Excl: eyewitnesses say ‘no bullying, no swearing, no barging’ at Labour #NPF18

The controversy at Saturday’s meeting of the National Policy Forum (NPF) continues to rage. Labour right-wingers continue to insist that NEC Chair Andy Kerr barged or shoved NPF vice-Chair Katrina Murray out of the way to take control of the meeting and swore at her.

The videos

Natalie Fleet tweeted video of the supposed moment in question, claiming that:



However, the video does not show any shoving:

Instead, it shows Kerr holding his ground in spite of considerable heckling and abuse from some members of the audience.

Some Twitter users challenged Ms Fleet, pointing out that her video did not show what her tweet described, at which point she stated that she had not caught the shove on film.

Fleet also tweeted a video that she described as Kerr ‘mansplain[ing] the outcome of the meeting’. In spite of the choice of word, many would say the video simply shows Kerr explaining the outcome:

The image

An image was tweeted that was supposed to capture the moment of the ‘shove’ or ‘barge’. It shows Kerr moving to the microphone and Ms Murray standing slightly further back:

murray kerr.png

(Enlarged section added by the SKWAWKBOX)

Ms Murray looks less than thrilled that Kerr is moving to the microphone, but there is no evidence of physical contact and no shock, no outrage on Ms Murray’s face that might be expected if there had been.

Instead, she appears resigned and perhaps bemused.

Again, the tweeted claims are not supported by the evidence they accompany.

A crystal ball?

One interesting aspect of the complaints about today’s meeting is the frequency with which right-wingers claimed that Kerr had blocked the vote ‘because he only wants democracy when the result is going to go his way’.

This raises the question, if the sudden call for a vote was not an attempt to achieve a foregone conclusion based on the composition of those present, of how those complaining knew that the election wasn’t going to go the way Kerr wanted.

The eyewitnesses

JoAnne Rust is an NPF member, union campaigner and former parliamentary candidate from Norwich. When she saw a tweet with the above still image, which claimed it showed Kerr ‘barging’ Ms Murray, she responded:

rust kerr.png

Alex Scott-Samuel is chair of the Socialist Health Association. He had a front-row seat as events unfolded. He tweeted about the swearing allegations:

alex kerr.png

Scott-Samuel later gave the SKWAWKBOX a fuller account of the events:

Prior to today Ann Cryer had apparently both offered and rescinded her resignation.

First thing this morning Katrina Murray proposed an election. Andy Kerr then said that the NEC would not permit this because not enough notice had been given to NPF members.

Various audience members then started shouting about how he was bullying Katrina etc – which he clearly wasn’t. He was simply asserting his authority.

A Ballot was taken on whether to accept Andy’s challenge to Katrina’s authority. But the result was never given because while the votes were being counted Katrina came back and accepted that Andy had the right to prevent a vote.

(Emphases added by the SKWAWKBOX)

Katrina came back and accepted that Andy had the right to prevent a vote‘.

Case closed – bar the moaning, evidently.

The SKWAWKBOX contacted Ms Powell about her allegations, asking:

Is it correct that you left the NPF meeting today immediately after the vote decision?

Did you personally see Andy Kerr ‘shove’ Ms Murray?

In response, we received the following with a request that it be printed in full:

At today’s meeting of the NPF there was an unnecessary attempt to thwart the clear will and vote of the meeting to democratically elect a new Chair. This also had the damaging result of taking attention away from what was an important and strong speech on Europe by Jeremy Corbyn.

“My only participation in the meeting was to question someone (a man) marching over and assuming the Chair from a woman, the Acting Chair, when the democratic vote was going against him. In all my years in the Labour Party, I have never seen such an act.

The questions we asked were not answered, so a follow-up was sent asking for a firm answer whether Ms Powell witnessed any barging. The response came back:

It was not in order. I also later proposed a new timetable for electing the Chair within 8 weeks.

Again, no response about shoving or barging. The election of the NPF Chair will in fact take place within four weeks, by postal ballot.

Asked twice, directly, Ms Powell did not go on the record to say that there was any shove or barge.

No video evidence of bullying; an image of the key moment that shows no sign whatever of the alleged ‘shove’; eyewitnesses, including one in prime position, who refute the allegations in the most emphatic terms possible; an acting chair who came back and confirmed to the meeting that the NEC was acting entirely within its remit and rights.

Nonetheless, expect to see one version of events treated as fact by the mainstream media – and it won’t be the one that the evidence supports.

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  1. Haven’t finished reading Party rules yet but I’ll take a flyer and guess that bussing-in and flash-mobbing no-notice elections of officials will be frowned upon.

    1. I had a look thru the 2018 Rule Book and I can’t actually find a direct rule stating how the NPF Chair is elected. The obvious place 4.III.D “Election of National Policy Forum (NPF)” does not mention Chair, and the default “Model Standing Orders for Party Units” does not define how a Chair is elected. So to me it looks like general principles (4.I.1) applies which is effectively “fair, open and transparent manner [and] any appropriate NEC guidelines”, but I don’t know where NEC guidelines would be filed in a place an ordinary member can see them.

      Given that rule 1.V.3 & 1.V.4 puts “the Chair and three vice Chairs of the NPF” onto the committee that decides the manifesto contents, this seems rather inadequate. Maybe I’ve just missed something despite examining every line that mentions “NPF”.

  2. The argument seems to rest on whether or not 7 days notification is required to elect a new chair for the NPF. Frankly I don’t care what the rule book says. Of course, there ought to be at least 7 days notice of an election and it shouldn’t be an issue! It’s called the democratic process but, yet again, RW Labour MPs don’t hesitate to demonstrate an appalling disregard for democracy.

  3. Judging by this and the other corrupt activities we have witnessed, it would appear the right wing of the Labour Party and the corporate Democrats must be sharing notes on how to rig internal elections and how to stuff placemen on the policy forums of their respective parties.

    1. The only thing that has changed for RW Labour and TUs is that the manner of ‘rigging’ of internal elections and ‘stuffing’ placemen on policy forums is now being made transparent… largely by Skwawkbox, but also others.

      These are the sort of tactics described John Golding and Paul Farrely in their book ‘The Hammer of the Left: My part in defeating the Labour left’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Golding_(British_politician)….. and adopted across Labour First and Progress.

  4. The evidence seems compelling that no shove actually took place. I know Jo Rust fairly well (we are both King’s Lynn residents and have campaigned together on a number of occasions) and if she says as an eyewitness that there was no shove I would consider that good on its own, but hers is far from the only comment to that effect.

  5. A correction for a factual error; Jo Rust was not the Labour Party candidate for Norwich North in the June 17 election. (It was Chris Jones.) She applied to be selected as the prospective candidate but was not included on the short list last December. This has caused controversy locally.

  6. I’m more interested in the lies Ms Powell is peddling!
    Twice asked if she saw what she said happened, twice she totally blanked the question!
    Ms Powell, you’re a fraud!

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