On 19 Aug, Jeremy Corbyn visited North Wales. Aberconwy CLP (constituency Labour party), which is sending a full set of Corbyn-supporting delegates to this month’s annual party conference, was not informed of his plans to visit Llandudno in the heart of the constituency and therefore believed he was going straight to the public rally in Bangor.
A week before the visit, it was discovered that a member of the CLP (not on the EC) had booked a hall at the Labour Club for the CLP. None of the Executive Committee (EC) were told of this. According to CLP members, the booking turned out to be at the request of a senior regional official for North Wales, who eventually admitted Corbyn was also scheduled to visit the CLP.
The member had been told to keep this secret. The meeting was planned for 11am on the 19th and would last an hour – had the news not leaked, none of the members would have known to turn up to hear the leader of the party when he arrived specifically to meet the CLP.
When the news became public, a member who runs a local community centre some fifteen minutes’ drive away in a different part of the constituency admitted that she too had known for six weeks that Corbyn was also visiting her centre, but had been told to keep this a secret from the CLP – by the same regional official.
That visit was planned to begin at 10.40 and was to run for 50 minutes. Both meetings were confirmed by the regional official shortly before he went on holiday a couple of days before the visit, at which point he became uncontactable.
It was not possible for Corbyn to be at both meetings simultaneously. It is hard to imagine that the regional official did not realise the appointments overlapped.
On the day before the visit, the community centre visit was put back by half an hour, prompting fears that the CLP visit would be squeezed out altogether. Aberconwy CLP contacted Corbyn’s team to be told that a CLP visit had not originally featured in the itinerary, but had been insisted upon by the team. This would explain why the CLP had not been informed until a week before.
On the day, the community Centre stop ran over by over half an hour and the CLP had to be content with a very rushed half hour with Corbyn, who made a well-received speech and spent as much time as he could greeting members of the CLP.
However, members insist it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Welsh Labour, through the actions of the regional official, did not want Corbyn to visit Aberconwy CLP – which has been staunchly and vocally pro-Corbyn from the beginning – and did its best to squeeze the meeting down to the bare minimum.
So much for the background. Now to current events.
Several CLPs in the area have recently elected a majority of left-wing officers to their ECs. In many it’s an overwhelming majority, in others it’s narrow.
At the last EC meeting of one of the CLPs with a narrow majority, Vale of Clwyd (VoC), some of the now-outnumbered ‘centrist’ members invited both the AM (Welsh Assembly Member) and the official to the meeting. Although the official does not live in VoC and should not have voting rights in the constituency, members allege that he voted with the right at the meeting. At least one member, however, disagrees.
The allegation has serious ramifications for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of neighbouring Clwyd South (CS), which is due to be held this evening.
CS’ AGM has previously been repeatedly postponed by its EC – according to members, this is because of fears that the left would organise and take-over. Left-leaning members have been organising and have drawn up a list of candidates to challenge the incumbents.
As part of their strategy, each of them has sent a brief outline of why they think they would be suitable to a particular post to their Branch Secretaries, who have forwarded these to members.
The right-wing members in the constituency appear to fear they will lose and have called in a regional official – the same official responsible for the double-bookings during Corbyn’s visit – to try to help.
The official intervened, informing candidates that, while sending out candidate statements to members is not against party rules, is not ‘in the spirit’ of the rules:
He has demanded that other potential candidates should also have the same opportunity – which of course they always had if they had chose to – and has requested that candidates send him (not the CLP Secretary) their information for circulation to members.
This official will be attending the CS AGM this evening. Pro-Corbyn members have contacted the SKWAWKBOX to express their concerns about possible attempts to interfere with the CLP’s proper democratic process if results do not go as right-wing members wish. Given the vote he is said to have cast in nearby Vale of Clwyd, members fear that he may try to vote tonight as well.
In addition, members have told the SKWAWKBOX that they fear an attempt to ‘void’ the results of the election. There is nothing in the Labour Party rules to prevent candidates sending statements to voting members – and, of course, it only serves democracy if members know who they are voting for.
Candidates have also been asked to send copies of the speeches they are making tonight to the regional official. Why he wants these is not yet known – but there is nothing in the rules requiring candidates to disclose their speeches in advance, nor for that matter to prepare a speech instead of speaking spontaneously on the night. This has raised grave concerns among members about potential interference in the democracy of the CLP if the official dislikes anything a candidate intends to say or if results do not go the right way.
Local members have asked the SKWAWKBOX to publicise this information in the hope that wider awareness of events will discourage any planned interference in their proper democratic processes. Please share to raise awareness accordingly – we will report the results of tonight’s meeting when they are available.
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