Bristol North West MP Darren Jones is a literal, self-defined Blairite. He has said that the politician he admires most in history is the former Labour PM now reviled by many for taking the UK into an illegal – according to the UN’s then-Secretary General Kofi Annan – war:
Now Jones has stirred fresh controversy – and engaged in an almost-certain breach of Labour’s rules – by launching, or at least agreeing to participate in, a campaign to raise funds for an ‘independent’ re-election bid.
A group calling itself ‘Friends of Darren Jones’ is circulating leaflets to residents in the constituency outlining Jones’ alleged credentials to be elected – even if, as the group indicates it expects, Jones is deselected by local Labour members:
The group’s website, indicated on the form, gives no information about who is behind it – but the leaflet states that Jones is personally – ‘independently’ holding all funds raised.
The leaflet claims that the next parliamentary election in the constituency will be a ‘two horse race’ between ‘anti-Brexit Pro-People’s Vote independently minded’ Jones and the Tory candidate, a clear demonstration of contempt for whomever Jones’ replacement as Labour candidate might be.
Jones did not respond to the SKWAWKBOX’s enquiry on Monday. He was asked:
1. the leaflet says funds will be ‘held independently’ by you and the imprint states it is promoted on your behalf – did you set up or have you sanctioned this fundraising effort?
2. the leaflet says the campaign is for ‘those of us who support Darren but don’t want to donate to the Labour Party’ – neither the friendsofdarren.co.uk website nor the leaflet identify individuals involved with it. Are any of those involved in the fundraising Labour members?
3. standing against Labour or supporting a non-Labour candidate are auto-exclusion offences under Labour rules. On what grounds do you think that any Labour members involved should not be expelled and that you should not have the whip withdrawn?
Labour’s rules state that members who stand against a Labour candidate, or support a party that puts up candidates against Labour, are liable to ‘auto-exclusion‘ – automatic expulsion from the party.
The SKWAWKBOX has asked Labour to confirm that this would apply in this case, but it is hard to imagine an MP retaining the Labour whip and his membership of the party while actively preparing to compete against it in the next – and possibly imminent – general election.
Any Labour members involved in this fundraising effort must surely also be expelled for this explicitly anti-Labour fundraising campaign ‘for those… who support Darren but don’t want to donate to the Labour Party‘.
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