Lucy Powell is the Labour MP for Manchester Central. She recently featured prominently in the BBC documentary Labour: The Summer that Changed Everything, which was originally meant to be an autopsy of the anticipated – by the mainstream media and ‘centrist’ Labour MPs – Labour disaster in June’s General Election.
The film had to be repurposed as an analysis of the ‘Corbyn surge’ and the shock – and in some cases horror – of those MPs at the supposedly surprising result, which the SKWAWKBOX and others had been predicting. Here are some of her key moments in the documentary:
Based on the documentary, Ms Powell:
- is not a fan of Momentum and found the efforts of the group (and other left-wing members) to organise democratically to have their say in her local party ‘horrifying‘
- was out of touch with popular feeling in her constituency during the General Election campaign: she describes herself on the evening of polling day as ‘pessimistic‘ and says she talked to many voters she expected to choose Labour who had voted Tory – just before finding out that her own majority had increased by almost 50% to over 30,000
- appeared light-hearted after her resignation from the front bench in 2016 in what the programme describes as ‘an attempt to force [Corbyn] out‘ – and had to tell herself not to smile before telling her interviewer of her ‘incredibly difficult decision’
Ballots for the important election of three additional members to the NEC (National Executive Committee) started to go out to members on Thursday. On the same day, Ms Powell sent an email to all Manchester Central Labour members outlining her voting intentions:
Ms Powell does not ask members to vote the same way that she intends. She does, however, suggest that they have ‘an opportunity… not to slavishly follow a slate recommended by any faction‘.
This is especially significant this year when the only admitted ‘slate’ in the election is the ‘grassroots left’ slate supported by Momentum and other left-wing groups. While right-wing factions Labour First and Progress have supported three specific candidates – including Izzard – the candidates describe themselves as independents and Izzard himself insists he is not part of a slate.
Ms Powell also seems to hope that her email will guide others, as she ends it:
Ms Powell also tells her members that she intends to vote for Gurinder Singh Josan, who is supported by Progress and Labour First, and for local candidate Yasmine Dar, who is on the grassroots-left slate.
But there is an additional facet of interest: a series of donations by Eddie Izzard toward the costs of Lucy Powell’s constituency office and staff.
Ms Powell described Izzard as ‘a long standing friend of the constituency’. It appears that Mr Izzard’s friendship is concrete, as he has donated a total of almost £36,000 toward her office and staff costs over the last thirteen months, according to democracy site TheyWorkForYou:
It’s arguable whether it’s appropriate in any circumstances for an MP to email members with details of his/her voting intentions in an important internal election. But in view of Mr Izzard’s financial support for Ms Powell’s office, local members have expressed concerns to the SKWAWKBOX about whether the email should have been sent at all.
Ms Powell commented:
I have known Eddie Izzard for 15 years since meeting him while I ran Britain in Europe, the pro-European campaign group. Our friendship is well known. Eddie has campaigned many times in Manchester and is popular amongst members of the CLP.
Over the last year Eddie has kindly supported a staff member in my office as I have one of the poorest and largest constituencies in the country and my staffing budget is hugely stretched. Eddie also made a very generous donation to Jeremy Corbyn’s general election campaign. Again, this is totally transparent.
Yasmine Dar, the one candidate from the grassroots slate supported by Ms Powell, received the most nominations from CLPs (constituency Labour parties) of all the candidates by some distance.
Eddie Izzard received the highest number of nominations of all the ‘independent’ candidates and looks to be the ‘independent’ candidate with the best chance of challenging the left-slate candidate with the fewest, Momentum’s Jon Lansman.
Edit: Ms Powell had provided comment before publication but an earlier draft of the article was published in error that did not contain her comment.
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