Right-wing tries to abandon manoeuvre after media spotlight and member anger gives some cold feet – but council’s left members insist vote be held anyway
Earlier this week the SKWAWKBOX revealed right-wing manoeuvres in the borough of Haringey that had been condemned as a ‘racist coup‘ against London’s only black council leader, Joe Ejiofor.
Right-wing Labour councillors and their allies had called an ’emergency’ meeting – just days after a private meeting between Labour leader Keir Starmer and the Haringey right and in the absence of any emergency – to hold a no-confidence vote in Cllr Ejiofor, in spite of his successes and popularity with local Labour members. Abuse directed toward Ejiofor included tweets comparing him to an African military dictator and a chimpanzee.
Shockingly, Labour’s London regional office intervened to protect councillors involved from media scrutiny – even one councillor who has been suspended over complaints of antisemitic and threatening language (toward Haringey’s elderly Jewish mayor for her agreement with Ejiofor over postponing the date of the council’s next annual meeting because of the pandemic) and is now sitting as an independent councillor and is not a Labour one.
But the glare of publicity, a string of messages from angry members and the outrage of the more than 2,000 people who signed a petition condemning the manoeuvre seems to have resulted in cold feet among the right – because the SKWAWKBOX has been informed by local sources that they tried to pull the no-confidence vote from the meeting’s agenda.
However, realising that this attempt to abort the coup was a sign that it no longer had enough councillors brave enough to back it, left-wingers on the council insisted that the confidence vote proceed.
In spite of their appeals to the party’s regional office representative present at the meeting, the right-wingers were unable to prevent the vote going ahead – because they had tabled it and now two of the left had proposed and seconded the ballot.
Even though the vote was being run as a secret ballot, only one right-winger was brave enough to cast a vote against the council leader – and the rest abstained, leading to a 17-1 vote expressing confidence in Cllr Ejiofor.
The result was a humiliation for those involved in the attempted ‘coup’, who were forced to make do with the consolation prize of a September date for the group’s AGM instead of the original May next year. However, since the overwhelming confidence result came after the vote on the AGM date and the ’emergency’ was not an emergency, there is a strong case for disregarding the result of the AGM vote, since the excuse for the no-confidence attempt was Ejiofor’s and Mayor Sheila Peacock’s decision to hold the next AGM in May.
But the embarrassing result for the right should not be allowed to distract from the scandal of a Labour regional office defending right-wing councillors when the left-wing council leader had been subjected to racial abuse – even more so when one of those defended is not even a Labour councillor because of a suspension over allegations of antisemitism and threatening language.
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