Exclusive: CLP bans ‘old men’ phrase re council exec appointments

In early June, the SKWAWKBOX published an article concerning ‘nine old white men’ – Tory men – who had been allowed to dominate a BBC Question Time election special just before voters went to the polls. The article contained an image of the men that clearly struck a chord as it went viral, appearing in posts and articles all over social media:


Even comedian Joe Lycett picked up the image and had a little fun with it.

But the image’s serious message seemed to be what drove its virality – and, just possibly, it’s still resonating.

One CLP (constituency Labour party) in the north-west of England has caused consternation among its members by passing a resolution banning the phrase ‘old white-haired men‘ or similar after controversy over the appointment to the executive of the Council of twelve older men and one women 

The CLP is organised on a branch/GC (general committee) structure, so that the majority of members attend their local branch and send delegates to the GC meeting. A member reported the motion on Facebook with disbelieving humour:


The reaction was a mix of more humour, some outrage – and a query whether the motion had in fact been proposed legally:

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The frustration – as shown above in the case of the McDonnell Amendment – is born out of the fact that the CLP was using time, potentially outside the party’s rules, that could have been spent on far more important matters than protecting a council that appears to have ignored any idea of gender balance, triggering worries about institutional sexism. Concern was also raised about the plight faced by many local people and the way in which such a trivial matter has been prioritised above their needs.

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The council’s and CLP’s sensitivity about the issue appears to be driven by a desire to cauterise criticism over the clearly-imbalanced selection of its executive – but there are serious questions to ask not only about its approach to council selections but also about the possibly-unlawful, 1984-style methods used to outlaw phrases that might be used to highlight it.

The SKWAWKBOX hopes that members will pursue this further.

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  1. F absolute FS.

    Beyond parody. Absolutely pathetic. Kids going to school hungry takes a back seat, if some arl fart’s feelings are hurt.

    What next? Change the name of Blackburn because it might have mistaken connotations with the Klan, or something?

    Jesus H Corbett on a stick.

  2. It is nonsense like this that causes people to keep away from politics. It makes us a laughing stock and rightly so. Whoever proposed such a statement is no friend of the Labour parties. Maybe a tory mole????? People and branches like this need to called to answer this stupidity.

  3. ‘Pigment impaired’…

    Does that apply to may & hammond, then? Or are they just plain pallid?

  4. The leadership of the Labour Party has advised the party that we are on an election footing and need to keep campaigning in advance of a possibly imminent General Election.

    Yet right wing members are wasting valuable CLP time with this kind of ridiculous motion.

    This seems part of the current strategy of the right wing. At CLP meetings across the country they are disrupting meetings with specious questions, bureaucratic interventions and aggressive behaviour against other members.

    The right wing of the party is proving to be a dead weight and electoral liability. It is intentionally alienating new members in its increasingly desperate attempts to cling onto control of the party machinery.

    It is time for these protesting time wasters to get out of the way and let more serious people who are interested in returning a Labour Government to do so unhindered by the right wing’s pathetic and obstructive activities.

  5. Perhaps I’ve missed it in the text, but the name of the CLP seems to have been blanked out.

    I can’t think why Skwawkbox hasn’t named it, and sought a comment from its officers; there’s usually more than one side to every story.

    1. You should be careful what you wish for, Graham.

      This might be your CLP and you could be one of the reactionary right wing old old men dominating the executive and holding the Labour Party back.

      1. As a life long Conservative voter it’s unlikely to be my CLP!

        I’m just curious as to why (although see Toffee’s comment below) the CLP in question seemed to be unnamed and had not been approached for comment.

    2. Ok, granted. Point taken, my mistake.

      But why’s it so important Graham? I thought you’d delight in something like this, rather than take your usual suspicious, supercilious and disingenuous attitude.

  6. @The Toffee

    It’s important because the whole story seems to be based on some Facebook postings which actually contained the CLP name.

    I can see no reason to blank that name out, and the very essence of good journalism is surely to give the “accused” the chance firstly to know that they are being accused, and secondly to respond to the accusation.

    You’re right – I am suspicious of stories like this. Sometimes my suspicions aren’t warranted, but sometimes they are.

  7. Given the way mcnicol & co have acted recently, skwawkbox has done the right thing by redacting names & constituencies. I mean, you’re a proponent for free speech ‘n’ all that… mcnicol & co aren’t.

    Doesn’t and shouldn’t cast doubt on the veracity of the farce in my opinion.

    1. And the principle of giving the “accused” the right of reply to put their side of the story (and, indeed, to confirm or deny its veracity)?

