Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Inspecting Tower Hamlets Labour Party

I and a fellow comrade of our Party, Puru Miah, conducted a public inspection of Tower Hamlets Labour Party's statement of accounts at 349 Cambridge Heath Road (Labour Party office rooms) on Sunday 5 February 2017, 5:30pm to 8pm.

Why?
The party finances are in a mess and the party is in debt. Chris Weavers who has been the Borough Party Chair for the last 6 years (since 2011), has conflated his personal financial affairs with the party's account by paying debts himself.

Chris Weavers through his apparent commitment to the party- works hard. He chairs meetings, distributes leaflets, keeps the accounts, writes communications and many other functions that should be carried out by assigned roles of the Executive Committee. Through a more objective lens- this can be interpreted as centralisation and accumulation of power that deprives new leadership from emerging and thus cripples the organisational development of the party.

The Party has become a machinery for middle class and wannabe career politicians. The structure particularly benefits individuals wishing to fulfil their ambition to become MPs, Mayor, or councillors. This is starkly visible if you even compare the plush standards of the Bethnal Green and Bow MP’s office upstairs of the local Party rooms to the dire facilities downstairs of the building which is for use by ordinary members.

The Labour party in Tower Hamlets should be a platform for ordinary members of the party to represent the deprived and suffering citizens of Tower Hamlets and lead the fight to safeguard its diverse population from Tory policies and improve residents’ standards of life.


Photo: In 2015, the party lead a campaign to prevent a waste crisis in Tower Hamlets.


What was the outcome of the inspection?

  • Chris Weavers in his capacity as Chair and Deputy Treasurer failed to provide the statement of account for the year 2013.
  • We have received a copy of 2012 and 2014 statement of accounts and will share our analysis and comment soon.
  • The THBLP didn't have its AGM in 2016 and as an excuse the Treasurer, Cat Overton and the Chair (and Deputy Treasurer), Chris Weavers didn't produce statement of account for year 2015 for the General Committee’s approval. 
You will be aware that the long overdue AGM was scheduled to take place on 26 January 2017 after almost 16 months but was cancelled on the day. The rule book was quoted for the first time outlining that there was not enough notice provided to newly elected delegates to hold the AGM. The rule book didn't seem to apply in the last 5 years when AGMs were held even within hours of notice to newly elected delegates from Branches.

What’s your point?
The statement of account for the years 2015 and 2016 is not ready yet, as Chris Weavers has confirmed.

So?
Probing minds could conclude that if statements of accounts for 2015 and 2016 were not ready on 5 February (the day of the inspection) then they surely would not have been ready for the AGM which was supposed to go ahead on the 26 January. The meeting of the Executive Committee held on the 24 January was informed by Chris that the statements were still being prepared, being audited on 25 January and hard copies would be handed out on the day of the AGM which would have also left little time for members to scrutiny or evaluate or indeed, as questions about transactions and discrepancies.

What now?
Our long overdue AGM is being held tomorrow 9 February at 7pm at the Skeel Lecture Theatre, People's Palace, Queen Mary, University of London.

What are your other concerns?
I have requested the THLP Executive Committee to produce proof of affiliate’s delegates’ eligibility during the meeting.

Why?
The Party Secretary Tarik Khan has confirmed that he didn't receive any affiliates fees as he normally does from Fabian Society, QMUL Labour Society and the Labour LGBT society.

The Chair Chris Weavers confirms that he has received the fees as these are from local societies and Tarik only receives the national society subscription fees.

Why is any of this important?
The outcome of the AGM is likely to reflect the surging impact of grassroots member-led politics of Jeremy Corbyn. NEC Member Christine Shawcroft has been nominated to challenge the sitting Chair Chris Weavers. She is pledging to lead the local party out of its financial mess, take the party out of its 20-year-old draconian special measures and reinstate party member’s rights to select their councillor candidates.

Tides are changing and new generations of Labour Party activists in the East End have been inspired by Jeremy Corbyn to challenge establishment politics. Tomorrow's AGM will hopefully be the beginning of the end to self-serving, Westminster looking, Blair friendly sects that have kept power to themselves locally.

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