Last week Labour gained control of two councils. So far this week they have lost control of one. Harrow has gone to "no overall control" with the departure of nine Labour councillors, including the council leader, to form a breakaway group.
Harrow now has 25 Labour councillors, 25 Conservatives, nine Independent Labour, three independents and one Lib Dem.
The council leader Cllr. Thaya Idaikkadar (Independent Labour Group) has sacked his entire Cabinet and cancelled Thursday’s Cabinet meeting.
A statement from the Independent Labour Group says:
It is with great regret that we have had to form the Independent Labour Group. It was impossible to ignore the discrimination and lack of fairness, equality and justice. Unfortunately attempts to resolve matters have not been successful. The Independent Labour Group subscribes to Labour values and its members remain members of the Labour Party
Councillor David Perry has not given any convincing reasons why he challenged his group leader who was elected leader of the Labour Group a mere five months ago.
Harrow’s Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Susan Hall, said:
“We have already expressed our concern at the way the Labour Group attempted to ditch Cllr. Idaikkadar as Leader so soon after his appointment and without clear reason, and it now seems there may have been unsavoury motives behind their actions.
“Knowing the members of the new Group as well as I do – some of whom informed me of their desire to split a few weeks ago – I know they have not made this decision lightly. Many of them are hard-working and long-standing councillors who have made serving Harrow residents their priority. That they feel they have been discriminated against is an appalling indictment of the Labour Group.
“Conservatives believe in fairness and transparency; qualities which appear not to exist in the Labour Group. We therefore support and welcome the decision of these councillors to form their own Group, to make their voices heard, and to take a stand.”
The Independent Labour Group includes the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor, two former Mayors and a couple of committee chairmen.
Due to the "strong leader model" which means the council leader can only be removed by a meeting of the full council. The Conservative Group clearly do not intend to support the removal of Cllr Idaikkadar. So we are looking at ILG minority administration.
The Labour Party have been very effective in London at gathering ethnic minority support. However if you talk to these Labour supporters they are not really socialists. They just feel that the Conservatives are hostile towards them while Labour will stick up for them.
Similarly Labour's approach, if not racist, is often quite cynical. This is a formula for tension and instability. We don't know all the details of these rather extraordinary developments in Harrow. But I suspect that general pattern of how the Party exploits racial politics may be reflected in the machinations there.