Centrist Leslie’s unannounced ‘supermarket surgeries’ – with no mention of Labour

leslie soubry
Chris Leslie with Tory MP Anna Soubry

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’:

leslie hatton.png

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.

leslie supermarket
A flyer handed out to shoppers telling them Leslie was in the store – no mention of Labour in the text or, as far as can be seen, in the image

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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  1. The same as our ‘Labour’ MP in Bristol NW. He has his own logo and never mentions Party policy or the name. Holds the CLP in contempt and to all intents and purposes acts as an independent.

  2. I used to live in Sneinton. In 2011, not long after CL was elected, proud to say I brought in a fund to train 5 Community Organisers (was a voluntary Director of Sneinton Alchemy). Went to find/meet Chris in a library in St Ann’s, wanted to I nvite him to come see what we’re doing. He had bouncers. BOUNCERS in a library.

    This is all pre-Corbyn, obvs.

    TBF he did visit local groups and was visible. But in terms of surgeries/how he explained his role: he was clear that his job was about legislation, contact him if there is anything to do with the law. Otherwise refer to local Reps – Councillors and so on.

    When he voted for welfare cuts or to bomb Syria I wondered who to contact. (I just sent him a load of emails saying he should be ashamed of himself and recommended he walk across the house.)

    Funny how things have changed in such a short time. MPs were strangely disconnected from the communities they were from, apart from the odd abstract reference to people having voted for them. That has been challenged – by loads and loads of us out here.

    Keep on keeping on folks.


  3. The Chris Leslie Independence Party , a pathetic childish response to genuine concerns and issues raised by his CLP membership.
    This is typical of the arrogance ( 2 fingers up yours ) of so called moderate centerists, careerist insincere MP’s .
    I really hope that his CLP have a genuine real socialist candidate lined up ready for the imminent GE whence he can be deselected.
    His constituents deserve so much better than this foot stamping little boy.
    In the mean time I can lend him some red ink and a Labour stamp for his posters !

  4. what is meant by ‘broad church’ ? Does it include Tories , LibDems and Ukip? To my mind if you don’t believe in Socialism , then you’re in the wrong party if your in Labour !
    We’ve endured70years of Capitalist waste . It’s time to change !

  5. There are growing rumours about the formation of a new party – The Reform Party – funded by large, dark, rich donors, which will stay underground until after the next GE, when they hope to be re-elected. The plan, apparently, is that they will then hive off and officially launch, hoping to join with a few of the ‘left-wing Tories’ (should such a thing exist…) to form a party with enough seats to enable them to be able to exert strong influence over the Labour coalition government that they think is going to emerge. Leading among these is Chukka Umunna. You can guess the others quite easily. It is interesting that they have finally realised that they stand no chance inside Labour, with the vast majority now committed to Corbyn. To dismiss this as a ‘pathetic childish response’ is to under-estimate their power dangerously. Remember how many of the PLP showed their contempt for Corbyn so openly before they realised that he was revitalising the Party and bringing thousands of new members – eager for a change from the stale, corrupt system that they were so eager to keep in power for their own selfish greed – into it.

    1. Valid points Brianastbury , but I do not lightly dismiss them at all ( my comments were of a derisory nature as to their behaviour).
      In fact Paul Mason makes some excellent observations and points as below extract
      ” There are around 10 Blairite MPs itching to split and form a new, neoliberal centrist party. They need not just a trigger, but a trigger big enough to bring hundreds of councillors and ward branch secretaries with them, to justify the hype the BBC is preparing to bestow on them, and to persuade Ofcom to give them a platform in any subsequent election. This is a real threat.”

      For the full article see here

      Iam very concerned that so far none of the CLP’S has yet instigated de-selection proceedings and that I believe is now essential to a future Labour Govt’s ability to deliver what is needed .
      Leaving these bastards intact and within the party simply stores up an almighty problem for any future Labour Gvt.

      1. Rob. I agree with you. They all need to be neutered by CLP’s asap for the good of all of Labour

      2. Sorry, Rob, I did realise that you were sending him up – I just felt it necessary to spread the word of what this poisonous bunch are doing.

  6. Leslie, if he fancies another party, can go soon.

    But he is correct about Hatton. Militant was and is a Stalinist organisation, organised using the principles of ‘democratic centralism’ which is undemocractic, authoritarian and

    fundamentally dishonest. Militant, preaching worldwide revolution, led by a Stalinist core of macho men, lies to working class people, lied to members of the Labour party as it is most concerned with breaking up Labour as it is insufficiently Trotskyist and revolutionary. Labour is to be destroyed as, it is believed, workers will realise that bourgeois democracy cannot allow socialism.

    World wide revolution led by macho hectoring men is required. This involved Militant telling women that domestic violence was caused by capitalism, led Socialist Worker covering up for rapists in their own revolutionary party and WRP for actin like a weird cult.

