JVL Introduction

Immediately after Labour failed to capture Barnet council the pundits were out in force. Labour had failed to deal with antisemitism. The voters had taken their revenge.

The truth, inevitably, is more complicated – and much more interesting! Local issues, variations ward by ward, matter – as does the reality of Barnet as an outsourced borough, not even mentioned in Labour’s manifesto…

Here are some reflections about the Barnet election result and the council elections more widely. Mrs Angry’s piece may be posted last, but ignore it at your peril!

Posted in this compilation:

1. Barnet Momentum statement

2. Chipping Barnet Labour Party stattement

3. Richard Seymour, Have we seen ‘peak Corbynism’?

4. Mrs Angry Election 2018: Barnet is still Broken


14 May email

Barnet Momentum congratulates the Labour councillors who were elected. All the candidates, even those who did not win their seats, increased the Labour vote compared to the last council elections four years ago. Momentum members worked hard alongside other Labour Party members in this campaign, and we are proud of the efforts put in by all.

However, we do not accept that the only reason for the Conservatives’ win was antisemitism in the Labour Party. Of course, antisemitism played a part, but the emphasis of some Labour Party members on the perception both of its prevalence and Jeremy Corbyn’s lack of action maintained the spotlight on this to the detriment of other important issues.

The Labour manifesto did address many of the concerns of local residents – including a promise to build at least 800 council homes, recruitment of extra police officers, improving access to libraries for schoolchildren and road repairs. However the overarching problem for the borough was not addressed. Barnet since 2013 has been outsourcing to Capita, a company which has overreached itself in a similar fashion to Carillion, is now failing, and in the process is costing the Borough more and more money. There is no mention of this in the Manifesto, despite evidence from other boroughs and elsewhere showing that money can be saved by bringing services back in-house.

We think that if this had been properly argued and emphasised, we might well have had a different election outcome in Barnet.

Barnet Momentum Steering Committee


Chipping Barnet Labour Party statement

10 May at 20:32 ·

*** Statement in response to the local election results from the following members of Chipping Barnet Labour Party Executive Committee ***

Nick Anderton (Communications Officer); Linda Benjamin (Womens Officer); Cameron Camina; (Youth Officer); Rick Hall (Fundraising Officer); Hugh Jordan (Trades Union Liaison Officer); Holly Kal-Weiss (Fundraising Officer); Catherine Loveday (Political Education Officer); Linda Lusingu (Campaigns Officer); Will McMahon (Chair); Nick Mahony (Communications Officer); Reema Patel (Vice Chair); Sarah Pillai (Secretary); Glyn Thomas (Cooperative Party liaison Officer)

First and foremost, we want to thank all the residents of Chipping Barnet who voted Labour in the recent local government elections. We also owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all the local members, residents and affiliated trade unionists that contributed, helped and supported the recent campaign.

It’s always difficult to not win an election and to console the candidates and councillors who didn’t do as well as hoped. We are all bitterly disappointed that Labour didn’t get enough votes to secure an overall majority. It’s nevertheless also important to note that the number of votes cast for Labour candidates in many wards significantly increased compared to 2014. There were some good swings towards Labour in several wards and headway made, despite Labour not doing as well as hoped overall. In East Barnet, the vote was incredibly close and in High Barnet we were only one vote away from a Labour Councillor.

The analysis of what happened and why we fell short of winning overall is already well underway. We want to add our voice to this emerging conversation, here speaking from a Chipping Barnet CLP point of view. Though vitally important, this conversation needs to be respectful and also undertaken in as inclusive a way as possible.

A great deal has already been said about anti-Semitism and we all recognise the importance of continuing to fight and address this, as systematically, decisively and carefully as possible. We already have a good track record of fighting discrimination and racism in our party in Chipping Barnet and pledge to re-double our efforts to fight anti-Semitism, along with all other kinds of discrimination.

Addressing injustice, inequality and enabling democratic inclusion are at the core of what we understand the Labour Party to be about.

