Labour deputy leader Tom Watson called last week for the suspension of Wavertree CLP (constituency Labour party) in Liverpool, after the CLP tabled – and subsequently withdrew – two motions of no-confidence in their MP Luciana Berger.
The media and centrist politicians attempted to exploit the situation to claim – as did Watson – that the CLP had bullied Berger or even behaved antisemitically. The CLP rejected the accusations emphatically.
In spite of the ignorance of ‘mainstream’ journalists on the workings of the Labour Party, the tabling of the motions – which had not been debated or voted on – meant only that four members felt strongly enough about the issue to put forward and second the two motions.
As the SKWAWKBOX showed exclusively on Friday, Labour insiders found no grounds for any action against the CLP – but now Labour general secretary Jennie Formby has gone on record to confirm the CLP acted entirely properly according to the rules of the party in exercising their democratic rights, and also outlined the measures she had put in place to support Berger through the process.
Formby’s email to CLP Chair Alex Scott-Samuel – who is also Jewish – states:
Further to the huge amount of attention on social media to the recent motions of no confidence in your MP, I felt it important to write to you to clarify the position in this regard.
I welcomed the withdrawal of the motions as with Luciana being nearly 9 months pregnant, and under pressure from continuous abuse and threats, I felt they were ill-judged.
However, I have seen the wording of the motions in question, neither of which make any mention of antisemitism but which instead refer to Luciana’s lack of support for the Leader of the Opposition. I have also seen the statement from the Executive of the CLP which states: ‘..we as an Executive have always and continue now to express total solidarity with Luciana as a victim of misogyny and of antisemitism – coming mostly from the far right. Our Chair himself is Jewish’. I also spoke with the Regional Director on Friday who confirmed that the motions were in order and had been submitted in accordance with rule.
CLPs are at liberty to discuss motions of no confidence in their elected representatives, including MPs, and in the case of Wavertree, to date I have seen no evidence of any behaviours that constitute potential bullying or antisemitism other than the complaints about one individual which are being investigated. Before the motions were withdrawn, I had taken steps with the region to ensure that Luciana felt supported if she attended the meeting and to arrange for regional staff to be present to ensure the meeting was run in an orderly manner, something which I am sure you will understand.
I am therefore clear that there is no justification for suspending the CLP and should be grateful if you would share this with your Executive.
This sensitive handling of the issue should be applauded, while the exoneration of the CLP from any allegations of bullying or antisemitism – apart from a single individual under investigation – is unlikely to be given the attention it deserves by the mainstream media.
The SKWAWKBOX contacted Tom Watson to ask whether he would publicly apologise for attempting to have Wavertree members punished for the legitimate exercise of their membership rights. He had not responded by the time of publication.
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