There has been little rest for Brent Labour councillors over the weekend following the news of likely contests for leadership at Saturday's Labour Group AGM.
Michael Pavey will be challenging Muhammed Butt for the leadership. So far no job has emerged for Butt from Sadiq Khan, but intriguingly Butt's relatives seem to be pushing him as a possible successor in Khan's Tooting constituency. George Galloway has hinted that he may stand in Tooting - what a combo!
Senior councillors rejected Butt's suggestion for deputy and I understand that a pliable pudding is standing. Hopefully someone with more credibility will throw their hat into the ring
Sarah Marquis has been a well-informed and independent Chair of Planning, presiding over a committee of lesser talents. As Butt is a champion of Quintain and all its deeds he may push for someone more pliable in that role too.
Ruth Moher has been a low profile lead member for children and families and has frustrated many by her failure to take a firm position on forced academies. Both Cllr Shama Tatler and Cllr 'Jumbo' Chan as teachers have a keen interest in education although there has been no confirmation either will challenge Moher for the role.
Cllr Eleanor Southwood has had to deal with Cllr Duffy's revelations over alleged Council incompetence at Environment and a contest between the two of them would be interesting.
Regeneration and housing are key areas, particularly in the light of the GLA campaign and recent controversial regeneration projects, including South Kilburn, and there may be a challenge to Cllr Margaret McLennan based on a failure to stand up to developers on affordable housing provision.
There are a number of others who may come forward including the ambitious Cllr Roxanne Mashari and Cllr Sam Stopp. Stopp has recently made critical comments on the planning consultation procedures in the borough and called for more open and transparent dealings with residents. Matt Kelcher has probably been chair of Scrutiny for too short a period to face a challenge.
Overall however with 56 councillors, the majority of whom as far as the public are concerned are faceless, and because they don't speak at council meetings have little political form (apart from putting their hands up on command), it is hard to know how close Butt's critics are to garnering sufficient votes.
Ex Cllr James Powney gives his account of the process on his blog LINK
Process in the Labour Group
It may be worth noting the due process in Group meetings, as they appear to have escaped Cllr Butt and possibly others. Votes are held of all the paid up Labour councillors and no one else. The vote is by secret ballot, and follows the rules known as "exhaustive ballot". This means that where there are multiple candidates (as I imagine there would be if Cllr Pavey becomes leader as far as the Deputy Leader post goes), the candidate with the lowest number is elimated and a new vote taken, until somebody get 50% plus one of the votes.
The Group officers (such as Leader and Deputy Leader) are voted on by the whole group, as should other positions such as the Planning Chair and the members of the Executive. This also applies to the new Deputy Mayor, but the Mayor post is normally taken by whoever was last year's deputy without an election.
The Scrutiny positions are voted on by the non Executive members (i.e. excluding the Leader, Deputy Leader, Executive and (I think) the Mayor and Deputy Mayor.
Since all these votes are by secret ballot, they can be expected to take a long time and be unpredictable. My past experience of such elections is that many councillors promise their votes to multiple candidates. I take it from Cllr Butt's attempts to suspend one of his critics and other rumours I have heard, that he is far from confident of victory.