Lambeth Labour party accused of ‘witch hunt’

Adeline Aina demonstration
The protest on Windrush Square at the weekend

By Kaye Wiggins

Campaigners have accused the Lambeth Labour group of  a “shocking witch hunt” in a row about the selection of the party’s candidates for next year’s local elections.

Adeline AinaThe accusation comes after Adeline Aina (left), who was chosen by Labour party members to stand for election in the Larkhall ward, was called in for a hearing by the local party’s forum. The move raises questions about whether she will be able to keep her place as one of the party’s candidates.

Council leader Lib Peck said Aina had been called in because the party had to “make sure that council candidates selected are of the upmost integrity and have the ability to hold such an important local office.”

She added that the local Labour group the Lambeth Campaigns Forum had raised questions about Aina and “we have given [her] the opportunity to attend a meeting to discuss this.”

But Aina’s supporters gathered on Windrush Square at the weekend, pictured above, to protest against the move.

They claim she is the subject of a “witch hunt” by party members who want to reinstate the senior councillor Pete Robbins, who is responsible for housing and regeneration across the borough, in her place.

Cllr Robbins was deselected from the party at the meeting where Aina was chosen, losing to her by one vote.

Simon Woolley, director of the equality campaign group Operation Black Vote, said in an article on the OBV website that the decision to call Aina in for questions “has all the hallmarks of powerful white men manipulating their privilege and undermining the democratic process.”

He said: “The local party should be warned against this shocking witch hunt.”

Woolley has also complained to Lambeth’s Labour councillors that the party had not told Aina why she was being asked to attend a hearing.

In an open letter to the councillors he said: “I don’t know whether or not Adeline lacks the integrity to represent the Labour Party, but if there are serious questions to answer have the decency to let her know right now what those accusations are and allow her to come a meeting with her own representative so she can defend both her character and integrity.”

At the Windrush Square demonstration, Aina told the Brixton Blog: “I’m really privileged to have been selected in the Larkhall ward. All I want to do is serve the people and I won’t let them down.

“Today is a peaceful demonstration for democracy and for making sure our democratic rights are upheld.”

Donald Cole JPAt the event Donald Cole JP (left), vice-chair of the Peckham Labour party, told the Blog he thought the controversy was part of a bigger picture in which the party was failing to represent local communities.

“We’ve got local issues and we’ve got ethnic minority people in the community who understand those issues,” he said.

“But the Lambeth Labour party is bringing in people from outside the vicinity who have never been engaged with those issues. It means the cabinet [the group of the most senior councillors] is completely detached from the community.”

Cole said people should not be eligible to be chosen as council candidates unless they had at least two years of experience of being “engaged with local issues”.

Cllr Florence Nosegbe, cabinet member for culture
Cllr Florence Nosegbe

However, Labour councillor Florence Nosegbe (left) said in a statement: “Labour councillors in Lambeth make up one of the most diverse and representative groups in London.

“We have already increased the proportion of BAME and women candidates selected to fight the election in 2014, but as a party we must not become complacent.

“In a diverse borough like Lambeth it is important that we continue to encourage candidates from all different backgrounds to become active in public life.”

 

11 COMMENTS

  1. In time, the truth will come out as to why Adeline was not selected and I’m sure people will agree that Labour made the right decision.

    Of course, OBV don’t miss a trick to cry racism… even though the other two candidates successfully elected are both black.

  2. Clapham Town deselected Helen O’Malley for supporting Housing Co-op residents against Lambeth Labour’s forced evictions, the clearance of Shortlife co-ops who had existed for almost 40 years.

    The Party said she didn’t promote Labour enough… funny that, her ethical stance and her undinting support was a great example of a Labour councilor who did what she said she’d do – obviously a councilor to trust, and to vote for again. She promoted Labour quite well, I think., so it’s a great pity they contrived her deselection.

    The other two Clapham Town Councilors, Haseldene and Wellbelove, after initially pledging their support for the Housing Co-ops, then swiftly backtracked under orders from The Party.
    Haseldene, in tandem with Peter Robbins, even went so far as to (wittingly or not) ‘set up’ a co-op resident to be unexpectedly evicted… ‘all a mistake’, they cried later.

    None of them should be councilors again (well, not unless you’re a developer or run a business or want to do some property deals), they can’t be trusted.
    Lambeth Labour is riven with moral turpitude. There are growing suspicions that corruption runs throughout Lambeth council.

    Good luck, Adeline, but, if Robbins doesn’t manage to claw his way back in, watch your back!

    • Not a shred of evidence to support any of these libellous comments.

