Why I will not be voting for Jeremy Corbyn

Just over two years ago I had the honour of being elected as a Labour Councillor. I owe this privilege to two selectorates. Firstly, to Labour Party members for choosing me as a candidate and secondly to the people of West Hendon for electing me as a councillor. My biggest regret and greatest sadness is that the Labour Party in Barnet fell just short of winning majority control for the first time ever. That being said, it was the biggest victory at council level the Labour Party in Barnet has ever had.

I was selected not as a delegate but as a representative; people put their faith in me to make the correct choices (or try). I am not delegated to vote this way or that by the membership of the Labour Party nor by my electorate. The only whip I follow is the Labour whip on Barnet Council, a whip that I have never broken and nor could I see a situation where I would break it.

So whilst I am not delegated to vote for a specific leader or set of Labour policies, I do believe I am still accountable for the choices I make. And therefore I want to explain to my members and my constituents why I believe that it has to be Owen Smith for Leader of the Labour Party.

West Hendon, Barnet Council and the three Barnet constituencies

Alongside Devra Kay and Agnes Slocombe I represent West Hendon, one of the areas in Barnet with relatively high deprivation alongside huge wealth and everything in between. In order to win the ward, it is the task of the Labour Party in Barnet to build a winning coalition of voters; voters who are rich, poor and everything in between. Tied together by a fundamental belief that Labour locally is the best vehicle to achieve better society through the tool of democracy.

West Hendon has been undergoing a regeneration project that will result in the displacement of hundreds of families from the area. This is due to the Tory council’s policy that they want to eradicate social housing as a genuine and legitimate form of housing tenure. Most of the households displaced will be forced by the council into private insecure sector tenancies, most probably outside of London. Once the various ‘regeneration’ projects are concluded, Barnet will have 800 LESS social homes than it had when the projects became almost 10 years ago.

My biggest frustrations of being a councillor is that in every Housing Committee, Planning Committee, full council meeting, the Labour Group are always outvoted when trying to oppose these disgusting policies. We failed to win the 2014 local elections  and therefore we are now unable to help those hundreds of families and households who are being made homeless. Every few weeks when I hold a surgery on the West Hendon estate I have families come to me and they are anxious and worried about their future. Right now I can work on trying to make the best of their personal circumstance, beg the council to change their minds on the housing criteria for this family or that, but fundamentally I have no control over the very policy that had put them into this circumstance.

In order to achieve control over policy, at a local and a national level, Labour need to win elections. Which brings me onto the Labour Leadership.

Over the past 12 months I have been knocking on doors, telephone canvassing and speaking to voters. The consistent answer I receive from voters in West Hendon and across Barnet is they will not vote for a Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn. And for the few households who have switched, we have lost three or four others. There is no way that we can win control over Barnet Council or any of the three parliamentary constituencies in Barnet whilst Jeremy Corbyn remains leader. The vote is simply not there.

And, if Labour fail to win Hendon or Finchley and Golders Green or Chipping Barnet there is no way that Jeremy Corbyn will ever be Prime Minister. The parliamentary arithmetic simply does not add up, especially without a resurgence in Scotland.

Will Owen Smith for Leader win a General Election for Labour? I do not know. But I do know that he would at least give the Labour Party a fighting chance – a chance that is fading away every day Jeremy Corbyn remains leader of the Labour Party.

My own demons and personal conflict: antisemitism in Labour

I am Jewish, I am also a socialist – proud of being both. Up until recently there has never been a clash or conflict between these two proud, righteous and distinct parts of my personal identity.

For the first time, under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership there has been a fundamental conflict. To the extent that I have questioned if I really can remain part of the Labour Party. And this is not because I believe that Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite but rather because he simply lacks any understanding of the majority of Jews in this country, nor does he appear to have any desire whatsoever to educate himself in this.

As far as Jews are concerned, Jeremy Corbyn has a series of blind spots.

His first blind spot is only mixing with the kind of Jews he seems to like or as I would put it, Jeremy Corbyn believes (knowingly or not) in good Jews and bad Jews.

And by this I mean Jews who are at best from the extreme of the Labour left or Jews who have never been in the Labour Party (with a few notable exceptions). Jews who disassociate themselves from Zionism and Jews who have been his fellow travellers over the past 40 years .

The kind of Jews Jeremy likes are just as Jewish as me, the distinction is that they represent a very small but vocal minority. Perhaps as little as 7%.

