CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Mayor of Camden: ‘I’m being bullied by Labour councillors’

Maryam Eslamdoust said there had been attempts to 'publicly humiliate' her over cost of mayor-making ceremony

04 July, 2019 — By Richard Osley

THE Mayor of Camden has accused some of her Labour Party colleagues of “misogynistic bullying” after one of the group taunted her while she was on maternity leave about the cost of her inauguration ceremony.

Labour councillor Maryam Eslamdoust, who gave birth three weeks ago, sent a stinging email to the group on Friday in which she said there had been unprecedented “hostility” towards her since her appointment and that members of the ruling group had spread “nasty rumours”.

She added: “The bottom line is that this misogynistic bullying cannot be shrugged off.”

Under the cover of anonymity, a Labour councillor told the Hampstead and Highgate Express newspaper: “Clearly, socialism starts at home and socialists have very expensive tastes.”

The chain of events has led to an angry fallout within the Labour group.

Chief whip Lazzaro Pietragnoli has sent his own email describing the comments by an un­named councillor as “terrible behaviour”, while council leader Georgia Gould is also understood to have raised concerns with her councillors.

Cllr Eslamdoust, part of the left-wing caucus in the Labour group, works as a researcher in Jeremy Corbyn’s office in her day job.

She said in her email that she did not control the budget.

“If group members had any real concerns about any of this then they could quite easily have asked me or officers rather than engaging in public hit-pieces,” she said. “For what it is worth, I spent much of my year as deputy mayor going to events on the bus while heavily pregnant, rather than incur expensive transport costs for the council.”

While several councillors rushed to her defence, others remain privately bullish about the tone of the criticism and suggested left-wingers were being treated as they had behaved to others.

The accusation of misogyny is flatly denied in these quarters, with critics saying they would feel the same irrespective of Cllr Eslamdoust’s gender.

The group remains divided between members who are enthusiastic about the party’s left-wing leadership, and those who think Mr Corbyn should step down.

The identity of the Labour councillor who briefed against the mayor remains a secret, but Cllr Eslamdoust’s email added: “Camden politics has long been cut-throat, rife with bullying, and it is a difficult truth for us as a group that much of this behaviour comes from people in senior positions of power who should be focusing on their duties on the council, not on petty political games.”

The identity of the Labour councillor who said ‘socialists have expensive tastes’ is unknown

The bill of around £11,000 for the mayor-making ceremony was higher than in previous years, but the council said this was partly due to the makeshift council chamber at the Crowndale Centre, near Mornington Crescent.

The building is serving as a substitute base for the council while the historic Town Hall in Judd Street is refurbished. New decor and lighting for the event will be used again, the council has said, including for bookings which it believes could bring in revenue for Camden.

Cllr Eslamdoust, who is married to fellow Kilburn councillor Thomas Gardiner, also employed by the Labour Party, gave birth to baby son Xerxes two weeks earlier than expected.

Her email to the Labour group added: “If you are struggling to understand why it is misogynistic to try to publicly humiliate a woman while she is recovering shortly after she has given birth, then please do get in touch and I will try to explain.”

She is raising money for Solace Women’s Aid during her time in office.

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