Progress director Richard Angell appalled Twitter users this afternoon with a tweet in which he used the tragic death of ‘baby P’ in an argument about Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) decision to ask – they did not ‘tell’ – Haringey council to pause the progress of a controversial transfer of council housing to a private developer.
When challenged over his support for the letter, the HDV and the council leader behind it, Angell responded by using the death of the tragic toddler to shore up his argument:
The angry response was widespread and more or less immediate.
Some, however, had a different – if no more flattering – perspective:
Others – rightly – challenged Angell’s claim that the ‘HDV’ involves social housing, without neglecting the obvious:
According to journalist Aditya Chakrabortty, the HDV contains no provision for social housing, but instead contains only vague references to the completely different ‘Affordable Housing’ – shot through with so many get-out clauses as to be meaningless.
The definition of Affordable Housing, according to homelessness charity Shelter is:
The SKWAWKBOX understands that several complaints have been made to Labour’s ‘compliance unit’ about Mr Angell’s comment.
We contacted Mr Angell to ask:
Your tweet today about the HDV and Baby P seems extraordinarily ill-judged, not to say crass.
1. the NEC was centrist-dominated at the time of P’s death.
2. Since he died, wouldn’t it have been better if the NEC had been aware and intervened?
3. George Meehan, the council leader at the time, was told by the party to resign or be sacked
4. The HDV is not to rebuild social/council housing. It has a very unclear ‘Affordable Housing’ clause but that’s entirely different as you will be aware.
5. I understand the comment has already been reported to compliance. Will you apologise and retract?
Comments? By return pls if you’d like them included
Richard Angell, director of Progress – Labour’s centre left pressure group said:
Many of those in last week’s discussion on Haringey were on the NEC back when Haringey was failing its poorest and most vulnerable resident, including the new chair of Disputes Committee. The left faction on the NEC at the time did not take a view, nor try to call in the decision-making of the local party. The party can have a view on the performance of a local council, not seek to run it – for good or bad. Their autonomy is important, it is councillors not the NEC who have legal obligations and their accountability is to the public and local members. Today’s letter from council leaders makes this point strongly. They contrast the well run council Haringey now is and its fast improving schools with the council Claire Kober took over after the failures around Baby P came to light.
“At this time Labour was in government, it was the Secretary of State who intervened not the Labour party. This is an important distinction, one NEC members should also draw. “There are huge differences about the HDV but the clear intention of the administration is to improve social housing in the borough. People who suggest otherwise are not just disingenuous but wilfully contorting the actions of comrades who sign up to the Clause Four values of our party. The NEC who discussed this matter with no notice, paper work, representation from the council clearly cannot have considered all of the facts and have played into the hands of the Liberal Democrats locally – another first.
Mr Angell’s comments about the powers of the NEC understates the clear wording of the party’s rules, which state:
The NEC’s right to act as it did seems beyond question according to Labour’s own rules. Readers will form their own judgment about the decision by the director of Labour’s main Blairite pressure group to ‘weaponise’ the memory of the tragic ‘Baby P’ to argue a contrary position.
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