Barnett v. Dhedi: councillors scrap

Spats amongst councillors are often good value for money – a window into the Town Hall world of petty rivalries, vanities, jealousies, self-importance and general buffoonery, where molehills soon become mountains.

Whether the latest altercation, between the deeply unimpressive Cllrs Peter Barnett and Shabana Dhedi, conforms to this mould remains to be seen. The Waltham Forest Guardian has covered the story in surprising depth, and attracted a fair bit of public interest. There is some suggestion of an organised campaign.  Regarless, the synthetic rage of the supposedly affronted adds an albeit unintended comedic quality to much of the comment. The by now fashionable charges of ‘racism’ and ‘bullying’ make their predictable appearances.

Kremlinologists no doubt will see these events as merely a further episode in Waltham Forest Labour’s long-running civil wars, perhaps related to the role that Cllr. Barnett played in the demise of Cllr. Afzal Akram, covered here:

What is for certain is that Cllr. Barnett’s defence (which I’ve placed in the documents box to the left) makes interesting reading. This is not so much because of his description of the Facebook exchange which so offended Cllr. Dhedi (though there is a detail concerning Charlie Hebdo which may be telling), but because of what he claims happened afterwards. For if Cllr. Barnett is to be believed, though he followed the Labour Whip’s instruction to swiftly apologise on Facebook and remove his comments, subsequently

(a) he was called into a disciplinary hearing at short notice, so he could not bring a friend or advisor;

(b) no agenda was provided;

(c) nothing afterwards has been put in writing;

(d) at least one senior Labour Party figure appeared to know of the hearing’s outcome before it had taken place; and

(e) according to ‘a reliable source’, prior to the hearing, ‘the leader had a meeting with the council of mosques where it was agreed to suspend me’.

Opponents have often alleged that Labour in the borough has succumbed to something approaching the rules of the jungle, and if Cllr Barnett is correct in his facts, their characterisation may not be without credence.

But of course those who live by the sword often die by it, too…