Sometime something happens so shocking that the country stands still. The murder of Sir David last Friday, the MP for Southend West is one of those moments. Our condolences from Lambeth to his family, friends, colleagues, staff and constituents, which have been echoed by the wider party and indeed, all of our parliaments.
Threats of violence and incitement have become an all too common occurrence in Britain this last few years, notably with Jo Cox MP's murder in 2016. It is not clear what can be done to reverse this, there is no one solution we can adopt. But we can and must hope for better all the same.
Last week the police officer who kidnapped Sarah Everard from the streets of Lambeth then raped and killed her was sentenced to a whole life tariff. As the facts of the crime have been made public, it has become increasingly clear that the Met Police under the inadequate leadership of Commissioner Cressida Dick continues to fail the citizens of Lambeth and London.
Nothing has changed. There has been no progress. We repeat our demand from 13 March, the night of the Clapham Common vigil:
Cressida Dick must resign.
She did not resign in March, she has not resigned now. This must not stand. If she does not resign, she must be dismissed. If no one is to take responsibility, then we can expect no real change.
It has become painfully clear that Sarah’s ordeal was more horrific than we had already thought possible. This raises further questions about how the Met Police responded to the peaceful vigil on Clapham Common in Sarah’s memory and their failure to screen an obviously dangerous policeman. They have had six months to respond with a plan to deal with misogyny in its ranks and how to make our city safer for women and girls. We find out this week that they have done nothing.
Worse we see Conservative and Labour politicians lining up to support Dick to cover for their own failures.
We also call for:
- Mayor Khan to act immediately and decisively to have Cressida Dick removed as Commissioner.
- The Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse, and Home Secretary, Priti Patel to take responsibility for overseeing a failing police force and take action or resign from their posts.
- Urgent reform of the Met; we support Ed Davey’s call for a Royal Commission on the Met’s conduct and London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon’s call for “a comprehensive review of recruitment, vetting, conduct and culture with measurable actions”.
- A massive effort in cross-party working at all levels of government - from local to national - to end violence against women and girls, including legislation to make public sexual harassment a crime and the UK to ratify the Istanbul Convention.
Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Sarah’s family and friends at this traumatic time.
The Lambeth Liberal Democrats welcome the Commission's final recommendations for the Borough's new electoral map as a significant move forward to providing better representation for Lambeth's many communities. The new 2 member wards in many parts of the borough will provide residents with representation based on smaller, natural neighborhoods. The old one size fits all large wards were not fit for purpose and we are pleased the Commission and many residents agree. This is only a first step to enhance local democracy, local electoral reform is still the best solution to fixing a system where half the voters chose 95% of the councillors in Lambeth.
We are especially pleased to see the Commission has decided to revert back to the original proposal for a new Clapham Common-Abbeville ward, including the residents of Oaklands Estate. It was disappointing that the local Labour Party spent so much effort trying to break this community up and we are pleased that so many local residents of the estate decided to support our proposal. The Telford Park community were also very firm about not being split up, which we put to the Commission during the consultation process and the new Streatham Hill West & Thornton is what residents want. There is no substitute for knocking on doors and seeing what people think.
Matthew Bryant, local campaigner for Streatham Hill and Thornton had this to say:
“I am pleased that the Commission rejected Lambeth Council’s ludicrous proposal to split up the Telford Park area. Wards need to reflect local communities, which the Commission has largely achieved.”
To learn more about the new boundaries, here is the LGBCE report for Lambeth.
Next Steps for Local Democracy
In Scotland and Wales, thanks to the efforts of local Liberal Democrat campaigners and elected representatives STV is now an option for local council elections. This means that local councils better reflect the voter intention. The party with the most votes will still get the most councillors, but they will not have the system rigged in their favour to get the vast majority of councillors, despite not getting the vast majority of voters, like here in Lambeth and across England.
It is with sadness that we report that Robert Shean McConnell, a former Lambeth Liberal Democrat councillor has passed away.
He was elected to Knight's Hill in a by-election on 21 March 1996, taking the seat from the Conservatives and beating Labour into second
place by 41 votes. He held the seat, serving with Jeremy Baker and Gerry Evans until 2006. The three seats were then won by Labour.
Known by some as Robert, by others as Shean, before retirement he had a distinguished career in town planning in the UK and Canada. On
Lambeth Council he was a stalwart of the Community Police Consultative Group, sat on the Residential Care Committee and was a
member of the Norwood Town Centre Forum. A long time resident in Stockwell Park Road, he was a keen and expert gardener. Unknown to
many, he was also a Baronet, but never used the title.
His funeral in Southwark Cathedral on 4 August was attended by six of his former Lambeth LibDem Councillor colleagues and Ingeborg Bottrall
whose late husband Anthony, a councillor in Stockwell, had been on the Council with Shean.
Our condolences to his family and friends.
June 22 was Windrush Day, which was marked by many across Lambeth and the UK, to celebrate the arrival of West Indian/Caribbean people to Britain after WW2, at the invitation of the government. Windrush Day, whilst to some degree a celebration of an important part of Lambeth's people and heritage is also rather negative, given the long struggle many Windrush migrants or their children have had these last few years due to government nationality and migration rules. The hostile environment makes life very difficult for affected people in the country, to access services, gain employment, or rent accommodation. Many people have also been deported, to places they may have a distant connection to but not one they have lived in. Despite politicians, parties, the government and the wider public generally being in agreement that this is not ok and affected people should be compensated, their struggles drag on.
This wide ranging failure to resolve and make right does not fill us with confidence that the next Windrush, for EU Nationals who have missed out on Settled Status will be any better dealt with, given the same people are in charge who delivered the first Windrush.