober in Kober’s Seven Sisters ward.
Blake’s move to Seven Sisters is a blow to Momentum in the ongoing war between rival Labour factions in the north London borough.
Blake is currently a sitting councillor for St Ann’s – the ward represented by controversial councillor Noah Tucker which is firmly in the hands of the hardest of the hard left.
After Blake was deselected she publicly complained that the system for selecting Labour candidates is unfair because councillors are prevented from canvassing support amongst members until their candidacy is officially challenged.
Haringey Momentum, meanwhile, had been phoning Labour members for months to build support for trigger ballots which would enable Momentum-backed candidates to challenge Labour incumbents.
Momentum effectively had a head start in an electoral contest it ended up winning comfortably.
Blake’s public expression of dissatisfaction promoted a complaint from Seema Chandwani – Tottenham CLP Secretary, joint chair of the national Conference Arrangements Committee and Procedures Secretary of the Haringey Local Campaign Forum – which resulted in the LCF removing Blake from the candidates’ panel.
Chandwani has a history of attacking those in the Labour Party with whom she disagrees:
Coming from a man who calls people 'hard-left' as a means of slagging of anyone who voted for Corbyn?! 🤣🤣🤣
Oh I do love you Luke, you're my fave "neo-liberal hard-right' clown 😘😘😘 (Hope you're well?) https://t.co/yWTAKshAtQ
— Seema Chandwani ™ (@SeemaChandwani) February 26, 2018
— Seema Chandwani ™ (@SeemaChandwani) February 11, 2018
— Seema Chandwani ™ (@SeemaChandwani) February 4, 2018
But she doesn’t enjoy being the subject of criticism herself.
Her complaint was rejected last week, however, at a gruelling three hour hearing chaired by Anne Black (who was replaced as chair of Labour’s disputes panel in controversial circumstances last month)
A panel of three chaired by Black unanimously rejected Chandwani’s complaint and found for Blake – who was this week selected as Kober’s replacement in Seven Sisters.
Still with us? This matters because although the majority of Haringey Labour candidates are from the hard left, the split between the neo-Stalinist faction associated with Noah Tucker and the rest of Momentum’s slate is growing wider by the day
Moderate Labour councillors are likely to be a minority after next May’s local elections but they could end up being the kingmakers in the new council all the same.
There has been intense infighting within Momentum over the forthcoming manifesto which is based around five promises – each of which is being slated by some councillors as either undeliverable or underwhelming. The manifesto promises include a plan to abolish council tax for low earners and extend free school meals to every child of primary school age.
Haringey’s hard left have also been accused of using the same tactics they accused Labour HQ of adopting in the 2017 general election – namely employing a defensive strategy and failing to devise a plan to win seats from their opponents.
On the ground, hard left candidates have struggled to persuade campaigners to turn out in large numbers to knock on doors.
As a result, Labour Party members who were targeting Lib Dem seats are now being redirected to the safe Labour seats Momentum-backed candidates are contesting.
Momentum’s Haringey coup is also being raised on the doorstep, according to local activists.
At a recent branch meeting one canvasser was asked how to respond to voters who asked about the takeover and was told to attend a training event.
At the same meeting, the hard left attempted to ban any public criticism of Momentum – a move which failed when members instead voted to endorse the Labour party’s social media guidelines.
It seems unlikely however that Haringey’s result will be anything other than a Labour landslide – recent polling puts Labour on well over 50% in the capital – and the two general elections since the last locals have seen the Lib Dem vote first tumble and then crater.