Havering Councillor: Linda Hawthorn (Upminster)

Linda’s been a councillor for thirty years. She’s maintained her position at the top of the polls since 1990.1 She’s the best example of Havering’s bizarre political life.

Upminster is the living heartbeat of outer-London Conservative domination. Julia Lopez’s enormous majority is guaranteed by places like Upminster.2 However if she and Linda went toe-to-toe in a council election she’d be trounced. In local elections the Conservatives are toxic. The Residents’ Association (RA) reign supreme. Why?

There was a political earthquake in Upminster in 1990. A Conservative ‘impregnable’ majority was destroyed by Linda and her two RA colleagues. In 2002 Linda received 4202 votes, an unprecedented result. Linda’s majority was a stunning 3223. In 2018 there wasn’t a single councillor who got 3223 votes.3 She’s been a turbo-charged vote gathering machine for 30 years.

The Conservatives lost an impregnable majority through arrogance. They haven’t learned. The recent sale of the Hall Lane site is entirely typical.4 What made this worse was the foolhardy decision to buy the Marks and Spencer site in Romford.5

Linda’s political career is astonishing. She epitomises RAs in Upminster with her unwavering commitment to defending the area from predatory Romford Conservatives.

Notes

1 Historic (Pre 2010) local election results | The London Borough Of Havering

2 Julia Lopez (politician) – Wikipedia her majority is 23,308

3 Local elections | Election results | The London Borough Of Havering

4The sale of ‘Hall Lane Pitch and Putt’: Conservative Revenge? – Politics in Havering

5 Damian White and Romford Marks and Spencer (M&S) July, 2019 – Politics in Havering

Havering’s Election: Collier Row and Mawney Ward, 2022

Councillors often lose their seats in mid-term local elections. These elections are sometimes used to ‘punish’ unpopular governments.1 This is a fact of electoral life. The Collier Row and Mawney leaflet published by the Conservatives is blissfully unaware of this. They’re planning a coronation.

The leaflet (nos. 85) claims there’s a local Conservative Action Team. Their sole identified achievement was delivering the leaflet. This is an abnormal use of the word  ‘Action’.

The 220 words in the leaflet are vacuous. There’s nothing about the positive impact the three councillors have made in 4 years. This is amazing because Jason Frost is the cabinet member for health during a pandemic!

The front of the leaflet2 is quaint, “Romford is a traditional English Market Town in the historic County of Essex3….” And,“…we fly the Union Jack from our Town Hall 365 days of the year!”  This is so feeble it should be on a life support machine.

Meanwhile on the back there’s a surprise. There’s a series of bizarre questions. An example is Q3, “Do you agree that Havering must keep its special character as a town and country borough and should not become just another part of inner London.”   This question is 57 years too late as Havering has enjoyed being part of London since the mid-1960s. Of course, the Conservatives might want to trade the London Freedom Pass for an Essex post code. In which case they should say so straight out.

Given that councillors have nothing to boast about in this pre-election leaflet, why would anyone vote for them again?

Notes

1 In 1968 Labour lost 21 of their 51 seats in Newham 1968 Newham London Borough Council election – Wikipedia

2 The Conservatives sometimes pad out their leaflets with quotes which owe more to artistic license than reality Romford Conservatives falsely quote residents in newsletters | Romford Recorder

3 Havering has been a London Borough since 1964 two years before Andrew Rosindell was born.

Andrew Rosindell: Parliament, 14th December, 2021

Dr Luke Evans (Con) While masks are of course inconvenient, they are a relatively easy way of reducing the risk of not only covid, but other viruses such as flu. Let us not forget that the number of flu admissions places a huge amount of pressure on the NHS, so a reduction in both conditions—as evidenced—makes sense to me.”1 Hansard 14th December 2021

Andrew believes making mask wearing compulsory is an infringement of liberty. Let’s see if Andrew’s position is coherent.

Enoch Powell was a philosopher-politician and a true libertarian. In 1973 he argued against mandatory helmets for motor cyclists because suicide wasn’t illegal.2 Powell’s position was that reckless behaviour sometimes results in death but so what? That’s the price of reckless behaviour sometimes. Wearing masks during a pandemic isn’t being reckless with your own life, it’s being reckless with the lives of other people. In brief, it’s a Public Health issue.

