Labour group split on leadership votes
Debate on extending votes to all members could be discussed at conference
06 July, 2018 — By Richard Osley
Current council leader Georgia Gould
LABOUR supporters are split on whether a vote on who leads the council should be extended beyond its group of councillors to the wider party membership.
The potential rule change is up for debate ahead of the political conference season, where delegates are due to discuss Labour’s organisation. The fallout in Camden could be particularly relevant because of the party’s large membership across the borough – more than 5,000 residents are card carriers – and the residual differences of opinion over policy direction.
While more than 20 Labour councillors once called for Jeremy Corbyn to step down as leader, including Town Hall leader Georgia Gould and some of her key lieutenants, the wider membership nominated him as their preferred choice during his leadership contest with Owen Smith.
Cllr Gould is now “fully behind the project” and has changed her mind about Mr Corbyn’s leadership. But she said last night (Wednesday) that she does not agree that a vote on the council leadership should be extended to all Labour members.
“I’m open to challenge but I think as a group of councillors we are elected as a team to make decisions together and we are accountable in that way,” said Cllr Gould. “It is for councillors to have that power to decide who their leader should be, but we can do a lot more to harness the energy in the membership. I welcome a democracy review to see how we can do that. There are groups not represented in positions across Camden and I want us to change that.”
Unlike her predecessor, elected by a single vote and then, when challenged from within, by just five, Cllr Gould had the unanimous support of the Labour group when she replaced departing Sarah Hayward last year.
Several councillors would support the proposed change, although so far this disagreement is being played out largely behind closed doors. Labour’s National Executive Committee is meeting in two weeks to discuss possible reforms.