Cryer’s email is a non-story – but as much as there is one, this is it

The MSM have been attempting to make something of an email by PLP (parliamentary Labour party) chair John Cryer to MPs bemoaning the party’s decision to put PLP secretary Dan Simpson on ‘gardening leave’ for the remainder of his notice period. Simpson handed in his notice some three weeks ago.

John Cryer MP (image: Wikimedia creative commons)

In essence, this is a non-story – although there has been (of course) an attempt to portray this as some kind of anti-Jewish move, as Simpson is apparently Jewish – although it seems few of his colleagues were aware of it.

Cryer’s email is – well, here’s what he said:

I am writing to update you following yesterday’s decision by Jennie Formby, the Labour party’s new general secretary, to disallow Dan Simpson from working his notice period as the PLP Secretary and Director of Political Services, and force him into a period of ‘gardening leave’, rather than remaining in the service of the PLP until the summer as had been previously agreed.

Since this was communicated to Dan and to myself, I have made it absolutely clear to Jennie that to use her first day in the job to effectively remove our secretary with immediate effect shows a worrying set of priorities. 

Our secretary has always enjoyed the confidence of the PLP, a confidence that has been necessary to carry out the demands of the role. This confidence has been derived from the fact that the PLP have been instrumental in their appointment. We, through the chair, have always chosen who we trust to conduct affairs on our behalf. It is deeply troubling that we have not been afforded that right on this occasion.

Speaking of Simpson’s interim replacement, Cryer went on to say,

While I am deeply disappointed that no interview or due process has taken place, I know that Ben [Foley] will work hard for the short period up until the summer recess to manage the support that is provided to our front bench.

Myself, and colleagues from the Parliamentary Committee, wish to thank Dan for his tremendous record in the party – over ten years of outstanding service. I have asked him to attend our first meeting back after recess so that we can thank him personally. I hope you will be able to attend to show your support.

This email misses the point in a number of ways.

First, Dan Simpson resigned, along with a number of other ‘Southside’ figures, before Jennie Formby started her role as General Secretary – in fact, before her appointment had even been announced, so nobody can sensibly suggest he was victimised.

Second, ‘gardening leave’ is not a punishment. Mr Simpson gets to be paid for the next couple of months for sitting at home or doing anything else that takes his fancy, instead of having to go to work.

Third, no ‘interview or due process’ is needed to appoint a temporary acting PLP secretary for the brief time until full-time PLP secretary Sarah Mulholland returns from maternity leave.

Fourth, replacing Simpson now allows a smooth handover when Ms Mulholland does return, so it’s merely good management – Simpson’s notice period runs out before she comes back, so there would have been a hiatus and no time for anyone to learn the ropes.

The SKWAWKBOX spoke to a number of MPs about Mr Simpson. All felt that the attempt to suggest his gardening leave was connected to him being Jewish was outrageous and damaging to the fight against genuine antisemitism. The most positive thing any of them was willing to say about him was “effective organiser”, while all considered him to be at the far-Blairite end of the Labour spectrum – although such opinions are of course subjective and Mr Cryer’s appears to differ.

Ben Foley, who will replace Simpson on an interim basis, is highly regarded and well liked – and it seems Cryer can’t fault Corbyn’s/Formby’s choice, as his email expects good things from him.

In short, much centrist ado about nothing – and not very considerate of the other Labour employees involved.

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  1. It’s become qpainfully obvious since the beginning of the year that the right flank of the Labour Party is actively working to minimize any gains the party might make in the May council elections so that they can blame it on the leader. This cannot be much fun for the many would-be Labour councillors, but the MPs don’t care about them, only about keeping their Parliamentary careers going. When their strategy fails, as they so often have done recently, they’ll suddenly shut up as the general election approaches.

  2. What on earth is wrong with people like John Cryer?

    This type of ill-disciplined and divisive public behaviour from Cryer is tantamount to campaigning for the Tories in the local elections.

    What is the point of the PLP having a chair who is intentionally sabotaging the Labour Party?

    1. “What on earth is wrong with people like John Cryer?”

      Hmm. Self-interest? Ambition? Resentment?
      Wiki suggests he’s one of us but maybe he thinks he’s been overlooked and undervalued?
      There are people who get resentful when they’re overtaken on the road…

  3. There is so much to be said for compulsory re-selection for all Labour MPs every 5 years .
    It really would give back the rights to our CLP’s to hold to account their MPs in the most democratic way .
    The chance for members who perhaps feel there is no point in getting involved because of the “old guard Blairtes” blocking any radical moves to make Red Tories accountable .
    For those members to become more engaged with the local CLP because , come what may , every 5 years the mandatory re-selection process is on the agenda and all members can thus have a say on who should represent them.
    Lets put an end to those MPs who’s interests are not representing the party or it’s membership but their own careers .

    And for those (PLP) MPs who whinge that ” they represent ALL their continuants ” I say that they are elected by voters on the basis that they will carry out the Labour Manifesto.
    That manifesto was created in consultation with the membership who ARE their continuants as well .
    If the people in the constituency then vote for the said MPs based on those points in the manifesto , then it is incumbent on that MP to support that manifesto .
    It is NOT for MP’s to betray those principles and voters by pursuing a course/series of actions and activities including allying themselves with the Tories just to undermine a leader they hate , that’s called deceitful .
    We need the 5 year selection option as a democratic right .

  4. Meanwhile many of us out there continue to graft on the doorsteps to help Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour get elected in local councils in May. In my city were out in a potentially challenging area and did well plus my line went down well: ‘The Labour Council has had its funding cut originally by the Tories & Lib Dem Govt. then the Tory Govt by 40% in the last 8 years. We have had a dented shield policy to try to protect the most vulnerable in our city. So your vote for Labour could help us to keep this dented shield.” Why I even asked a couple of enthusiastic Labour supporters to join us! Solidarity!

  5. As have mentioned before most of these Labour MP’s have seen that their patronage covers have gone in terms of the Leader’s office and figures at head office starting to leave,and they do not like it.

  6. The more those on the right leave, the better!
    Let them all resign, then we the members can get on with electing someone who believes in the things we on the left believe in!
    The right, doesn’t have a place, in our Socialist Labour Party!

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