The true legacy of the British Empire

Decolonise the curriculumI spoke at the Enfield Stand Up to Racism online meeting to discuss the legacy of the British Empire. Below is the speech that I gave at the rally.

At its peak, the British Empire was the largest empire in history. By the early 1900s, Britain had conquered nearly a quarter of the earth’s total land area holding sway over approximately half a billion people, which was nearly a quarter of the world’s population.

The ideology that underpinned this imperialist project was white supremacy. In other words, natives in Africa, Asia, Australia and elsewhere were viewed as depraved, barbarians and backward. They needed to be civilised by the superior white British saviour. They needed to be taught table manners, how to play cricket and speak English. The Anglo-Saxon, Teutonic supremacy was the driving force behind the British Empire.

The true legacy of the empire is not taught in our schools in the UK. I had a look at the BBC website under the section ‘Class Clips’. There is a section on KS3/GCSE History entitled, “What legacy has the British Empire left behind?”

There is a clip from the series Empire by Jeremy Paxman, in which he says, “The Empire brought blood and suffering to millions, but it also brought railways, roads and education.”

For good or ill, much of the world is the way it is today because of the Empire, from the way it looks, to the sports people play, from the religion we practise, to the language we speak.”

Conversations about the British Empire in the UK become a balancing exercise between whether it was a force for good or bad with the majority view that it was good.

George Monbiot, the Guardian columnist talks about the devastating legacy of the British Empire. He mocks the British attitude to the empire likening it to an omelette – he says that we broke a few eggs (killed a few milions of people), but look at this wonderful omelette! Look at the Indian railways, the abolition of slavery, the spread of the English language!

In reality, the railways was built to aid the British extraction of wealth from India; the abolition of slavery was instigated by the slaves themselves (Britain simply nationalised it by paying off all slave owners) and the English language was often imposed on locals i.e. those with English language skills were given preferential treatment while native speakers were discriminated against.

In Britain, people feel proud about the empire. In the last few years, in an episode of the Apprentice, the contestants had to choose a name for their team with the theme ‘best of British’ and they chose ‘Empire’.

I will now talk you through two examples of what the British Empire did in Kenya and the Indian sub-continent.

Crushing the ‘Mau Mau’ uprising in Kenya

The British arrived in Kenya in the 1880s with the help of the East India Company which successfully took over India in the mid-1700s. The British troops stole more than 60,000 acres of land from the Kikuyu tribe, and renamed the area “the White Highlands.”

The people of Kenya objected and tried to resist the invaders. They demanded freedom and a return of their land. Their peaceful protests were met with violence by the British troops. This gave birth to the ‘Mau Mau’ uprising supported by the majority of the 1.5 million Kikuyu. The London press referred to them as “evil savages” and “terrorists” who disliked Christianity and civilisation. The British declared war them putting them into concentration camps. One of the men held up for months was Barack Obama’s grandfather.

Professor Caroline Elkins wrote Britain’s Gulag: The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya, describing the torture tactics adopted by the British.  She wrote that “Bottles (often broken), gun barrels, knives, snakes, vermin and hot eggs were thrust up men’s rectums and women’s vaginas.”

A Kikuyu survivor described the torture tactics that he had witnessed where a British guard would hold the Kikuyu upside down in a bucket full of water while another guard would start cramming sand in the anus with a stick. A guard would insert more water into the anus and stuff it with a stick.

Another favoured torment was to roll a man in barbed wire and kick him around until he bled to death.

British officers who wrote memoirs described murdering Kikuyu “baboons” and another officer proudly called their tactics as “Gestapo stuff”.

Up to 300,000 Kenyans were killed in this way. It happened between 1952 and 1960.

The British Raj

Britain completed its invasion of the Indian subcontinent with the conquest of the Bengal at the Battle of Plassey on 23 June 1757. Robert Clive of the East India Company bribed the commander in chief of the Bengal army. Divide and rule was the tactic that was used from the outset.

When the British arrived in India, it was an advanced civilisation. Its GDP accounted for nearly a quarter of the world’s economy. By the time the British left, its share of the world economy went down to around 4%.

Famines were manufactured killing tens of millions of people. The great Bengal famine of 1770s between 1769 and 1773 killed around 10 million people. At least one third of the population of the Bengal was wiped out. Some estimates say that around 30 million people were killed.

Historian William Dalrymple wrote that the de-industrialisation of Bengal and the British policies were the reasons for the mass famine and widespread atrocities.

There were man-made famines throughout the 19th century in British controlled India. Last of these famines was in 1943 in which three million people were killed.

Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of Britain whose policies led to the devastation that the famine wreaked on the people of Bengal. Medical and food supplies were diverted away from the Bengal to the well supplied soldiers in Europe.

When the Delhi Government sought assistance, Churchill blamed the famine on the people of India. He said, “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits.”

Robert Clive who established the British rule in India committed suicide in 1774. William Dalrymple recently wrote in the Guardian that Clive “was widely reviled as one of the most hated men in England. His body was buried in a secret night-time ceremony, in an unmarked grave, without a plaque.

After his death, whistleblowers had revealed the scale of the devastation and asset-stripping of Bengal under his rule. “We have murdered, deposed, plundered and usurped,” wrote one whistleblower. Robert Clive was lampooned in a satire as Lord Vulture.

However, in the early 20th century, revisionist history was drawn up to deal with the resistance that threatened the British Raj. Lord Vulture went through a bit of a metamorphosis and became the heroic Clive of India. A statue of Lord Clive was erected outside the FCO in Whitehall.

After the fall of Ed Coulston’s statue in Bristol, I am working with a few people who have set up a petition to remove the statue of Lord Vulture from Whitehall.