We believe that, in addition to national issues, there are several important factors that need further consideration as part of the debate about why Labour in Chipping Barnet didn’t gain more votes. These include the injustices and inequalities that affect all our local communities – linked to housing, privatisation and outsourcing, libraries and education, a lack of political accountability, environmental issues and much more. To win the next election in 2022 these and other issues will require further collective consideration and debate.

We also need to re-double our efforts to listen to local citizens and improve how residents and members are involved in the local political process and our local party. To further increase turnout we must ensure that the 2022 local Labour Party election manifesto responds better to the collective needs and aspirations of people in Chipping Barnet. And, if we aspire to having more people helping us build Labour’s support and strength, we also need to do even more, week in, week out, to engage with people right across the community we serve.

If we do this, we can offer people in Chipping Barnet a real alternative to the status quo, an alternative that will inspire greater numbers of people right across the community, as so many millions of people were inspired by Labour’s 2017 General Election manifesto. Our task is to convince the people of Chipping Barnet that a Labour-run Council will be willing and able to really help improve all our lives.

In the last couple of years the membership of Chipping Barnet Labour Party has massively increased, to approximately 1,500 members, reflecting the large growth in the party’s membership nationwide. The majority of these members joined Labour because they recognise that austerity is counterproductive, that social democracy and our health, education and political systems are failing and that hope, solidarity, justice and equality will only emerge by collectively generating a real 21st Century alternative.

The Labour Party in Chipping Barnet now represents hundreds and hundreds of people from more backgrounds, age groups and progressive political traditions than ever before. This puts the Labour Party here in Chipping Barnet in a position of unprecedented strength. Our responsibility is to utilise this new strength to engage positively with our differences, learn from this recent experience and use our combined wisdom and great capacities to address the many challenges, difficulties and possibilities that lie ahead.

So we believe the talents, experiences, knowledge and goodwill of our membership needs to be more systematically activated. Members need a greater say in policy development, campaign planning as well as what work goes on week after week – changes to how the local party functions must be made to effect this democratisation and renewal.

There is a meeting organised for members on Sunday May 13th to discuss ‘what next’ after the election, beginning at 3.30pm at New Barnet Community Centre. Do come along and have your say.

As local Chipping Barnet members and elected members of your CLP Executive team, we are resolute about moving forwards collectively and with the community. We want to contribute positively and work in solidarity to further build the strength of the party as well as our community – we believe the weeks, months and years ahead can be the best ever for Labour in Chipping Barnet.

We encourage all members of Chipping Barnet Labour Party to get involved in this important debate.


Have we seen ‘peak Corbynism’?

Richard Seymour, Patreon
6 May 2018


Disaster for Labour. Crushing for Corbyn. Momentumite strategy hits the skids. When will he finally resign? 

These are the factional slogans passing for analysis in the British press and broadcast media. There isn’t much that can be done about that, and it wouldn’t be helpful to respond with an equal and opposite triumphalist roar. It’s important to keep the distinction between a war cry, which is performative, and analysis. Analytically, the only plausible stance is a principled agnosticism about the election’s likely ramifications.

The results played out more or less as you would expect, based on the 2017 election, with some minor variations. In the big cities, Labour did well. In London, Labour did very well. In the small towns, the Tories did well. In the rustbelt, the “Ukip effect” helped the Tories, but its overall impact was quite limited. And in the south-west, Plymouth is a further sign that Labour is making surprising headway.

There wasn’t much of a campaign around these elections, outside of Momentum’s rally-the-vote offensives, which rightly played to win. The official Labour campaign was lacklustre. It was hard to see a major theme emerging. The issues that Labour picked up on were those that only a national government could do anything about, such as police numbers, and free bus passes for young adults. In principle, both policies are popular, although each in different ways. Police numbers is something that, frankly, only excites reactionaries. Free stuff is good, but the bus doesn’t excite anyone.

Beyond that, the terrain was governed by a series of national scandals, from Skripal to Windrush, that made very little electoral impact. Three issues are worth drawing attention to: the UKIP effect, the so-called ‘Jewish vote’, and the revenge of the Liberals.

