One post-coalition election won in London, another on its way

The prophets of doom had an off day this week with Camden Liberal Democrats winning the delayed Haverstock election. They held all three seats against a Labour challenge and even scored a small swing from Labour compared to the last Camden council elections.

The next election test in London will be south of the river in Lambeth for, as the Evening Standard reports,

A London Labour councillor has been arrested by police on suspected child porn charges. Toren Smith, 42, was arrested at his home and questioned before being released on bail. His computer was seized for further examination. He has resigned his Lambeth council seat.

UPDATE: When I say one, of course I mean two, for as the Ilford Recorder reported:

Mark Gittens was part of a Labour trinity that took over Chadwell ward in the local elections earlier this month, but days later he was notified by the Recorder that he was ineligible to stand because he is employed by Redbridge Council as a school teacher.

Sometimes the question as to what counts as a council employee (and so who isn’t allowed to stand for council) catches out people in rather obscure and surprising circumstances involving posts that are funded by the council but people don’t think of as ‘council jobs’. In such cases some sympathy is sometimes appropriate for a person being tripped up by the rules.

However, the idea that “teacher” equals “quite probably not entitled to stand” has been around for years and really shouldn’t catch anyone out. Labour’s excuses on the matter in the paper were less than convincing:

Cllr Littlewood [Labour] said: “It is quite an old law and most people are not even aware it exists, it should be removed.”

Actually, no. Far from being obscure, teachers are a commonly quoted example of the rule and amongst good agents of all parties it’s a very well known rule. The paperwork a council candidate has to fill in also gives a pretty big clue that teaching jobs cause problems. It being an “old law” doesn’t make an excuse for not knowing it; the fact that it’s been the law for such a long time is a darn good reason for knowing of it.

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5 Comments

  • Chris Nicholson 27th May '10 - 4:00pm

    Please do come over to help get the Tulse Hill by-election in Lambeth off to a flying start. The ward is in the Streatham Constituency and our Constituency HQ is conveniently located in the ward. We have an action day this Saturday 10.30am and 2pm (lunch 1-2pm at the White Horse, Brixton Hill) from the HQ, Unit 6, Hermes House, Arodene Rd, London SW2 2JZ Tel 020 8671 0500. It is a 10 minute walk from Brixton tube.
    We are in a clear second place in the ward and achieved a 10% swing to us on May 6th and we were getting a good response on the doorstep. Whilst there is a sizeable Labour majority to overturn we can do it – with your help.
    Chris Nicholson
    Streatham Parliamentary Candidate 2010

  • Chris Keating 27th May '10 - 4:11pm

    I’ll second Chris N’s comments. Labour won Tulse Hill ward a few weeks ago because the General Election was on the same day. However, there are strong signs from our canvassing that Tulse Hill voters are fed up with Labour’s record locally, particularly the state of council housing in the ward.

    This by-election is a chance for them to give their verdict on Lambeth Labour and the answer could be very different from the election result…

  • Sandra Folliot 27th May '10 - 4:30pm

    I was working in Brixton Water Lane, 2 streets away from the HQ, until last week.
    I’ll try to come down to help.

  • Rejoice, rejoice! I suspect you all know this is one swallow that will not be flying very long.

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