Even the most ardent Jewish Jeremy supporter would agree that he does not command mainstream support from the majority of Jews. Many Jews believe that a Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn is directly hostile to our community.

On antisemitism he also has a complete blind spot and I think that this is mainly due to misunderstanding the phenomenon. To most people, racism is the classification of a group of people as being inferior – this is the most obvious and well known manifestation of discrimination, whether it be racism against black people or against muslims. A fear and/or a belief in inferiority of the other. Antisemitism is most commonly the opposite – it is a fear that Jews are powerful, lurking in the shadows, controlling this, that or the other. Take the examples of Jonathan Freedland at the Guardian, Labour donor Michael Foster (who foolishly himself used a Holocaust analogy which is wrong) or Judge Jack Beatson – all three of which have been accused by Corbyn supporters on social media of having some kind of sinister underhand motive – this is called antisemitism and Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t done or said anything to stop it.

I do not believe that Jeremy Corbyn is able to intellectually grasp racism towards a group for their alleged superiority rather than inferiority, which is why I believe that he allows incidents to go relatively unchallenged, not because he is a racist bigot himself but rather because he cannot understand the question he is being challenged to answer.

I have a little sympathy with someone who does not understand but sadly my gut is telling me that the situation is made worse by the fact that there are a number of prominent people around Jeremy who actually do believe in Jewish conspiracies, even if they do masquerade their hatred behind the word Zionism.

This is what most worries me. Jeremy clearly has little time for his MPs and people who have experienced life outside of the hard left bubble. And some of those he does have significant time for are people who I believe are bigoted against Jews – and they do not recognise their own bigotry.

So to conclude, I am at a crossroads with the Labour Party for two reasons.

Firstly, the Labour Party’s purpose is to win elections to give power to working people, if we are no longer in this business then what is the point of the Labour Party. Secondly, Labour has a racism problem, and the problem is mostly coming from one wing of the Labour Party and we have a leader who is blind to the problem. For the Labour Party – the party of antiracism to be experiencing this is damning and more damning is that we have a Leader who does not appear to want to take it on.

For these two reasons I just weep.

Same question, two VERY different answers | 1000 new Grahame Park ‘social homes’ could be temporary

In tonight’s full council meeting I asked the Conservative Barnet Housing Committee Chairman two almost identical simple questions.

West Hendon

Grahame Park

These questions are the same, with the only change being the title of the estate in question. West Hendon is being redeveloped by Metropolitan Housing Trust and Grahame Park is being redeveloped Genesis Housing.

Last year the Chief Executive of Genesis indicated that the housing association would seek to deregister as a social landlord and would rent out vacant social units at full market rate. In Barnet, myself and Labour councillors have been asking the authority what this means for the boroughs so called flagship ‘regeneration’ of the Grahame Park estate – being developed by Genesis. I had received little answer to my query.

In the answers to my question, they are almost as identical as the questions, with the exception of one word.  The words included in the West Hendon answer are ‘social rented’ and the word missing in the Grahame Park answer is ‘social’. If this is accurate it means that the people of Barnet and councillors have been sold a complete lie about the regeneration of the Grahame Park estate. Throughout the process, councillors and members of the public have been assured that in return for regenerating the estate, they will be receiving 1000 new social homes as replacement. This answer shows that these 1000 homes are temporary social homes, that will be used for one generation before being returned to Genesis to be re-marketed as private full market sector housing.

Barnet will have lost tens of millions of pounds in assets and perhaps more in social rent, with very limited social return, which undermines the entire business case presented for regenerating the estate in question.

Getting to the truth on what has gone on with the Grahame Park estate is now urgent.


In the interests of transparency, which it appears that Barnet Council seems to lack. I have published the yearly accounts for the Joint Venture between the London Borough of Barnet and Capita plc.

I have been asking at full council over the past year for profit updates from Re. The Leader of the Council eventually let me know in July that Re had apparently made £2.4m in post tax profit over the last financial year.

My question was:

Cllr Adam Langleben, West Hendon: Further to question 114 at the January council meeting and question 122 at the meeting before and question 92 at the meeting before that, would the Leader tell me yet how much Re has made in profit?

Cllr Richard Cornelius, Leader of Barnet Council: Re has made £2.4m of profit after taxation up to the period Dec 2014 (18 month period), the audited accounts are accessible via Companies House. In the same period Barnet has secured guaranteed savings of £7.3m. Additional benefit to Barnet by way of dividends will be payable on over achievement of guaranteed income (net of recovery of cost in generating this) & on securing business outside of the borough which are projected to happen later in the contract.