UKIP effect
About the “Ukip effect”, a few things are worth noting. First, it made far more of a difference in small town boroughs like Nuneaton & Bedworth in the Black Country, than in big cities like Sunderland. Even in Nuneaton & Bedworth council, Labour held on to places you might expect them to loose. The Barpool Ward, for example, where it seems the Ukip vote split fairly evenly between Labour and Tory. Second, nonetheless it was strong throughout the north-east and exacerbated by years of local government cuts, to which Labour was unable to offer any alternative. Third, as in Mansfield, this dynamic often reflects the decay, as in Mansfield, of incumbent right-wing Labourism.

In Derby, the “Ukip effect” cost Labour overall control and saw the council leader defeated by Ukip. The city council, whose politics are not those of local MP Chris Williamson, has handled austerity in quite a heavy-handed way. For example, local teaching assistants had new contracts imposing 25 per cent pay cuts on them last summer. That resulted in strike action by teachers, and protests at local council meetings by parents.

Tellingly, despite an overall increase in votes, Labour lost votes significantly in two of the poorer wards in the city: Boulton and Mackworth. Both have rates of joblessness and poverty that are higher than the city-wide average. Both are more likely to have private sector renting, and to have housing in disrepair. They have middle income homeowners, settled families, but few truly affluent, let alone wealthy residents. In Mackworth, it was the Tories who benefited from the collapsing Ukip vote, but the Labour vote in general fell. In Boulton, remarkably, Ukip defied its general slump in the vote as “local lad” Paul Bettany ran a campaign against council leader Ranjit Banwait. Banwait has taken the blame for deep, swingeing local cuts. It wouldn’t be too uncharitable to surmise that, with Labour’s vote depressed, Bettany mobilised a racist vote from families based in the suburban and semi-rural areas.

The Ukip effect is going to continue to play in some future local elections, as there are areas where former Ukip voters have yet to register their new party affiliation. But the local elections confirm what we learned from the snap election: there is no single Ukip effect. Much depends on how ‘thick’ the Ukip vote actually is. A lot of it has little political depth or right-wing commitment. A lot of it is contingent on the local record of Labour, on the extent of trade union organisation locally, on the housing structure, on the strength and depth of the Left, and so on. So there is still something to fight over, regarding exactly what the ‘Ukip effect’ will be.

‘Jewish vote’
In London, despite an overall impressive vote, much of the commentary focuses on Labour’s failure to win in Wandsworth and Barnet. Some of this is straightforwardly tendentious. In Wandsworth, Labour won the popular vote. It just needed a couple of hundred more votes in the right places to push it over the threshold. The idea that Corbyn’s leadership is flatlining if he fails to take a council that has been Tory since 1978 is not going to persuade anyone but the hardcore.

Barnet is a more interesting story. There, it is without question that Labour’s energetic campaign raised its turnout, but still lost seats. It added over twenty thousand votes to its total, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the Tories adding over forty thousand votes. For example, in East Barnet, Labour added a thousand votes to its total. Yet it lost a seat, due to the greater mobilisation of Tory voters. In Hale, it added votes but lost a seat, as the Tories added three thousand new votes to their total. In West Hendon, Labour again added close to a thousand votes to its total, but the Tories took all three seats by adding almost double the number of votes.

Most of punditry attributes this to a Jewish communal mobilisation in view of the antisemitism scandals. How much truth is there in this? As always, talking of Jewish voters as a corporative entity who don’t internally differentiate along class and other social demarcations, is at best crude. It’s also important to distinguish between those who crossed party lines, and those who would always have voted Tory (or anyone but Labour), but simply made an extra motivated effort to turn out for a local election.

Why does that distinction matter? Well, bear in mind that Labour’s support among Jewish voters has been hovering at 15% since the Miliband leadership. Consider also that Labour actually did raise its vote significantly in Barnet, including in the areas where it lost seats. It would be plausible to say that some of those twenty thousand extra votes came from younger, more working-class, more left-wing Jewish voters. But the crude electoral arithmetic of the situation is that, for various reasons, Labour excited the opposition more than its own base — whereas, presumably, it needs to excite its base and bore the opposition.

