Excl: more detail on MPs’ attack on Formby – and the bombshell that stopped it

PLP attack on Formby knocked off its tracks by bombshell revelation that drew gasps from shocked MPs

Yesterday the SKWAWKBOX revealed exclusive details about an attack by seven Labour back-bench MPs on the party’s general secretary Jennie Formby during Monday evening’s meeting of the ‘PLP’ (parliamentary Labour party).

Establishment media had reported that the seven MPs had ‘hammered’ Formby one after the other – without any comment on the obvious questions the incident raised about bullying, even though Formby is not answerable to MPs.

The attack was eventually defused and other MPs, along with Shadow Cabinet members, had praised Formby’s sterling efforts in making fit for purpose the shambolic disciplinary process she had inherited from the previous administrative organisation.

Now the SKWAWKBOX can reveal more information about the coordinated nature of the attack – and a bombshell dropped into the PLP meeting that stopped critics in their tracks and drew gasps of shock from many MPs present.

According to MPs who attended the meeting, before it began a message from Ilford North MP Wes Streeting and others had been circulated to MPs with details of questions they wanted put to Formby and instructions about how the questioning would be conducted – self-evidently a coordinated effort.

The attack on Formby began as planned – but was thrown off course by a revelation by another back-bench MP about an incident that took place under Formby’s predecessor, Iain McNicol.

This MP read out details of an email sent by a senior McNicol-era ‘Legal and Governance’ officer to two female councillors in the West Midlands. The two women had lodged serious and well-evidenced complaints of misogyny, abuse and harassment against male councillors in the same borough who were well known to be allies of the party’s deputy leader Tom Watson.

The officer’s response amounted to “Go away and do not bother me with this nonsense again“.

The recitation of the email drew gasps of shock from MPs across the room, including from some who are considered close to Watson and generally opposed to Labour’s leadership.

This opened the door to praise from a number of those present for Formby’s efforts in cleaning up Labour’s previous processes that she had inherited – and took the wind out of the sails of the coordinated attack.

Wes Streeting was contacted for comment about his part in the preparation for the ‘hammering’ but had not responded by the time of publication. Streeting was accused last year by fellow MPs of ‘disgusting’ and ‘disgraceful’ abuse toward Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott after he took offence at her contribution in a parliamentary debate.

The officer involved in the dismissive email to the two councillors was considered close to right-wing Labour MPs in the region but no longer works for the party.

Deputy leader Tom Watson did not attend the PLP meeting.

SKWAWKBOX comment:

Jennie Formby has faced considerable disingenuous criticism by right-wing MPs and media commentators over incidents that took place before she was general secretary. Many of the MPs most voluble in the criticism have little business attacking anyone else’s conduct – and the party’s previous disciplinary processes provide no shortage of examples of officials protecting close allies of senior right-wing figures.

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  1. not dissimilar to the abuse being thrown about in defence of Hodges outburst, she should have been booted then!

  2. I sent a complaint to complaints @ labour 3 days ago not even had a courtesy email to say they have received it. Wondering if this is the procedure?

    1. Whilst having been waiting almost a year for two complaints to be dealt with and empathising with what is said here the impact, complexity, scale and sheer number of complaints currently being dealt with needs to be borne in mind.

      With the best will in the world it must really be a thankless task for the staff involved (many of them likely to be recent recruits and additions) in clearing up the backlog of complaints left from the McNicoll tenancy (whilst getting the blame from unscrupulous members of the PLP); and dealing with the plethora of new cases.

      Particularly when the system is clogged up with complaints from so called senior figures in the Party who should know better which turn out not to be members of the Party.

      As an aside on that specific point; the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) due process standards in such cases is very clear on the point about objective and substantive evidence rather than subjective anecdotal opinion based and self defined claims. This is in keeping with the general principles of due process legal requirements and the rule of law. Any organisation, including the Labour Party would be risking it fiduciary duties and very existence if it punished or sanctioned any member on the basis of due process standards which fell below those of the general legal principles which govern the rule based civilised society the UK purports to be.

