Just another chip off the old right-wing block
- Proud potato owner becomes new Labour Leader of Sheffield City Council
The “Sheffield Dore” era has finally closed and now we face the troubling nightmare of a second B. Johnson leading the governments in our lives.
Councillor Bob Johnson, in an episode straight out of a banana republic playbook, was duly installed as leader of Sheffield’s Labour Group – despite the possibility of failing to defend the slim majority in his Hillsborough seat in next May’s local elections. The Green Party is looking to overturn a 500-vote majority and will throw everything at unseating him.
His installation at Labour Group – not really an election despite a late bid by outgoing councillor Lewis Dagnall to challenge him – was a foregone conclusion once the other leading faction’s candidate, Terry Fox, didn’t even pick up the towel to throw it in.
Dagnall only stood to force a vote by secret ballot and, according to some, gave a much better speech but the Labour Group is a club with the ladder firmly pulled up so the winner was a foregone conclusion. And yet despite Dagnall not standing again for council in May 2021 he still picked up 9 votes, with Johnson getting 33 and a further 2 Cllrs abstaining.
Demands from the LCF for hustings so Party members could be involved were denied – it seems democracy in the Labour Party is an expendable item these days.
Johnson is a relatively unknown quantity to everyone but his right-wing chums on the Labour Group. Not renowned as a public speaker – in fact his oratory has been recommended as a remedy for anyone finding it difficult to sleep – he is best known for his double act with another councillor, Mazher Iqbal. Iqbal is regarded as the brains of the operation.
You also won’t get much about Johnson from his social media feeds – like many in the Group, there is little evidence of any his views. Just a series of retweets of all things corporate from the Council and Party.
As a local businessman himself, he is known as a strong advocate for businesses – not a role to inspire confidence in any radical rethink of the Group’s mundane, small thinking.
It is more likely to be business as usual with a Council obsessed by day-to-day matters with no vision of where Sheffield might be in five years’ time after at least four more years of national Tory rule.
He is also known to dismiss the need to involve party members taking the same line as his predecessor that we are there to get them elected every four years and not to bother them in between. Party members should be seen but not heard in the new, elitist Labour Party.
So, CLP and LCF officers should not sit waiting for a call from Chairman Bob asking for permission to address their delegates or members to take questions on his vision for the future.