It goes without saying that Labour’s response to the antisemitism scandals should not be primarily dictated by electoral concerns. The issue needs a rigorous working through, as part of a wider anti-racist strategy, both inside the party and beyond. It also needs to be urgently disaggregated from the factional battle in the party. Nonetheless, some Labour strategist, somewhere, must be thinking hard about how to make Labour, not more appealing, but a lot more boring, to right-of-centre Jewish voters.

Liberal revenge
Another anomaly is that, while making gains across the board, it lost seven councillors in Haringey — to, of all people, the Liberal Democrats. Much of this will be about the Haringey Development Vehicle, the unpopular gentrification boondoggle which was supported by the Blairite council leadership. The Liberal Democrats, for electoral reasons, positioned themselves as principled opponents of a scheme to which they have no principled objection.

The efforts by the local Labour Left, linked to a grassroots campaign, to obstruct this suicidal scheme was countered by Claire Kober and her allies through a campaign of vilification in the national press. The resulting factional struggle in Labour was thus inflamed and, no doubt, damaging in the eyes of some voters.

Looking at the distribution of votes and ward changes, it’s clear that the HDV alone wouldn’t explain this pattern. As in Barnet, turnout was generally higher across the board. But it was in the wealthier wards that the Liberal Democrats benefited from this. Alexandra ward, which covers the affluent area around Alexandra Palace, went full Lib Dem, whereas previously it had two Labour councillors. Crouch End, another middle class area with an extremely hipster vibe, experienced the same shift. These are not the people who would have lost out from the HDV, albeit they may disapprove of such cynical Blairite social engineering.

But Haringey was one of the most Remainer constituencies in the country, and there are small pockets of people dotted about, for whom Labour is a no go area due to its acquiescence to Brexit. There are also plenty of middle class, socially progressive voters, for whom left-wing politics is distasteful, and who wouldn’t prefer the local Labour Party if it was run by Momentum-supported councillors. Voting Lib Dem has always been the middle class voter’s way of saying, “a pox on both your houses”. Now it’s the Remainer middle class voter’s way of saying the same thing, but a little more emphatically.

There isn’t, in any of this, much that should change our overall appraisal of the political situation. Almost everything that we saw confirms patterns established in the snap election last year. Labour needs, of course, to do better than 2017. It needs to find another breakthrough. That, it didn’t quite achieve, either symbolically or effectively, in this election. But those on the Right who claim we’ve seen ‘peak Corbynism’ are either cynical, or wishful. It’s impossible to say what Labour could do with another major national campaign, with guaranteed equal air time, fought over issues that are actually relevant to the election.


Election 2018: Barnet is still Broken

Mrs Angry, Broken Barnet Blogspot
7 May 2018


Interesting piece in the Irish Times this Sunday, by Fintan O’Toole, on England, and the cult of heroic failure. The Charge of the Light Brigade; the Franklin expedition; the Somme – to name but a few examples of glorious catastrophe – noble hearted failure, staring defeat in the face, and embracing it.

We live now, however, in Barnet, in the age of inglorious failure: snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and then looking at its broken body on the floor, poking it with a stick, and wondering what happened.

Yes, Barnet is still Broken.

And here is what happened.

If you want a simplistic explanation of why Labour failed to win the council, please feel free to go elsewhere. This will be an attempt to look more dispassionately at the facts, and confront some hard truths. None of us will be any the better for it, and some of us will feel worse, but it needs saying.

Here we are then, in a nutshell. Labour lost for a number of reasons. Some are more important than others. Some are very complex. Some are not.

Different parts of the borough were won or lost for different reasons, and some for the same reasons.

There were some very good candidates. There were some pretty poor ones.

Some should have stood down. Some should never have stood at all. One or two newly elected Labour councillors will bring a hugely needed injection of energy and fresh perspective to the party.

It is very difficult to attempt to analyse what went wrong in Barnet with a cool eye – especially at the moment – because of the sensitivity of the one issue that everyone is talking about: and that is of course the issue of antisemitism within the Labour party, and how it is dealt with, or not dealt with, by the leadership and processes of the national party.

