Monday, 5 February 2018

The Grotesque Chaos of Claire Kober’s Haringey

Guest post from David Osland

The resignation of a council leader would normally be no biggie. I mean, I’m guessing entirely here, but presumably that happens in towns or cities across Britain several times a year, for one reason or another.

These things usually merit a run of front pages in the local press, and perhaps a short mention or two nationally. They are then swiftly forgotten, as just another ego-driven municipal hissy fit over a bypass or an over-budget leisure centre.

All of that makes the events surrounding Claire Kober’s departure in Haringey simply extraordinary.

On a charitable construal, perhaps her course of action was forced upon her, following the incursion of Labour’s National Executive Committee onto her home turf.

But now she’s gone, there’s little point in mincing words. Kober had lost the confidence of both the majority of local residents and the majority of local Labour activists and members, including both of Haringey’s not particularly leftist Labour MPs.

Her leadership was over anyway, and she knew it. Had she the party’s best interests at heart, she could have opted to go with dignity, a carriage clock, a lucrative consultancy job, and the promise of an eventual OBE.

Instead, she took the calculated decision to maximise the damage her resignation would inflict on Corbyn, timing the announcement to catch the lunchtime bulletins, while simultaneously launching a pop at Momentum on the front page of the Evening Standard.

Her deed was even reinforced by a round robin letter from 70 other Labour council chiefs, which a cynic would see as evidence of collusion rather than an entirely unaffected outpouring of love and affection for a fallen colleague.

Thanks a bunch, comrades. It must take brass nerve to accuse Momentum of ‘factionalism’ after pulling a stunt like that.

Meanwhile, the barrage continues, with broadsides from Kober in the Financial Times and New Statesman. Expect more to come, with accusations of bullying and sexism likely to provide the Tories with a gift that keeps on giving in the run-up to London’s election in May.

Sure, any substantiated accusations against named individuals on this score should be investigated, with suitable sanctions to follow if the complaints are upheld. But, entirely predictably, there have not been any.

What we do know is that one high-profile Haringey Blairite has a track record of harassing senior Labour staffers, to the point where she was asked to leave a conference hotel on account of aggressive behaviour. That, somehow, gets left out of most accounts of these matters.

It is perfectly true - as Kober and her defenders endlessly reiterate - that Haringey shares with the entirety of London a housing crisis that will require radicalism and imagination to challenge.

But handing over entire council estates to a property developer, with no guarantee of replacement social housing to the thousands displaced, and only a chimerical future offer of ‘affordable rent’ beyond the means of most of them, is at best a deeply flawed response. Not least, it would not have flown with the voters.

To accuse opponents of HDV of ideological motivation is beyond risible. As someone who was in the trenches during the last round of Labour local government wars, what I see before me is a photographic negative rerun of the early 1980s, this time with Blairite holdouts playing the role of the headbangers.

One might even venture that their doctrine has been pickled into rigid dogma, a code, outdated, misplaced, irrelevant to real needs. It ends in the grotesque chaos of a Labour council - a Labour council - scuttling round a borough handing out eviction notices to its own tenants.

But quite rightly for a Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn refrains from attacking Labour councillors in such disgraceful sectarian terms.

In Haringey, the Labour Party’s own internal processes have done the job they are designed to do, replacing council candidates with those who refuse to listen to the electorate with those that will.

Hopefully this will be enough to avert major local level Lib Dem gains in the process. Watch for the result from Seven Sisters ward in Haringey on May 3. With any luck, it will be a Labour gain.


Unknown said...

Seems that this article may have actually been written by Jon Lansman

Speedy said...

"Kober had lost the confidence of both the majority of local residents"


Shai Masot said...

When asked by Marr why she hadn’t complained to the Labour Party, Kober criticised the party’s complaints process. “In complaining to the Labour Party, I would complain to the very body that I feel most disillusioned by, which is the national executive committee. Why would I complain to people who have treated me in this way?”

That's a porkie. The NEC was under right-wing control when most of these alleged offences occurred!

Unknown said...

No mention of the documented antisemitism in Haringey then?

Unknown said...

But it isn't now. And her disillusionment stems from the action of the present NEC in responding - without seeking the views of Kober and the colleagues who supported her - to a request to halt the HDV which was made behind her back. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the HDV, I can see why she is aggrieved.

The 70 Labour council leaders wrote publicly to object to this NEC action. It is really a bit much to suggest that their objection was simply 'collusion' with Kober.

richardo said...

Well that is a tricky isn't it - documented 'anti-semitism' - goes along with all of the other tropes the Daily Mail likes to peddle. How can someone be a 'senior' labour party council leader and be so utterly, totally out of line with the Labour party, and then be prepared to do it as much damage as possible- a bit stinky is you ask me.

