Councillor Lucy Ivimy (Con), H&F Council’s Cabinet member for Housing has a statutory responsibility to promote community integration and cohesion. Yet, as covered here, on the 3rd of June she wrote to the CEO of Hammersmith and Fulham Homes to say that rubbish in a part of the borough was down to “foreign born residents”. She went on to say that “I know that in India, throwing rubbish out of a window and total disregard for the cleanliness of a public area is normal behaviour and I dare say a number would change behaviour if firmly told that in London this is not acceptable behaviour”. Ivimy has now admitted that she had not based her view on any evidence. It was therefore a comment made as a result of her “personal” prejudice. Her housing role gives her direct responsibilty for addressing such behaviour in others. It is farcical for her to remain in post but she has failed to resign and Cllr. Stephen Greenhalgh (Con), H&F’s Council Leader, has failed to see this as a reason to sack her.
At the Council Meeting on Wednesday, 25th June, there was a vote of no confidence in Cllr. Ivimy. Greenhalgh told the chamber that not only did he believe that Cllr. Ivimy wasn’t a racist but that her comments were not racist either. He didn’t say what qualified him to make that assessment but (for the first time I can remember) the Tories used their overwhelming majority to guillotine the debate. Greenhalgh then led them all to vote to support Cllr. Ivimy in her new job. To be fair to them; some looked extremely uncomfortable in doing so.
So where is David Cameron on all this? Well, he has refused to get involved despite receiving a letter from me, on June 16th, detailing what happened and asking him to do so. There are only two possible reasons for Cameron seemingly looking the other way. The first is that the supposed rift between Cameron and H&F Conservatives is as real as the rumour says it is. Cameron may well have asked for decisive action on this only to have been rebuffed by Greenhalgh. The second reason is that Cameron is a cynical fake who will deal with high profile cases such as Boris Johnson’s advisor, an MP or Parliamentary Candidate as doing so gets him the headlines he needs for his “Conservative Party Decontamination Strategy”. But, he'll turn a blind eye to local government as it usually won't stay long in the national papers and so he is prepared to leave attitudes amongst the vast numbers of rank and file Conservative Party members unchallenged. Whatever the reason, this incident has tainted the Conservative Party and all those that voted to keep Ivimy in her job.
Many of the officials who currently work for Cllr. Ivimy have told me that it is untenable for her to stay in that role and hundreds of outraged residents have contacted me to say that she has absolutely no credibility and should go. Ivimy has become a lame duck Cabinet Member but it's Mayor Boris Johnson who best sums up how most people feel on this case. When sacking James McGrath (his advisor) last week for saying something racially insulting to a journalist, Mayor Johnson explained that Mr. McGrath’s “remarks made it impossible for him to continue in that role”. Lucy Ivimy remains in her role reminding us of the face of British Conservatism we had all hoped had gone into the history books.