Seventh Labour councillor barred by party from standing again at elections

Simon Pearson is latest to be rejected by local organisers

Friday, 4th March — By Richard Osley

simon pearson climate debate Image 2019-10-11 at 01.31.00

Labour councillor Simon Pearson

CAMDEN’S Labour Party has told a SEVENTH councillor that they are barred from standing again at May’s elections.

Simon Pearson was part of the team which wrested Swiss Cottage ward away from the Tories in 2018, but has been told his application has been rejected.

He had initially said he would be stepping down, but threw his hat into the ring again after Labour found in January that it did not have enough candidates to fill a boroughwide slate in every ward.

Last week, however, his name was added to the list of people told they are now unwanted. It already includes Paul Tomlinson, who had criticised the building of a tower of private flats on green space in Somers Town, and Leo Cassarani – who was barred for being among councillors asking for more scrutiny of a land deal in Camley Street.


All of the rejected councillors were stopped after an interview process run by the Labour Campaign Forum (LCF) – a body set up to assemble the council election team.

This means members did not get a chance to vote on whether they were suitable or not.

The decisions have been characterised as a “purge of the left” by critics as those affected had been generally supportive of Jeremy Corbyn’s national leadership of the party. While one or two councillors have lost selection votes in previous years, never have so many faced a bar at one set of elections in Camden.

Cllr Pearson said that he was “not bitter” but said the process had been unfair.

He said a photograph used to suggest he had been a member of a “campaign strike” – where some members refused to work to get Sadiq Khan re-elected last year – had been taken at a different event and he had never been part of the rebellion. He added his concerns over Covid had limited his door-to-door work but he had delivered “thousands of leaflets”.

On Monday, the councillors who have been told they cannot stand again are meant to be sitting behind council leader Georgia Gould and others as the ruling Labour group pushes through its tax and budget plans at a full council meeting.

“I still want to be a member of the party, because things can change,” said Cllr Pearson, 68. “I think as a backbench councillor, it’s your job to scrutinise the council and the council’s policies. If you’re not ruffling a few feathers, then you’re not doing that job properly.”

Cllr Pearson had also signed a “call-in” over the council’s handling of Camley Street.

He was also criticised by the interview panel for not wanting Labour to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism in 2018; he preferred the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism.

Cllr Pearson said: “I knew I didn’t stand much chance of being approved after seeing what had happened to Paul, Leo and Ranjit [Singh].”


He added that he had been proud of how he had worked to help residents in Swiss Cottage, and on campaigns on green and disability issues.

His current ward has been altered by boundary changes, with the closest new territory being South Hampstead where three new candidates have been selected – Nina de Ayala Parker, Will Prince and Izzy Lenga.

Mike Katz, the chair of the LCF, has said on the issue of deselections: “No one should automatically expect to be a councillor if they don’t meet our requirements.

“We owe it to Camden residents to pick people who are passionate about representing them – it’s letting down the party and the public to give people a free pass.”

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