Labour leadership ousts Hackney North officers

This article by Dave Kellaway discusses recent events in the Hackney North Labour Party around the scandal involving former councillor Tom Dewey. It describes how the Labour leadership has removed elected officers from the local constituency party in response to scrutiny over the handling of the Dewey case.

 

Dianne Abbott remains suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party after making an extremely maladroit tweet that she almost immediately apologised for and deleted. Currently, she is the candidate for the next election since she was overwhelmingly re-confirmed in a democratic vote of constituency members. Starmer may well block her from standing.

This week, the Labour apparatus removed the chair, secretary, and treasurer of the constituency Labour Party. It is using the pretext that the local executive wanted to know what was going on about Tom Dewey, a Labour Councillor who was elected last year but almost immediately resigned. The reason for this rapid departure, which we found out only recently, was that he had over a thousand indecent and violent images of children on his computer. He has since been given a suspended sentence and put on the sex offenders register.

Phil Glanville, Hackney’s elected mayor, has been caught up in the scandal because he attended a Eurovision song contest party after he knew that Dewey had been arrested. Glanville had been sharing a house with Dewey, although he moved out once he knew of the problem. He has apologised for attending the party. He has also been suspended by the party. Local people, concerned about the lack of transparency around a serious safeguarding issue, organised a demonstration outside the town hall this week. Right-wing members of the party were seen filming any Labour Party members attending.

Tom Dewey was on the moderate right of the party and was the election agent for Meg Hillier, the MP for Hackney South. You have to wonder what the Labour Party leadership would have done if the person involved had been anywhere close to the left. It is obviously a very delicate matter for someone who identified more with the moderate wing of the party to be involved in such a scandal.

All that party members wanted to know was who knew what and when. Why was Dewey not removed as a candidate as soon as the accusations were known? Once again, it appears the leadership is operating in a factional way over this affair. Hackney North and Stoke Newington still have a majority left leadership, and it is clear that the Labour Party apparatus wants that to end. It is important that all Labour Party members and the left as a whole are informed of the situation and demand full transparency.

Here are two public statements issued by the Hackney North Labour Left.

Hackney Labour Left Statement on Tom Dewey matters

Left members in Hackney Labour Party were appalled and disgusted to learn of Tom Dewey’s crimes from newspaper reports on court proceedings over a year after his arrest on 29th April 2022 for making images of sexual abuse of children, including category A images which are graded the most serious. Tom Dewey carried on face to face campaigning after his arrest and remained a councillor for nearly two weeks. The news immediately raised questions about who in Hackney Labour leadership knew what and how the matter had been dealt with through to his resignation on 16th May 2022 and the announcement at Labour Group on 17th May that this was for “personal reasons”.

Safeguarding must be a priority as a matter of principle. It is not a “personal” matter. Safeguarding policies and procedures are put in place precisely to prevent abuse being prolonged as a result of people in a position to act knowing but covering up and sweeping it under the carpet for the sake of individual or organisational positions and reputations. The Labour Party, in common with organisations who come into contact with children and vulnerable adults, have a commitment to protecting those who may be at risk of abuse and promoting their welfare.

Conveying the impression that his resignation was of no concern to anyone else in the party was wrong. This message diminishes the impact his actions will have had on many and the fact that for years they took place whilst he had the authority of numerous roles within the Labour Party which gave him considerable standing and influence.

If this matter had been dealt with in an open, honest and transparent manner Hackney Labour Party would not be in the midst of a leadership crisis. Safeguarding and accountability must be placed ahead of politics. Discussing the implications of an arrest and safeguarding issues arising does not prejudice a case that is subjudice.

Philip Glanville’s position as Mayor is untenable after a fundamental breach of trust with Party members and the Hackney electorate. He should resign with immediate effect. Cllr Anntoinette Bramble should continue as a caretaker mayor with a by-election called on the same day as the Mayor of London’s election in 2024.

We call for:

1. Solid and caring support for the victims of Tom Dewey's crimes and Hackney residents impacted. 
2. An independent inquiry to establish the facts and failings in dealing with the Tom Dewey case in relation to his positions in the Labour Party (recognising that his crimes date back to at least January 2008). 
This should include the circumstances of decision-making by the local Labour leadership and Council relating to the timeline of events from the NCA raid on his home, his election as a councillor and resignation less than 2 weeks later and the subsequent by-election.
3. Publication of recommendations to identify improvements needed in organisational systems and procedures, to demonstrate accountability, and to enable open discussion and learning.
4. A full review of all of Labour’s Safeguarding policies and procedures and a review of local and national Labour safeguarding practice to check whether relevant policy and procedures were fit for purpose and was actioned during Dewey’s time in the Labour Party. 

7th September 2023


Hackney North Labour Left Statement on the bureaucratic coup

We must also highlight and protest in the strongest terms at the London Regional Labour Party’s treatment of Hackney North & Stoke Newington Constituency Labour Party (CLP) against the backdrop of the Tom Dewey scandal.

After Executive Committee members raised safeguarding issues at the Executive Committee’s 13 July 2023 meeting, we were silenced by the London Regional Director, Pearleen Sangha, who suddenly joined the Zoom call. Within 24 hours she moved to “pause” the CLP’s access to Organise, the email network which facilitates communication with members. This move was a form of collective punishment for the CLP for raising entirely legitimate concerns.

The London Region restored partial access today (Thursday 7 September), but the three senior Hackney North CLP officers (chair, secretary and treasurer) have been ousted and replaced by three unelected individuals, one of whom is not currently a Hackney North member. This purports to be under the Labour Party guidance for boundary changes. However, this covers constituencies with a change of more than 15% in membership, which does not apply to Hackney North. This is blatant factionalism and outrageous. It is especially damaging at a time when we are working with grassroots members and Hackney residents and community organisations to reassure them that we take safeguarding with the utmost seriousness. Many CLPs around the country will recognise this total disregard of Labour Party rules and democratic processes both regionally and nationally.

We call on the National Executive Committee to act to reinstate the CLP’s democratically elected Hackney North officers until an Annual General Meeting and put a halt to such anti-democratic abuse of power, which can only serve to undermine the morale of many Party members, especially in the wake of the Dewey scandal and the revelations of the past fortnight regarding the elected Mayor’s dishonesty.


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Dave Kellaway is on the Editorial Board of Anti*Capitalist Resistance, a member of Socialist Resistance, and Hackney and Stoke Newington Labour Party, a contributor to International Viewpoint and Europe Solidaire Sans Frontieres.

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