A national issue, but one with a huge significance for Barnet, where, as this report in the Mirror states, one in seven voters is Jewish.

Only a fool – or a bigot – would think that the failure of the party to deal appropriately with the issue of a minority of vile antisemites who cling on to the fringes of the party for their own purposes is not a huge factor in the reputational damage to the local party, and its chances of electoral success.

Let us be clear about this, but also not dismiss the need to acknowledge the consequence of other failures.

The impact on Jewish Labour voters and residents of Barnet, is profound, and undeniable: many will have been reluctant to vote for the party. Some will have chosen not to.

But we must consider the question: whatever the impact, was it statistically significant, in terms of the outcome of the election in Barnet?

Immediately after the result was announced, many Labour councillors were of course shocked and disappointed – for those who lost seats, or failed to be elected, this was a very public and painful rejection. The immediate reaction was to attribute blame for the losses on only one issue: the antisemitism debacle.

Quite evidently, and quite reasonably, many Labour supporting Jewish residents have been angered, and hurt, by a prolonged tolerance of antisemitism within the outer fringes of the party – or at least the slowness of some to instigate swift and effective mechanisms to deal with such behaviour. This has undoubtedly lost many Labour votes from the Jewish community, caused huge damage to the relationship between party and the community – and harmed the ability of the party in Barnet to campaign and win the council from a grossly incompetent, and increasingly unpopular Tory administration.

But the picture in Barnet is more complex, and needs closer analysis before we can conclude that the antisemitism issue was the only significant factor in the Labour defeat.

It is necessary to consider the other causes : local and national issues, and variations within the Barnet context, and at this point in its political history.

We do not have figures that prove how many of the one in seven voters in Barnet said to be Jewish were Labour supporters: however many, or rather how few, this is clearly likely to have been catastrophically affected by the antisemitism row. But setting emotions aside, if we can, how crucial was this in terms of the outcome, on a strictly statistical basis? Are there other reasons for Labour’s failure – such as concern about the emergence of a left of centre party leadership – or a personal mistrust of the leader himself? And what other local factors were at play?

The loss of West Hendon ward came as a huge shock to many people, and was a personal tragedy for councillor Adam Langleben, who has been prominent in raising continuing concerns about the way in which antisemitism is dealt with within the Labour party. He considers the loss of his seat attributable to Labour votes lost because of anger over the issue.

Adam’s departure from the local Labour group will be a huge blow: a hard working, highly astute and experienced member, and a passionate, and well respected advocate for the Jewish community, locally and elsewhere.

But was the loss of this ward, and all chances of gaining the council for Labour, entirely due to one issue?

In truth the loss of West Hendon ward was always a very real risk, and has been, for some time.

The demographic changes within this area over recent years have been very significant. As this ward profile shows, there are now large Muslim and Hindu communities in West Hendon, as well as a broader, increasingly diverse population of other origins, ethnicities and religions. The percentage of Jewish residents, as you will see, was estimated at 14% – smaller even then than the Muslim one, at 17%. The Jewish community within this ward is  one that would seem unlikely to have supported many Labour votes, in any eventuality.

The changing face of West Hendon, and the increase in BAME population was something the local party was aware of, and acknowledged, at least privately, at the time of campaigning the last London Assembly elections. There was real concern then about a gain in Tory support in these communities. In fact there were emerging signs of a shift in electoral patterns even as early as 2014, which is why the local Tory party so gleefully celebrated the defection to them of a disaffected Labour councillor, Ansuya Sodha, who stood for them in West Hendon in 2014 – and even then, in those circumstances, won 1, 357 Tory votes. Since then, the Tories have targeted these communities – and benefited as a result.

In fact the figures for last week’s results show that the Labour vote increased, despite the antisemitism issue. Clearly so did the Tory vote – but where did the UKIP support go? Looks like it went to the Tories.

There is another hugely important factor in this ward. And that is a subject this blog has covered extensively – the faux ‘regeneration’ of the former West Hendon council estate: call it regeneration, call it social cleansing – the result in terms of political outcome is a radical realignment of old loyalties.