Let’s imagine Andrew’s infected, unknowingly, with Covid-19’s new potent form, Omicron. A simple way of reducing his capacity to infect others is to wear a mask.3 He’s against this and refused to vote for mandatory mask wearing. He claims it’s an infringement of his ‘liberty’. The liberty to infect others.

Covid-19 effects people differently. The impact ranges from nothing to death. The Public Health response is to protect the population from known danger. Protective measures includes wearing masks.

Dr Evans said masks are “inconvenient” but “a relatively easy way of reducing…risk”. Not a magic bullet but important during a pandemic. Andrew is indulging in political posturing.

Responsible leadership demands that the public good triumphs over personal inclination. This is especially true for our MPs.

Notes

1 Parliamentary debate on Public Health with four votes on regulations for the current pandemic Public Health – Hansard – UK Parliament For the actual resolution on face masks see “That the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (SI, 2021, No. 1400), dated 9 December 2021.” There were 41 No votes including Andrew

2 MOTOR CYCLISTS (HELMETS) (Hansard, 5 April 1973) (millbanksystems.com)

3 Now mask wearing has been legislated for there’s no reason to believe he won’t obey the law.

South Hornchurch Ward: Utter Chaos

South Hornchurch is Havering’s political disaster zone. It’s a Residents’ Association (RA) stronghold which has imploded.

Michael Deon Burton fell out with the RAs and was re-elected as an Independent. 48 hours after being elected he became a Conservative. As Conservatives are toxic in South Hornchurch this was Damian White’s only route into the ward. Michael is an important part of Damian’s coalition. Damian’s Conservatives failed to get a majority and he had to win over those who were susceptible to his charms.

The re-drawing of Havering’s ward boundaries reduced South Hornchurch to two seats from three. Easy-peasy you might think. As there are only two RA councillors left, they carry on. Unfortunately life since 2018 has been unkind. Michael is awaiting trial for harassing RA Natasha Summers1,2 and as a renegade he’s unlikely to be elected. She hasn’t enjoyed being a councillor and might not stand.

The elderly, but feisty, Graham Williamson3 is the last RA standing. The self-inflicted damage the RAs have suffered will help Labour’s Julia Offord Pearman and Adeel Akhtar. Unlike Graham they live in the ward. Ironically this used to be the RAs selling point. Labour is campaigning. This is a skill complacent RAs forgot long ago. Campaigning can make a difference even in safe seats.

2022 is throwing up interesting contests but, as always, democracy is about who turns up to vote.

Notes

1 Havering Council Conservative denies harassment at court | Romford Recorder

2 See my blog Havering Councillor: Natasha Summers (South Hornchurch) – Politics in Havering

3 Graham features in Wikipedia Graham Williamson – Wikipedia

Andrew Rosindell, MP for Romford

Andrew went to Marshalls Park school. He was passionate about politics, becoming a councillor at the earliest opportunity for Collier Row.

Thrillingly he became MP in 2001, despite another Blair landslide. Then it went wrong. Twenty years have passed and he’s still a backbencher. How do bored MPs kill the time? Andrew’s preference is foreign travel, especially when it’s free and legitimate.1 A recent week to San Marino involved a £1,000 for food. This is bad politics but Andrew’s calculation is he’ll escape electoral punishment.

Andrew’s become a right-wing Maverick. He joined the European Research Group (ERG). They campaigned for Brexit and against Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May. Andrew recently joined the Covid Recovery Group.2 This is an unsuccessful version of ERG. Unsuccessful because people die from Covid but are only economically unwell from Brexit.

His comments on Universal Credit were a car crash, I think there are people that quite like getting the extra £20 but maybe they don’t need it. He then defended MPs with second jobs. We have to be careful about this, we have to realise we are dealing with human beings who have families and responsibilities.”3 This is toxic. One MP earns a million pounds annually from his second job.

