Claire Kober’s Haringey: what a long strange trip it’s been

In Uncategorized on January 30, 2018 by kmflett

Claire Kober’s Haringey: what a long strange trip it’s been

Claire Kober has today signalled her intention to stand down as leader of Haringey Council in May after 10 years.

One might say that after that time and with Tory/LibDem and now Tory Governments she has suffered enough. She has made allegations of sexism and bullying against opponents. These are serious matters and one hopes that she is raising them in the appropriate places.

I have been Secretary of Haringey TUC throughout Ms Kober’s Council leadership. I stood down in January for the reasons explained here:

I have not retired and plan to continue to be active in the Haringey labour and union movements.

When I was first on Haringey TUC in the late 1970s the Trades Council and the Labour Party used to produce a jointly agreed Election Manifesto. Things have changed so I did not work that closely with Claire Kober. We did share a passion for locally brewed beer one of the great positives in the Borough in recent times.

That said the Trades Council supported her initiatives where we could (as we rightly should do). There was useful if inevitably limited work on creating new tech jobs, creating more STEM opportunities for women and so on.

After 2010 with the Tory/LibDem war on local Councils and, particularly in terms of funding, those like Haringey matters became very difficult.

At one point Claire Kober seemed to have a policy of declaring that cuts and changes forced on the Borough because of this were in fact providing a brave new future for the area. After union intervention that particular line was stopped.

Then came the HDV. It was not in the 2014 Manifesto. No Labour candidate in, for example, North Tottenham knocked on doors and said ‘Hello I plan to knock your house down, vote Labour’.

There is certainly a housing crisis in Haringey. The issue became whether the HDV would help to address it or make it worse.

The objections to the HDV arose for several reasons. Firstly because Lendlease are multinational privateer who fairly obviously only have an interest in Haringey if they can make profit. They are not altruists or probably even Spurs fans. Secondly because the chances of a local Council managing to control the activities of a company like Lendlease are nil really. On this occasion Goliath wins every time.

The point was that thanks to Tory plans the only way to get new housing in Haringey was through this HDV arrangement. Yet other Labour Councils had pursued a mix of private and public on a less grandiose scale and done just that. I believe it’s called ‘what works’.

Any way most Labour activists, the two CLPs, the two MPs and the major unions were opposed. The Stop HDV campaign was not a Momentum front (they are good on the ground activists btw) but something that stretched from the LibDems to the SWP. That is an unusual breadth of campaign.

Ms Kober and supporting Councillors (many of whom I know and some are friends, activists over many years in some cases) would not back down or even pause the HDV despite the campaign and detailed requests from Scrutiny to do so.

Full credit to all those who fought the HDV. Against the odds they have been successful. It shows what can be done by grassroots campaigning that genuinely engages people

Moderate Ms Kober is I’m afraid not. She pursued a long running vendetta against a leading local union activist (now thankfully resolved) and has today turned down a request for mediation on the HDV issue from the Labour NEC.

How the Council leader who wanted to create jobs and improve the Borough ended up here I’m not entirely sure. The Tories didn’t help but it has been a long strange trip.

It’s now done and as the great man said, after May 2018, a lot done, a lot still to do.

Keith Flett is the immediate past Secretary of Haringey TUC



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