The Sunday Times has published another shoddy anti-Momentum article today, hard on the heels of its self-embarrassment last week about Haringey council and its widely-hated ‘HDV’ (Haringey Development Vehicle) plan to evict thousands of council tenants and transfer their homes to a private company – and this week’s effort is on the same topic.
The Sunday Times today features a letter supposedly sent by Labour council leaders protesting against ‘interference’ – amounting to a potential ‘declaration of war‘ according to its author – by Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) on local councils:
The article quotes Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes and contains the text of a letter supposedly sent by a number of council leaders objecting to the Labour NEC’s (National Executive Committee) alleged attempt to “interfere in or influence” Haringey council’s plan.
The authenticity of some of the signatures on the letter have already been cast into doubt by the denial issued by Camden council leader Georgia Gould, who says she explicitly informed the letter’s creators that she did not want her name on it – yet it appeared in the Sunday Times and was only removed after her denial.
There are other, even more problematic, aspects to the letter. First, it was not ‘sent’ by the council leaders. An email sent in Forbes’ name went round to council leaders all over the country on Friday and Saturday, pleading with them to add their names to his letter:
I would be very grateful if you would add your name to the strong support that other leaders have given to endorsing the vital principle of Labour Group independence.
The letter speaks of the Haringey council leader’s ‘inspirational leadership’, but that subjective assessment is called into question by the fact that Cllr Kober last year faced a vote of no confidence among councillors and was described by local Labour MP David Lammy as “out of touch and high-handed”.
There was also a controversy around her reselection as a council candidate for May’s local elections – such a serious controversy that the whole executive of the local constituency Labour party (CLP) referred itself to the NEC and asked them to investigate.
Arguing with himself?
But the most perplexing facet of all is the fact that, according to Labour sources, Forbes, who is himself a member of the NEC, was touting for signatures to a letter of protest – against his own motion.
A highly-placed Labour source told the SKWAWKBOX:
The original motion that the NEC was going to send to Haringey was far more strongly worded and Nick objected to that wording. So during a break, he went off with others to put together a new version that simply asked Haringey to mediate before proceeding with the HDV.
They all came back with a new version of the motion that Nick said he was happy with – and nobody, including Nick, voted against it.
The changes compared to the original motion were substantial because of Nick’s objections, so it’s basically his own motion. How can he be gathering signatures against it?
Mediation is the very least the people of Haringey deserve from the council – many of whom will not even be councillors after May. The council leader and her supporters are well aware that the local community is opposed to the plan so there’s no justification at all for trying to push it through before the local elections change the council’s make-up.
The Sunday Times also embarrassed itself by calling the NEC’s motion by misrepresenting what the NEC had done. The Murdoch publication claimed that
Last week, the committee voted to tell Labour-controlled Haringey council in north London to halt a controversial £2bn housing scheme fiercely opposed by Momentum.
The NEC, of course, did not ‘tell’ Haringey council to ‘halt’ anything, but – in the motion built around Forbes’ own requirements – merely asked the council to submit to mediation before proceeding.
The Sunday Times has again failed to do itself any credit, but Cllr Forbes’ self-contradicting actions appear extraordinary. It remains to be seen whether the paper or any of the other MSM will draw attention to facts of the matter as they should.
Cllr Forbes was asked for comment but had not responded by the time of publication.
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