Tuesday, 11 May 2010

A tale of two Labour Parties? Conservative implosion


Hackney Labour Councillors now outnumber opposition councillors by more than 6 to 1. The number of opposition councillors has fallen from 12 to 7 while the number of Labour Councillors has risen from 45 to 50.

Labour's gains were achieved without fielding any ultra-orthodox Jewish candidates - an impressive feat considering the size and political clout of this community in Hackney. In addition, Jules Pipe and his Labour group appear to specifically avoid making deals with ethnic/religious groups.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Haringey, Labour councillors staved-off the threat of a Conservative breakthrough by pushing through planning concessions that will help large families - a demand that has been made by the ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Hackney, with the support of the Conservative group - but which was refused by Hackney Council.

The reason for the deal making in Haringey appears to have been the by-election in the Seven Sisters ward last year when the Conservatives fielded an ultra-orthodox Jewish candidate who lost by just 64 votes.

But the planning deal may have been unnecessary. Last week's elections saw a massive turn out for Labour in Seven Sisters with all its candidates more than 1000 votes ahead of the Conservatives - including the same ultra-orthodox Jewish candidate who nearly won last year.


Before the elections Rabbi Abraham Pinter told Blood and Property that the Seven Sisters ward in Haringey would prove or disprove claims that ultra-orthodox Jews will only vote for candidates from within their community. The claim was made by Jewish historian Geoffrey Alderman and the leader of Hackney's Lib Dem Group, Ian Sharer.

However it is unclear whether Pinter or Alderman and Sharer have been proved correct by the election result. The huge London-wide turnout for the Labour Party swamped local subtleties.
But, whether it needed to or not, it appears that the Haringey Labour Party specifically sought the support of the ultra-orthodox Jewish community and it did so by offering planning concessions. This seems to be exactly the kind of deal making that Hackney council avoids and the last election seems to have put Hackney Council in a stronger position to resist the race-based politics that Geoffrey Alderman believes will eventually take over. (Stop worrying and learn to love race politics)


The Hackney Conservative Group has been reduced from 9 to 4. There are no longer any Green Councillors. However the Lib Dems gained one seat - Abraham Jacobson - who replaced Joseph Stauber (a Lib Dem who defected to Labour). (ALSO, A CORRECTION IS REQUIRED IN RELATION TO Cllr Jacobson, I referred to him as an ultra-orthodox Jew but he is modern orthodox. He left a comment at the end of this post.) The Lib Dems now have three seats.

The Conservative group's most obvious problem was in the Lordship ward where the party lost two of the three seats it held.

Ultra orthodox Jewish councillor Bernard Aussenberg was the only Conservative who held his seat in the ward, doing so with 1,401 votes. The other seats were taken by Labour candidates Edward Brown - took the most votes with 1,827 - and Daniel Stevens who took 1,378.

This left the leader of the Hackney Conservative Group, Matthew Coggins, in fourth place with 1,261 votes, too few to regain his seat.

The other Conservative seat in the ward that had belonged to another ultra orthodox Jewish councillor - Simon Tesler. But Tesler was deselected by Lordship Conservatives. His replacement, Alexander Ellis, failed to win enough votes.

There was some kind of dispute over Tesler's deselection which was intensified when Tesler stood as an independent. Coggins told the Jewish Chronicle: "Mr Tesler was deselected not because of the time he spent representing the strictly Orthodox community but because of his lack of attendance at council meetings. "

The cost of this dispute may have been at least one seat. Coggins won 1,261 votes and Ellis 1,079.

They were beaten by Labour's Daniel Stevens who took 1,378 votes.

Simon Tesler won 467 votes.

Although 118 votes is pretty clear margin at this level, Coggins will probably wonder what would have happened if the disgruntled Simon Tesler had not decided to stand as an independent.

Who stood,
Who was elected
Hackney councillors

1 comment:

  1. Hi - Cllr Daniel Stevens and I will be posting at www.lordshipn16.com about local issues. Feel free to take a look and/or get in touch. Cheers.