Labour suspended its own rules to bar popular socialist candidates from standing in yesterday’s election in Haringey. Members of its Local Campaign Forum explain why they have resigned following this latest attack on democracy.

I very much agree with the sentiments of John Trickett’s recent Tribune and Morning Star articles, but he should note that the purge of left candidates for public office is not just a northern phenomenon.

I am a Labour Unions (TULO) representative on Haringey Labour’s Local Campaign Forum (LCF). Currently, the borough of Haringey and, therefore, the LCF covers two Constituency Labour Parties (CLP), Hornsey & Wood Green and Tottenham. Under Labour Party rules, the LCF plays a central role in drawing up lists of potential candidates and running the selection process to allow members to choose their candidates for borough elections.

In the period 2016/17, Haringey Council’s leadership embarked on what became a notorious plan to privatise most of the Council’s property portfolio called, in what was clearly a misnomer, the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV). Such was the opposition to the HDV in the two CLPs that a coalition spanning differing political views was put together to mobilise for the selection in the 2018 borough elections of candidates who would oppose the HDV.

In this, we were successful. The then council leader resigned and was replaced by Joe Ejiofor, who became possibly the most senior male Black African politician in local government in the country. Haringey was dubbed the first ‘Corbyn council’.

Soon after the fall of Corbyn in 2019, a decision must have been made by a group that had always opposed the Corbyn leadership that they would take back control of the council in 2022 by fair means or foul. They chose foul.

Contrary to party rules, the LCF in Haringey has been totally side-lined for the past two or three years. The real seat of authority seems to reside with a secret shadow LCF, a cabal of local right-wingers, including some inside the council chamber, and the London Regional Office of the Labour Party.

To start with, Ejiofor had to go. Some of those who became councillors on the back of opposition to the HDV changed sides, perhaps because of the demise of Corbyn and the rise of Starmer. Joe was voted out as Leader at the Labour Group’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) and subsequently barred by the Regional Office from standing for reselection as a council candidate.

It is with the candidate selection process that all democratic norms in Haringey were traduced by the Labour Party Regional Office.

Firstly, the Regional Office took over all the functions of the LCF, including drawing up the list of potential candidates; the Regional Office list, of course, had a majority of names deemed after ‘due diligence’ to be ‘suitable’ Labour candidates of a ‘high standard’—that is, those with no track record of supporting the Corbyn agenda.  

Secondly, having got a list with the majority of their favoured sons and daughters, the Regional Office, not the elected LCF, then ran the selection meetings of members in all of the wards across the borough.

The outcome of these two measures meant that Labour went into the 2022 borough elections with a mainly sanitised list of candidates, with a handful of surviving leftists consigned to ‘unwinnable’ seats in the west of the borough. However, when given the opportunity, the electorate voted in three of these western exiles. Nonetheless, the outcome of the borough elections was that if the Council was ‘Corbyn’ in 2018, it was ‘Starmer’ in 2022.

As an ex officio member of Labour’s London Regional Executive Committee until last year, I raised what was going on in Haringey and asked why it was being allowed to happen. I was invariably told by the Regional Director that there were reasons that she couldn’t divulge publicly—but she was never able to tell me privately either.

The negation of democracy continues to this day. In a council by-election held yesterday, it was the Regional Office that invited applications from those interested in standing and then appointed a panel to choose the candidate, cutting out the elected LCF and even the local branch members in the process.

There is little point in being elected to one of Labour’s constitutional committees charged with making arrangements for the election of members to public office if that committee’s work is subverted by shadow forces, including paid officials of the Labour Party. Essentially, the elected members are in office but not in power.

Therefore, I have today, together with Hornsey & Wood Green CLP Chair Anne O’Daly, Vice-chair Edwin Darfi and Haringey LCF Secretary Jill Pack, resigned from Labour’s Haringey Local Campaign Forum.

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