Saturday 8 August 2009

Newham Council Back in 'Rotten Boroughs'

The following is from the "Rotten Borough's" section of the current issue 1242 of Private Eye:

The Labour Party's cull of east London councillors has moved on to Newham, where around 20 of the 54 current members will not be standing next year.

So far seven have failed to get through the first stage of the selection process for candidates in the 2010 local elections and another dozen have decided to retire or step down for personal reasons. "Personal reasons" include being told to jump before they are pushed.

Their number includes many old hands who were promised an easy time by elected mayor "Sir" Robin Wales. Cabinet member Ian "Antisocial" Corbett - the man in charge of the borough's famous "Keystone Kops" parks constabulary until it was disbanded following a series of revelations in the Eye - was at first left off the panel but has been reinstated after an appeal.

Those deciding to "retire" include deputy mayor Christine Bowden, who had hoped to succeed Sir Robin, and cabinet member June Leitch. Both have fallen foul of a previously unobserved requirement that councillors should live in the borough they serve.

The axe has also fallen on Cllr Ayub Korom Ali, who spend several months last year campaigning to be an MP in Bangladesh (Eye 1225). Other reasons for deselection - by a panel composed of members from across London - include poor attendance, piss-poorness in general and, in one case, being generally pissed. Another turns out not to be a member of the Labour Party.

London Labour party supremo Ken Clark fells the Eye: "Being a Labour councillor is not a job for life. No one wil be nodded through." He is now turning his attention to neighbouring Tower Hamlets. And sharpening his knife.
The story about Cllr Ali was picked up by the press in Bangladesh and then by the local rag in September last year - how he thought he could have survived is anyone's guess. But I have to wonder whether the cull has, in part at least, been the result of another story about "a group of Newham Labour councillors" challenging Sir Robin Wales' automatic right to stand as the party's nominee for Mayor in next year's local elections. Wales is notoriously vindictive and refuses to let any challenge to his authority go unpunished.

If anyone has a full list of those who are standing down, I would be intrigued to see it.

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