Black Lives Matter

My speech at the Black Lives Matter rally at Lordship Recreational Ground in Tottenham on Sunday 14 June 2020:

Brothers and sisters, I am a Labour Councillor in Noel Park. I bring you solidarity from Cllr Joe Ejiofor, leader of the council and from the Muslim community.

I thank you all for your solidarity and for coming here today. We have all been outraged by the racist, brutal murder of Brother George Floyd, which has sparked the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement across the world.

I have heard people say on social media that “Surely all lives matter”

We have not said that Only Black Lives Matter.

We know that all lives matter, but we need your help today with this movement, with this struggle, because black lives are in danger.

Black people are dying at the hands of the police not just in America but in the UK as well. This is not a recent phenomenon. It has been going on for decades.

Today, we are standing in the shadows of Broadwater Farm. In 1985, Cynthia Jarrett, a black woman died after police officers went into her home without a search warrant, without knocking on her door, without announcing themselves. The police said that she fell and died. The family said that the police pushed her. Coroner said that it was an accidental push that killed her. Cynthia Jarrett died at the hands of the police. This led the events in 1985 known as the Broadwater Farm riots.

In 1998, Christopher Alder, a black British army paratrooper was killed in a police station in Hull. CCTV footage showed that he was lying with his face down motionless with his trousers around his ankles. Police officers were stood around laughing, for 10 minutes while died. All the police officers were acquitted of all charges.

In 2008, Sean Rigg died at the hands of the police at police station in Brixton. No police officers were prosecuted.

In 2011, Kingsley Burrell died while detained by the police in Brimingham. Again, no police officers were found guilty.

In 2011, Mark Duggan was shot dead in Tottenham.

In 2017, Edson da Costa and Rashan Charles were murdered at the hands of the police.

In 2017, Darren Cumberbatch was punched repeatedly, beaten with a baton and Taserered by police. His family are still waiting to hear if anyone will be prosecuted.

Just two weeks ago, Simeon Francis was found dead in a police cell in Devon.

These are all black people. You know what? The list is too long. These names are just the tip of the ice berg.

Over the last 50 years, only one police officer has been convicted for their role in the death of someone in police custody. They only received a suspended sentence.

My white brothers and sisters, let’s talk about white privilege. There is in-built structural racism that white people will never be subjected to. Black people are half as likely to be prescribed pain medication as white people. Just think about that. The system does not think black people feel pain the same as way as our white counterparts. Black women are five times more likely to die during childbirth.

Black people are twice as likely to die due to Covid-19.

White people are twice as likely to get job interviews with the identical qualifications as their black counterparts. Just for being white.

As we remember those who died in the Grenfell fire, we can also see white privilege in action trying to protect the system. Nothing has happened after 3 years.

Let’s work together to fight the in-built racism in our society and let’s say loudly and clearly, Black Lives Matter. Join Stand Up to Racism. This struggle must continue. Volunteer. Attend online organising sessions.

Finally, let us all support the Black Pound Day on 27 June. Haringey Council will become the first local authority in the country to support Black Pound Day.

March 2020 Councillor Report

Khaled Moyeed presenter photo

Budget 2020/21

On 24 February 2020, I delivered a speech in support of the Haringey Council budget for 2020/21 at the full council meeting. I published my full speech in my previous post on this blog.

Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy (NCIL) re-distribution consultation

I attended a briefing session with officers on Monday 24 February to discuss the Council’s consultation on draft changes to the CIL Governance document to allow the Council the option to spend NCIL in a different area to where it was raised. This would provide the Council with the opportunity to consider redistributing NCIL more fairly across the borough in a way that is more reflective of the level of development and the level of need in each NCIL area.

The draft changes proposed to the CIL Governance document can be viewed here. The consultation ends on 9 March 2020. Responses may be sent to I recommend that Noel Park members support the Council’s proposals to spend NCIL much more fairly across the borough. You may copy and paste my response to the consultation which is set out below:

Dear Sir/Madam

I would like to submit my comments to the NCIL redistribution consultation. I support the proposed changes to the CIL Governance document allow the Council the option to spend NCIL in a different area to where it was raised for the reasons set out below.

    1. The current policy leads to a large discrepancy between different neighbourhoods about the amount available to spend in each area which is fundamentally unfair
    2. The amount of CIL collected in the east of the borough per square metre is significantly less than the central or the western zones, but the east is generally more deprived and may require more spend/investment
    3. The proposed changes will enable the Council to distribute neighbourhood CIL much more fairly across the borough
    4. The proposed changes are also consistent with the Council’s objective of achieving fairness in all aspects of its service delivery.

Kind regards

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is a charge on developers based on the floorspace of new buildings. The funds raised are intended to help fund infrastructure needs. Legislation allows 15% of CIL collected to be spent in ‘Neighbourhoods’ on infrastructure or “anything else that is concerned with addressing the demands that development places on an area.”

The Council’s existing adopted approach to NCIL as set out in the Haringey CIL Governance document is to spend NCIL in the NCIL area in which it is collected. Under this approach the amount of NCIL available to spend in each NCIL area varies significantly. This is partly a function of differing amounts of development across the borough, but it is also a function of the fact that CIL charging rates vary substantially across the borough based on the financial viability of development. The residential CIL rate for the Western Charging Zone is over 17 times that of the Eastern Charging Zone per square metre and the residential CIL rate for the Central Charging Zone is 11 times that of the Eastern Charging Zone per square metre.

