Lab MP Austin: press inquiry re support for defector to Tories sparks angry reaction

Shaz Saleem, described in local press as a ‘high-profile Labour campaigner’, was dissatisfied with Labour’s standing as an actual alternative to the Conservatives – so he defected to the Tories after publishing a self-justifying announcement on Facebook. Clearly his commitment to the Labour party was less than heartfelt.

So it was with interest that the SKWAWKBOX received reports from local Labour members that Mr Saleem had only recently tried to become the Labour council candidate for the Brierley Hill ward in Dudley – and had been allegedly supported in his bid by Dudley North MP Ian Austin.

Mr Austin, who was described as ‘thuggish’ by another MP after heckling his own party leader in the Commons when Jeremy Corbyn dared to criticise Tony Blair’s conduct over the Iraq War, is an entrenched opponent of Corbyn.

He’s no fan of the SKWAWKBOX either, after this blog exposed his failed clash with Labour MP Chris Williamson, his equally unsuccessful attempt to persuade his local party to support anti-Corbyn candidates in the current NEC election and various examples of unsavoury behaviour toward other fellow Labour MPs.

However, in line with good journalistic practice, we contacted him for comment before publicising his alleged links to the now-Tory defector – and what comment we received.

In response to the initial enquiry, Mr Austin responded:

Like the last two stories you have written about me, this is just not true.

Shaz does not live in my constituency and the seat for which he sought selection is not in my constituency. I did not speak to a single member of that ward about the selection.

Instead of pretending to be an authoritative source of “fair” news, as you claim, this is just sectarian, divisive garbage.

Let’s see if you include that.

In a separate email, he repeated his accusation:

I don’t expect fair treatment from your blog. Your last two stories were untrue. Straight forward lies.

It should be noted that the ‘last two stories’ on this blog mentioning Mr Austin were criticisms by Labour MP Dennis Skinner over Mr Austin’s abstention on a Commons vote, which is a matter of parliamentary record, and the account of his alleged unhappiness at the decision of his local members to support the ‘grassroots left’ candidates for the NEC, which he has not contested and which members say he castigated them furiously about for contacting the SKWAWKBOX, but did not deny.

The stories before that, in case Mr Austin was confused over the order of publication, addressed Mr Austin’s abstention on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill – again a matter of parliamentary record – and his clash with Labour front-bencher Williamson.

When asked about that clash, Mr Austin did not deny its accuracy, but merely complained,

It was a private conversation that no one heard but me and him and I don’t know why he’d tell you about it.

It should also be noted that Mr Austin at no point asked for his comments to be off the record – on the contrary, he challenged us to publish them.

Well, there you go.

However, that wasn’t the end of the exchange. We wrote back, pointing out that Mr Saleem’s Facebook post announcing his defection made a point of thanking Austin and expressing his respect for the MP:

shaz austin 2.png

Not only that, but Saleem’s Facebook profile picture shows Austin, himself and others:

shaz austin fb.png

We asked:

Mr Saleem’s Facebook profile picture has you in it and he makes a point of thanking you and expressing his respect for you in his ‘goodbye’ message – both attached – which suggests a certain closeness. Any comment?

Follow-up questions:

  1. Did he speak to you about his intention to defect to the Tories?
  2. Did you do anything to dissuade him?
  3. Do you welcome the selection of Zafar Islam as Labour’s candidate in Brierley Hill
  4. and do you agree that Labour in Dudley dodged a bullet by not selecting someone who clearly has no loyalty to Labour politics?

These questions prompted a change of tack in Mr Austin’s response:

austin lies

We challenged Mr Austin to show us where we had told any lies about him. He did not respond.

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  1. Austin why don’t you do us all a favour and follow Shaz Saleem lead, you know you want to and from your appalling attitude to true real Labour membership then iam sure we’d all be glad to see the back of you and your blairites. Your actions just keep detracting from and dissipating our efforts and attacks on the Tories when we need to be at our most vocal about them and their policies.
    As Corbyn said at PMQs yesterday if TM can’t make a good job of Brexit then just GET OUT OF THE WAY . That applies to you get out of the way Austin and go .

  2. It appears, we on the left, are well rid of Shaz Saleem, he deserves to crash, along with his Tory mates!
    As for Austin, the evidence is, he doesn’t like being found out, in his own lies!
    With friends like him who needs enemies!
    He should do the honest thing and follow his mate SALEEM!
    Join the Tories!
    The sooner the better.
    Be quick about it!

  3. In May 2009, The Daily Telegraph reported that Austin had tried to split a claim for stamp duty on buying his second home in London into two payments and tried to claim the cost back over two financial years. This allowed him to claim the majority of the money (£21,559, just £75 short of the maximum) under his second-home allowance in the 2005/06 financial year. He then claimed for the remaining £1,344 stamp duty cost in 2006–2007, together with his legal fees. In all, he went on to claim £22,076 (£34 short of the maximum)in the next financial year.[16]

    It also reported that Austin “flipped” his second-home designation weeks before buying a £270,000 London flat, and that he had claimed £467 for a stereo system for his constituency home, shortly before he changed his second-home designation to London. He then spent a further £2,800 furnishing the new London flat.[16]

  4. Well, I’ve been a Communist and a Labour supported for many years and have continued to vote, and will continue to do so. for the Labour Party candidate when there has been no Socialist or Communist candidate standing for election (which, outside of London has mostly been the case)! As far as I’m concerned there has always been elements, such as this Austin Blairite traitor type in the Labour Party! They’ve usually just been a bloody nuisance in the Labour Party but no real effort has been made to get rid of them, unlike the continued efforts aimed to get rid of anybody who was (in my terms) Left – ish! Since the alleged War Criminal Blair though, the likes of Austin and his ilk have seemed to be the norm for anybody who was likely to stand and gain position within the Party! Now, for me, it seems that the Left of the Labour Party has found its integrity and are attempting to, at least, make the traitors feel less than comfortable than they were! However, these Blairite types continue to be a real danger to the Party and Labour must act swiftly and ruthlessly to get rid of them! Send them off to the two Tory Parties (the Lib Dems and The Conservatives) with their long history of lying to the electorate and then betraying them when they, on the Lib Dems part creep into power! The Labour Traitors will be more comfortable and genuine democrats and Socialists in Labour can get on with moving strong Socialist policies onto the political agenda and onto centre stage! But the traitors, careerists and other cynical ne’er do wells in the Labour Party must be got rid of otherwise they will continue to undermine the Labour Party so that it becomes, once again a corrupted and toothless organisation with no possible likelihood of a real defence of the working people of the UK!

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