Labour MP John Mann has been accused of threatening to ‘throw an election’ if a motion of censure by a Labour branch in his constituency was not withdrawn. In a series of emails between Mann and the SKWAWKBOX, Mann denied the accusation – but also seemed to inadvertently confirm that he had made a subsequent threat related to the first.
Mann was recently filmed showing clear exasperation during a meeting of the Bassetlaw CLP (constituency Labour party) – that he later claimed on Twitter had given him an ‘unequivocal vote of confidence’ – as a member attacked the ‘underhand’ and ‘undemocratic’ arrangement of the meeting.
Members of Retford Labour branch, which is part of the Bassetlaw constituency of which Mann is the MP, had tabled a motion condemning their MP’s behaviour in voting with the government on a key EU bill that many observers think may have toppled the Tories or at least brought down Theresa May – and asking him to focus on bringing down the Tories in future, “over all other concerns“:
It’s hardly the most vicious censure motion in political history – and was a branch motion rather than one by the full CLP. However, Retford members claim that Mann was so angered by it that he sent a message via his wife – who is a member of the branch’s executive – threatening that if it was not withdrawn, all support in coming local elections would be withheld.
One member told this blog:
We were astounded. This amounts to a threat to throw an election by the local MP if we criticised him.
The SKWAWKBOX contacted Mr Mann for comment. He responded with an email vigorously denied the allegation, couched in language of legal action and accompanied by an irrelevant attack on Momentum:
Entirely libellous and actionable.
The usual made up anti Labour falsehoods.
Bassetlaw CLP met yesterday !!
Oh and the true activists were out campaigning for a forthcoming by election in Retford yesterday, but no momentum [sic] turned out as usual. By election caused by one of their mates who resigned the Labour whip but then failed to turn up at council meetings to vote on issues such as cuts, NHS etc.
But the matter then took another twist. Sources contacted the SKWAWKBOX claiming, with some amusement, that Mann had responded to the press enquiry by threatening to sue local members:
Mann has threatened everyone with libel proceedings.
With the sources’ knowledge, the SKWAWKBOX contacted Mr Mann again to ask for comment on this allegation.
He responded claiming that he now knew the source of the information, because:
the secretary and a second were sat with me when you emailed.
Your factually inaccurate, Labour damaging, made up version of events remains a libel.
Mr Mann does not know what he thinks he knows, as the information had circulated more widely than he seems to have thought. However, an observation on his response was emailed back to him:
By claiming the information confirmed a source, you confirmed that you made the threat.
If Mr Mann thought only a limited pool of people knew of his threat to sue, then it suggests that there was a threat for a pool of people to know about.
This last SKWAWKBOX email was sent two days ago. Mr Mann has not responded either to refute the conclusion or to provide an alternative explanation for his comment. Retford’s motion was withdrawn.
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