The Queen Elizabeth Memorial Council Meeting, 22nd September 2022

Ray Morgon (@ 7 minutes)1, as Leader, had to get it right and he did. The entire conduct of the meeting was in step with his quiet deferential, but not groveling, opening statement. He didn’t use his entire five minutes, saying what needed to be said with a suitable amount of brevity. It was unrushed and sincere.

Keith Darvill (10 mins) as a former MP had met the Queen and remarked on that occasion. He also commented on her charity and voluntary work and her position in the Commonwealth.

Martin Goode (15 mins) had an interesting comment about the way that Canadians honoured her as head of state. He also had an amusing anecdote of mistaking Princess Margaret for the Queen as a very young child in east London.

The Mayor (17 mins) read a eulogy from the Islamic Cultural Centre before remarking on his work as a fireman at Wimbledon with the Queen present.

Judith Holt (21 mins) made a moving and deeply personal series of anecdotes about the importance of the Queen to her own family. She queued for several hours last week for the laying in state.

Linda Hawthorn (32 ) told a lovely anecdote about the Queen’s visit to the Queen’s Theatre in 2003. She spoke briefly but obviously felt deeply.

Viddy Persaud (38) began by saying she was worried about repetition but then comforted herself by saying (rightly) that on this occasion repetition was appropriate. She was the last speaker.

There were 15 speakers in all and this is a summary of the meeting. I thought the meeting hit the right note throughout, as councillors rose to the occasion.

Note

1 In brackets means the start time. The webcast is here Annotator Player (sonicfoundry.com)

Havering’s 2022 Election: an Unexpected Outcome

Local politics is a cult with a tiny number of activists.1 As a result, local politics relies heavily on these people to finance it, the most important of whom are councillors along with their families and friends. Any significant downturn in their financial status immediately effects their local party.

The 2022 election was a disaster for Romford Conservatives because they were defeated after 20 lucrative years. Damian White and his cabinet lost tens of thousands of pounds in allowances each. Other Conservatives lost smaller, but significant, amounts. Hundreds of thousands of pounds in allowances no longer flow to the Conservatives.2 Romford’s Conservative councillors suffered a lifestyle changing event in May, 2022.3 This reduced their enthusiasm for financing the party.

On the other side of the coin Ray Morgon’s HRA4 have finance they’ve never had before. HRA is a federation which doesn’t have the costs of a political party. Their 2022 poster campaign did, however, indicate a direction of travel. So, it’s possible HRA will become a borough political party. HRA’s junior partner, Labour, have had an increase in councillor allowances with two cabinet posts. This should improve their campaigning.

These unexpected financial consequences could reshape Havering’s political landscape. The Conservatives are starved of money, which could expose them to the mercy of wealthy backers. Another scenario is activists will promote hobby-horses, which might end up being extremism of one kind or another.

Notes

1 John and Philippa Crowder; Oscar and Gillian Ford; Dilip and Nisha Patel. These three families are an extreme example of the cult-like atmosphere. Oscar and Gillian are the most powerful husband/wife politicians since Arthur and Margaret Latham in the 1990s.

2 Romford councillors pick up the basic £10,412 p.a (£239,476 in total so they aren’t entirely bereft and may have a bit left over to contribute towards the party – if they want.)

3 Due to Damian’s pot-of-gold policy virtually every Conservative has lost at least £3,000 per year.

4 HRA = Havering Residents Association

Havering Council Meeting: 13th July, 2022

Ray Morgon’s cabinet has a lot to prove. None have had policy making positions and one’s only been on Council for two months. So how did they do?

Question Time was Ray’s cabinet’s first outing. Classy Conservative questions were a sharp improvement on the tedious HRA efforts we used to endure. There were two standout moments.

Dilip Patel asked about Development (@42 minutes)1. Graham Williamson casually remarked about developing the ‘Green Belt’ in the fullness of time. This is a dramatic policy shift. I wonder if his cabinet colleagues know about it?  Osman Dervish (@53 minutes) asked Oscar Ford about free school meals during holiday periods. He said there won’t be any unless government financed them and then burbled about budget constraints. Ford was unmoved when it was pointed out this meant sacrificing vulnerable children during a catastrophic cost-of-living crisis.