      1. So, in essence, you believe the article’s a fabrication?

        It’s becoming old hat, this modus operandi. The cardinal rule of journalism is never to reveal sources. (Unless of course you’re isabel [risible] oakeshott – and we’re all well aware of her political leanings, aren’t we?)

  8. @The Toffee

    The story could be a fabrication or it could be true. Unless the accused is identified and allowed a right of reply how can we know?

    So far as the source goes, the names of the people involved have been blanked out which is fair enough, but what can possibly be secret about the name of the CLP involved?

    1. How’s the membership of your Conservative Party going, Graham?

      I hear it’s less than 100,000 now.

      1. I’m not a member as it happens.

        But I think it’s votes that count!

        GE 2017: Cons 13.7m; Lab 12.9m

  9. And yet you still can’t win a majority, Graham.

    That must be a huge a worry for you. If you can’t win a majority with that number of votes you never will.

    Not only did your Conservative Party lose their majority, they also had their majority slashed in 80 seats, turning them into marginals ready to be captured by the Labour Party next time round.

    And if all that wasn’t disastrous enough, May’s polling is dropping like a stone and Labour are ahead in the polls too.

    To top it all Norman Tebbit recently said that 2% of Tory voters are dying every year, while young people are queuing up to join the Labour Party.

    It’s all looking rather grim for the Tories, isn’t it? I can see the Tory vote dropping to well under 10 million, maybe to 8 milkion. On a good day.

    1. I certainly wouldn’t disagree with you that the prospect of a government led by Mr Corbyn based on the 2017 Labour manifesto is deeply worrying to me.

      1. Investing in upgrading the infrastructure of the country, investing in building a million new homes, in providing adequate resource to the NHS and investing in education and training for all so the country can compete in the modern world, these things worry you?

        Every experienced and successful business person understands the need to invest in their business if they want to achieve growth. That is just basic economics, Graham.

        By making the investments detailed in the Labour Party manifesto we can expect to achieve, on a conservative estimate, economic growth of 5% per annum by the end of the Labour government’s first term. As it is a four term programme I wouldn’t wish to make more than a five year projection at this time.

        Alternatively, we can continue to persist with your Conservative Party’s failed neoliberal economic programme of austerity, privatisation and deregulation which has doubled the national debt to almost £2 trillion in just seven years and which has proven to be nothing more than an asset stripping programme on a national scale.

        We shall let the public decide which of these two options they think are in both the national interest and their own.

  10. @Internal Affairs

    Again I can’t disagree with you that the public will decide at the next election by whom they want to be governed (or, as in 2010, perhaps not quite decide!)

    1. My only concern is the national interest and future prosperity of this country and its people.

      I am fortunate that, as a Labour supporter, I support a party which acts in the national interest and which will provide prosperity for all.

      You are unfortunate as you support a party which achieves neither.

      It must be hard for you, as an intelligent person, to be forced to toil away in defence of such flawed and discredited Tory positions.

      When you decide you have had enough of wasting your time acting as a useful idiot for the Tories you will be more than welcome to join the Labour Party and put your intellect to good use for the benefit of your fellow citizens.

      1. Thanks for the kind words about intellect; not so sure about the useful idiot though. We must agree, I think, to go our separate ways on voting intentions.

        But certainly I have not on this thread (nor I think on others) toiled (forced or otherwise) “away in defence of …… flawed and discredited Tory positions.”

        I am questioning, as I often do, the standard of journalism here, a subject from which we appear to have drifted away.

        I am still unclear as to why the writer has not published the name of the “guilty party” nor, apparently, attempted to verify the Facebook tale with its officers.

  11. But we have covered much more interesting subjects than your original question, Graham. We have covered a lot of the pitch. And you have failed to score a single point.

    By your own logic, all journalists should reveal the sources of their information and all briefings and comments should be on the record.

    The question is, why are you only complaining about this blog protecting its sources?

    Your selective indignation is marvellously absurd.

    1. I fear that that you’re misrepresenting what I say.

      I’m not asking anyone to reveal their sources, nor am I complaining about this blog protecting its sources nor am I suggesting that all briefings and comments should be on the record.

      It is alleged (apparently only by Facebook postings) that an entity has done something. That entity is named on those very same Facebook postings, but the name has been blanked out here. I can see no reason why the name of the “accused” can’t be published, nor why the “accused” has apparently not been contacted to allow it to confirm, or indeed deny, the Facebook tale.

      Or am I missing something?

      1. So in your mind this is all a great conspiracy?

        Get a life, Graham.

  12. Not at all. Again you are misinterpreting what I say.

    I just think it’s shoddy journalism. This story could be a case of someone making something up and posting it on Facebook. That possibly invented story has been repeated without any apparent attempt at verification, nor any apparent opportunity for the “accused” to respond.

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