Proposed development at 76-84 Mayes Road                                                          

On 24 February 2020, I attended a public exhibition at the Community Hub about the proposed development at the junction of Caxton Road and Mayes Road opposite Iceland supermarket. This site has been boarded up for a number of years. The developer, Aitch Group are proposing a mixed residential and commercial development. Their plans include the following:

  • 75 homes across 4 to 9 storeys (15 affordable rented & 10 Shared Ownership homes)
  • 11 three-bed family homes, all for affordable rent
  • 23 one-bed homes and 41 two-bed homes
  • Two storeys of commercial space totalling 948 square metre
  • A car free development – residents will not be allowed a CPZ permit

The developer expects to receive planning permission in June 2020. If you have any comments or would like some more information, please contact Joanna Christophides at Curtin & Co: 020 7399 2753/

A Planning performance agreement (PPA) under the planning protocol is taking place on 09 March 2020 at 7pm in the Council Chamber. You may attend this meeting if you are interested in the development.


At the last branch meeting, I was asked about how to secure a space in a bikehangar. I raised a member’s enquiry and received the following response.

Applications for Bikehangar spaces are managed by Cyclehoop, the company who supplies and subsequently manages the arrangement and not the council. Cyclehoop will only review requests for space once a Bikehangar has been installed.

The cost to rent a space within a Bikehangar is £72 per annum, the user pays 50% of this charge with the council subsidising the remaining 50%, therefore the user will currently pay £36 per annum, plus a £25 key deposit. This arrangement is subject to review/change. Residents can apply for a space within a Bikehangar by contacting Cyclehoop direct:

Telephone: 020 8699 1338| Web: |

Engagement with voluntary organisations in Noel Park

Collage Arts: Manoj Ambasna, executive director of Collage Arts (CA) wrote to the ward councillors at the end of January seeking our assistance in relation to a winding up order that the Council had secured against CA for its non-payment of business rates. I took this case up and had numerous conversations with Manoj, the Cabinet Member for Finance, Leader of the Council and Catherine West MP throughout the month of February. I made representations on behalf of CA. In the end, we managed to find a way forward – CA was not wound up and the Cabinet Member responsible for business rates has now written to Manoj.

Haringey Over 50s Group: I have been assisting Haringey Over 50s Group since April 2019. They have recently submitted a petition on behalf of their members to reduce the hours of parking controls within the Wood Green Control Parking Zone (CPZ). This has been added to the Council’s central register of requests for parking action. Wood Green CPZ is on the Council’s forward programme to undertake a full review. At the present moment, the Council are undertaking parking surveys to understand parking stresses and any tidal parking movements that could be causing parking pressures. I will be meeting members of the Group on Monday 16 March at 5pm to hear if they have any other concerns. You may contact the Group on if you could like to find out more or join the Group.

Lobbying on behalf of tube cleaners

Cllr Emine Ibrahim and I joined 92 other Labour Councillors signing a letter published in the Evening Standard on 7 February 2020. We urged Sadiq Khan to bring cleaning contracts in-house and give better working conditions to tube cleaners.

Save Wood Green Animal Shelter

Wood Green, The Animals Charity intends to close their Lordship Lane base after almost 100 years in the area. I have signed Catherine West MP’s online petition which you also sign and circulate:

Developing Haringey’s Flag Protocol

On 26 February 2020, I attended a meeting chaired by Haringey’s mayor, Cllr Sheila Peacock to develop the borough’s flag protocol. The new protocol will be voted on by Labour Councillors in the coming weeks.

Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month and the full list of programmes during the month can be found on the Council’s website: Some highlights are below:

  • Thurs 5 March 6 – 8pm: Film screening of ‘Suffragette’ at the business lounge on the ground floor of Wood Green Library
  • Fri 6 March at 11am: Women’s History Walk with meeting point at Stroud Green and Harringay Library, Quernmore Road, London N4 4QR.
  • Wed 11 March at 11.30am: Haringey International Women’s Day Celebration at Marcus Garvey Library
  • Wed 18 March 7 – 9pm: Celebrating 50 years of the Women’s Liberation Movement at the Green Rooms, 13-27 Station Road, London N22 6UW

Housing and Regeneration Scrutiny Panel

As the chair of this panel, I am currently chairing a review into a major regeneration scheme in North Tottenham. I have chaired a number of evidence gathering sessions with various stakeholders. You may email me with any comments that you would like the panel to consider as part of the scrutiny review. The next ordinary meeting of the panel is on Tuesday 3 March at 7pm at the Council Chamber in the Civic Centre. It is a public meeting and you may attend.

My Surgery Details

Residents can see me at the following times:

  • Second Saturday of each month at Wood Green Library from 10.30 to 11.30: no need for appointment
  • Fourth Saturday of each month: roving surgery from 10.30 to 11.30 by prior appointment.


Haringey Council Budget Speech

Haringey Labour

On 24 February 2020, I delivered the following speech in support of the Haringey Council budget for 2020/21 at the full council meeting:

Madam Mayor, on behalf of my constituents in Noel Park, I am pleased to support this budget delivering on this administration’s priorities such as fighting housing injustice, building a fairer economy, ensuring that every child and young person in the borough has a bright future and tackling the climate emergency.

Having grown up in council housing including a number of years in temporary accommodation, I am particularly pleased that this administration has made good progress towards delivering 1000 council homes at council rent. We have secured more than £60m funding from the Mayor of London to support this housing programme.

This borough has not seen this level of council house building programme for some 40 years. So, I am extremely proud that we are taking steps to address the housing crisis locally – a crisis that has been created by successive governments that have not invested in council house building but prioritised privatisation as part of a neoliberal orthodoxy.

We are also buying new homes to let to those in need of temporary accommodation which will improve the standard for tenants and save the Council money. I must say that this investment comes against the backdrop of 10 years of austerity where the local government has suffered the most. In Tory austerity Britain today, the taxpayer is footing the bill for £369million worth of refurbishment to just one place of residence – the Buckingham Palace. But, there is apparently no money to provide a decent home to hundreds of thousands of people in temporary accommodation and on council housing waiting list.

The magic money tree only exists for the rich and the privileged few.