The purchase of Debenhams by Asian businessmen was unfortunate, “Because the Asian mall does not merit a change of use for the building, both the council and I are unable to prevent the centre from going ahead, I am afraid.” (my emphasis)4This is ‘dog whistle’ politics where politicians silently appeal to racist opinions.

Andrew is a very capable constituency MP. But is he losing his touch?

Notes

1 PressReader.com – Digital Newspaper & Magazine Subscriptions see also Romford MP Andrew Rosindell took free trip to San Marino | Romford Recorder

2 European Research Group – Wikipedia and also see Fifty rebel Tory MPs form anti-lockdown Covid Recovery Group (cityam.com) On the 30th November 2021 Andrew missed the vote on the compulsory wearing of masks unlike most of the CRG Public Health – Hansard – UK Parliament Perhaps this explains his non-vote, “No 10 is reportedly threatening to withdraw funding for their constituencies if they don’t toe the party line in Commons votes”. Government is acting like a mobster to its own MPs – Good Law Project Subsequently Andrew has reaffirmed his CRG position which makes it all the odder that he didn’t take the opportunity to exercise his vote. My position is clear ‘No More’ restrictions -Andrew Rosindell MP. – The Havering Daily

3 Andrew Rosindell criticised for comments on Universal Credit | Romford Recorder see also Tory MP’s defence of second jobs is compared to universal credit response (thelondoneconomic.com) As part of the MPs expenses scandal in 2009 Andrew’s second home was criticised although it was entirely legitimate at that time, “…claiming £125,000 in second home expenses for a London flat, while designating his boyhood home 17 miles away as his main address.” Tory MP used taxpayer-funded stationery for 250 birthday party invites – Mirror Online

4 Romford’s Debenhams is now an Asian shopping mall and residents are divided – MyLondon Andrew has no role in Havering’s planning process and therefore can’t prevent anything.

Havering’s Secondary Academies and their Disadvantaged Students

Research:

The key metric is the Gold Standard of GCSE Grade 5+ English and Mathematics. For England, non-disadvantaged students’ outcome is 50%. Havering out-performs England by a significant 5 percentage points.

The 2019 statistics are from the government website1 (see Addendum). The benchmark is 50%.

PP = Pupil Premium this is additional funding for closing the attainment gap of disadvantaged students. A higher figure indicates a greater number of disadvantaged students in the school as it’s a per capita payment. Total PP funding for Havering’s secondary academies is £3,578,103

Coopers Coburn

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 57% PP £87,450

Sacred Heart of Mary

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 55% PP £137,889

Francis Bardsley

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 44% PP £216,440

St Edwards

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 37% PP £188,182

They tacitly blame their students by saying that “33%  [of] St Edward’s students live in Barking and Dagenham (ranked fifth most deprived local authority in England).

See Pupil-Premium-Report-2020-2021-md.pdf (steds.org.uk)

Royal Liberty

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 36% PP £143,250

Harris Academy Rainham

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 35% PP £230,000 (approximately)

They arrogantly don’t give an accurate figure for their PP funding.

Abbs Cross

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 34% PP £153,340

Emerson Park

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 31% PP £218,005

Bower Park

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 29% PP £275,995

Brittons

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 29% PP £265,985

Gaynes2

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 29% PP £69,100

Hall Mead

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 28% PP £166,309

Drapers

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 23% PP £384,640

Campion

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 21% PP £67,675

Redden Court3

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 21%1 PP £157,685

A significant proportion of students at Redden Court School (c.25%) are disadvantaged. We never use this as an excuse; rather, it adds to our moral purpose. Our school motto is: ‘Committed to Success for All’; this is something we strongly believe in – we are, therefore, committed to the success of all our disadvantaged students.”

Pupil Premium Strategy 2020/21 – Google Docs

Marshalls Park

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 18% PP £232,245

Hornchurch High2

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 17% PP £367,218

Sanders Drapers

English and Mathematics Grade 5+ Disadvantaged 7% PP £216,785

Discussion

As both the 2020 and 2021 GCSE examinations are unnoticed on government, and usually, school websites, drawing conclusions is tricky. For example there’s a new management team at Sanders Draper Academy and schools aren’t static places. Nonetheless some broad brush statements can be made.

