The SKWAWKBOX series of articles on the saga of the suspension of Wallasey CLP (constituency Labour party), amid allegations of ‘abuse’ and homophobic insults against Labour MP Angela Eagle, has aroused much interest and comment.
This blog was the first to publish the full NECDP (National Executive Committee Disputes Panel) report into alleged events at the CLP and was able to reveal a series of fundamental weaknesses in the report, as well as as proof that at least one of the allegations made by Ms Eagle’s supporters was complete fiction.
Last week, a 102-page report was submitted to the NEC by the officers of Wallasey CLP, providing detailed evidence to support their critique of the report and protest at the continuing suspension of meetings.
The full report cannot yet be published, but, in another exclusive, the SKWAWKBOX has obtained a summary report prepared by the same people.
This summary report is deeply damning of the NECDP’s report and of the allegations made against Wallasey Labour members. It shows, among other things, that:
- the report implies poor running of the meeting by Corbyn supporters when in fact the events complained about – such as they were – took place when the meeting was being run by the very people doing the complaining
- there is a complete lack of evidence for almost every complaint – except one that is by a Corbyn supporter (which is not mentioned in the NECDP report) and which has been proven to be justified
- the NEC has taken no action against the supporters of Angela Eagle proven to have made false accusations, in spite of reminders
- far from abusing Ms Eagle, the Corbyn-supporters the CLP complained to Merseyside police about a lack of protection for her
- the only people to provide a proper code of conduct to the CLP members were the newly-elected, Corbyn-supporting officers
- claims of local councillors being abused for not setting ‘illegal’ budgets are groundless; in fact the CLP passed a motion encouraging the setting of legal budgets
- there is no evidence of a campaign to deselect councillors – but ‘paranoia’ on the part of councillors may go a long way to explaining the allegations aimed at the suspension of the CLP
- the ‘threat of violence’ was barely a ‘ripple in a teacup’, let alone a storm – to the extent that the NECDP should be embarrassed it was even included
- the letter to Ms Eagle, which is implied by the report to be controversial, simply asked her to support the party’s leader and was passed almost unanimously; there was no controversy, as at this point she had not declared her intention to run against him
- allegations that motions supporting Ms Eagle had been blocked are completely false and the circulation of all motions has been thoroughly documented
- allegations of homophobic abuse are not only unfounded but beyond credibility – and still no formal allegations have been made to the police about what would be a criminal act, if it occurred at all
- there is no evidence of other abuse toward Ms Eagle or other CLP members by anyone in the CLP
- the NECDP report fails to mention that the one person convicted of abuse toward Angela Eagle is neither a member of the CLP (as he lives in Scotland), nor even a member of the Labour party, and in fact it implies otherwise
- the suspension of Wallasey CLP meetings directly contravenes the NECDP report’s own stated standards
The full report is attached to the end of this article, including appendices of supporting information, but key points and evidence are shown below.
A ‘contradiction’ in terms
The NECDP’s own report makes clear that it is based on ‘contradictory’ accounts of key events – yet comes down squarely on the side of those making the accusations, in spite of a complete lack of evidence for them.
of by the unknown
The report paints a negative picture of the CLP by claiming that ‘some members’ are fearful of ‘repercussions’ for speaking out. But Labour party procedures are based on anonymity for complainants, so those complaining will remain anonymous – unless they choose to ‘come out’, for example by talking to TV cameras.
Several have done so – which rather suggests an absence of ‘fearfulness’ on their part.
Pointing at a mirror?
The NECDP report claims to identify problems with confusion about delegates at meetings and with a resulting ‘febrile’ atmosphere. In fact, the confusion was minor and transitory – but if the accusations are true at all, they took place while the meeting was being run by those making the complaints– and the Secretary had been asked more than 9 months previously for the rules to be clarified:
I’ll second that (legal) motion..
The NECDP states that councillors were targeted for not setting illegal budgets in excess of government caps – when in fact the CLP sent them a motion encouraging them to set legal budgets:
Minutes of the meeting show that no motion was put forward criticising the council, in direct contradiction of the NECDP claim. Similarly, there is no evidence of a campaign to deselect any councillors.
“I’ll shut it for you (if I can reach!)”
As the SKWAWKBOX reported, the ‘threat of violence’ that supposedly left younger and older members ‘frightened’ and ‘vulnerable’ was, in fact, a very small woman telling a very big man some distance away, who was being persistently rude to her, “shut your mouth or I’ll shut it for you”.
Presumably, someone would have had to move so she could stand on a chair to do it – hardly the stuff of nightmares for even the most timid, and the meeting immediately returned to good humour.