As this ruthless scouring of the local landscape has progressed, removing a low rise community of social housing, and replacing it with a monstrously ugly development of high rise, ‘luxury’ developments, the heart has been ripped out of West Hendon – and with that bleeding heart goes a haemorrhaging of traditional Labour voters.

Let’s look at another ward: my home ward of West Finchley, which has a Jewish community of more diverse character than that of West Hendon. One might expect there to be a higher level of Labour voters who would be upset by the antisemitism issue – yet this was retained for Labour, with an increased vote, despite the departure of veteran, and much loved, councillor Jim Tierney.  Rabbi Danny Rich was elected in his place  – he is a senior figure within the community of Liberal Judaism: hopefully voters found assurance in his candidacy, and voted accordingly.

It is true that the Tory candidates in West Finchley increased their votes too – but then again they probably picked up the UKIP voters.

In Finchley Church End, a Tory stronghold, there is one of the largest Jewish populations in the borough – estimated in 2013 at 31%.

Quite clearly the Tory vote has increased: but interestingly the Labour vote has more or less stayed the same, and has not collapsed. No Green candidate, nor one from Ukip: an increase for Libdems – which may bear a clue to something else going on, which we will come back to later.

 

This is only a snapshot of a small number of the election results, and obviously there will need to be a detailed analysis of all wards – and a period of reflection by the local party. It would be wrong, however, to make conclusions immediately after this massive disappointment without that detailed analysis.

Which brings us to another issue: something easily noticed if like me you were at the count, scrutinising the ballot papers.

When you do this, you note the number of block votes of three, for any party. You have little time to keep up with the flow of papers being counted, and learn to watch every one, looking for the detail of each vote. What seemed extraordinary was the number of split votes: some with the most baffling combinations: one Tory, one Labour, one Libdem, for example. Many of these multiple choice votes appeared to include one Green candidate.

This seemed quite extraordinary, and indicates something that is being missed by all parties. Is it that voters are increasingly confused by the messages put out by mainstream politics, and failing to associate them with a coherent narrative and range of policies?

Another issue which quite clearly must have affected the outcome of this election in Barnet, and may have something to do with the split votes, is one that is hardly being mentioned, in the middle, as we are, of so much debate about antisemitism.

This is of course … Brexit. Ah yes: remember that? Everyone seems to have forgotten,

It might be time to ask if worries about the lack of opposition to Brexit from Labour, and a mixed message from the Tories,  has had an impact in this election – and caused a trend towards split votes.

Again, confusion and disillusion among voters might well have sent them into a random choice of pick and mix votes, thwarting the best laid strategies of election agents and campaigners. We expect voters to be consistent, and loyal to one party. The thought that they might be heartily sick of all of them, and effectively act to undermine the whole system as a result, is quite tempting.

Party activists expect voters to be politically literate, articulate, and think in the same way they do. The truth is something quite different.

Acting as teller earlier in the day at a local polling station, the well seasoned Tory matron doing the same for the Tories was replaced after a while by a man in his thirties who appeared not to know what to do, and kept asking the Labour teller, ie me, if he was doing it right. After a while, to my astonishment, he casually mentioned that he was actually a Labour supporter, and asked did I know how he could join the party? When I had stopped laughing, it occurred to me this might be an ill omen. It was.

But back to the question of lost votes for Labour, and an excruciatingly disappointing failure to win the council from the Tories.

It had seemed so simple: the Tories themselves were in free fall, panicking about the growing evidence of failure of their easycouncil model of hollowed out, outsourced services: the spiralling bills, the decline in those services – they were unable to formulate a credible manifesto, and constructed one seemingly the work of an opposition party, with no connection to their own disastrous record. Tory members thought they were in for a thrashing at the polls – and some may well have been secretly relieved if this had happened, rather than face what is going to happen as the evidence of their own incompetence becomes even more clear, in the coming months. Others  were rumoured to be plotting to push a newly formed council – or opposition group – in a new direction, with a new leader.

