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.
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:
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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