      The National Audit Office has found Lambeth’s Labour council to be the fastest improved in the country; Ofsted inspectors said we have the BEST children’s services and the eighth best schools in the whole country; the Guardian have named our chief executive as public leader of the year; our brand new library in Clapham has won several awards; we have built a new leisure centre in Clapham with two others opening in Streatham and West Norwood next year; we are funding the Black Cultural Archive in Brixton which opens next year; we are borrowing and investing £450 million in social housing; the Local Government Information Unit have given us a national scrutiny award; in the recent Brixton Hill by-election Labour won a 18.5% swing beating all the other candidates put together; we have have frozen council tax for six years and supported our poorest residents to deal with benefit changes.

      Does all this sound like corrupt, immoral leadership? Let’s see what the voters think next May.

      • What exactly is libellous in my comment, Ed?

        What I’m saying here is also being said by a number of Labour Party activists in Lambeth, I’m just a bit gobbier. it’s also being said by other gobby Lambeth refuseniks on Twitter and the web.
        That’s essentially what this article is about, isn’t it?

        Of course I can’t prove anything, apart from the bit about Haseldene and Robbins (there’s an email floating about from Haseldene, specifically apologising for his part in the eviction fiasco).
        I said that there’s growing dismay that something corrupt is entrenched in the heart of Lambeth council. Being gobby, I’ll say it again, Lambeth council is riven with moral turpitude. I do like that word, TURPITUDE, and Lambeth council has bags of it. Logic almost dictates I should like Lambeth council then, darn.

        Obviously, from the info in this article, combined with what I know about the circumstances of Councilor O’Malley’s deselection, moral turpitude is evident in Lambeth Labour, as a body.

        I’m sure political activists in the borough would welcome a transparent investigation into what’s actually going on, particularly with regard to the shoddy way Labour Party members are being treated re; councillor selection/deselection, it’s just that members can’t really raise their voices, in fear of being thrown out of The Party.

        I know that local councilors are toeing invisible lines, in fear of deselection (invisible, but clearly not transparent).

        Fortunately, I’m not fearful of being thrown out of The Party, since I’m disgusted at the vile behaviour of Lambeth council and Labour’s local branches.

        Having said that, I’m sticking with The Party for a bit longer, in the hope that the dross that keeps floating to the top, finally gets hauled out.
        The councilors and local activists who manage to hold onto their morals, despite being whipped to within an inch of their lives, are still worthy of the support shown by the less well-off residents in Lambeth.

        Most of ‘Shortlife’, including me, have had very dubious dealings with the Housing Department – being told lies; being threatened and intimidated; experiencing inconsistent treatment from individual to individual and almost always being treated with disdain and contempt.
        Of course, Housing were probably briefed with the same lies and misinformation that the council have trotted out about ‘Shortlife’ for the past few years, so what else could we expect?

        It’s not just ‘Shortlife’ who are cr4pp3d on by the council though, there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of council tenants and leaseholders who feel the same way, but however much we yell about the obvious dodgy goings-on we witness, Lambeth council don’t rectify anything.

        I’d love to see a very thorough and transparent investigation into Lambeth’s Housing Department. Can you sort that, please, Ed?

        Far from ‘serving’ the people of Lambeth, many Lambeth council officers actively treat residents who have the misfortune of having to deal with them, like dirt under their feet.

        Lambeth may be the fastest improved council, but, as a resident who is subject to the appalling behaviour of council officers, and has to rely on the grudging ‘services’ the council provides, from my own experience I’d say Lambeth council still resides at the bottom of the pile but, hey, it definitely resides there with some speed.

  3. Lambeth Labour has an exemplary record of supporting local black and minority ethnic candidates and councillors. With so much real racism in the world it is shameful that people are so quick to make that accusation before investigations into this person’s integrity are complete.

    • Very wise. Tell us Ciir Ed Davie, has there ever been a similar investigation into the integrity of Councilor and Cabinet member Pete Robbins? I am sure you can confirm that there has and that this is definitely not just about Pete Robbins losing his seat, right?

      • As far as I’m aware no-one has ever suggested Cllr Robbins has done anything wrong that would merit an investigation into his integrity – if you have any evidence it would be looked into properly as it would be with anyone else. I have worked with him for four years and in my experience he has been nothing but a fantastic servant to the people of Lambeth helping deliver the best children’s services in the country and the eighth best schools in his last job and now helping transform our social housing with a £450m investment.

        • Councillor Davie: And has anyone ever suggested that Adeline Aina has ever done anything that merits an investigation into her integrity?

          This is the core question and it is one that you have dodged, preferring instead to blow the trumpet for Lambeth’s achievements in such an emetic fashion.

          To put once more then the issue at hand in the hope that you might address it—the bar seems to be being set extra high for this woman. Why?

  4. Is it because she stood in Vassall for the Lib Dems at previous elections? Political parties are always suspicious about people who flip-flop between parties.

    • I think that might be the official reason, though some people have the whiff of Labour dirty tricks (Mind you, when it comes to dirty tricks it is hard to beat the Lib Dems, they have plenty of previous for that)

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