As the Council has a 49% stake in this experiment with Capita, one would hope that they would publish this on their own website rather than asking residents to pay the £1 fee to Companies House.

To download the accounts click: Re accounts 2014-2015

LSE’s excellent report on improving Mill Hill – what lessons for elsewhere in Barnet

I have just finished reading LSE student’s great report on how to improve Mill Hill. I think it is a fantastic piece of work and much can be taken from it for other areas in Barnet. To read go to http://www.lse.ac.uk/geographyAndEnvironment/MillHillReport.pdf

Some of the ideas put forward are long term, and expensive but others are quite reasonable easy steps (and affordable) to improve the quality of life for residents.

Mill Hill Neighbourhood Forum who commissioned the report should be praised for its creativity in getting professionals to help inform their plans for the Neighbourhood Development Plan. The recommendations I feel are relevent to other areas in Barnet are:

  • Green walls
    • One of the great things about Barnet is the great road links. The M1 goes straight through the middle of the Hendon constituency providing easy access out of London and the A406 and A1 also are major arteries through the borough. A great proposal in this plan is to make the M1/Rail bridge at Mill Hill Broadway a green wall to improve the air quality for residents. The same thing could be done along the whole stretch of the M1 in Barnet. This would really improve the air quality for residents along the whole western stretch of the borough. In West Hendon we have a stretch of about 1.5 miles of M1 wall where this could be done.
  • Designated bin zones
    • One of the worst things we have in the borough is the number of bins. The sheer number means that after the weekly collection most of our streets are littered with empty bins and on a windy day that means bins all over the road and walkways. Have fixed designated bin places makes a lot of sense, not just for Mill Hill but across the borough.
  • Creation of a local BID
    • I am a big fan of Business Improvement Districts. I think the idea of local businesses taking ownership of the areas they work in results in better outcomes for the consumer and means that business owners are more invested in the local area. So far Barnet does not have a BID, although I know that Gail Laser has done some work in High Barnet in trying to get the businesses on board there.

There are other great ideas in the report too, such as the community arts initiative and partnerships in the area as well as the section on improving cycling in the area, but these are the ones that stand out for me that could easily be expanded across the borough if the will was there from the local authority.

Neighbourhood plans are great and some of the reforms in this area by central government are good. My only sincere criticism is that Neighbourhood plans are biased towards areas of relative affluence. Because of the complexity and level of detail required, and most importantly the skillset needed, these plans are generally only put together (and get completed) in areas where the local population have the residents with the required skills and time to devote to this kind of project.

Why the numbers do not add up on the West Hendon estate and what the FOI disclosure tells us

Cllr Davey has hit back at Andrew Dismore for apparently not disclosing the full details of the West Hendon valuation FOI.

Andrew has published the full FOI disclosure at http://www.dismore4hendon.co.uk/dismore_exposes_barnet_conservatives_free_giveaway_land_bonanza_value_over_12m_sold_for_nil which states the ‘restricted value’.

The restricted value is exactly the problem.

Let’s imagine that land at the West Hendon estate was never owned by Barnet and that Barratt came along and bought the land and wanted to build a 2000 unit development. Under the Council’s own planning rules Barratt would have to have to provide 800 ‘affordable’ homes under their 40% affordable homes target. Barnet usually let developers off the hook with around 20%.

Now it is common knowledge that Barnet routinely allow developers to get away with far lower than the 40% figure and to break their own rules. I have illustrated this on my Barnet Regeneration Robbery website with details for each major development.

So, as you will see, the point I am making is that in a world where Barnet Council didn’t own the land – Barratt would have had to cough up 20% anyway – but in the case of West Hendon they didn’t even have to pay for the land and they are still only providing basically half of the Council’s affordable housing target and most importantly – in line with developments nearby like Pulse where the land was bought at full market value.

IF Barnet had given the land away and we were getting in excess of 50%-60% affordable housing on this site I could live with giving away the land, but we are not getting anything like this – we are not even getting the bare minimum which should have been a like for like replacement of all units on the estate.

The deal struck by the Tories in West Hendon stinks and by their reaction I am beginning to think they know it too. The people of the West Hendon estate deserve an apology and the deal with Barratt must be renegotiated at once.