    Militant was and is macho, authoritarian, aggressive and fundamentally hostile to the Labour party. Trotskyism in stead of leading to world wide revolution has shown itself to be a world wide failure which it intends to resolve here with breaking up the Labour party.

    I’ve read the literature, had them try and recruit me, watched them in practice and they are a destructive, undemocratic, dishonest bunch. Leslie, for once, is correct!

  7. Let them leave. Leslie will lose his seat. I doubt there are many MPs in Labour who could go to new party but in same constituency and win the seat off us. Most Labour MPs are trash anyway. We should be looking to have Labour-Green MPs or even go further and take union backing to Green Party along with all of JC’s supporters and put the Greens into parliament in a big way. I hate the fact that us winning the next election allows so many nob heads to come along for the ride. Actually we wouldnt even need the unions. Go to a party where we dont have to compromise on things like Trident, Palestine, defence.

    Seriously cant stand all but about 20 or so Lab MPs man. Its sickening.

  8. But the weakness in their potential plan is they first all have to be re-selected as Labour candidates, by Labour members (who will slog their guts out for them) and if elected should carry out Labour policies.
    Perhaps we should ask all candidates if they will support a Corbyn Labour Govt. to carry out a transformation of society?
    And do they commit to full terms as Labour MPs?
    We are just asking them to be honest – perhaps a revolutionary concept for some?

    1. “We are just asking them to be honest – perhaps a revolutionary concept for some?”

      You expect self serving, disingenuous political operators to be ‘honest’? Looking at their records and actions is all that is required.

  9. These ‘No Confidence’ votes are useless unless followed up be deselection. The RW Bliarites are laughing at us all. BTW Is Frank Field and others who resigned the whip still members of the Labour Party? If so WHY? LP Rules state that hey are automatically expelled from the LP if they resign the whip. I seem to get an answer from Jenny Formby or Labour HQ

    1. Very good question David , I’ve been asking the same one myself re Field and got nowhere .One hopes as he is no longer under the Whip that he is not using Labour Party premises or other materials and is a fully Independent MP , ( ooh loooook another flying pig ) !!!!

  10. I’m no fan of Leslie, but it may well be the IPSA expense rules that have caused “Labour” not to be mentioned in the flyer. IPSA rules do not allow any MP office funds to be “funding of any material, other than websites, that contains a party political logo or
    emblem”. My understanding is MPs can reclaim publicity costs of surgeries as long as they abide by this rule.

    Liam Byrne had an IPSA costs review in 2015 on a similar issue. Byrne put out a postcard with Labour councillors showing surgery times – it didn’t mention “Labour” but was in Labour red colour. IPSA initially rejected payment of the cost on the basis it was political. Byrne asked for a “review” and won a half share of the costs (half for the councillors) on the basis the word “Labour” was not used, and there were only Labour councillors in his constituency so he could not have also listed a non-Labour councillor. But it is clear that had he mentioned “Labour” he could not have claimed the leaflet costs.

    Of course you could reasonably say running off 100 leaflets is such a piffling cost, it would be better to put “Labour” on it for campaigning purposes and not reclaim the costs!

  11. MPs are not allowed to use party logos while doing MP duties like surgeries. What sort of journalist are you who don’t check the basics!

  12. And what’s all this endless nonsense about Blairites on here? I didn’t like Blair and his attempt to combine neo-liberal economic policies and social democratic policies was wrecked by the great recession. However, Labour under Blair and Brown, reduced child poverty by 600,000, planned to abolish child poverty, built 3,500 children’s centres, transformed schools, the NHS and invested in local services too. Those who supported Blair then, not me, did some very valuable things particularly for poor working class children.

    Using the ill informed stigma of ‘Blairites’ is weak, irrational and does not do justice to the development of analytical, critical thinking within working class culture.

  13. Blair is a neoliberal and an anti-socialist – heir to Thatcher.

    At this juncture anything but complete abandonment of neoliberalism and adoption of socialist principles and policies allows the power of the markets, corporations and the 1% over us and over our governments to continue growing.
    The wealth gap, already increasing almost exponentially, will accelerate with each AI/robotics ‘productivity gain’ (ie tranche of redundancies) until the 1% own 100% of everything and decide governments are an expensive luxury – our last decision will be between representation and a further thinning of our gruel.

    Ask any ‘centrist’ how his manifesto differs from the Conservatives – it’ll be a percent on income tax here, a marginally smaller corporation tax cut than the Tory manifesto there and possibly a slight softening of austerity.
    Insight zero, foresight zero, effectiveness zero.
    That’s a Blairite. Known here as Tory Lite.

    1. ps While Labour spending didn’t cause the recession their spending was funded by Thatcher’s deregulation that DID cause the crash – they took credit for her bubble and fiddled while the City self-immolated.
      Neoliberalism created a dandelion-fluff economy based on fraudulent financial instruments, house price inflation and fucking shopping.

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