Sue Ospreay (@1 hour10) was emotional about derelict land in Rainham. Morgon said it was a ‘Bad Thing’. They’ll still be wringing their hands in horror in ten years.

Opposing ULEZ2 in Havering (@1:38) was led by David Taylor. Keith Prince’s rant, (@1 hour50) and Judith Holt’s desire to join Essex (@1:52) convinced me some Conservatives are having a mental breakdown. Williamson (@1 hour:55) remarked that 7% of Havering’s death rate was due to air pollution. This is three deaths a week, every week, which is a good argument for ULEZ, I’d have thought.3

There were an unprecedented six Conservatives absent. They included Damian White who’ll be pleased to know his group gave a good show.

Notes

1 Annotator Player (sonicfoundry.com)

2 For ULEZ see Ultra Low Emission Zone (ulez.co.uk)

3 Municipality of HAVERING: demographic balance, population trend, death rate, birth rate, migration rate (urbistat.com)

Ray Morgon’s Cabinet Announced: Who Are They?

After 38 days of ‘wheeling and dealing,’ a cabinet is in place.1 It’s less diverse and older than Damian White’s outgoing Conservative cabinet. Ray has welded together the independent Residents’ Associations.2 He’s also brought Labour into a Working Agreement, making sense of consensus politics. Ray’s done interesting political juggling.

The Cabinet3

Ray and Keith Darvill have had 20 years in opposition. Ray has never succumbed to the Conservatives’ ‘pot-of-gold’ politics. His first act was to reduce Councillor Allowances, which suggests personal integrity. Keith has been a lonely figure following the implosion of Labour in 2002. They’ve both been principal members of Council for 20 years and stand head and shoulders above their colleagues.

Gillian and Oscar Ford are the most powerful husband and wife team since Labour’s Arthur and Margaret Lathom. Oscar (2022) is a complete unknown. He might find scrutiny bruising. For example, is his principal qualification for cabinet being Gillian’s husband? Gillian (2002) has flattered to deceive on many occasions. There always seems to be more unsaid than said. Has she got the inner steel to drive an agenda in a very difficult department?

Paul McGeary (2010), Paul Middleton (2018), Barry Mugglestone (2014) Chris Wilkins (2018) and Graham Williamson (2014) fill the remaining cabinet posts. They’re indifferent speakers but experience will rectify that. Their contributions in committee and council suggests they’re sound. McGeary’s professional profile means he’s amply qualified for his post. Wilkin’s qualification for the Finance post is that he’s a buy-to-let landlord. This is probably insufficient.4

Notes

1 14th June 2022

2 From now on Residents’ Associations will be only referred to by the umbrella title Havering Residents’ Association (HRA)

3 Cabinet structure (havering.gov.uk)

4 mgConvert2PDF.aspx (havering.gov.uk)

Havering’s Winds Of Change: HRA Take Over

The Council Tax meeting, 2nd March 2022, saw Ray Morgon attack the ‘pot-of-gold’ politics of Damian White. HRA produced a detailed analysis of allowances paid to Conservative councillors,1 not all of which were value for money. His ‘compare and contrast’ analysis is unambiguous. Every single additional allowance for 2022-23, will be reduced and some ‘jobs’ deleted altogether. Morgon’s proposals shrink the allowance budget by £218,434.

Unfortunately, £218,434 is too small to make a significant difference in the Council’s multi-million pounds budget.2 Nonetheless I applaud Morgon’s direction of travel. The horrible, insincere Osborne slogan3We’re all in this together’ actually means something in Havering.

Conservative councillors are used to significant supplements to their basic allowance of £10,412.4 They now face a dramatic pay-cut. Damian White’s allowances reduce from £56,317 as Leader to £18,062 as Leader of the Principal Opposition. Former cabinet members lose their £29,356 allowance.5 At least two appear to be full-time politicians, which means they’ll be making major reappraisals of their lives.

The Council has suffered catastrophic financial losses from Covid-19. In addition, central government grant cuts and massive increases in demand for statutory services will worsen the dire financial situation. Morgon’s team have massive challenges facing them but this is a good symbolic start.