Letter in response to Cllr Cornelius’s Barnet Press column

Dear Sir,

In his regular column (19/02/2015, Barnet Press), Cllr Cornelius does himself no favours in writing so casually about the housing devastation that his administration has reaped upon hundreds of Barnet households. Over the last decade – before we have even begun the bulk of the council’s so called ‘regeneration’, this authority has lost 826 socially rented units on what the London Assembly Housing Committee refer to as “major schemes”. This excludes units lost from Right to Buy. The analysis from the London Assembly Housing Committee shows that yes, Barnet is building (4,032 on major schemes over the past decade), but these homes are almost exclusively for those with money – foreign investors in a great many cases. This Conservative administration, supported by the three Barnet Conservative MPs are letting down residents in desperate need.

The Council’s plan has been to put a huge number of tenants on legally flimsy non-secure ‘temporary’ tenancies on a long term basis and then move them around the borough whenever the developer comes calling. Around 40% of all non-secure tenant households in this borough have been living on these temporary contracts for five years or longer. Eventually there will be no housing left to move them to.

The problem is that the housing stock that the council still owns is now at critical levels and the crisis at Sweets Way has shown this to be true. The Tories are now relying on landlords across London and beyond, charging well above what social housing costs to meet the housing need. The figures also back this up. In 2012/13 the Council had paid private landlords £42,689 in incentive payments. By half way through this financial year this figure has jumped to £512,556 – this is just in incentives, not rent!

This policy of selling off our housing stock is costly both financially and for our families. The Tories running the council seem unable to do basic math on housing and are even less able to do basic empathy.

West Hendon and Sweets Way have felt the full brunt of this Council’s nasty policies on housing but they will not be the last. This Thursday the Council Planning Committee will be deciding on the redevelopment of the Granville Road estate in Childs Hill, officers have recommended the scheme for approval despite it not providing even one additional socially rented unit to meet the clear and urgent need.

Either Barnet are incompetent at negotiating or something more sinister is going on – I suspect the latter.

Grahame Park is the biggest estate in Barnet and it is next. People of Barnet, you aint seen nothing yet from these dodgy developers and their Tory mates.

Adam Langleben

Labour Councillor for West Hendon ward

Member of the Housing Committee, LB Barnet

The West Hendon estate. Sold for nothing.

At the West Hendon Public Inquiry we learnt that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Mr Eric Pickles MP gave Conservative Barnet Council permission to transfer the land of the entire West Hendon estate to Barratt developments for nothing. Yes, £0.00.

It was definitely valued at over £2m as that is the threshold that authorities by law need to seek permission from the Secretary of State to dispose at below market value.

This makes no sense to me as it is not even as if we are getting a good deal from the developer. Just 25% of the new properties are defined as ‘affordable’ by the unaffordable standards set by this government. Of the 2000 new homes being built in the same footprint of the existing 680 home estate, just 242 will be at social rent and 250 marketed as ‘shared ownership’.

The borough will have a NET LOSS in social units as a result of this mad scheme.

The starting price for a low floor 1 bedroom flat is £287,000 rising to near £600,000 for a low floor 3 bed. The higher you are the pricier it gets. The Penthouse’s…God knows.

The astonishing thing is that we have seen some private developments NOT on regeneration estates, on private land, which I presume they paid market values for, provide more ‘affordable’ housing than on the piece of land in West Hendon that was gifted for nothing!

For example:

Developer Fairview built ‘Pulse’ in Colindale on the former Hospital site which they must have paid market values for to the NHS. This site has 714 homes and managed to provide 193 ‘affordable homes’ – 27% – higher than West Hendon which was GIFTED.


Zenith House, Colindale – 309 homes and 135 ‘affordable’ – 43% – almost double of West Hendon.

Today I have submitted an FOI to Barnet Council to get to the bottom of how much the taxpayer has lost from this deal.

Below is my FOI:


Dear FOI,

I would like to know the following.

Further to the letter dated 25th September 2013 from the Department for Communities and Local Government giving the London Borough of Barnet permission to dispose of the land known as the West Hendon estate “at less than the best consideration reasonably obtainable”. (LB Barnet ref: PB/West Hendon s233)

Please could you give me the Council’s own estimated valuation of the estate prior to asking the Secretary of State for permission to dispose of the land at below market rates.

Many thanks,

Adam Langleben
Labour Councillor for West Hendon ward
London Borough of Barnet