In this budget, my constituents will be particularly pleased to see that we are allocating £4million to ensure that staff providing care services to adults through our partner organisations are paid at least the London Living Wage. My colleague, Cllr James will elaborate further on this.

Finally, the proposal that will make a significant difference to the lives to children in Noel Park and the borough as a whole is our investment of more than £6million in the School Streets programme to reduce pollution around our schools.

There are 63 primary schools in the borough. A school street is a timed school closure at around school opening and closing times directly outside of a school. This closure will massively reduce traffic on these roads, stop dangerous congestion outside of schools and improve air quality.

I recently joined the Parent Community Advisory Board at Noel Park Primary School and the poor air quality around the school from motor vehicles is a key concern. Unicef UK has recently produced a paper with Queen Mary University called ‘The Toxic School Run’. They have found that children are disproportionately exposed to higher doses of pollution during the school run. This invisible danger could be stunting their lung growth, increasing their risk of asthma and potentially damaging their brain growth.

I welcome the funding in this Budget to develop the School Streets programme.

I recommend that you support this budget.

Thank you.

February 2020 Councillor Report


cropped-cllr-khaled-moyeed.jpgTurnpike Lane Joint Strategy Group

I chaired the Turnpike Lane Joint Strategy Group on Monday 13 January at 6pm at Shine Café. The meeting was very well attended with residents, businesses, police officers and other local stakeholders. Thanks to officers who have worked very hard over the past 18 months, we announced a series of projects to improve Turnpike Lane tackling crime and grime and transforming it into a ‘destination of choice’. In total, we have announced investments of around £1.5million.

There was very positive feedback from businesses that Turnpike Lane was finally getting attention after years of neglect and decline. Businesses reported that they continued to have problems in relation to parking. I have arranged a meeting for businesses on 11 February 2020 to raise those concerns with officers from the Council’s parking department.

The next meeting of the Turnpike Lane Joint Strategy Group will be on Monday 30 March at 6pm where we will report on progress on projects that are in the pipeline.

Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony

On 26 January 2020, I attended a very moving Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony in Haringey’s Civic Centre marking the 75th anniversary of the Holocaust. There were powerful stories by Sir Erich Reich who had arrived in the UK on the Kindertransport and Anita Peleg who talked about the life and work of her mother, Naomi Blake, a sculptress an an Auschwitz survivor. The ceremony ended with a multi-faith prayer from representatives of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths.

The Mayor of Haringey, Cllr Sheila Peacock coordinated the whole event and will now spearhead preparations for a fitting way to celebrate the Victory in Europe (VE) day in May.

Regeneration in Wood Green

On Tuesday 28 January, I attended a meeting with Council’s regeneration officers who presented a range of projects that are being formulated to improve our priorities around people, place and the economy in Noel Park. Some of the most pertinent initiatives are follows:

(i)              Successful first round bid to the GLA’s Good Growth Fund to improve air quality and establish a youth hub where Matalan is: will provide more information in coming months.

(ii)             Noel Park Children’s Centre is now available for hire in the evenings and weekends for local organisations.

(iii)            A series of drop-in events have concluded to consult on the Wood Green and Turnpike Lane Design Manual to form a project bidding list for public realm improvements.

(iv)           A planning application was submitted in December 2019 for the re-design of the existing Café Roj in Ducketts Common providing an improved café which will operate over longer hours throughout the year.

Alex House

I reported last month that Haringey had refused a planning application by the Ability Group to convert Alex House on Station Road into ‘shoebox’ size poor quality housing. The developer has now submitted a revised application to create 171 residential units under reference HGY/2020/0225. You have until 20 February 2020 to comment on the planning application at the following website:

Proposed new developments in Noel Park

I attended a meeting on 29 January 2020 with the Council’s housing development team. The following sites have been identified for potential developments of council houses:

(i)              Barbara Hucklesbury Close: existing bungalows to be demolished and six family houses to be built

(ii)             71 Bury Road (garages): a large family house to be built on the site of these garages that are not used and have become derelict

(iii)            West Indian Cultural Centre: proposals are at a very preliminary stage to look at a development including the West Indian Cultural Centre and the neighbouring Jessica Buttons factory.

I will provide more information in the coming months when there is any progress on these proposed developments.

Engagement with residents’ groups

I have had and continue to have significant engagement with several residents’ groups helping them to address issues in their neighbourhood. Some of these examples are listed below:

(i)              Wallis Mews residents: I have met them on site twice in the last two months and raised a number of pieces of casework to address issues of anti-social behaviour, flytipping and motorbikes using the Mews as a short cut.

(ii)             Page High Residents’ Association: I met with Dr Adrian Chapman outside Page High and raised issues of lack of cleanliness outside Matalan, removal of the ‘Artizan’ sign from the building and CCTV. While I have been advised that no enforcement action can be taken against Matalan at this stage, I have asked officers to consider cleaning the outside and charging it back to Matalan.

(iii)            Alexandra Road: I have raised a substantial amount of casework in the recent past to address issues around flytipping and antisocial behaviour on Alexandra Road.

Residents’ groups may want to attend the next Ward Panel Meeting with Noel Park’s Safer Neighbourhood Team on Thursday 20 February 2020 at 7pm at the Green Rooms, Station Road, N22. Please email if you are intending to attend the meeting.


I am pleased to inform you that following a bid to Transport for London, Haringey council have been successful in securing funding to install 300 additional secure cycle parking spaces (50 Bikehangars) to residents. There is now a consultation with residents until 19 February 2020. We plan to install the Bikehangars in March/April 2020.

The following locations have been earmarked in Noel Park to have a bikehangar: (i) Farrant Ave, flank wall of 37 Darwin Rd, (ii) Outside 84 Hewitt Avenue and (iii) Ravenstone Road, flank wall of 39 Alexandra Road.

