Cllr Joe Ejiofor has been praised by local members and councillors for progress in fulfilling Haringey Labour’s manifesto pledges, but Labour right has scheduled ‘unconstitutional’ meeting with expensive secret ballot in attempt to retake control of Labour-run council
Right-wing Labour councillors in Labour-run Haringey are staging what opponents have termed a ‘racist coup attempt’ against London’s only black council leader at an ’emergency’ meeting on Wednesday evening.
Cllr Joe Ejiofor has been praised by local members for making considerable progress in meeting the Labour group’s manifesto promises in spite of Tory cuts and enjoys strong support among local members. In accordance with the group’s rules – and in line with the national party’s decision to postpone its annual conference because of the coronavirus pandemic – he and Haringey’s mayor had agreed to hold the group’s next annual meeting (AGM) in May next year.
However, right-wingers have called an ’emergency’ meeting – what the ’emergency’ is supposed to be seems unclear – to bring a no-confidence motion against Ejiofor at a cost, according to local sources, of around £400 to local council taxpayers to fund an independent organisation’s handling of a secret ballot on the motion.
‘Consistent racist attacks’
A petition started by local Labour members, which has gathered almost 1,700 signatures in the short time since it was launched, describes the move as a ‘racist coup attempt’. It states:
We stand with Joe Ejiofor against attempted leadership coup
We stand with Tottenham councillor Joe Ejiofor, London’s only black council leader, against the attempt to overthrow him while people’s backs are turned owing to the global pandemic.
Joe has come under consistent racist attacks since he took over being depicted as an African dictator, a monkey and various other racist tropes, now like the 2 black leaders of Haringey came before he is facing challenges from inside his own party.
Since Joe has been council leader he has made significant progress towards implementation of the 2018 Haringey Labour Manifesto which residents overwhelmingly supported. While much work remains to be done, the achievements of the council range from cancelling the Haringey Development vehicle, to raising the pay of care workers to the level of the London Living Wage, to making a start on bringing council services in-house, and delivering hundreds of new council homes at council rents.
All of these achievements demonstrate that Joe is a successful leader redistributing wealth and power across the borough and using his position to improve the lives of the residents of Haringey.
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the vital role local authorities play in providing the services on which all of us, and especially the most vulnerable in our communities. Haringey Council has stepped up to provide vital care and other services to the people of Haringey during the crisis.
That work must continue as lockdown starts to ease, financial support to individuals and businesses from central government is removed, landlords resume evictions, unemployment rises, poverty worsens and those who rely on universal credit are once again subjected to punitive sanctions.
There is no justification in changing the leadership of the Council, and are concerned that this could result in rowing back on the improvements already made to peoples lives.
The Labour Party has recently come under criticism for inadequate representation of Black people in positions of power.
We are asking people to sign this petition to Labour Councillors in Haringey to vote against the motion of no confidence on Wednesday.
One tweet by a local right-wing Labour figure criticise Ejiofor alongside images of a chimpanzee, while another by the same individual depicts him as an African military dictator:
Antisemitic abuse and physical threats have also been directed at Haringey mayor Sheila Peacock, a Jewish woman in her eighties, despite belonging to the right of the party herself, for agreeing the AGM date with Ejiofor.
The executives of two local constituency Labour parties (CLPS), Tottenham and Hornsey and Wood Green, have also approved – almost unanimously, including branch officers – a joint statement condemning the manoeuvering by a small group of right-wing councillors:
Noting that there is a proposal for a ‘vote of no confidence in the Leader’ on the agenda for a meeting of Haringey Labour Group this Wednesday, we the undersigned members of the Executive Committee of Tottenham and Hornsey and Wood Green CLPs wish to make clear our opposition to this motion.
We note that Haringey Council’s Labour administration has made significant progress towards implementation of the 2018 Haringey Labour Manifesto and congratulate the Council’s Labour leadership on this. While much work remains to be done, the achievements of the administration range from cancelling the Haringey Development Vehicle, to raising the pay of care workers to the level of the London Living Wage, to making a start on bringing council services in-house, to delivering hundreds of new council homes at council rents.
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the vital role Labour local authorities play in providing the services on which all of us, and especially the most vulnerable in our communities, rely. We are proud of the way that Haringey Council has stepped up to provide vital care and other services to the people of Haringey during the crisis. That work must continue as lockdown starts to ease, financial support to individuals and businesses from central government is removed, landlords resume evictions, unemployment rises, poverty worsens and those who rely on universal credit are once again subjected to punitive sanctions.
We do not accept that there is any justification in changing the leadership of the Council and are concerned that this could result in rowing back on the commitments in our 2018 Haringey Labour Manifesto.
We call on all Labour councillors in Haringey to vote against the motion of no confidence on Wednesday.
We note that Haringey Leader Joe Ejiofor is the only Black Council Leader in London, and see great value in having in Haringey a diverse leadership team at a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has focussed attention on the need to address profound racial inequalities and discrimination in our society.
We call on Labour councillors to work together with Labour Party members and the administration to deliver the full manifesto and to provide the additional support needed to address the challenges thrown up by the pandemic.
A senior Haringey Labour source told the SKWAWKBOX:
This is a manoeuvre driven by the right’s opportunism. They think that with Keir Starmer running the party it’s their time to re-take control and they certainly seem to be getting the assistance of regional Labour officials. But the meeting has no basis – there’s no ’emergency’ and no grounds for calling an emergency meeting.
The behaviour toward Joe Ejiofor and Sheila Peacock has been appalling. Sheila’s on the right of the party so her agreement with Joe on a date can hardly be called factional, but these councillors are just not willing to bide their time until May so they’re pulling this disgraceful stunt.
It’s a blatant factional attack on a good council leader, with racism in the mix.
In 2018, ‘centrist’ Haringey councillors resigned amid complaints of a ‘take-over’, rather than face a vote of members on whether to endorse their candidacy – in spite of complaints of social cleansing against right-wing former council leader for her support for the ‘HDV’ housing development that would have forced thousands of Haringey council tenants and their families out of their homes.
Kober also admitted preparing ‘dossiers’ against left-wing councillors and opponents of the HDV, yet cast herself as the victim of ‘bullying’.
As has been the case around the country and in the national party, the Labour right is now eagerly engaging in the behaviour it claimed was the province of the left.
The councillors said to be involved in the ‘coup’ have been invited to comment. Further details will be published once the deadline for comment has expired.
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