Sunday 31 March 2019

Brent Council leader Muhammed Butt joins Momentum

It was a bit of a surprise to local Momentum members when Muhammed Butt turned up at their meeting to discuss who to nominate for the Brent and Harrow Assembly Member election.

It became apparent that Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, had become a national member of Momentum. It must have been rather disconcerting to have 'The Leader' in the meeting, particularly when he is thought to support the nomination of his fellow Cabinet member Cllr Krupesh Hirani.

Cllr Butt is not well known for his red-blooded socialism, militancy over academisation or refusal to implement cuts. Hitherto, he has been more pro-Sadiq than Jeremy, so people were rather stunned by his apparent conversion to the cause.

As if to confirm his new status and silence the doubters, Butt turned up at the Momentum protest outside the Willesden Green branch of Barclays Bank on Saturday, part of a very worthwhile nationwide campaign by Momentum against the bank investing in fossil fuels and thus contributing to climate change.  His presence attracted many tweets and re-tweets.

So has he been converted to the cause by Graham Durham and co, or is there more to it? When his party commanded 57 of the 63 seats on the Council he was successful in seducing the three Tory councillors from Kenton into what amounted to an alliance against the Brondesbury Park conservatives.

Perhaps Butt's move is a sort of reverse entryism:  Uncle Mo keeping a wary eye on the combination of  Old Campaigners and Young Turks.


Anonymous said...

I suspect that your cynicism over Mo and Momentum is well founded!!!

Alison Hopkins said...

Fascinating. More evidence of the Dear Leader's opportunism and naked ambition. He'd join any groupin in Labour that he thought advanced him: or even some outside, given he tried to join the Lib Dems twice. Does that mean he's now cuddled up with Calderdale? That's a step change!

Scott said...

Shows how fake politics is, Labour in general.

Scott said...

Any news from Simon Erskine and Divest Brent on whether Cllr Butt is going to use the power he does have to divest Brent Council from Fossil Fuels? Or is this just a ‘look over there’ virtue signal?

Martin Francis said...

I am involved with Divest Brent - a cross party and non-party group. The borough's intention is to divest but complicated because now most of the funds are managed by the CIV (Common Investment Vehicle) which is a cross-London borough body so attention, with other local campaigns, has to switch to persuading the CIV to divest. A further issue is that different boroughs have different strategies depending on the health of their pension funds. Brent's is in poor condition which means not only do employers (mainly schools apart from council itself) have to pay more in than neighbouring boroughs but Brent needs a higher return than other boroughs to top up the fund quickly.

Scott said...

I presume Cllr Butt given his interest in divestment has pledged his full support for divest brent and will be lobbying CIV in his capacity of leader of Brent Council?

There’a always complications, but as I understand it share prices in fossil fuels are quite static so if Brent needs a ‘quicker’ return (if we accept this risky gambling) there is no reason not to transition to another portfolio.

Is there a public statement somewhere on their ‘intention’ (which is quite a weak word if that is what they used).

Martin Francis said...

This is from Brent Labour's 2018 Council Elections Manifesto: • At every opportunity, redirect our investments into renewable energy projects and carbon free or carbon neutral technologies

Unknown said...

Martin is right that the immediate problem is that government are putting a lot of pressure on local authorities to invest through their local pool (the CIV for London boroughs) - and most of Brent Pension Fund's assets are going to be in the CIV by the end of 2019. Currently the CIV has no fossil-free equity funds available and local Divest groups are working together to change this. There is a lot of support on the Council for divestment and I am confident that once the CIV has fossil-free options the Council will start divesting from the standard funds with their share of fossil fuel investments.