Haringey Council Leader Claire Kober's resignation is a victory for democracy and the grassroots Stop HDV campaign against social cleansing, Isabel Carr reports
The largest and most blatant move towards social cleansing attempted by a Labour-run council, HDV looks like it has finally been stopped in its tracks with its prime mover — Haringey’s incumbent Labour Council Leader Claire Kober — yesterday announcing her intention to step down.
This is effectively the result of a brilliant grassroots campaign — #StopHDV — which has fought against the social cleansing of their community every step of the way, including taking the case to Judicial Review in October 2017.
As the campaign organised against the social cleansing of their communities the Borough also witnessed the natural deselection of pro-HDV council candidates, in favour of anti-HDV candidates who truly represented the community’s best interests and will. But with the Council elections not until May 2018 the danger of this timing allowing Kober and the incumbent council to push HDV through regardless had been ever-present.
Things came to a head this month when, in an unprecedented step following a direct request from 22 Haringey Labour councillors, Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) voted unanimously to advise Haringey Council to pause formal progress with the HDV project.
Haringey Councillors, writing to the NEC, noted:
The Opposition Liberal Democrats, driven by political opportunism at a time of crisis within the Labour Group, have called for an Emergency Full Council on the HDV, in the full knowledge that sitting councillors are prevented from breaking the whip due to the threat of disciplinary action that could prevent them contesting their seats this May. Therefore, the policy will be driven through by 22 councillors who have only a few months left to serve.
And further, that
. . . if the agreement is signed a significant proportion of the commercial portfolio, the Haringey Civic Centre, a mosque, a library, a community centre and a care home (closed) in Muswell Hill will automatically be transferred into the HDV on day one.
. . . getting out of the contract once signed could cost our borough millions of pounds we can ill afford. Our concern is that the contract is drawn in such a way that if we do not call a halt to the HDV as soon as possible after the election in May, the escalating cost of extricating the borough will become prohibitively unaffordable.
Now that danger looks set to be averted.
Of #StopHDV and Gordon Peters’ judicial review case, Aditya Chakrabortty commented:
Aspects of his claim for a judicial review sound local and technical – but the fight itself is national and totemic.
The HDV fight is national and totemic. It has laid bare what the capitalist establishment is really doing to us, as well as being a powerful illustration of the political decay and subversion of New Labour — revealing what their goals really are and whose interests they will prioritise in practice.
The immediate fall-out has already seen the Labour Right and establishment press begin another round of well-poisoning, with Kober claiming herself the victim of sexism and Corbynista bullying. Their desperation to undermine this victory for the left and grassroots organisation, and restore their vicious, ignorant centrist status quo, also featured in the rather bizarre intervention of Alistair Campbell — who took to the pages of the Financial Times, after the NEC decision, to support Kober and call for opposition to the HDV to be dropped in favour of campaigning to Remain in the EU. Says it all.
It's not over. There are similar campaigns of resistance all over the country that will take heart and strength from this. And in Haringey the fight goes on. Phil Buyum Jackson of the Stop HDV campaign said:
. . . because other estates and areas not part of the HDV . . . are still up for sell off and demolition - and the Wood Green Area Plan and demolition of Sky City council houses...is not dead. . . All systems go. Leave no estate behind. Defend them all. This is not just about Haringey, it is Lambeth, it is Brixton, it is Southwark, it is London and the UK as a whole. We demand not the status quo, we have killed the HDV, we demand investment in real affordable council homes and the renovation and renewal of the existing stock that we paid for.
#StopHDV had called an emergency demonstration for Wednesday 7th February 2018, calling on all London activists and housing campaigners to join in a rally and lobby of the emergency full council meeting - this will still go ahead as a celebration of a radical grassroots campaign that now stands as a powerful example of what communities who organise can achieve against the juggernaut of establishment greed and ignorance.
Assemble at Ducketts Common at 5.30pm (nearest tube Turnpike Lane) — march at 6.15pm for marching to Haringey Civic Centre at Wood Green, rally outside the council from 7:00pm.
Join #StopHDV to celebrate the successful fightback against the social cleansing of our communities.
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