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 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.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.

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.

Damian White gets the Post-Election Blues

Damian has defeated a challenge to his leadership by a single vote. He was challenged in a WhatsApp message from Robert Benham,1 who spoke of ‘in-fighting’. He and his supporters lost and the Conservative ‘pot-of-gold’ politics might inflict a punishment beating on Robert and his supporters. Who knows? Damian might be magnanimous and they’ll all live happily ever after.

The galling fact for Damian is that he leads the largest party but needs five more votes. Havering Residents’ Association (HRA) have 20 seats and are negotiating for Labour’s nine votes to create a Friendly Understanding. HRA have 29 votes in sight but that means taking responsibility. HRA like permanent opposition. It’s painless and well-paid. All of which means that they might actually prefer a seductive offer from Damian.

In 2018 Damian mopped up HRA councillors. He’ll try again but this time it’s harder. Why? Sally Miller, John Mylod and Michael Deon Burton all lost. Their fate is a warning to renegades.2 Individual HRA councillors might take Damian’s offer. It is, after all, a few thousand pounds, for doing little else than agreeing with him.

Can Damian heal? The challenges will test his mettle. The nest of vipers that’s the Conservative group have had a very public split, which could result in flaky members drifting to HRA. Throwing gold around solves some problems but there are some Conservatives with ambitions. And they’re lean and hungry.

The excitement is building towards May 25th when a new Administration is brought into being.

Notes

1 Damian’s deputy in the Conservative group

2 The Harold Wood Three bucked the trend and prospered

Havering: Politics as Friendly Understandings

Eight elections since 1990 have resulted in No Overall Control. Conservatives have ruled Havering since 2002 but only once as a majority party. On every other occasion they’ve used HRA councillors. The last Administration used Harold Wood’s three councillors for four years. The 2022 election has put the Havering Residents’ Association (HRA) in the driving seat.

Damian White was aware of the challenges of getting a majority in Havering and acted accordingly. He believed Rainham was vulnerable. He put in place a team of local Conservatives and won it. The Rainham result was announced and Damian was vindicated. Unfortunately, he hadn’t thought the unthinkable. Romford wasn’t the citadel he imagined and Conservatives lost three seats. Bang went his plans and the ‘nightmare’ of an HRA – Labour Friendly Understanding became a distinct possibility.

Andrew Rosindell could tell Damian a thing or two. In 1996 Havering had a Rainbow Alliance.2 HRA’s Louise Sinclair led an Administration that included Conservatives and Socialists. The Socialists were, by Havering standards, hard left. Andrew was voting with Socialists in a joint Administration. Goodbye political purity! Labour enjoyed watching Del Smith influence them for two years.

Havering has spoken. And what they’ve said is they like Friendly Understandings. If the young Andrew could do it for the greater good then so can anyone.

Addendum: A case for Proportional Representation?

Abstentions: 65% of the electorate

Notes

1 Local Elections 2022: Havering Council live results | The London Borough Of Havering

2 Rainbow Alliance – Politics in Havering

Havering’s Election: Thrills and Spills

Hornchurch and Upminster have no Conservative councillors at all. Emerson  Park fell when Roger Ramsey retired. Labour won their first Romford seat for 20 years but the Havering Residents’ Association (HRA) will take power.

Havering’s politics is complex. The election result1 is a mish-mash. HRA 20 seats, the Conservatives 23, Labour 9 and Renegade RAs three.2 Meanwhile in Rainham the count continued on Monday 9th May and the result was announced during an acrimonious recount. Four burly police officers were there, at huge expense, to protect the Chief Executive in case things got physical. Three Conservatives won leaving them short of a majority.

HRA + Labour reach the magic 28 seats but will they do a deal? Havering’s politics depend on deals. There’s no political ‘purity’. This is the fifth time in six elections with No Overall Control.  In the previous four, Conservatives have done deals with RAs. Now it’s the RAs turn to do a deal or not.

That’s the Thrill.  Now the Spill.

Damian White had an innovative way of awarding allowances. Consequently, every Conservative councillor is facing a pay-cut. Damian loses about £55,000 a year. This might explain his anger on Election Night as he saw it dribbling away.

Local government has national organizations. There are many committees which demand representation. There’s nothing quite like an awayday at someone else’s expense and Conservative councillors are going to miss them.

There’s also the glory of summoning Chief Officers and strutting round the Town Hall. Demotion to backbench voting fodder is cruel but is the result of depending on a niche electorate.

Four years isn’t too long if you say it quickly.

Notes

1 Local Elections 2022: Havering Council live results | The London Borough Of Havering

2 Harold Wood councillors propped up the Conservatives 2018-22

Havering’s Vibrant Democracy

Havering’s election on May 5th gives voters a choice of 199 candidates.1 They’ve been working hard on the issues that they think matter to the people of Havering. At the time of writing (30th April), postal voting means that about a third of the votes have been cast. How many potential voters will make the effort of voting in person?

Previous experience says ‘Abstentions’ will win on the 5th May. A significant majority of voters won’t vote.

Upminster’s Linda Hawthorn trounced the opposition in 2018 but failed to get a majority of the electorate. That ward held the largest turnout in 2018 with 45.5%, (a 54.5% Abstention rate).2 Does it matter? In her case no but it feels wrong. Conservatives have ruled Havering for 20 years with 16 years in coalition. Thus, Conservatives have been in control with a minority of seats and a minority of votes for 20 years.3

Local democracy needs reform but is highly unlikely to get it.

