Blenkinsop ‘daren’t even come to CLP’; #assetgate. Factors in a lost council seat

On Thursday night, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland (MSEC) Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop tweeted blaming the ‘hard left’ and Jeremy Corbyn for the loss of a council seat in his constituency. The SKWAWKBOX examined a very small part of Blenkinsop’s track record and showed how the MP was firing blame for the loss anywhere but where it belonged.

MSEC Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop

The SKWAWKBOX subsequently received a rush of messages and emails from various current and ex-Labour members in the constituency – but to date, not a single message defending him.

The picture painted by those messages is of a near-universally despised MP who is rarely seen unless there’s a ‘photo opportunity’ whose actions have seriously damaged the Labour Party in Middlesbrough and who daren’t even attend his own CLP (constituency Labour Party) meetings.

Mr Blenkinsop appears to fancy himself as a bit of a ‘tough nut’. His Twitter feed is often blunt to the point of rudeness and his profile makes mention of his status as a Military Policeman in the army reserve:

blekinsop twitter prof

But the image he tries to project seems at odds with the evidence. Here is an extract from the February minutes from MSEC CLP:

5. Update on the Relationship between the MP and his Agent and GC – Bill Suthers reported on his discussions with the MP and his Agent to the effect that the MP would not be attending GC in the near future following interventions by what he regards as extremist delegates and the Agent would only attend if there was a clear campaign strategy from the Party to discuss with GC. A substantial discussion followed.

This blog has heard from several eye-witnesses to the ‘interventions by..extremist delegates‘ who assert that a single Momentum member challenged Blenkinsop on his part in the 2016 coup and that this was not done in any kind of untoward manner.

Yet Blenkinsop now appears to be running scared and has terminated what was already a tenuous relationship with his members. One can imagine the ‘substantial discussion’ that followed this announcement quite easily.

To say that he has failed to engage with local people appears to be a major understatement.

But it appears that Blenkinsop, woeful as he is, is not the only local factor in the loss. A number of local councillors and ex-councillors also spoke to the SKWAWKBOX. Their comments will follow in a later article, but one in particular was extremely frank on the topic of last week’s lost council seat in Coulby Newham and its wider context:

The South Middlesbrough Chairman of Labour, the hapless Ian Blades, is blaming Jeremy Corbyn for the loss of the by-election in Coulby Newham, as is Tom Blenkinsop MP. Nonsense of course!

The real reason is that Labour in Middlesbrough has become toxic in parts because of assetgate and the allegations which came out at the Tribunal over the treatment of Karen Whitmore by the most senior officers and the Mayor Dave Budd. Dave Budd, the Mayor, seems to forget the buck stops with him.

I wonder what part in this Labour débâcle was played by Cllr Jan Brunton? Allegedly, Geoff Cole resigned because of her insistence that he supported the development on Centre Square. No councillor should ever try to get the Chair of Planning to break planning law and procedures. The truth will come out as to whether this happened.

Labour in Middlesbrough, because of its poor local leadership and their questionable actions, is in disarray. I am a keen supporter of Jeremy Corbyn and Labour, nationally, but not this dishonest bunch in Middlesbrough which is totally lacking in integrity.

Strong words and it must be borne in mind that the allegations are, at this point, still allegations, but the SKWAWKBOX understands that another ten councillors and former councillors may wish to add their names in support of this statement.

A dire, arrogant MP who daren’t even meet his members. A Labour council with its reputation in tatters among its own residents over its alleged financial dealings. Whatever the precise mix of blame for the lost council seat in Coulby Newham last week – and more information continues to come in – it’s clear that there’s one person who has absolutely nothing to do with it.

The leader of the national Labour Party, in spite of Tom Blenkinsop’s craven attempt to portray otherwise.

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  1. A very good article. I am so pleased that there are people who are not willing to stand by and allow reactionary right-wing Labour MPs like Tom Blenkinsop to get away with their poisonous comments, without reply. I am also delighted that the article includes a lengthy quote from myself about the very serious public allegations relating to Labour controlled Middlesbrough Council. These allegations were seen regularly in the local press and on north-east TV. This undoubtedly played a major part in Labour’s demise in Coulby Newham. This country needs Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell in Government. Tom Blenkinsop favours a continuation of Conservative rule as he cannot bear the thought of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn winning a General Election.

  2. Doesn’t sound like a happy constituency and there are clearly special factors in this by-election (as there are in most local by-elections).

    However, what angers me is the national media’s misuse of percentages (and Labour List!) to present this as Labour votes going to the Tories because of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Here are the actual numbers for the Coulby Newham council seat Labour lost in Middlesborough:

    Tories 501
    Labour 468
    Independent 318
    Green 32
    (No Lib Dems this time)
    Majority of 33.

    Clearly, it looks very different losing by 33 votes in comparison to an 8% gain for the tories and 8% loss for the Labour candidates. However, the Tories only gained 26 votes on 2015… so it wasn’t Labour votes going to the Tories but Labour votes that were lost presumably because of the local difficulties.

    1. The Tories got 996 votes in 2015 in Coulby Newham (according to Wikipedia), so a massive fall in votes, similarly turnout, since then.

      Maybe you meant to type 2016, meaning the 2016 by-election in Coulby Newham, when indeed the Tory got 352 and Labour 732? (Again according to Wikipedia) In 2016 by-election the turnout was 1,607 compared to a reduced 1,319 this year. So they actually got a 149 increase since then I think, in a reduced turnout.

  3. Until the CLP gets organised and deselects him then the problems for Labour in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland will continue

  4. Here is response to your piece from Ian Blades that I thought you may find interesting. I have copied the text faithfully:

    Steven Walker aka The Skwawkbox has never stepped foot in my Town of Middlesbrough. Here is is posting crap from a “deselected” labour Councillor, who appealed and begged not to be, but lost his appeal to Labour HQ, he then resigned party membership and stood against an official labour party candidate, he was well and truly put back in his box when he was slaughtered in his own back yard by the electorate, coming 5th in the election. In Middlesbrough 2015 we won more councilor seats in our history, at one time we had 17 Tory Councillors, we have them down to 5. Even ragged Tory strongholds are now Indie and not Tory. This is huge because for the first time in 35 years a Tory has won a Labour seat in Labours heartland. As opposition this cannot be acceptable other than to the idiot who Skwawkbox is pushing and supported the Tory that won. Do I know, yes I am chair of the branch that contains Coulby Newham.

    1. If you want a screen grab please let me know where I can send it. Cheers.

  5. There is no mention of the Independent Mike Allen,he played a big part In the demise of Mayor Budds choice of candidate.Labour supporters who are raving
    mad about Budd and his sycophants would not vote Tory but willingly voted Independent, The vote was a clear vote of no confidence in Mayor Budd.The people want a police investigation into all that was exposed at the Industrial Tribunal,it cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.

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