Florence Eshalomi, the new Labour Party candidate for Vauxhall. The constituency had a registered electorate of 82,055 in the General Election of 2017, which was won by the then Labour candidate, Kate Hoey, with 31,576 votes and 57.3 per cent of the vote. Except in the General Election of 1931, Vauxhall, including the former seat of Lambeth North, has voted for a Labour Member of Parliament since 1918.
‘Growing up on the Cowley Estate and the Somerleyton Estate in Brixton, my values were shaped from an early age and I have carried these values with me as a carer for my mum, a local councillor, a mother and now as the local Assembly Member.’
- May 2006. Eshalomi was elected Lambeth Labour councillor for Brixton Hill ward on a basic salary of £9,964 per annum.
- May 2010–May 2012. Eshalomi was employed as Lambeth Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and the Olympics on an additional salary of between £34,780 and £41,262. In addition, her basic salary as a councillor increased to £10,597, giving her a total salary of between £45,377 and £51,859 per annum.
- 2011. Eshalomi was employed as Chair of the Co-operative Libraries Commission that made the decision to privatise Lambeth’s public libraries. For this she received an additional salary of between £15,333 and £28,298.
- May 2012–May 2013. Eshalomi was employed as Lambeth Deputy Cabinet Member Tackling Violent Youth Crime.
- May 2013–May 2014. Eshalomi was employed as Lambeth Deputy Cabinet Member for Housing.
- 2014–May 2016. While still a Lambeth councillor for the Brixton Hill war, Eshalomi was employed as Public Affairs Account Manager for Four Communications on an unknown additional salary.
Four Communications is a public relations agency that offers teams of experts who ‘provide support at every stage of the planning, marketing and communications process’ and help to secure ‘political support in the face of public opposition’. Four Communications is one of the most persuasive lobbyists for councils in acquiring Statements of Community Involvement (SCI). Every major planning application requires an SCI to demonstrate the developer has consulted with the local community and that its plans have public support. Residential developments in London with zero homes for social rent for which Four Communications has attained SCIs include Neo Bankside, Sampson & Ludgate House, Elephant One, Southbank Tower, the Shard, St. George’s Wharf, One Blackfriars, Eileen House, Strata Tower and the Quill.
Four Communications was founded in 2001 by the former Southwark Labour Council Leader, Jeremy Fraser. On its payroll and list of shareholders are Jim Dickson, the current Lambeth Labour councillor for Herne Hill, Cabinet Member for the Voluntary Sector & Partnerships, and former Cabinet Member for Finance and Council Leader; and Southwark’s former Labour Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Steve Lancashire. In addition to Eshalomi, it counts amongst its former employees Alan Laing, the former Hackney Labour councillor, and Karen Alcock, the former Deputy Mayor of Hackney with responsibility for housing and commercial property.
- March 2016. As ward councillor for Brixton Hill, Eshalomi voted to close several of Lambeth’s public libraries, including the Carnegie library, the Minet library, the Waterloo library and Herne Hill library, and turn them into private gyms run by Greenwich Leisure Limited. On its website GLL writes: ‘Just as we’re committed to the provision of high quality leisure and fitness facilities — we’re equally committed to the provision of high quality library services and making them all-inclusive spaces.’
- That same month, as Chair of Lambeth’s Housing Scrutiny Committee — for which, in addition to her basic allowance of £10,703, she received an additional allowance of between £35,128 and £41,675 — Eshalomi voted to demolish the Cressingham Gardens council estate.
- May 2016. Eshalomi was voted Labour Member of London Assembly for Lambeth and Southwark on a salary of £56,270. She resigned from Lambeth Cabinet, but remained as ward councillor for Brixton Hill, for which she retained her annual salary of £10,703 for the next two years.
- December 2017. In Eshalomi’s Register of Interests as a Lambeth councillor, the information for both ‘4. Contracts: nature of the contract’, and ‘7. Land: Corporate Tenancies’, she wrote: ‘Sensitive Information: not published’.
- May 2018. Two years after joining the London Assembly, Eshalomi finally resigned as the Lambeth councillor for Brixton Hill ward.
- July 2018. As Labour Member of London Assembly for Lambeth and Southwark, Eshalomi supported the demolition of the Elephant & Castle shopping centre by Southwark Labour council, the eviction of its traders, and its redevelopment by Delancey developers.
- October 2019. Eshalomi was nominated as Labour candidate for the Vauxhall constituency in the next General Election.
It is unclear when she joined, but for some years Eshalomi has been the Strategy Board Member for Progress, the right-wing faction of the Labour Party that was founded in 1996 to support the New Labour Leadership of Tony Blair. Progress provides training and mentoring for like-minded candidates, such as Eshalomi, who are seeking selection as Labour Members of Parliament.
Between 2001 and August 2019, Progress received almost £4.7 million in donations. Of this, £3.5 million came from Lord Sainsbury, the Labour Peer and former Chair of the supermarket chain founded by his grandfather. In 2014 Progress was fined £6,000 by the Electoral Commission for accepting donations of £390,000 from Lord Sainsbury while he was not on the UK electoral register. The second largest donor to Progress during this period was Lord Michael Montague, the Labour Peer and friend of Peter Mandelson. Progress also received a donation of £57,000 from the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association.
Other members of Progress on the current Cabinet of Lambeth Labour council include Eshalomi’s fellow Four Communications employee, Jim Dickson; Matthew Bennett, the current Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment and New Homes who, as the former Cabinet Member for Housing, signed off the demolition of 6 Lambeth council estates; Edward Davie, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care who, as the former Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, ratified the Labour Cabinet’s decision to demolish Cressingham Gardens estate; and Rezina Chowdhury and Jessica Leigh, the Labour Party Chief Whips.
Architects for Social Housing
‘Access to a safe and secure homes is a basic human right being denied to so many people. I grew up on a council estate and this provided my family a fair start in life. It is shameful that residents living in Grenfell Tower were ignored simply because of the type of property they lived in. I have campaigned for local councils to have access to vital funding to borrow and build affordable social housing.’
This week I received the following Labour pamphlet (below) through my door on the Cotton Gardens estate. Apart from the cynicism of vote-begging on the back of a man-made disaster for which the Labour Party bears shared responsibility, and the bare-faced cheek of citing the benefits of council housing when you’re a former member of a council that is trying to demolish 6 council estates and a current member of a Party whose policy is to demolish and/or privatise them all, this is an outright lie. Far from campaigning to build social housing, as a Lambeth Labour councillor Florence Eshalomi voted to demolish Cressingham Gardens estate, for the privatisation of Lambeth’s libraries as gyms, for the eviction of traders from the Brixton Arches, and as a Labour Member of the London Assembly for Lambeth and Southwark is currently supporting the demolition of the Elephant & Castle shopping centre.
On the 12th of December don’t forget to remember: A vote for Labour is a vote for estate demolition, the social cleansing of estate communities, the eviction of small market traders, and the privatisation of housing provision that places the value of the land our council homes are built on above the housing security and fire safety of the residents that currently live in them.