The SKWAWKBOX has covered at length the battle in the London borough of Enfield between a broad coalition of Labour members and officials from all wings of the party and a group they allege has taken over the council by anti-democratic means.
Those means included huge – and at least partially admitted – departures from proper procedure in the selection of council candidates overseen by the Labour officer who is now council leader – and the ‘coup’ resulted in the deselection of every sitting black councillor, as well as in the selection and ultimately election of councillors who failed to pass selection interviews.
Members across the borough, as well as the council’s deputy leader and around half of its Cabinet, called on Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) to investigate and intervene – and aspects of the story broken exclusively by the SKWAWKBOX were picked up by national media last weekend.
Now Nesil Caliskan, the council’s Labour leader whose family is close to local MP Joan Ryan, has broken silence on the issue to defend the selection process – but has angered members by making another claim they say is untrue.
An email sent by Ms Caliskan to local Labour members dismisses criticisms of the process and of her part in it as ‘false accusations’ in the ‘right-wing press’ and a mere ‘attempt to damage the Labour council’.
It also claims that the selection interviews were conducted completely by independent panels of interviewers:
Members applying to be candidates were interviewed by completely independent panels comprised of three Labour members from outside Enfield, which the local party had no control over.
But this is not the case.
LCF (local campaign forum) Chair Ian Hamilton, who jointly managed the selection process with Ms Caliskan, interviewed no fewer than six local Enfield candidates. This was neither within the rules nor ‘completely independent…from outside Enfield’.
This information was not disclosed to LCF delegates. Hamilton’s direct participation in the candidate interviews only came to light during an audit of the interview notes. The audit had been ordered by LCF delegates because a number of complaints had been made about multiple irregularities occurring during the interview, shortlisting and selection stages.
The Skwawkbox understands that some of the candidates who passed interviews conducted by Hamilton went on to become councillors – and therefore part of the group that then ousted the popular council leader to install Ms Caliskan as his replacement.
A furious LCF delegate told this blog:
We feel cheated. We endorsed the candidates on the basis that the information Nesil and Ian Hamilton provided us with was true. I never would have voted to endorse had I known that one of them was secretly involved in the interviews.
Why did they hide this from us? I didn’t think things could get any worse, but now Caliskan is sending out emails to all party members telling flat out lies.
Ms Caliskan has indicated that she will not take calls about what she calls ‘smears’. Ian Hamilton hung up when told that it was the SKWAWKBOX contacting him for comment and an attempt to reconnect was not answered.
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