Notes

HRA is the Havering Residents’ Association

1 (Public Pack)SUPPLEMENTARY AGENDA Agenda Supplement for Council, 02/03/2022 19:30 (havering.gov.uk) p10

2 Every time the Bank of England raises the interest rate by 0.25% it adds £250,000 to the borough’s interest bill.

3 George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer 2010-16, used this slogan to promote the destructive Age of Austerity.

4 This allowance is unchanged

5 They received this and the councillors allowance of £10,412.

Havering Residents’ Association: Who Are They?

HRA is an umbrella organization, which maintains the legacy identities of Residents’ Associations (RA). The hard political miles over next four years will be very demanding for this arrangement. Having to make policies for the whole borough and balancing spending priorities is challenging.

The political labels that Havering’s Democracy Department uses for councillors illustrates the problem.1 HRA has six councillors not 20.2 Neither the Leader, or his deputy, are identified as HRA councillors. Ray Morgon belongs to the Residents’ Group; Gillian Ford to the Upminster and Cranham Residents’ Group.

This isn’t nit-picking.3 Amateurism is lovable, until it lurches into a destructive shambles when people discover that not every decision is applauded.

HRA’s 20 councillors includes five women. Conservatives have nine out of 23, Labour five out of nine and East Havering Residents’ Group none. HRA and Labour have female deputy leaders so women’s issues should, hopefully, get a voice. Gillian Ford has an especial role in this matter. HRA’s female councillors are middle-aged and their life experiences should have sensitised them to sexist injustices.

HRA’s male councillors are mostly old.( see Addendum)4 It should be remembered that Havering is an ‘old’ borough, so this isn’t a complete anomaly.

Ray Morgon has begun consensual politics with his nominees for LGA positions.5  This policy has to be applauded if it’s a sign of things to come.

Addendum: Ray Morgon’s Cabinet

Ray Morgon (60) Leader and professional politician

Gillian Ford (60) Deputy leader involved mentoring councillors (not LBH)

Chris Wilkins (67) Retired Senior local authority officer in housing

Graham Wilkinson (65) Retired logistic manager

Oscar Ford (?) Retired Senior local authority officer in strategy, performance and resources

Barry Mugglestone (?) Retired Ford Motors supervisor

Keith Darvill (74) Solicitor

Paul McGeary (65) NHS estates manager

Paul Middleton (?) Unemployed

Source Romford Recorder 12th August 2022

Notes

1 Your Councillors | The London Borough Of Havering This list is used for this blog. It’s published by the Democracy department of Havering Council and is based on the information given to the Council by councillors. As of 8th June 2022 HRA, as an umbrella organisation, is recognised on the Democracy site.

2 There are two HRA councillors for Emerson Park and Hylands and Harrow Lodge wards. There’s one each for St Andrew’s and Elm Park.

3 Oscar Ford describes his party as the Upminster and Cranham Residents’ Association. The other two councillors in that ward describe themselves as the Upminster and Cranham Residents’ Group. This is bizarre. The three councillors can’t even agree what party they’re in.

4 Councillors ages aren’t revealed by the Democracy Department but photographs offer clues. The Conservatives have the ‘youngest’ group of councillors including Damian White their Leader.

5 Local Government Association. The national organisation for councillors.

Havering Annual Council meeting, 25th May, 2022

What do you really, really want?1 Spice Girls

This Council meeting was pivotal because Havering voted, yet again, for No Overall Control. Minority Conservative leader Damian White was hoping to mop up a few Resident Association (RA) members but failed. Adroit political thinking by Ray Morgon led to an umbrella organization for RAs: the Havering Residents’ Association (HRA). HRA members have decided playing footsy with Conservatives is a mug’s game and they ‘really, really want to be in power’.

HRA face exactly the same challenge as every other minority party. How to achieve a majority? Enter Labour. Labour’s nine votes create a majority but…. Many HRA members dislike Labour which is reciprocated. But…  what do they really, really not want? The thought of four more years of Damian White, is helping to focus minds.

The Council meeting was important but had the drama of paint drying.2 There were two decisive moments. Firstly, the election of Labour’s Trevor McKeever, as Mayor. Secondly, and crucially, Ray Morgon becoming Leader of the Council.

