Last week, MP John Woodcock finally left the Labour Party, resigning with a letter that flung blame in all directions but himself – and which also contradicted a letter he had sent to a constituent just after last year’s general election.
However, for someone who no longer wants to be in the Labour Party he seems to be very concerned about what local Labour members think about him – and he has been accused of committing a data breach in an attempt to justify himself.
Not only that, but his attempt has exposed that he was so unpopular with members of his local Labour party that they had gone to the lengths of asking Labour’s National Executive Committee for special permission to select his replacement in advance, potentially years before a new general election.
Woodcock announced his resignation last Wednesday – but two days after he ceased to be a Labour MP, he had his office manager send an email to members of the Barrow & Furness executive committee (EC):
The SKWAWKBOX has received complaints that this email breaches data protection laws, as they gave their details for Labour Party purposes only and not for the use of an independent MP.
But the attachment to the email is a copy of a letter that Woodcock himself obtained from the Labour Party under data protection laws by submitting a ‘Subject Access Request’. In releasing it, he put on the record the fact that the elected executive of his own CLP (constituency Labour party) was trying to get rid of him before he resigned – and the reasons they gave for wanting to.
The letter, to Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby, gets straight to the point:
The request is extremely unusual – although members in many constituencies might wish it was available to them – so the EC explains why it is making it by pointing to Woodcock’s alleged behaviour, as well as why it didn’t move to oust him before last year’s general election:
In the email from Woodcock’s office manager, the only criticism to which he takes specific exception is that he “spends time out of the constituency with his children and saw his children during the election campaign“. However, that part of the EC’s letter provides a wider context:
The letter ends by pointing to the provisions made in chapter five of the party’s rules for the NEC to vary the normal selection procedures, before making a plea to Ms Formby for help:
John Woodcock was contacted for comment but did not respond by the time of publication.
The EC’s comments about Woodcock’s behaviour are allegations and the SKWAWKBOX does not present them as factual.
Under normal circumstances, the information in the EC’s letter to the party would have had to remain confidential between the party and the EC to avoid breaching data protection laws.
However, by releasing the information himself – in a way that potentially breached data laws – Woodcock has put on record the details of the action his own members felt compelled to take and the reasons they felt they had to do so.
It’s curious that he still cared enough about the opinion of members he has abandoned to go to the lengths of emailing them with the letter – and that he didn’t seem to realise what the net effect of the information might be.
Another spectacular own-goal by the unpopular Cumbrian MP.
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