On Sunday, Bassetlaw MP John Mann tweeted smugly about the ‘unequivocal vote of confidence‘ he had received from his local members:
If it seems odd that his CLP (constituency Labour party) was meeting on a Sunday, that’s because it is – and members who were there tell a very different story from Mann’s ‘unequivocal’ support.
But they don’t just tell it. They have the evidence – including video – to prove it.
Members have told the SKWAWKBOX they believe that the meeting, which was communicated to them barely a week before it took place, should have taken place on the third Friday of the month, as mandated by the CLP’s ‘standing orders’ – with no allowance made for meeting on a different date:
The pretext – as Bassetlaw members have described it – for the meeting was an urgent need to commence planning for the local election campaign, but the local elections are over eight months away.
Instead, they believe that the real reason the meeting was hurriedly brought forward by almost three weeks and changed to a Sunday is because popular left-wing MP Chris Williamson’s democracy roadshow was visiting nearby Whitwell – and that Mann hoped the absence of left members would ensure his motion on the ‘IHRA examples’ would pass.
So angered were many members that they sent a flood of emails protesting – and one member stood at the beginning of the meeting to complain at the ‘undemocratic‘, ‘underhand‘ and ‘unethical‘ ploy and to demand that the emails be read out.
But, unusually, another Labour member filmed his intervention – and Mann’s face as the member spoke looks very different from someone receiving ‘unequivocal support’:
Mann can be seen sitting at the Chair’s table, with Mann’s wife Jo at the other end – and she was filmed glancing apprehensively across at his as his anger rises and the chair has to gesture for him to stay silent:
The member who spoke attacked the divisiveness of the move to bring forward the meeting when the invitation email made much of the need for unity – and at the end of his contribution he walked out in protest, accompanied by fourteen or fifteen of his fellow members.
Who then promptly went to Williamson’s democracy roadshow.
Some delegates with voting rights at the meeting stayed behind, but were unable to defeat Mann’s motion – but the events of the meeting and the eventual result were anything but the ‘unequivocal’ Mann claimed.
Nor was the ‘vote of confidence’ in the motion exclusively for Mann. The motion discussed supported the GMB union’s call for Labour to adopt the IHRA definition – but expressed Bassetlaw CLP’s support for ‘local leadership, the MP and the national leadership:
Oddly, Mann neglected to mention that his CLP voted just as much to express their support of Jeremy Corbyn and his team as it did in him.
Mann also seemed in two minds about his plans on Sunday and the reason for them. He told the Jewish Labour Movement, according to the Jewish Chronicle (JC), that he couldn’t attend their conference that was held on the same day – but did not tell them he couldn’t go because he had a CLP meeting to attend.
Instead, he linked his need to be in his constituency specifically to Chris Williamson’s ‘roadshow’ – describing it as a ‘hate fest’:
According to the JC, Mann had to be in Bassetlaw because:
some members of my local party are participating in the Williamson/Walker hatefest where they will be targeting me today
Quite how he combatted being ‘targeted’ in a ‘hatefest’ by attending a CLP meeting while those doing the ‘targeting’ are absent was not explained.
John Mann was invited to comment but had not responded by the time of publication.
Popular left-wing Labour MP Chris Williamson, whose roadshow was received with great enthusiasm by Labour members from Bassetlaw and neighbouring constituencies, did respond to the day’s events, telling the SKWAWKBOX:
It seems John is so worried about people discussing democracy that he called an impromptu CLP meeting on Sunday afternoon to coincide with the Democracy Roadshow, which had been requested by his own members.
But his wheeze fell flat because we simply waited for the Bassetlaw members to attend their CLP meeting then continued the Roadshow when they returned.
Tony Benn certainly wasn’t wrong when he said that democracy is the most revolutionary thing in the world.
Commenting on Facebook musician Joe Solo, who also attended the roadshow – which started at 1pm, while the CLP meeting had a 2pm start – said:
Today I witnessed the best and worst of the Labour Party first hand.
The event I attended, Momentum Doncaster & Bassetlaw ‘Democracy Road Show’ was a joy start to finish, full of dedicated people fighting for proper representation from their elected officials, something that should go without saying in a democracy but which, sadly on today’s evidence, very much doesn’t.
The positives first, because that is the most important part.
There was a fantastic spirit of respect and cooperation under trying circumstances, and the event ended up running seamlessly. It was a pleasure and an honour to sing there for new friends and old. There was a FANTASTIC response to my #PeriodPoverty Solidarity Appeal, and I have come away from Whitwell with two boxes full of sanitary towels and cash donations for many more. It was great to meet Chris Williamson MP and I only wish time had allowed me to stick around for the Q&A. Great work from Gary and Bev and John and all involved.
Now to the hard part to swallow.
Local MP John Mann has a reputation for being a deaf ear to anything he doesn’t want to hear, and certainly more than one person has described a career bully. Today he excelled himself. Cancelling a speech at the Jewish Labour Movement conference so he could move a CLP meeting forward by almost three weeks in order to clash with this event, he deliberately equated these two facts in order to smear the event I sang at as being anti-Semitic and (his words) a “Hate Fest”.
This I find an unforgivable insult to myself and other attendees, and proof that mandatory automatic re-selection needs to end and it needs to end soon.
As a lifelong campaigner against ALL forms of racism, Fascism, bigotry and intolerance, I do not take kindly to this insult to my character and consider it a gross misuse of the power of his office.
I won’t hold my breath for an apology.
Where Mr Mann has the willing ear of the Right Wing gutter press to air insults like this on his behalf, I have to type here and hope you read it.
I left Whitwell with a significant contribution to helping some of the poorest people in our communities, doing what Socialists SHOULD be doing. I was able to do that thanks to the amazing efforts of local people rallying to the cause.
This is the true Labour Movement. People working to help each other in times of crisis, and fighting for a future where we no longer need to.
This is what I will remember.
This is what matters.
Bassetlaw CLP’s executive group – and, local Labour members claim, its MP – seem not to have had much confidence that they could get their motion through a normally-scheduled CLP meeting, even with the added sweetener of an expression of complete confidence in Jeremy Corbyn.
But Mann’s representation on social media of a CLP brimming with unalloyed support for him personally is at odds with the available evidence.
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