Saturday, September 30, 2006

Why Livingstone shouted at Roberts?

As some may recall the other week we wrote about the Council leader, Chris Roberts, receiving a dressing dwon from the Mayor, Ken Livingstone. That story clearly upset someone at the time.

The reason we're mentioning it again is because we think we have a good idea why the incident with the London mayor happened in the first place. It appears that Chris Roberts has gone against the Labour Group on the ALG and opposed the transfer of planning power to Livingstone from Government.

Of course, whilst we, at this time at least, actually agree with Roberts, we've noticed he's the only Labour ALG member to have made public statements against Livingstone on the matter. Far be it from us to detract from Roberts' desire to be non-partisian, but we do wonder if maintaining a position in the now Tory dominated ALG may have been a greater driver for him.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous lowestoftjohn said...

Of course, there is a wider point here.

You've pointed out on your excellent blog (which has done more to expose the council administration to scrutiny than the weakened opposition has managed to in years) the numerous failings of the council leadership in the form of Chris Roberts. To employ Tony Benn's maxim, where did he get his power from, to whom is he accountable and how can we get rid of him?

Roberts was elected leader from among the Labour Group in 2000, following Len Duvall's elevation to the London Assembly. In that election, former councillor Bob Harris stood against Roberts and obtained a majority among the Labour Group (as Len's almost annointed successor), BUT did NOT become leader as Labour in Greenwich at that time used an unconstitutional electoral college of 50% Labour Group and 50% local Labour Party delegate votes. With the inclusion of non-councillors' votes, Roberts won it. An appeal was lodged with the national Labour Party on account of the unconstitutional nature of the selection and while the appeal was not upheld, the Greenwich party were warned not to do it again.

Roberts is far from popular in the local Labour Party itself, even in his native Eltham he's tolerated as 'necessary' but not even liked by his own allies. However, he has faced only one challenge as leader since 2000 - in 2003 when Angela Cornforth ran against him and lost. Since then, the anti-Roberts faction in the Labour Group has actually dwindled further since several lost their seats or stood down this May, leaving the Labour Group positively united behind him and without any obvious successor within its own ranks.

Six years as leader is not the norm in London politics, though not unknown in Greenwich (Len Duvall managed 10).

Clive Efford will most certainly lose his seat at the next General Election, leaving open a return to Greenwich Council at either the next available by-election or the 2010 local elections. Therefore the most likely scenario short of Labour losing those elections is him replacing Chris Roberts as leader of the council! If this happens then Roberts will have notched up the same 10 years in office as leader as Len Duvall managed, though Len at least kept the local party on side and had some charisma.

The opposition in Greenwich lack capacity, the Lib Dems are a joke and when the Tories are not fighting themselves they're too busy trying to win Eltham back in General Elections. We can rue the fact that Chris Roberts is the leader of our council all we want but at the end of the day we need to share some of the blame in that for this very reason. Shame on us, basically!

1:05 pm  
Anonymous lowestoftjohn said...

There's also another point. No doubt Labour in Greenwich will be highly annoyed at the existence of this blog, decrying it as the work of 'Tories' (if only they were capable!). Here's my challenge to them: if you don't like this blog, do one yourself. Rebut the points made on here, make the 'Labour case' in Greenwich and actually engage as if this was 2006 not 1986.

Or else just stick to 'knowing best', top-down micromanagement, paranoia, manipulation, cruise control etc.

1:15 pm  
Blogger Inspector Sands said...

I suppose if you're the council, you don't want to open up to your residents because they'll find sticks to beat you with. Hey, over in Lewisham democracy thrived so much the voters threw the council out. Ooops.

The same applies to the opposition to the council. What vision did the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats have for the future of the borough? Did they want to turn Woolwich into a thriving town centre again, make Eltham into a gleaming suburb and make Greenwich into London's finest place to work and live? Or did they just moan and snipe about the council's paper, come up with a few cheap jokes from the party political kindergarten and then retreat back to their own kind? What choice did the established parties give us? None, that's what. All as bad as each other, frankly.

The Greens did very well indeed in a few wards at the last election - there's little argument about what they're about. Give people something to vote FOR, and they'll do it. Shame the Greens only come out at elections, really.

7:33 pm  
Anonymous rotter said...

While we're imploring people to do stuff... If you're opposed to Labour hegemony in Greenwich then you only have one option open to you really, given all the factors outlined above (lack of capacity, electoral system, factionalism within Labour).

The only means of achieving a non-Labour council leadership or a different Labour leadership to that of present is to go for an elected mayor. Obviously elected mayors are controversial and have baggage as a policy but the bald fact remains that unless you want to put your faith in parties (Labour included) getting their act together by 2010 then that's the only option open.

A petition with 5% of the electoral roll in Greenwich is all that's required to secure a referendum on the issue. Though you can be assured Labour would fight hard to retain the status quo.

Over to you guys, basically.

9:42 am  

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