Centrist MP Ian Austin seemed so eager to attack Labour general secretary Jennie Formby on Twitter that he re-wrote history.
‘Centrist’ Dudley North MP Ian Austin launched an attack on Jennie Formby – and Labour members in the Liverpool constituency of Wavtertree – on Saturday night.
Wavertree CLP (constituency Labour party) withdrew two motions of no confidence in their MP Luciana Berger last week, which had been tabled to criticise her for her media comments. Although neither motion mentioned antisemitism or anything related, her allies were quick to attack local members, claiming they were bullying and antisemitic.
Jennie Formby tweeted – and subsequently confirmed in an email to the CLP – that the members had done nothing that the rules of the party did not entitle them to do.
Austin launched his attack:
Now, the idea of Austin calling anyone ‘bullies’ is interesting enough, given that he has been personally called ‘thuggish‘ and an ‘unpleasant bully‘ for his behaviour in the House of Commons, attempted to launch an aggressive ambush on Labour MP Chris Williamson and was accused by poet and children’s author Michael Rosen of making a ‘full frontal assault’ on Rosen when the writer was an invited guest at a parliamentary hearing.
But in order to make his attack on Formby, Austin re-wrote his – and Margaret Hodge’s – recent history with the Labour Party.
Austin claimed that Labour was ‘forced to drop’ complaints against him and Hodge – but in fact, neither case was ‘dropped’, let alone ‘forced’ to be.
Austin received a formal reprimand from the party and a warning about his future conduct after complaints against him by party chair Ian Lavery and Derby North MP Chris Williamson. So the case was concluded, not dropped – and the conclusion included censure against Austin, as the SKWAWKBOX exclusively revealed last year:
Margaret Hodge received similar censure from the party – also revealed exclusively by the SKWAWKBOX – but claimed otherwise.
Ironically, the complaints against Austin concerned aggressive behaviour.
The SKWAWKBOX pointed out Mr Austin’s forgetfulness in a response to his tweet – and wrote to him directly to ask about the inconsistency of his public claim:
Your tweet claiming Labour was ‘forced to drop’ proceedings against you is untrue – you received a reprimand and warning. The letter was published on the Skwawkbox.
Are you so desperate to attack Jennie Formby and Wavertree members that you’re prepared to ignore and even rewrite history?
Mr Austin responded with a convoluted attempt to justify his claim:
As has been explained to you before, the letter to which you refer was sent in July. I told them the allegations that had been made about me were not true and refused to accept any reprimand. Subsequent letters from Jennie Formby in September and October showed the party had not dropped the matter. There was then a meeting at which I was able to show that I had not done what I was accused of and so did not accept any reprimand or warning. Jennie Formby then wrote to me in November saying the party would not be taking any further action.
Those are the facts.
Of course, ‘refusing to accept’ a reprimand does not change the fact that one was issued – but a follow-up question about that obvious conclusion did not receive a response.
The attacks on Jennie Formby and on Wavertree CLP by some so-called ‘moderate’ MPs and by the Establishment media have been as groundless as they are disgraceful.
There is real desperation on the supposed ‘centre’.
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