Correlation is poor between PP funding and outcomes. St Edwards is 10th in Havering’s PP funding rankings but 4th in outcomes for disadvantaged students. Meanwhile Marshalls Park is 5th in PP funding and 15th in outcomes.

Three average schools in Havering at co-equal 9th

Bower Park’s 2018 OFSTED inspection rated the school as ‘Good’ in Bower Park’s case a third of disadvantaged students (49/147) are discounted as their outcomes are less than good.

Brittons 2019 examination results show that 30% of their cohort achieved the Gold Standard, which is virtually identical to those of disadvantaged students. So they are below the borough average for non-disadvantaged students but average for disadvantaged students.

Gaynes has a solid performance of 60% in English and Mathematics for the school5 but that isn’t translated to disadvantaged students. Their statistics are affected by the small numbers in the cohort where a single student can be disproportionate.

Addendum: Covid-19 and GCSE results

Both the 2020 and 2021 GCSE examinations were teacher assessed. It’s immediately apparent that those results aren’t used in a customary way. The government website doesn’t use them and most schools publish a summary. Why? Are these GCSE results problematic? Are they fatally flawed and a pale imitation of the real thing? This places a constraint on understanding current, 2021, outcomes for disadvantaged students.

Notes

1 GOV.UK – Find and compare schools in England (compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk)

2 These blogs were written some time ago and it was at that point I decided to review every secondary school in Havering. Gaynes School Gaynes School, the Pupil Premium and Accountability – Politics in Havering and Hornchurch High School Hornchurch High School, the Pupil Premium and Accountability – Politics in Havering

3 Ofsted: Redden Court School could be ‘outstanding’ | Romford Recorder

4 2771545 (ofsted.gov.uk) Bower Park is at Havering’s average along with Brittons and Gaynes at joint 9th out of 18.

5 All schools and colleges in Havering – GOV.UK – Find and compare schools in England (compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk) See also Achievement and Performance – Gaynes School

Havering Council Meeting: 17th November, 2021

Havering’s councillors love eulogies. Nothing deters them. David Amess, the murdered Southend MP, brought Ron Ower to his feet. Ron lived near Amess in Forest Gate as a boy and councillors were pleased to hear about that. Eulogies are supposed to celebrate the deceased, not provide a platform for ego massage.1 They should be given a maximum of 10 minutes to stop time-wasting.

The Climate Change Emergency was the principal item of business. The Council’s plan is huge and lacks detail. It emerged on 10th November and Ray Morgon and Keith Darvill said it needed scrutiny. It didn’t get it and was brought to Council seven days later. Thirteen minutes of argy-bargy ensued. Bizarrely, this means scrutiny will happen after agreement.

Councillors in speaking order:2

Joshua Chapman (44 mins) remarked Climate Change meant “an organisational and cultural change” for the entire Council.

Jeff Tucker (50) said the plan was basically a directive from Boris Johnson, aka ‘The Big Boss’.

Keith Darvill (56) reviewed his previous objections in a telling way.

Viddy Persaud (59) likes the way officers work hard.

Robert Benham (1:01) sold his Jaguar so the Emergency is virtually over.

Ray Morgon (1:03) described the Plan as a ‘massive wish list’, uncosted and ‘all talk’.

Stephanie Nunn (1:07) was scathing, describing it as ‘uncosted’ and ‘rubbish’.

Roger Ramsey (1:08) claimed ‘existing budgets’ would take the strain. He had a straight face proving what an old pro he is.

Michael Deon Burton (1:11) said opposition members were petty for objecting.

Dilip Patel (1:14) wants to spend a lot of money for the future of children.

Barry Mugglestone (1:16) said they hadn’t got the basics right

Chris Wilkins (1:17) said the 2019 report had been ignored.

Jeff Tucker (1:18) spoke movingly about out-of-order lights in Rainham churchyard.

Damian White (1:23) was in combative mode. He claimed councillors hadn’t read the report and the oft quoted £500,000 cost didn’t exist. Surprisingly he added it might cost £10 million. He said Overview and Scrutiny committees were hopeless and never produced anything for the Cabinet to discuss. He’s becoming a class act.

