The battle between left and right in the Labour Party has come starkly into the open in Haringey, north London.
Selection contests for the candidates for local elections next May have seen the right wing routed.
The central issue has been the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV).
This is a £2 billion deal with a private developer that would mean the demolition of seven estates in the borough.
Before the selections began 28 Labour councillors were for the HDV and 21 against.
Now, after nearly all the selections have taken place, 41 Labour candidates are against the HDV and just seven for it.
Predictably the right has cried foul about this exercise in democracy that has not ended up as they hoped.
Lead councillor for housing Alan Strickland, who stood down from the selection process after losing a vote, denounced “noisy activists.”
Right wing Labour MP Caroline Flint tweeted, “Purging of decent hardworking councillors is bad for @UKLabour, bad for democracy and bad for local communities.”
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner was referencing Haringey when she said, “Any factionalism in the Labour Party will damage us and remove us from getting near power.
“It ultimately damages the people that need our support”.
There has been a concerted attempt to smear the campaign against the HDV as controlled by left wing agitators—including the Socialist Workers Party.
But anti-HDV campaigners reject that. “People say this was a Momentum campaign,” said Stop HDV campaigner Phil Jackson outside a meeting of Haringey council on Monday. “But tell that to the tenants and residents who have come out in their hundreds.”
The key factor in derailing the HDV has been a campaign of relentless argument and agitation on the estates, demonstrations and meetings. The Labour reselections are an echo of this. Struggle in the streets and workplaces comes first.
Socialist Worker welcomes the shift left in Labour. But this week came a warning about the limits of elections and working inside Labour.
On Monday night councillors voted on plans to demolish the Love Lane estate.
It is part of a separate redevelopment to the HDV but with the same developer—Lendlease.
The motion passed by 27 votes to eight. Many left wing Labour councillors were not present at the meeting.
The vote could have gone against the demolition, or at least been much closer, if they had attended. But this would have meant voting against the whip. Disgustingly the right could have seized the chance to push through suspensions.
Regrettably the left stayed away. Let’s hope the HDV is now scuppered—although the right wing councillors will do their best to entrench it before they go.
But whatever happens in May we need stronger resistance outside the council chambers and the Labour selection meetings to stop cuts and win the housing and the services we need.