If you have any comments or suggestions on the proposal, please email at Please put ‘Bikehangar’ and your road name in the title line of the email.

Noel Park Primary School Parent and Community Advisory Board

I was invited by the school to join its Parent and Community Advisory Board and attended its meeting on Wednesday 29 January 2020. The school is looking to improve its links with the community and working to produce a magazine that will inform the wider community of the school’s successes and its offering.


January 2020 Councillor Report

Cllr Khaled Moyeed

Dear Noel Park Members
Happy new year! In this report, I have summed all the different types of work that I have been doing recently as your Councillor. I am happy to meet or speak on the phone if you would like more details on specific aspects of my work. Below are all the different bodies of which I am a member in my capacity as a Councillor:
(i) Chair of Housing and Regeneration Scrutiny Panel
(ii) Co-chair of Turnpike Lane Strategy Group
(iii) Member of Alexandra Park and Palace Advisory Committee
(iv) Member of Free School Meals Working Group
(v) Trustee of Wood Green Urban District Charity
During the general election campaign, I canvassed in many marginal seats outside London such as Milton Keynes North and South, Harlow, Stevenage and Hastings and Rye as well as locally for Catherine West. I also published a number of articles on LabourList and Labour Hub which reached thousands of readers across the country. You will find my articles on my blog (
i. Turnpike Lane Joint Strategy Working Group
Cllr Sarah James (Harringay) and I co-chair the Turnpike Lane Joint Strategy Working Group (TPLJSWG), made up of Harringay and Noel Park Ward Councillors, traders, residents, the Police, Council Officers and local interest groups, which was set up to tackle some of the issues facing the area and agree on a plan to improve Turnpike Lane.
TPLJSWG has been meeting regularly for the past 18 months and I am pleased to inform you that we are in a position to start agreeing on projects and schemes that local traders, residents and visitors to the area have been asking for.

I would like to invite you to attend the next TPLJSG meeting to be held on Monday 13 January, 6.00pm – 7:30pm, at Shine Café, 89-91 Turnpike Lane, N8 0DY. For further information please contact Maureen Juliana-Harvey at:

Below is a progress report of the various steps that we are taking on Turnpike Lane.

1. Festive lights: Festive lights have been installed and were switched on on Friday 6th December. It has been received well with traders, residents and visitors.

2. Bespoke business support: Thirty five businesses have participated in the scheme and been surveyed. Our aim was to identify 15 struggling businesses to offer intensive in-house and bespoke support. Those needing support tend to be managed by staff rather than owners. The staff have been reluctant to fully engage. We were hoping to collate detailed information about the businesses including types of tenure to ascertain whether they will be willing to participate in shop frontage improvement. We were also hoping to encourage them to invest, albeit a small amount, in their businesses and in developing an online presence and improve their marketing. We have not given up and will try to contact owners.

3. Redundant Estate Agents Boards: Officers from the Council’s Enforcement Team have agreed to launch an operation to take down expired and old estate agents boards. An operation has been set for 8th January 2020.

4. HMOs on TPL: The Housing Improvement Team and the WG Regeneration Team have applied to Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government – MHCLG, to deliver a project named ‘TPL -Accommodation Above the Shops’. The project is aimed at HMOs and will seek to work with tenants to ensure the properties comply with Council’s regulations and are safe and suitable for habitation. Elements of this projects includes: Establishing relationships with tenants and property owner; tackling waste management and ASB and establishing a line of communication for future engagements.
The project will be offering translations services and support. The scheme will also benefit from having two housing advisors funded through Migration Impact Funding as part of the Council’s wider connected community’s project. These officers will work alongside Housing Improvement Officers to ensure tenants have access to support mechanism, signposting to other services within the Connected Communities programme and to advise tenants of their rights. We have applied for £93,000.

5. Waste Consolidation Scheme: The Council’s Waste Improvement Team’, supported by Wood Green BID, have submitted a funding bid to London Waste Recycling Board to introduce a waste consolidation scheme in the area. Currently eleven different waste collection companies operate in the area. This project aims to reduce this number and use a local storage (compactor) to store the waste and remove them at a later stage.
An electric vehicle will be used for collection to reduce air pollution. When implemented the scheme will result in lower waste disposal costs for businesses. This is a two-stage bidding process. Our bid was successful at the first stage. The outcome of the second stage will be announced late January 2020.

6. Neighbourhood CIL Funding: Our application for Neighbour CIL money has been recommended for approval by the S106 / CIL team and a report will be going to February Cabinet meeting. The report has been signed off by Cllr Hearne and Dan Hawthorn. We have applied for £600,000.

7. GLA’s Good Growth Fund: The Council’s application to GLA’s Good Growth Fund has been successful at stage one and we will be preparing detailed application for the final stage. We have requested £600,000 to match fund the Neighbourhood CIL money to invest on TPL.

8. Place making and design service for TPL: All the documents and paperwork have been cleared by LBH Strategic Procurement and ready to go out to tender for a team of place making consultants to develop detailed and workable vision and design to implement the TPL improvement plan. On the advice of our Strategic Procurement team we will wait until 6th January to go live.

ii. Update on Alexandra Road drug den

There was an address in Alexandra Road which was used as a crack house. This property was closed by the police by means of a Closure Order. The police recently made a further application for a three-month extension meaning no persons will enter the property for a period of six months. The council has also served legal papers in regards to the property. There has been no further nuisance from the property which has been secured by the council.

