Email Hacks and Political Elites
I find the treatment of
Labour Independent Councillor Kingsley Abrams intriguing. It is a story that has only been touched on by the local South London media, and has yet to be really fully explained to the electorate.
The reasons for the Vassall ward councillor losing the whip of the local @LambethLabour party have some parallels with Betty Evans-Jacas, the former Labour councillor for Brixton Hill, who walked across the chamber to join the Tories.
But unlike Betty, Councillor Abrams is a Labour supporter through and through. Yet still he finds himself sitting on the outside of the local party, despite polling an impressive 2,533 votes, the highest number is his Vassall ward with 16% of the overall vote.
The real reasons for Evans-Jacas leaving @LambethLabour have never really been explained outside of the local party either. With such a powerful mandate to serve the electorate in Vassall ward, I wanted to put on the public record why Councillor Abrams has been pushed aside.
We met up in Councillor Abrams home patch early evening on Thursday. I found Councillor Abrams in amiable form. He appears to have been treated incredibly harsh over recent months. What has happened to this popular local figure to make the powerful cabinet clique give Kingsley the cold shoulder?
Councillor Abrams alleges in the podcast below that @cllrstevereed, the Leader of Lambeth Council, was personally responsible for an email sting operation to try and catch him out. The allegation is that a false email was sent to Councillor Abrams’ email account personally by @cllrstevereed, with the Leader of Lambeth Council hoping that this would then be leaked to the South London Press.
Councillor Abrams strongly denies leaking this email, and indeed the failure of the South London Press to publish the false story, seems to verify his account.
What I find more disturbing about the whole affair is the means in which @LambethLabour was able to discover that Councillor Abrams had forwarded the email sting to Kate Hoey, the local MP for Vauxhall. The allegation is that @cllrstevereed instructed an apolitical civil servant to hack into Councillor Abram’s email account.
The story then becomes a political farce; Councillor Abrams was asked to resign ahead of May 6th. He refused to do so, rightly claiming that there had been no evidence presented against him. The election campaign was in full flow, and Councillor Abrams was given the absurd situation of doing the #labourdoorstep thing, knowing full well that if he were to win, his local party was going to do everything in its power to discredit him.
Unlike Betty Evans-Jacas, Councillor Abrams has declared his loyalty to the Labour party. He has been a member for thirty-two years, and wasn’t prepared to give up on his politics on the insistence of what appears to be an incredibly dirty tricks campaign by the right of the local party in Lambeth.
Councillor Abrams continued to recount the events to me, explaining how still without any evidence after May 6th, the power of the @LambethLabour cabinet led to a four-month suspension. An appeal followed, with the unprecedented action of the Leader of Lambeth Council actually representing himself and having to explain how the email hack had happened.
The conclusion is that Councillor Abrams lost the hearing. To this date, no evidence has yet been presented as to why he was even given a four-month suspension from the party that he is passionate about. Councillor Abrams speculates in the podcast below about how the clash of personalities within @LambethLabour, and to a lesser extent, political policy, is probably behind the playground style behaviour from the powers that be @LambethLabour.
I have a lot of time for Kingsley (although not that much – he had to dash off for a ward surgery, and then a tenant meeting on a local estate. He may have had the whip withdrawn, but he is still serving the locals on his ward incredibly well.)
We walked around the Cowley Estate early evening, and he was greeted with friendly smiles and waves at every corner. This is a battle that is of the making by the right wing of @LambethLabour. It is difficult to understand what the @LambethLabour cabinet is trying to achieve. Losing the services of a highly respected local Councillor, as well as the support of a local community, isn’t the traditional way to go about fighting the savage cuts being proposed from the opposition in Westminster.
For all the claims of a personality clash being responsible for the suspension, Councillor Abrams remains a very strong personality locally. This strength of that support will be seen in four months time when the suspension is complete, and Councillor Abrams ponders his next political move.