My article yesterday on Wallasey CLP (constituency Labour party) members’ intention to crowdfund a lawsuit against their own MP and the NEC (national executive committee) Disputes Panel for defamation has, not surprisingly, provoked a strong response. Most people are strongly behind them and some are vehemently opposed, with histrionics here and on Twitter like “you’ve killed the Labour party” and “you’re a disgrace”.
Support and opposition are to be expected. Thing is, I can tell which is which.
It seems the same might not be true of Angela Eagle, Labour MP for Wallasey.
Trust me, I’m a politician
In a statement yesterday following the NECDP’s decision to uphold her complaint against her own local party, Ms Eagle said,
I am grateful that Jeremy took the unusual step of both attending and speaking in the meeting and that he expressed sincere sympathy for both me and for my staff” she said. “It is now clear and accepted by the NEC [national executive committee] that homophobic abuse was perpetrated by some members of the local party; I will simply not tolerate it, and I know I have the backing of both Jeremy and union leaders when I say that there is no place for it in the Labour movement either.
As regards the vandalism of my office, I am grateful to both the internal investigators and the NEC for making clear both the facts of the matter and for the support of members up and down the country, including the leader of the Labour party, that such abuse both happened and is intolerable.
Any sensible reading of this statement would lead to the conclusion that Jeremy Corbyn attended the meeting to support her accusations against her local members and that Mr Corbyn agreed that the events she has claimed actually took place.
But is it true?
No. It’s true that the Labour leader attended the meeting and spoke – but not to support her claims or the continuing suspension of Wallasey CLP.
Luke Akehurst, who as a senior member of Progress and of Labour First fancies himself a mover and shaker in right-wing Labour circles, most often serves as a ‘useful idiot’ by giving away details of the kind of plots and schemes he and his co-factionists get up to. But he is well connected in those circles and, on this occasion, he provides useful inside information about Corbyn’s motives and actions at the NECDP meeting. Of course, he intended to undermine Corbyn rather than Ms Eagle, but hey ho. Here’s a Twitter exchange of his from last night:
The SKWAWKBOX has seen similar information from a variety of sources.
I’m sure Jeremy Corbyn offered Ms Eagle a few kind words. It’s the kind of person he is. But far from supporting her and her claims, he was there to oppose them. And not just any opposition but a ‘whipped effort to block’ – in other words, a formal and concerted move to prevent her succeeding, which can only have been defeated by an NECDP burdened with a preponderance of right-wingers.
Mr Corbyn attended the meeting to determinedly oppose Ms Eagle’s attempt to brand her own constituents – who include LGBTQ people and the parents of others – as homophobic abusers. And Ms Eagle, with a straight face, used careful wording to make it appear that he was there to support her and continued to support her. Apparently for the sake of appearing justified.
Now here’s the thing. If a person is capable of claiming, with a straight face, that black = white, that up = down, that opposition = support, in order to protect and justify herself – can her claims of homophobic abuse be trusted, or her word about anything else, for that matter? I’ll let the reader decide, but it’s interesting that she declined to take a lie-detector test when her CLP vice-Chair offered to take one if she would.
The Colour Purple
If it is the case that Ms Eagle is lying – as many witnesses will attest and remember not even she claims to have been at the meeting where she was supposedly abused – her own potential motivations are not that obscure. It’s well-known that she faced a vote of no-confidence in the wake of her resignation this summer, one which was considered certain to be carried emphatically and to be followed by deselection in due course.
Faced with the end of her political career, it’s not hard to imagine she might resort to extreme measures. But why would other prominent Labour figures support her claims? Turns out that’s not hard to imagine, or for that matter to spot in reality, a potential motive.
Fellow Progress member Gloria de Piero – who infamously appears in the Sun rag to appeal for right-wing readers to join Labour to vote against Jeremy Corbyn, was quick to propagate the idea of ‘abuse in the Labour party’. But only on the left, among Corbyn supporters, of course.
Caroline Flint, another Corbyn opponent and Progress member, was equally quick to jump in:
Karen Buck, also a member of Progress, made sure not to miss the boat:
Alison McGovern, no less than the Chair of Progress, made her support very clear:
I could put many more.
Who’da thunk it?
Progress’ logo (the colour you’d get mixing blue and red, not insignificantly) is like a bad purple penny, turning up all over the place in this sorry saga – just like the two Labour MPs involved in the laughable CHAC report blaming Corbyn for antisemitism it then says there’s no evidence for, who are both Progress members.
A deeply right-wing ‘party within a party’, implacably opposed both to Corbyn’s leadership and to those who support it – and an MP facing no-confidence and deselection, who is a member of Progress and was an almost-constant feature in the Progress ‘business zone’ at the recent Labour conference.
Why would they want to propagate a nonsense smear against the overwhelmingly Corbyn-supporting CLP that was about to vote their complete lack of confidence in her?
The Press Gang
And why would media owned/controlled by Tories and billionaire Tory supporters back them up with stories that claim ‘hundreds of abusive calls from Labour members’ and other nonsense, with not a shred of evidence shown (go on, have a look through them and see if you can find one piece of evidence rather than assertion) of any abuse by her CLP.
Except for one man rightly convicted of making death threats. Who lives in Scotland. And isn’t even known to be a Labour member.
It’s a tough one. Who can work it out?