In July Claire Kober, the leader of Haringey Council in London, was forced to fight off a vote of no confidence by fellow councillors after accusations of ‘social cleansing’ resulting from the highly controversial ‘Haringey Development Vehicle’ (HDV).
The HDV is a public-private property development partnership that locals claim has been pushed through without consulting them and will damage the local community. Locals have tried to fight it in court and a local councillor has said he is so disgusted by Ms Kober’s behaviour, including alleged ‘interference’ in council candidate selections, that he will step down as a councillor rather than stand alongside her as a candidate in next spring’s local elections.
So it was with some delight that right-wing Labour figures greeted the reselection of Ms Kober – who was supported by the right-wing Evening Standard – as the council candidate for Seven Sisters ward. However, there were also tweets by locals expressing disquiet about how that reselection was achieved.
The reasons for the disquiet have been passed to the SKWAWKBOX – and the allegations, if true, are indeed disturbing.
The likely timetable for candidate selections, in wards across the country where local elections will be contested next May, has been known for some time. In autumn 2016, a suspicious spike in memberships was noted in Seven Sisters ward by the executive of Tottenham CLP (constituency Labour party) – around sixty-five new members over a 2-week period, with twenty on a single day.
The most suspicious factor was the high incidence of whole families joining at once and recording the same mobile number and email address for all members of the family, including teenagers. The email addresses were business ones, not personal ones. All were reduced (concessionary) membership and paid through a single credit card transaction.
The matter was reported to Labour’s London region and to compliance by the Tottenham ‘exec’, who advised that no action could be taken on the basis of shared email addresses and mobile numbers.
Apparently, none of the new members turned up for any branch activities.
In December 2016, the LCF (local campaign forum) met and began discussing a timetable for selection. Locals allege that Ms Kober surprised the meeting by insisting on a timetable that would not begin until September 2017 – and that she had canvassed support for this and it was agreed, by a majority of one vote.
This commencement date meant that the new members in Seven Sisters would be able to vote in the selection because they joined before the January freeze date. However, the new members were also due to lapse a year after they had joined.
By the time selections were due to begin all were due to renew their subscriptions. They began lapsing or falling into arrears in large numbers. In October 2017, locals allege that Ms Kober began lobbying the LCF to hurry the selections. Even though, the initial stage of selection was still incomplete, Ms Kober allegedly wrote to the LCF repeatedly, arguing that selections needed to begin without delay.
On the night of the Seven Sisters shortlisting meeting more than forty ‘in arrears’ members paid at the door of the meeting to bring their membership fees up to date. Witnesses present at the meeting say that whole families with ‘bewildered-looking’ teens arrived and over £700 in cash was handed over – some alleged as much as £1,000:
Ms Kober won the selection vote.
Local members insist that the circumstances surrounding Ms Kober’s reselection are suspicious. It appears that there is enough cause for concern that Labour’s regional office and the local board should investigate and, if suspicions prove to be well-founded, re-run the selection meeting ensuring that only bona fide members participate.
Ms Kober was contacted for comment. At the time of publication, some six hours after the deadline offered, she has not responded.
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