Anonymous said...

Ah, I see the centrist zombies are out in force here ;)

Ed said...

Euan Phillips has a documented record of lying about anti-semitism, as part of a small but very noisy and unpleasant coterie of Twitter trolls (very hard to follow debates about Labour on that site for any length of time without being exposed to their poisonous trash). To get some measure of their fanaticism and dishonesty, they recently spent a few days demanding that Jon Lansman (!) be expelled from the Labour Party for anti-semitism. Their evidence? A woman had once said that she didn't like Lansman because he was 'anti-Israel'. On this basis, and this basis alone, they worked themselves up into a frenzy of hysteria, shouting and screaming about Lansman's wickedness; it really was a sight to behold. Most of them appear to be anonymous, but Phillips uses his real name to spread these smears; he should have faced disciplinary action a long time ago.

So in a nutshell, his attempt to muddy the waters about Kober's disgraceful behaviour with baseless smears about 'anti-semitism in Haringey' should be dismissed with the contempt it deserves.

Jay said...

Wow Phil, just seen this. You've really outdone yourself this time. It reads like a work of fiction to me. Thinking about the vicious harassment and intimidation Claire Kober has suffered at the hands of the Momentum mob makes one want to weep. And now reports are emerging that people who've dedicated a lifetime of proud service to the Labour movement are facing a similar campaign of harassment as Kober. Read Mike Gapes MP's timeline on Twitter if you don't believe this. I thought the hard left at least believed in supporting veterans. It's obvious this is an attempt to deliberately marginalize diverse and important voices.

But there's a sense in which all this isn't really a surprise. Since Corbyn became leader haven't we seen a return to the sort of misogynist attitudes that we all hoped had been left behind in the 1970s. Remember his comments during the leadership campaign about how women should be confined to female only rail carriages? Remember the four great offices of state being given to four old white men? Remember how dissident female voices like Jess Philips were shut down and treated with contempt and disdain by brosocalists inside and outside the party, just for disagreeing with 'Saint Jeremy'?

Then we look across the Atlantic and see exactly the same thing happening. Bernie Sanders ran a scorched earth campaign against Hillary Clinton, couldn't accept he lost and his supporters were from then on determined to put Putin asset Trump in office simply because they couldn't stand the idea of a qualified competent woman becoming president. We've got a long way to go and this needs to stop here and now. I made it my new year's resolution to center marginalized voices (WoC & the LGBT community etc) and support diversity, including patronizing local businesses, to RESIST Trump and this disastrous Brexit in every way I can and to support leaders who I believe to be change agents. France has such a leader, Canada has such a leader so why can't we?

So I ask you Phil, are you willing to pledge here and now to END the misogyny, and get behind diverse leaders within the Labour party who have the ability to inspire and bring together a broad majority? Let's support Chukka, Liz, Yvette and Chris, campaign for a second referendum and finally oust Theresa May and the Tories from power! Surely we can all agree to that.

Ed said...

"Since Corbyn became leader haven't we seen a return to the sort of misogynist attitudes that we all hoped had been left behind in the 1970s."

No we haven't. Next question.

"Remember his comments during the leadership campaign about how women should be confined to female only rail carriages?"

No, because it never happened.

"Remember the four great offices of state being given to four old white men?"

Diane Abbott will be delighted to hear you erase her existence—I bet you've been extremely vigilant in speaking out against the vile racist misogny she's been subjected to.

"Remember how dissident female voices like Jess Philips were shut down and treated with contempt and disdain by brosocalists inside and outside the party, just for disagreeing with 'Saint Jeremy'?"

No, we don't remember that.

"Surely we can all agree to that."

Sometimes in life, only LOL will do as a response. Oh, and go home Yank.

Anonymous said...

Is that post from "Jay" a parody?

If so fair play, it is an extremely good one.

Vinyl Miner said...

Corbyn supporting Councillors booed by local housing activists when all 46 Labour Councillors voted to maintain HDV at councill meeting on 7th February, WTF.

Anonymous said...

The vote was meaningless (and typical LibDem opportunism)

HDV is still dead.

jim mclean AKA Vinyl Miner said...

Vote is meaningless. It is the report that does the damage. Just as the decision of Peray Ahmet to miss a housing meeting to enter into talks with the Brown Red Alliance that is now Syriza joined by two other Corbyn supporting councillors, what is that about. HDV is dead but Haringey is a cert for the Libdems. 50000 poor families have been forced to leave london in the last two years and not a peep from Labour as their counils are quite happy to get rid of them