To be fair, Labour’s campaign was slightly better focused than in previous elections. As always, there was great emphasis on canvassing, and leafleting. But there were the same mistakes in target wards, and a failure to see the trees for the wood: or rather the wood as it was maybe ten years ago.

And as always, they tended to forget that you need to have something to put on those leaflets and mention on the doorstep: a clear set of policies, based on a record of strong opposition.

This is where the party must acknowledge failure. The record in opposition has not been strong – or even memorable. Time and again their performance has been too low key, unclear, weak, and poorly communicated to residents. Too many times the Labour group has failed to challenge the iniquitous agenda of the Tory administration, to fight with real passion, and well directed strategy.

The continual struggle to expose the damning truth about the performance of the Capita contracts has been left to Unison, and local activists and bloggers. Blogger John Dix has offered the only real scrutiny of the outcome of this contractual bondage – a fact acknowledged by the Tory Chair of the Audit committee, at his last meeting.

A preference for life in the centre of the party is partly to blame for this fatal inertia, as is a position out of step with the new energy within the Labour movement, and the key policies of a hugely popular manifesto.

Quite apart from the distraction and anger over the antisemitism issue, voters in Barnet did not know what Labour stood for, whatever it was, because there was such poor communication and slowness to get involved in local issues at a grassroots level.

Take the fight against library cuts: this should have come from Labour, not have been left to a campaign group, Save Barnet Libraries, to pursue. Instead we saw the library lead in Labour actually take part in a bid to run one of the Tories’ new ‘partnership’ libraries: an excruciating blunder that horrified campaigners, and further alienated them from the party.

That some later rapprochement took place was down to the great diplomacy of Childs Hill community activist and SBL campaigner Anne Clarke – who has just been elected, as a Labour gain, to represent this ward, which borders on Golders Green, with the closest of margins, replacing veteran Libdem councillor Jack Cohen.

Elected in a ward with a diverse range of residents, including a Jewish population of 17% – and two Tory councillors from that community. Fiercely intelligent, outspoken, but tactful – and strategic, the reason Anne was elected as a new councillor, in a marginal ward – the most marginal in London – was because she is that rare thing: a candidate who has proved their worth by being steeped in local activism, deeply embedded in grassroots local issues and several campaigns, such as the fight against the aggregate depot, and drawing residents towards the party at election time. Hard work, but it paid off, despite the odds.

This is the way forward for Barnet Labour: reconnecting with residents; acknowledging the rapid demographic changes which are now a feature of a borough with an increasingly transient population, and embracing the wide range and diversity of the borough, and the needs of each community. Barnet is changing – and Barnet Labour must change with it.

The rift with the Jewish community is a grievous wound that needs urgent attention. Jeremy Corbyn must find a way to fix this: only he can put it right.

Whatever has gone before, and the rights or wrongs of it, and the part it played in the local election, the only way forward now is through dialogue, and honesty.

The alternative is unthinkable. The future is unthinkable.

Residents have just elected a brutal, re-energised Conservative council that will feel newly vindicated in its role, and believe that their history of incompetence has been rewarded – or at least overlooked – and this will empower them to adopt an agenda of policies that will be even more extreme than anything that we have yet seen.

As the financial health of the borough continues to deteriorate, more and more cuts in public services will be imposed, and standards thrown out of the window.

Time for Labour to become the opposition this borough needs: to end its tendency to seek a path of consensual politics, and mutual ground. There can be no mutual ground with such people.

There are few Labour members who are elected on the basis of wanting an easy life, or not wanting to serve their community: individually all are honourable, decent people, with the best intentions: but collectively, as a group, they have been too ineffectual.

Time to grab hold of the agenda: to wrong foot the Tory administration – to be politically courageous, and assertive, to offer the choice of a radical and persuasive alternative, not choose to rely on the same old routine, an anodyne manifesto, a few stunts, and a barrel load of empty words.

Time to put the questions to committees that residents and activists and bloggers have had to articulate, because the opposition group has failed to do so.

Time to earn the respect of voters, with a defence of their rights, and their concerns.

Then, and only then, when it is time for another election, here or nationally, Labour might – just might  – be in with a chance of winning here, one day.