Addendum: Mayoral election for Manchester, 2021

In Greater Manchester Andy Burnham won an outright majority without preference votes. Abstentions amounted to 67.3% of the electorate and the remaining 34.7% was divided between nine candidates. Andy received 67.3% of 34.7% or, 23% of the total electorate.4

Notes

1 For a comprehensive list of candidates Notice of Poll and Statement of Persons Nominated (havering.gov.uk)

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

3 Robert Benham is a cabinet member and had a thumping majority in Brooklands ward. But! The turnout in 2018 was 32.5%. So, before opposition votes were counted he’d been passively or actively rejected by 67.5% of the electorate.

4  The UK Mayoral Elections, 2021 | Odeboyz’s Blog (oedeboyz.com) Also in 2021 there were two parliamentary byelections where the result was deceptive. See

When Does an Election Become an Undemocratic Lottery? | Odeboyz’s Blog (oedeboyz.com)

 

Havering’s Election: 28 is the Magic Number

The Conservatives’ grip on power has been achieved by exploiting Resident Association (RA) votes. RAs don’t want to be the bridesmaid anymore and they’re swaggeringly confident this year is their year. They might be mistaken.

Firstly, there’s more than one RA group. The principal RA group is the Havering Residents Association (HRA). They expect a majority on May 5th. This is unlikely. Havering has elected one majority Administration in 20 years.

Gooshays ward has two RA groups: (1) Harold Hill Resident Association Gooshays, and (2) Havering Resident Association – Gooshays. So, who are the real RAs? Gooshays voters are confused.

In Rainham ward HRA isn’t standing. The Rainham Independent Resident Association (Rainham and Wennington) is a type of RA group.1 South Hornchurch ward is a version of them.2 It’s possible five flaky so-called RA councillors could be elected in May. If they’re elected how long will they cooperate?

Harold Wood RA councillors have kept Damian White in power since 2018. They’re standing for election and are opposed by HRA. Harold Wood has two RA groups who are (1) Harold Wood Hill Park Residents Association and (2) Havering Residents Association – Harold Wood. (Another eight candidates are standing.)

These four wards will elect eleven councillors, who are crucial to HRA aspirations. HRA won’t get 28 reliable votes. They need coalition partners. The best partners are Conservative and Labour councillors. Their key attraction is their reliability in Council. The downside is the Conservatives are led by Damian White,3 which leaves Labour. Will they play ball?

Havering politics continues as a bizarre, wonderful and fascinating soap opera.4

Notes

1 Alby Tebbutt is an ex-Conservative and UKIP councillor; David Durant is a climate change denier and anti-vaxxer; Jeff Tucker makes incoherent speeches in Council.

2 South Hornchurch Ward: Utter Chaos – Politics in Havering

3 Conservatives love power and they might change leader to facilitate the RAs. See Keith Prince vs Damian White: 2022 Conservative Leadership Contest – Politics in Havering

4 If you want to see this sort of thing mocked try John Cleese Life of Brian – The People’s Front of Judea – YouTube

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

Havering’s Elections and the Budget, 2022-23

In the good-old-days voters knew where they stood. Conservatives were heartless; Labour were warm-hearted; Resident Associations (RA) loved pavements. Happy days!

Rishi Sunak’s Stately Home in Yorkshire: Council Tax Band H

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, set Havering’s Council Tax at 3%. He imposed the principal budget item, Adult Social Care, without funding it. This budget is demand led so no-one knows how much it will eventually cost. Councillors do know Havering has the oldest population in London and dozens of Care Homes. Central government has imposed Stealth Taxes on Havering for 12 years.

A £150 million budget1 was nodded through with passionate debate about £70,000 ‘savings’ from Councillors Allowances. This would be allocated to street cleaning. An RA policy!

The 3% Council Tax increase is inadequate. Inflation is 7% rising to 10% by December. The in-coming Administration will have to make some grim decisions in October.

Council officers wrote an analysis of ‘risk’ factors for the budget.2 Item C4 refers to business rates losses, “it is hoped that the Government will fully recognise this in future settlements”.  Interest rates have increased twice in three months. C8 says, “An increase in interest rates will have a direct impact on the Council’s treasury strategy.”  Each 1% increase equals £1 million of additional expenditure. C19 notes a potential loss of “several million pounds” and C22 says government alteration in charging for ‘Green Waste’ will cost £800,000.

The Administration’s 400 job losses will save £7 million.3 They are, “Staffing Reductions Through Efficiency”.  Achieved by removing, “activities that do not benefit residents.” Technology [has] “moved on significantly… [and] efficiencies through modernising work processes and improving service offers to our customers and partners.” A budget based on a ‘wish and prayer’.

Jeff Tucker declared he hadn’t read the budget before speaking for 25 minutes. But it was Rishi Sunak’s Stealth Taxes which needed discussing and he wasn’t present.4 So perhaps Jeff got it right.

Notes

1 Issue – items at meetings – 2022/23 Budget and 2022-2026 Medium Term Financial Strategy | The London Borough Of Havering

2 Microsoft Word – Appendix D – Risk Register (003) (havering.gov.uk)

3 Appendix A Budget Savings.pdf (havering.gov.uk)

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