Problems – what problems?
The same voted-out former CLP officers responsible for the disorganised start of the AGM were those who would have been responsible for reporting problems in the behaviour of the CLP during the previous year of their tenure. Some of them appeared on TV to allege that there had been such problems. However:
‘Some’ = 1?
The report attempts to undermine the validity of a letter sent by the CLP to Ms Eagle by stating that ‘some’ members left the meeting and that this occurred because of disagreement about whether the letter should even be discussed.
But neither is true – unless ‘some’ can mean ‘one’. As the minutes of the meeting show, only one member left and this was because of childcare responsibilities.
And in any case, the letter – far from “contribut[ing] to the raised tensions that then followed – was (at the time) entirely uncontroversial. As far as the CLP’s members knew, Ms Eagle was not standing against Jeremy Corbyn and, in fact, did not even resign from the Shadow Cabinet until days later.
As for the most damning allegations – that Ms Eagle ‘faced’ homophobic abuse – these simply fail to stand up.
Firstly, Ms Eagle was not at the meeting – she had sent ‘apologies’ for her absence and these are recorded in the minutes.
Secondly, the idea that there was abuse but some people failed to hear it is beyond credibility. The room in which the meeting took place measures only 24x18ft – only twice the size of a decently-sized living room – and the allegations are that more than one person committed the abuse, supposedly using the same anti-lesbian ‘D’ word.
Third, nobody at the meeting raised any complaint – in a room full of delegates, including union representatives and councillors, none of whom would be likely to be ‘shrinking violets’ afraid to call out any abuse.
Finally, homophobic abuse is a criminal offence. As soon as they heard about the abuse, the newly-elected officers of the CLP wrote a 6-page report calling for the allegations to be reported to the police:
To date, no such allegations have been made to the police – in direct contravention of party rules. Perhaps because breaking party rules doesn’t carry a prison sentence, while making false accusations to police would be likely to result in significant ‘time’.
The one person who has – rightly – been convicted of making threats to Ms Eagle lives in Scotland and is not a Labour member. He is therefore unable, on two counts, to be a member of Wallasey CLP, since both residency in the constituency and membership of the party are absolute requirements. The report not only fails to mention that, in spite of it being well known at the time of writing, but implies otherwise.
Not only, but also..
The CLP went further, though – showing a definite concern for Ms Eagle’s wellbeing in spite of the allegations in which she had participated. Not only were the NECDP report’s allegations that they had dismissed concerns false, but the CLP had written to police expressing concern at the lack of police protection for the MP and asking for it to be put in place:
The NECDP report concludes that the infamous (yet not even in evidence) ‘brick’ must have been politically motivated because “the position of the window made it very unlikely that this was a random passer-by”.
But, as the CLP response makes clear, the window in question is right next to a public footpath – one that runs from a notorious pub to a neighbouring housing estate.
There is no evidence that the window was broken out of political motives. There is no evidence that it wasn’t. Because there is no evidence at all about who broke the window or why.
But there is certainly evidence that the report’s statement about the position of the window is nonsense and that the conclusion about motives is baseless.
Proof positive – and positively no action
By contrast with the glaring lack of evidence for pretty much anything alleged by the report, there is proof positive that a false accusation was made by supporters of Angela Eagle against a Corbyn supporter.
A number of pro-Eagle supporters accused one of the officers of a breach of data protection by obtaining member names and addresses to post leaflets through their doors on a given date. The party was quick to act on these allegations:
but the accused was hundreds of miles away in London – and could prove it:
However, in stark contrast with the speed of response when the false allegations were made. no action has been taken to date by the party against the members proven to have invented them, over 3 months later.
Not only, but also..
The allegations of abuse a
The NECDP report laughably ends with a statement that,
we will not act on unsubstantiated allegations
But, as the officers’ response points out, this is nonsense – the CLP has been suspended on exactly that: unsubstantiated allegations. And not merely unsubstantiated but often flying in the face of what actual evidence exists.
Even a cursory reading of the original NEC report and the CLP’s response to it are enough to suggest that, far from being the ‘proof’ of any abuse that Ms Eagle and others have claimed it to be, the NECDP report is as full of holes as a piece of Swiss cheese – and far more malodorous.
Once and for all, this ridiculous situation needs to be ‘put to bed’ – with a full, public and unreserved apology, not only from the NEC Disputes Panel but also from Ms Eagle and every person who made these palpably ridiculous allegations.
(The full Wallasey CLP report can be downloaded here: wallasey-report-with-comments)