Keith Darvill, Ray Morgon and Damian White should have a round table discussion and get on with substantive decision-making. The drivel that punctuated this debate demonstrates that leadership is called for. Amazingly, Michael Deon Burton was quite right. There is too much pettiness and this matter is too important for that.

Notes

1 The finest recent example of a eulogy was by Roger Ramsey about Del Smith. Havering’s Council Meeting: 1st September, 2021 (part one) – Politics in Havering

2 For the webcast go to Annotator Player (sonicfoundry.com) All the times relate to this source

Keith Prince vs Damian White: 2022 Conservative Leadership Contest

Keith is a Conservative superstar1 and fancies himself. He was re-elected a GLA Member in May, 2021 but it was a joyless victory. Sadiq Khan’s London Labour are tightening their grip and that’s the kiss of death for Keith who wants to be a mover-and-shaker. Keith now has his sights on Havering. The Havering Conservative Leadership election, 2022, could be blood-thirsty.

Political ironies pile up. Damian is vacating his seat in Squirrels Heath and moving to Havering-Atte-Bower. And who steps into Squirrels Heath ward? Keith!

Damian shouldn’t be underestimated. He’s politically adroit and built a coalition in 2018 out of nothing. For four years he’s used Special Responsibility Allowances2 for the only electorate that matters: Conservative councillors. But that was then. What can Keith offer?

It takes a very brave Leader to re-jig allowances when it’s going to cost councillors money. Neither are going to do that. So the election depends on other things.And what might they be?

Damian has amiable contempt for his colleagues, which he conceals badly. The Bob Perry revelations about possible gerrymandering showed Damian’s unpleasant side. He’s also keen on councillors pulling their weight when it comes to campaigning. This is unpopular with elderly Conservatives who want a quiet life. Perhaps Keith will be more understanding?

This is predicated on the Conservatives forming an administration in 2022, which is far from certain. Keith could find himself rejected by Squirrels Heath’s voters and nursing even more thwarted ambitions.

Notes

1 Keith was a Havering councillor 1990-5; a Redbridge councillor 2003-18 (Leader 2009-14); GLA member 2016-present. He was re-elected in 2021 with a majority of 15,327

2 2020 Members Allowances final.pdf (havering.gov.uk) For the allowances of individual councillors see Havering Members Allowances 2018-19 summary This is slightly out of date but gives a reasonable idea.

Emerson Park Ward: a Crumbling Conservative Stronghold

Background

Emerson Park is Hornchurch’s only Conservative ward. It’s a wealthy area with ten million pound plus houses for sale.1 It’s the fiefdom of Roger Ramsey who’s a veteran councillor He’s smooth, clever, wealthy, massively experienced, a fluent speaker and everything modern Conservatives aren’t. But Emerson Park Conservatives are vulnerable.

Discussion

Over the years, the Conservatives have lost safe seats in Upminster and Cranham to huge Resident Association (RA) majorities.2 The signs are Emerson Park is going the same way. Roger’s holding it together with his personal vote. He’s done 50+ years but even superstars prefer life without whining colleagues. He’s cabinet member for finance, which is demanding even for eager beavers.

The 2014 election brought UKIP into the equation. One seat was won by a man who wasn’t a Conservative, which was his only virtue. In 2018 three Conservatives were elected but the RAs failed by four votes to win a seat. This is an ultra marginal outcome.

2018 was a good year for Conservatives but Roger Ramsey’s stronghold turned ultra marginal. The next four years weren’t been kind to the Conservatives. Bob Perry left and reinvented himself as a ferocious anti-Conservative campaigner in Squirrels Heath after the gerrymandering scandal.

The Conservatives have been in power 20 years. Their image is tarnished by their use of Special Responsibility Allowances which don’t look warranted. Emerson Park Conservatives may well pay the price in 2022.

Notes

1 Correct on 1st November 2021

2 Linda Hawthorn has a 2000 vote majority over the Conservatives in Upminster, which is unbelievable in local elections. Local elections | Election results | The London Borough Of Havering