Nottingham East MP Chris Leslie would be considered an arch-‘centrist’ by many left-wing Labour members and was recently reported by mainstream media as one of a number of so-called ‘moderate’ MPs who met in secret to discuss the formation of a new ‘centrist’ party. Leslie denied that this had been the purpose of the meetings.
In consequence of this and other issues, Nottingham East CLP (constituency Labour party) overwhelmingly passed a vote of no confidence in him in September. He responded by writing for the Guardian to complain that Labour was no longer a ‘broad church’ and to claim he was being punished for merely ‘speaking his mind’:
I’m the latest in a line of Labour MPs to be told we are not welcome – all for speaking our minds.
With no apparent sense of irony, on the same day the no-confidence motion was passed, he tweeted to describe the fact that Derek Hatton had rejoined the party as ‘appalling’:
But now local Labour members have accused Leslie of avoiding them and promoting his own ‘personal brand’ after discovering that he has been holding unannounced ‘supermarket surgeries’ in local stores – with no mention of the Labour Party.
One member told the SKWAWKBOX:
At the no-confidence meeting, many members cited the fact that Chris doesn’t hold surgeries for his constituents as a major cause of dissatisfaction and complained about how difficult it was for constituents to get him or his staff to take an interest in their cases.
In the week leading up to the vote, Chris appeared on Question Time, where not only did he avoid mentioning any of Labour’s policies, he failed to utter the word ‘Labour’ at all. The impression left on many was that he was actively trying to distance himself from the party that put him into Parliament in the first place.
However, it seems that Chris does do surgeries after all.
Yesterday one of our members went to the local Sainsburys in Basford and found Chris conducting a ‘supermarket surgery’.
This member noted the total lack of Labour branding at the event, either on the leaflet being handed out or the stand-up displays placed around Chris’s table in the foyer.
It appears that Chris is trying to build his personal brand while distancing himself from the Labour party altogether. I wonder why?
This surgery was not the first, as the leaflet contained a photo of an earlier one. It doesn’t appear to have been announced in advance – we didn’t know about it and it wasn’t mentioned on his Twitter feed – meaning that constituents with problems they might want to bring to Chris’s attention would not know it was happening unless they happened to be shopping in Sainsburys at the time.
But of course it’s a handy way for Chris to counteract accusations that he doesn’t spend enough time in the constituency and get some good photos of him talking to locals
The SKWAWKBOX contacted Leslie for comment by email with no response and by telephone, when Leslie declined to comment.
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