Haringey Council

Quite emotional for me – tonight’s Haringey Council Mayor Making is the first sitting of Haringey Council since the local elections. I remember what it was like when I was first elected to the Council in 1998 along with Julia and June (the first ever Lib Dem group on Haringey) and I became Leader of the Opposition. Then the layout of the chamber meant there were three rows each side, and we would sit in a little clutch at the front on one side – surrounded by Labour members on all sides (and long ago two Tories as well) who laid into us in the most bullying way you can imagine. Toby Harris was the then Leader of the Haringey Council and he and his cohorts spent much of each meeting just slagging me individually and the Lib Dems collectively off. I had to rise to speak on every item virtually. I often think how lucky I was to have such a rough start in politics. It certainly makes the Commons Chamber seem like a nursery by comparison!

Anyway – tonight and only eight years later, as I sit as the MP at the front of the guest seats, – there are still three rows of councillors each side of the chamber – but instead of 54 Labour and 3 LibDems – now it is 30 Labour and 27 LibDems. And how subdued and conciliatory Labour have suddenly become. It felt fantastic! To see how we have grown and to recognise that change is possible and hard work does reap rewards…

Some things don’t change, however, and all the important positions in the Council, as ever, are exclusively Labour – indicating that they are not yet willing to accept that the balance has changed in Haringey.