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nesil caliscan

Nesil Caliscan

Enfield Council's newly elected Labour Group members have unexpectedly chosen a new Leader to replace Doug Taylor.  The successful candidate, Nesil Caliscan, will become Leader of Enfield Council.

The result of the election for the Labour Group leader was revealed late on Monday evening.  24 Labour councillors voted for Ms Caliscan, while 22 supported Mr Taylor.

The replacement of Mr Taylor so soon after he led his party to victory in this month's council elections didn't come entirely out of the blue.  Keen-eyed readers of last week's PGC Weekly Newsletter will have seen a link with the title A right-wing plot to unseat Enfield's victorious Labour leader? under the Reported Elsewhere heading.  This went to a report in the Morning Star based on information from Cllr Ayfer Orhan, who was warning against what she regarded as "a coup to oust a moderate leader" and "a clear indication of activity by the right to oust Cabinet members as well".

The Morning Star report also stated that Ms Caliscan had overseen the selection of all 63 Labour candidates in her capacity as secretary of the Local Campaign Forum. The selection process resulted in the deselection of many sitting councillors and their replacement by new candidates.  However, no evidence has been forthcoming to suggest that selection of candidates was not carried out on a rigorously impartial basis.

doug taylor

Doug Taylor

If one compares the names of Labour councillors elected in 2014 with the list of those elected this year, there are no fewer than 26 new names out of a total of 46.  The new names are particularly frequent in the eastern part of the borough, ie in safe Labour wards.  Several former Cabinet members who represented safe Labour wards are missing from this year's list.

It has to be taken into account, however, that three of the new names were already serving as councillors, having won by-elections held since 2014, that there were several sitting councillors who chose not to stand this year, and that there were more victorious Labour candidates this year. 

The so-called "coup" has been much discussed in the Enfield Voices Facebook group.  Information contained in these discussions is unverified and must be treated with caution.

On the reason why so many sitting councillors were not reselected, the secretary of Enfield North Constituency Labour Party stated that some of them were so complacent about being reselected that they failed to take the necessary steps to gain support - so they were the architects of their own downfall.  By contrast, new candidates had performed impressively at selection meetings.

One contributor to the debate said she had heard through social media (unspecified) that no fewer than 17 members of the new council are "related to each other in some way" - presumably meaning that they are relatives or in-laws of one another.  Other contributors were concerned that no BEM sitting councillors had been reselected. 

Frances Sealey, the founder and moderator of Enfield Voices, added a cautionary message:

Some of this is getting too personal and that should not happen. And others are trying to simplify what has happened as a single cause or main cause - like race. And that is simply not true. There may have been an attempt by some people to pack Ward meetings to select a candidate of their choice - but that has happened countless times before and since Political Parties began. There is nothing new in that in any party. And yes it is true that there are many new councillors that have come from specific communities - and other councillors from other communities deselected. That is worrying if it causes social disharmony. But whether this is a deliberate ethnic take over or an interest in politics or whether it is associated with the support of particular MPs is an open question. It is complex and will need unravelling but we cannot do that in a way that will make a positive difference if we turn this into a personal battle or point scoring exercise. So let’s keep it civil and remember that what is happening in the Borough Labour Parties from time to time happens in all political parties as people battle for power out of ambition or principle.

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Basil Clarke posted a reply #3836 16 May 2018 23:41

Council leader deposed in surprise "coup"

I think that Frances Sealey's advice should be heeded. We mustn't jump to conclusions about "ethnic takeovers" or even regard it as a "right-wing coup". But I still find what has happened disturbing.

Disturbing because this was all happening behind the backs of Enfield's residents, and the function of local authorities is to serve their population. People went to the ballot boxes expecting that a vote for Labour was a vote for a Doug Taylor-led council and had expectations about what that would mean.

It's perfectly in order for party members to change leader, it's perfectly in order for them to work together towards this aim, there was nothing illegal and nothing in breach of the Labour Party's own rules as far as I know. But the result of making this change after the elections rather than before them was to some extent to mislead the voters.

And I want to make it plain that my qualms about what has happened have nothing whatever to do with Nesil Caliscan's political views, since I don't know what those are. The same goes for her suitability and competence - and even though I'm a member of a rival party I hope that she will prove a fully competent council leader, because we need a competently led council. She's relatively young - 29 - but I don't see that as a problem.

It seems to me that the First Past the Post system is partially to blame for what has happened because it creates so many completely "safe" seats. There are many wards in Enfield where all three Labour candidates can be absolutely confident that they will be elected, and a rather smaller number of wards where the same goes for Conservative candidates. This can lead to complacency - councillors who don't need to work very hard to get elected and don't need to work very hard once they have been. It also looks as if in the past Labour Party members in individual wards might not have been rigorous enough when selecting candidates and that as a consequence sitting councillors have assumed that they will automatically be reselected. I doubt whether they'll be making that assumption in four years time!
David Eden posted a reply #3843 18 May 2018 10:43

Council leader deposed in surprise "coup"

Interesting given that everywhere else it has been seen, it's always hard left Momentum led coups...

See also...

  • 17 May 2018
More about Enfield's new council leader

Nesil Caliscan's election as leader of the Labour Group on Enfield Council is featured on the website T-Vine, whose audience is people of Turkish heritage living in the UK. The website says she is...

  • 25 April 2018
Council elections: Online hustings No 3

In the third of four online hustings being organised by Francis Sealey of Enfield Voices and Emma Rigby of Love Your Doorstep, the interviewees are the leaders of the four biggest parties in...