Changes in such seemingly-distant positions are not to be brushed aside, despite the lack of coverage they receive in the mainstream press.
As you probably know Ken Clark the Regional Director for Labour in London retired on Friday.
I have been appointed as the new Regional Director and wanted to drop you a line to introduce myself. Although I have been in the Eastern region for some years now, and at Head Office prior to that, my employment with the Party started in West London working as an Organiser in Hillingdon and Hounslow. I first joined the Party in Twickenham when Toby Jessel was the Tory MP before having spells in Kingston and then Sutton.
It’s a welcome change for members to be informed of such developments – but we shouldn’t be as optimistic as Alan, who presumes we “probably” already knew about Ken Clark’s departure. A profile of Comrade Clark in the East London News was one piece among a very small pool of coverage of the development. The same article demonstrates quite how important such positions can be to local politics especially. Ken Clark did not write to his members say goodbye on his departure. (See update, below.)
Neither, for that matter, did Alan Olive, who comes to London from Labour’s Eastern region. The last that members in the east heard from Alan was on 11th June, when he wrote to announce the deadline for the Norwich North selection.
Aside from carrying on a good start on the communication work, Alan faces a key test: can he reunite the Labour party in Tower Hamlets, and pay members in the borough a little more respect? The chaos in Clark’s handling of the situation was brought home in how he (rightfully) announced Lutfur Rahman as the successful candidate in the mayoral selection race to TV cameras, only to then send out a flurry of emails describing Rahman as “an ex-Labour independent, who has declared himself a candidate”. Sorry Ken, but Rahman didn’t declare himself a candidate – you did.
I’m fairly optimistic – like Alan. But given the situation in Clacton he has just escaped, where his team have been accused of a “witch-hunt” in the unexplained expulsion of a CLP secretary, don’t expect everyone to be as chirpy as either of us.
Once we’re done with ridding the party of witch-hunts, let’s get back to the London Poor.
UPDATE 17/08, 12pm: It seems some members did indeed receive a ‘personal’ goodbye message from Ken Clark. Others, however, received Alan Olive’s salutation but nothing from Clark; further members report receiving neither message.