Instantly the challenges Morgon faces were revealed. He was unable to name a cabinet or chairs of committee and so Council was adjourned. On a positive note, Havering’s four LGA councillor nominees3 showed him building consensus politics.

The adjourned meeting is eagerly looked forward to as it points the direction of travel for the next four years.

Notes

1 Spice Girls – Wannabe Lyrics | Genius Lyrics

2 Annotator Player (sonicfoundry.com)

3 Local Government Association. Havering’s nominees are Ray Morgon, Gillian Ford, Keith Darvill and Michael White

Havering Council Meeting: 23rd March 2022

This was Damian White’s final council meeting as Leader before the election. He’s matured politically, becoming less frenetic and in charge of the agenda.1

The meeting began with very long-standing councillors being honoured. Councillors O’Flynn, Ower, and Ramsey were treated stylishly. They demonstrate the stability of Havering’s politics. More councillors will follow them out of the door, not all of whom will be pleased.

Question time2 (@1 hour 07 for 45 minutes) was effective. Osman Dervish’s boyish charm carried him through a multiplicity of questions mostly about pavements and pot-holes. (There were nine Resident Association questions.) Roger Ramsey answered Ray Morgon’s question (@1:30 minutes) about Havering’s deficit with magisterial ease showing how much he’ll be missed. Ray’s question was uniquely probing.

The debate on crime was peculiar.3 Councillors demanded more crime reporting using Alice in Wonderland logic. ‘More crime = more police and police are a Good Thing therefore Havering needs more crime reporting.’ Jeff Tucker led the ‘discussion’.

Ray (@2:10) stepped into the gutter. He announced Damian had a driving/drugs conviction. Damian subsequently said he’d struggled with his sexuality and was depressed. This explanation sounds sincere. Ray’s intervention was uncharacteristically sour and unpleasant.

Havering Council meetings end with the National Anthem. They’re usually sung quite appallingly. The sound system on this occasion threw in the towel and it was muted.

Notes

1 Damian is still Leader because Nigel Farage’s ego trip prevented him from becoming an MP. See Damian White Scuppered by Nigel Farage! 12th December, 2019 – Politics in Havering

2 The entire Council meeting can be seen here Annotator Player (sonicfoundry.com)

3 The RA motion is here Final – Motions.pdf (havering.gov.uk)

Building Coalitions: Ray Morgon’s Challenge

Havering is a political nightmare where elections usually end in No Overall Control.1 Resident Associations (RA) are wooed into coalitions. (They’ve supported Conservatives and Labour in the past.) 2022 should be different. Ray Morgon’s RAs could be the majority group and he’ll have to create a coalition.

The recent Council meeting illustrates Ray’s problem. He made an impressive speech showing he understood the principal challenges which he’ll face leading a RA Administration. Unfortunately, two more RA ‘leaders’ were given full status for their speeches. At the March 2nd Council meeting there were three RA leaders recognised by the council.

Martin Goode (RA) supports the Conservative Administration. Martin, and his colleagues have kept the Conservatives in power for four years. If they’re re-elected will Ray ‘bid’ for their support like Damian White did in 2018? Building coalitions involves holding your nose. What will Ray do?

Jeff Tucker (RA) is a maverick. His Council speeches suggest unreliability. His Rainham stronghold is shaky. (He ‘lost’ 600 votes between 2014 and 2018.3) But he’s been a councillor for twenty years and could win in a bad year. Will Ray take the risk?

Labour and Conservative: As political parties they’re reliable. Their leaders can deliver votes and they won’t go off in a huff. But Ray knows they’ll both want their favoured policies endorsed. Will Ray pay the price? Will less motivated RAs go along with ‘horse-trading’?

RAs like being wooed. In 2022 Ray may need to learn political seduction. Damian’s masterclass4 is the template.

Notes

1 Havering London Borough Council elections – Wikipedia The last ten elections from 1982 have had seven NOC outcomes.

2 Havering Council Tax Meeting, 2nd March 2022 – Politics in Havering

3 2018 Havering London Borough Council election – Wikipedia

4 Damian White’s Political Arithmetic – Politics in Havering