Officers from the council have monitored Alexandra Road, The Avenue, Malvern Road and The Mews in Turnpike Lane since the Closure Order was obtained, but no persons have been witnessed misusing drugs or loitering with the intention to deal drugs. If residents have information to the contrary they should contact the police advising the date, time, a brief description of the offender. This will enable the police to deploy resources at appropriate times and give the police powers to Stop and Search if individuals match the description given by residents. Residents should report this issue to the police either on 101 or on the Met Police website at

iii. Alexandra House conversion

Many residents got in touch with me regarding the proposed conversion of Alex House on Station Road into shoebox size residential units by a billionaire property developer. Alex House is in Woodside ward. This story was featured in the Guardian with the title, “The billionaire and the 219 tiny flats: a new low for rabbit-hutch Britain?” (

The good news is that Haringey Council has refused planning permission for Alexandra House to be converted into shoe-box size residential units. I will continue to oppose this proposed conversion if the developer appeals the decision.

iv. Free school meals in Haringey’s primary schools

This was one of the key pledges of our manifesto. We had set aside £50,000 in our 2019/20 budget to carry out a pilot project. I spoke of my delight that we were making progress on this manifesto pledge during the full council meeting to set the budget in 2019.
I have now joined a free school meals working group led by Cllr Zena Brabazon, cabinet member for children and families. The first meeting is on Monday 6 January at 6pm. I will report back to you after the meeting.

v. High Road West Scrutiny Review

As part of my work as the chair of Housing and Regeneration Scrutiny Panel, I will be chairing a review of the regeneration scheme known as ‘High Road West’ with Lendlease as the developer. The scheme affects the Love Lane estate which has 297 apartments (majority are temporary accommodation tenants) and the Peacock Industrial Estate. The estimated value of the overall scheme is around £1billion. Please let me know if you are interested in the scrutiny review. I will keep you updated of progress especially if you want to attend any of the public evidence gathering sessions. Otherwise, I will not be reporting on this piece of work going forward as it does not concern Noel Park per se.

vi. Thoughts on Labour’s election defeat and election of new leader and deputy

Since I became a member in 2010, we have lost four general elections in a row. Last month’s electoral defeat was the most difficult for me, because the country needed a radical Labour government more than ever before to reverse austerity and invest in our economy. Labour needs to be united under its new leadership, because divided parties do not win elections. We will need to focus on winning the electorate rather than have endless internal factional struggles. Our manifesto for the next general election will need to be credible. Voters did not believe that our manifesto this time was deliverable which is why they rejected it.

I will wait to see who the candidates are for leader and deputy leader before declaring who I will support. I want the new leader to keep Labour left and retain many of our policies such as renationalisation, abolishing tuition fees, building council houses and the green industrial revolution. Moving to the centre or centre-right like ‘New Labour’ pursuing Thatcherite policies is not going to be the answer. I would like the leader and deputy to work as a team and avoid the dynamics that we saw between Corbyn and Watson.

vii. My Surgery Details

Residents can see me at the following times:
(1) Second Saturday of each month at Wood Green Library from 10.30 to 11.30: no need for appointment
(2) Fourth Saturday of each month: roving surgery from 10.30 to 11.30 by prior appointment.

Our Brexit policy cost us dear in this election, but we live to fight another day

Labour Image

As the exit poll was announced on Thursday 12 December 2019, it was clear that Labour was facing its worst electoral defeat since the 1930s. I expressed my initial thoughts in an article on LabourList as the result was coming in:

In the 2017 general election, Labour achieved the biggest increase in vote share of any political party since 1945. As I am writing this, according to the exit poll Labour is on course to win only 191 seats in this election. This would be the worst result, in terms of number of seats won, since the 1930s. It is a devastating blow to the Labour movement.

The difference between 2017 and 2019 is the change in Labour’s Brexit policy. In 2017, Labour said in its manifesto that it respected the outcome of the EU referendum. This remained the Labour policy for a long time and it was doing well in the polls while the Tories were tearing themselves apart over Brexit. In September 2018, Labour had opened up a four-point lead over the Tories, according to a Survation poll.

The Tory crisis over Brexit continued to deepen. In December 2018, Theresa May’s government was the first government in history to be held in contempt of parliament over its failure to publish the full Brexit legal advice. In January 2019, May had suffered the worst parliamentary defeat in history over her Brexit deal. It did not look like things could get any worse for the Conservatives.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn resisted calls to adopt the so-called ‘people’s vote’ as a Labour party policy. There were growing calls to change Labour’s policy on Brexit as the street marches for a people’s vote got bigger and bigger. Petitions calling for a people’s vote attracted millions of signatures. Labour finished third behind the Liberal Democrats in the EU parliamentary election in May 2019. The Labour Party caved into the internal pressure and adopted a second Brexit referendum as a policy at its conference in September 2019.

This gifted the Tories the perfect opportunity to mount a comeback by creating a narrative of Labour betrayal over Brexit. Labour’s position in the polls began to suffer. And Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings exploited this to go after Labour leave voters in northern heartlands. This was an expensive gamble and it seems to be paying off. Labour is losing seats in its ‘red wall’ seats that it had won for decades. Blyth Valley, for example, has never had a Tory MP until now.

Working class towns including former mining constituencies are turning blue. Traditional Labour voters who have never voted Conservative have voted for Boris Johnson to ‘get Brexit done’. It is a message which resonated with voters in those constituencies. On the doorstep, I spoke to many working class Labour voters who were not happy with Labour’s Brexit position. They felt that Labour had deserted them. Labour had adopted a Brexit policy that was overwhelmingly pursued by metropolitan elites with whom they could not relate.

Brexit is Boris Johnson’s Falklands war moment. Despite being consistently behind in the polls, Margaret Thatcher turned around her fortunes in the 1983 general election on the back of the British victory in the Falklands War. After the loss of the Tory majority in the 2017 election and the open civil war in the Conservative Party over Brexit, Boris Johnson was able to turn around the Tory fortunes by exploiting Brexit and going after Labour Leave voters.

