Cllr Catherine West is the Leader of Islington Council, and the Labour candidate for Hornsey and Wood Green at the next General Election. Unite, the Union, boasts that she is one of the selections it helped secure.
I have nothing personally against Cllr West. She's Australian and I have always found Australians straight talking and easy to get on with. I met her once at a Leaders' Committee at London Council. Unlike her I was not a council leader. Stephen Greenhalgh, at the time my council leader in Hammersmith and Fulham had explained to me that the meeting was a complete waste of time and so felt I should represent him. It reminded me of Chris Mullin's diaries ("Nick Raynsford's Private Secretary note still attached: 'This is very low priority. I suggest we pass it to Chris Mullin.' ")
At the meeting there was robust support from Cllr West for slashing London Council's grant spending. There were a couple of Lib Dems who were a bit squishy about it. Cllr West layed into them.
For all this, the fact that Unite is boasting about Cllr West's selection should set alarm bells ringing – especially as it is funding her election campaign. Her endorsements from Bruce Kent and Jeremy Corbyn will do little to quell the alarm bells – although there are also more mainstream backers.
What are her "working class" credentials? It seems to be a Masters Degree in Chinese Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, followed by a stint as research assistant to David Lammy MP. As a council leader she is on over £51,000 a year – funded by the Council taxpayers of Islington.
As Islington Council leader Cllr West has indulged in some left wing gimmicks – for instance setting up a "Fairness Commission" run by the author of The Spirit Level. If residents want to borrow a library book – harder since the libraries are often closed – they are asked their sexual orientation. Naturally council leaseholders are treated as class enemies and punished with excess charges.
Cllr West takes part in far left events like the People's Assembly. She opposes schools becoming academies. She seems to oppose any spending cuts and is full of ideas for spending increases. On the other hand, as a council leader she didn't take the chance to hold a referendum for a Council Tax increase to avoid spending cuts..
I suspect she doesn't really believe in all the far left policies of her Unite sponsor. But she can't repudiate them. She is in too deep. She is a cog in the machine politics dominating the Labour Party that will prevent a future Labour Government from having credible economic policies.