Labour’s change in its Brexit policy from 2017 was the main reason why it has lost this election. If Labour had gone full Remain and joined the so-called ‘Remain alliance’, it may have lost even more seats. We just have to look at the Liberal Democrats’ failures in this election as evidence of that. Those who were instrumental in changing Labour’s Brexit policy from 2017 have to shoulder much of the responsibility for our devastating defeat.

It is important that we do not implode as a movement in a blame game that may now ensue. We still have to perform an important role in opposition holding the Tories to account. Boris Johnson’s mantra of ‘get Brexit done’ is itself a big lie – because it will take many years to negotiate a new trade deal with the EU. Brexit will not be done by January 31st and there remains a real risk of a cliff edge, no-deal Brexit at the end of 2020. Labour will have to hold Johnson’s feet to fire over Brexit and the light-touch promises that he has made to invest in our public services.

We must not retreat from our policy positions in all other areas. We need to continue to make the arguments that we made to protect our NHS, invest in our public services and bring about a green industrial revolution. We are a mass movement of people brimming with passion to bring about a real change away from austerity, privatisation and tax cuts for the wealthy. Thousands of Labour members went out braving the cold, having millions of doorstep conversations about Labour policies for the many. We will need to harness that energy and ensure that a Labour government is elected in post-Brexit Britain.

Don’t give up hope – this election is not in the bag for Boris Johnson

Labour Image

The YouGov MRP model was received with much fanfare when it was released on November 27th, some two weeks before the general election. It showed that Boris Johnson was on course to secure a 68-seat majority. The polls are giving the Tories on average a steady 10-point lead over Labour in the last few days going into the election. We have been here before. On the eve of the 2017 general election, a ComRes poll predicted a 74-seat Tory majority, giving the party a 10-point lead over Labour. We all know what happened next.

The 2017 general election campaign kicked off with much talk about how big the Tory landslide was going to be and that Labour was facing a historic wipe-out. Theresa May was apparently more popular than Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair in their heyday. The right-wing press ran away with headlines such as “Labour facing election wipeout as polls suggest Tory majority of up to 150” (Daily Telegraph, 25 April 2017). After the polls were proven so spectacularly wrong, Channel 4’s Jon Snow famously declared, “I know nothing. We the media, the pundits, the experts, know nothing.”

Polls were not just wrong in 2017; they were wrong about the 2016 EU referendum and the 2015 general election. Why polls have been so consistently wrong in recent years is what academics and psephologists are busy studying. If we have learnt anything at all from all these polls is that you do not win elections on the back of favourable poll ratings. This may sound obvious, but you would not think so looking at some of the mainstream press. The Daily Telegraph ran a comment piece saying that this election was already in the bag for Boris Johnson. The Sun has been chronicling the fall of Labour’s ‘red wall’ to get Brexit over the line. In a case of déjà vu, we are seeing hysterical headlines that proved so costly for Theresa May and might well be for Boris Johnson too.

Labour should be confident approaching December 12th for a number of reasons. The polls are underestimating the record number of young people who have registered to vote. There is evidence of the repeat of the so called ‘youthquake’ of 2017, because a lot more young people have registered to vote this time. Tories have turned this into a Brexit election in which young voters will want to have their say on the biggest issue of our time that affects their future. Those who have turned 18 since the 2016 EU referendum will have an added impetus. They did not get a say in 2016, but will certainly express their view at the ballot box this time.

The ‘youthquake’ is particularly evident in Boris Johnson’s seat, Uxbridge and South Ruislip, which is home to Brunel University. The Labour candidate, Ali Milani, was a former president of the Students Union at Brunel University. The university and a number of youth organisations have been active in the constituency mobilising young people. They may make history by making Boris Johnson the first sitting Prime Minister to lose their seat for about 100 years.

Tactical voting is another factor that could deny Boris Johnson a majority. A number of tactical voting websites have propped up. Although their advice is not consistent, what seems to be clear is that voters are a lot more clued up about voting tactically. I have spoken to people on the doorstep who are intending to vote tactically to oust their local Tory MP. In Stevenage, for example, I knocked on the door of a couple who were Lib Dem members, but were supporting their Labour candidate as it is a Tory-Labour marginal. Tory grandees such as John Major and Michael Heseltine have made important interventions in this election urging voters to reject Boris Johnson’s hard-right Brexiteer candidates in favour of alternative candidates. This is unprecedented. Even during Theresa May’s awful 2017 election campaign, a former Conservative Prime Minister and deputy Prime Minister did not call on voters to reject Tory candidates.

Labour’s ground campaign is another reason for which there is much to be hopeful about. Labour members have come out in their thousands braving the inclement weather to have doorstep conversations with voters. Neither the Tories nor the Lib Dems could match the enormity or the passion of Labour’s campaign on the ground. Instead, Tories have fought this election with lies, disinformation and fake news from changing the CCHQ Twitter handle to ‘FactCheckUK’ to registering a website to masquerade as ‘Labour’s manifesto’.

Labour members have had millions of doorstep conversations up and down the country about issues that matter to people such as ending austerity, protecting our NHS, abolishing tuition fees, a green industrial revolution and giving voters the final say on Brexit. Opinion polls will not be able to sufficiently reflect the effect of Labour’s ground game.

There is also a difference between how Labour members fought the 2017 campaign and how we are fighting this campaign. Labour’s chances were written off even before the election campaign kicked off in 2017. It is true that grassroots members campaigned mainly in marginal Labour held seats to ensure that we did not lose them. We wanted to shore up our base – it was a ‘defensive’ campaign. In contrast, this is an ‘offensive’ campaign and Labour members have gone out to campaign in marginal seats we are hopeful that we can win them from the Tories. Momentum is also running a much more sophisticated ground operation than 2017. Our resources are being distributed much more evenly to prevent members from piling into particular seats.

Finally, Labour have fought this campaign by putting forward a range of ideas to transform every part of our economy and society. Labour have launched specific manifestos for investments in the arts, to help disabled people and deal with the climate crisis, for example. Ideas have been put forward to transform our country in the same way that the 1945 Labour government transformed the country in the aftermath of the Second World War. In contrast, the Tories have barely included anything resembling a vision for our country in their manifesto. Boris Jonson has gone around repeating his mantra, “Get Brexit Done”, reminiscent of Theresa May’s meaningless “strong and stable” claim.

Britain is at a crossroads, with an election that will define our standing in the world. Boris Johnson and his acolytes in the mainstream media may act like he has already won this election, but Labour has done everything right in this election campaign to deny him a majority. Labour members should go out with the confidence that we can bring about a real change with a transformative government that will work for the many, not just the privileged few.

(First published on LabourList on 10 December 2019)

Court Defeat: The Wheels Come Off Swinson’s Presidential-Style Campaign

Swinson bus

Tony Blair has in the past been criticised for introducing a presidential style of government where the focus is disproportionately on personalities rather than policies. David Cameron also carried on the ‘presidential’ style of leadership. However, neither man propelled themselves as the front and centre of their election campaigns in the same way that Jo Swinson seems to have made the Lib Dems’ election campaign all about her. There is a massive mug-shot of Swinson on the side of the Lib Dems’ battle bus accompanied by the words ‘Jo Swinson’s Liberal Democrats’. Does she now own the Lib Dems? Her legal challenge to feature in the ITV leaders’ debate has been rebuffed by the High Court in a sign that her weird presidential style of campaigning may be running out of steam.

As the election campaign got underway, voters across the country were treated to an A4-size Lib Dem pamphlet emblazoned with a picture of Swinson on the cover with the wording, “JO SWINSON: Britain’s next Prime Minister”. This led BBC’s Andrew Neill to ask Swinson, “When did you indulge in fantasy politics?” on his eponymous political show on 30 October 2019. Swinson is suffering from delusions of grandeur, because she leads the party which came fourth in the last general election with only 12 MPs. There was no opinion poll that suggested that the Lib Dems might gain over 300 seats next month. At least in 1981, the Liberal-SDP Alliance was polling as high as 50% prompting the then Liberal leader, David Steel to announce to his party faithful, “Go back to your constituencies, and prepare for government!”. The rest is history as they say, but support for Jo Swinson’s Lib Dems has actually been plummeting since she unleashed her presidential style election campaign.

There are many reasons why Swinson’s election campaign is falling apart with the latest setback delivered by the High Court. It is undoubtedly a mistake to make this election campaign all about her rather than policies. Even as a personality, Swinson is not a compelling figure in British politics. She was a junior minister in the Tory-led coalition in which she consistently voted for austerity measures such as the ‘bedroom tax’ and trebled university tuition fees. She voted in line with the Tory whip more than some Tories. She lost her East Dunbartonshire seat to the SNP in the 2015 general election. There are signs that she might lose her seat again to the SNP next month.

Swinson has tried to portray herself as a better candidate for Prime Minister than either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn without any previous track record to back it up. Her strategy seems to be to repeat it as many times as possible hoping that it will cut through to voters. That may have had the opposite effect with the Lib Dems losing ground in opinion polls.

Swinson’s policy of cancelling Brexit by revoking Article 50 has been widely criticised including by Caroline Lucas whose Green Party is in the so-called ‘Remain Alliance’ with the Lib Dems. Remain voters overwhelmingly view Swinson’s position as anti-democratic. It is being seen as a gimmick to hoover up disenfranchised pro-Remain Tory voters. However, latest opinion polls show that Remain voters are not responding to Swinson’s ‘cancel Brexit’ mantra.

Another feature of Swinson’s election campaign which has come under criticism and mocked on social media is the rather imaginative use of bar charts in Lib Dems’ election material. In my own constituency, Tottenham, the Lib Dem leaflet had a bar chart showing the Lib Dem vote was higher than Labour’s according to the EU election. This is misleading, because the Lib Dems finished a distant third in the last general election. They have no chance of winning in Tottenham and they have never won in Tottenham. The Norwich South Labour MP, Clive Lewis tweeted a picture of a Lib Dem leaflet from his constituency showing that Lib Dem were first, Greens second and Labour third based on the EU election result. The reality is that Lib Dems finished a distant third in the 2017 general election. This prompted Clive Lewis to tweet the following to Swinson, “@joswinson how about some straight-up honesty re your party’s bar charts? Pls don’t take the electorate for mugs. You do all of politics a disservice with this distant approximation of a vague half-truth.”

On social media, activists have taken to mocking Lib Dems’ fake bar charts. I have seen a meme with two bar charts on the map of North Korea depicting that Kim Jung Un was out of the race and that only Lib Dems could win there. Clive Lewis has tweeted a picture of an astronaut on the moon with a Lib Dem garden stake that says, “Liberal Democrats winning here”. With these fake bar charts, Swinson’s campaign has lost all credibility.

The High Court defeat exposes that there was no legal basis in Swinson’s challenge to feature in ITV leaders’ debate. A massive billboard foisted on a van outside the High Court showed yet another mug-shot of Swinson with the words, “Debate her”. The British public might be put off by such overzealous personal branding in an election campaign that is not electing a president. There are still some weeks to go before the general election. If the Lib Dems want to salvage this election, they will be better off ditching Swinson’s presidential style election campaign. Instead, they should focus on announcing policies that will help the ordinary people of this country who are suffering from nine years of crippling austerity. They might want to apologise first for their part in inflicting austerity.

First published in on 19 November 2019.