      Those like Margaret Hodge, Joan Ryan Wes Streeting and yes Tom Watson and the rest of the lynch mob rabble cheering them on are being entirely disingenuous hee. If they were genuinely serious about such an issue they would not be raising a hue and cry against the LP for what they claim are thecserious hate crimes of people who are not members of the Party.

      If they were serious they would be taking those individuals they have identified and been advised are not Party members through the CPS system to test their complaints against the due process standards required by law. The fact they won’t do this is sufficient evidence of the
      spuriousness of their intent. It clearly demonstrates a lack of confidence in their claims to be properly tested in law and shows them to be frauds and liars.

      Dealing with such volumes is inevitably going to result in some issues, complaints, parts of the process (such as acknowledgement) falling through the cracks. There will never be sufficient staff to deal with such volumes (not unless one wants to bankrupt the Party). Complex cases involving due process require detailed evidence gathering as well as firm and water tight legal advice (which is never cheap – when was the last time anyone ever saw a member of the legal profession walking or catching the bus to work?).

      My advice is to keep patiently and politely enquiring on a regular basis ( it took two months for my complaints to get to national level – even though a related complaint mysteriously got fast tracked within 24 hours – and a further four months for them to get onto the system. And that only happened as a result of sheer persistence.

      This is not necessarily within the power of Jenny Formby and the staff employed to properly address. Having spent many years in employment often overwhelmed with a tsunami of work for which there was never enough time or staff to complete to a proper quality standard (because of the neo-liberal system and its champions) I can also empathise with those having to deal with this in the Party whilst chancers in the PLP who are not fit to be where they are pontificate for their own narrow ends, pimping for the Establishment.

      Just keep at it. And don’t lose heart.

      1. Thank You! Dave, that was very insightful, I will bide my time & periodically enquire as to the status of my complaint. Much appreciation for your advice.

  3. Surprise, Surprise JLM have decided to stay affiliated to the Labour Party. Yet another tiresome publicity stunt to camera by Smeeth..

    1. perhaps the best response is for Labour to engage and offer equal support to the JVL and over a short time maybe JVL will replace JLM

      1. It would be better if JVL affiliated to the Labour party. It would give them equal standing with JLM, a status they don’t currently enjoy.

  4. Do we know who the seven MPs were? Funny isn’t it that they didn’t complain about anything when McNicol and his Blairite Tory chums had control of the NEC. Shows just how sincere they are!

  5. Ok so the attackers were temporarily put off by the email. What’s the betting that they will regroup and keep coming back.? Formby and her staff need to expect this in future and be prepared. F orewarned is to be forearmed.

  6. Jenny is doing a sterling job, and the bully’s will be outed for what they are. BULLIES!!!

  7. JVL can only apply to affiliate to the Labour Party after they have been in existence for 3 years – and they have to produce a complete set of audited accounts for the 3 years they have been in existence.
    Therefore, it will probably be something like three-and-a-half-years from the time they were established before JVL can formally apply for affiliation to the Labour Party.
    JVL was founded on 28 July 2017 so it will probably not be until around the end of 2020 that they will be in a position to make the application.

  8. JLM have been in existence since 2004. From 1903 – until then, it was ‘Poale Zion’. It was set up to promote ‘the right of return’ of Jews to Palestine. The struggle is now for ‘the Right of Return’ for displaced Palestinians, thrown out of their own country. The struggle is now for a one state solution called Palestine & an inclusive democracy that embraces both Jew & Arab inclusively. No second class citizens. “Until the philosophy, that holds one race superior & another inferior, is finally & permanently discredited & abandoned…….everywhere is War”.

    1. Interesting that the Groan has printed this article. I came across it originally on the JVL website.

      The other item today contains :

      ““An Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) spokesperson said: ‘Having received a number of complaints regarding antisemitism in the Labour party, we believe Labour may have unlawfully discriminated against people because of their ethnicity and religious beliefs.'”

      Mmmm. Does that mean they are looking into the discrimination against Chris Williamson, Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth etc.?

      … or perhaps not.:-)

      The phrase “we believe Labour may have unlawfully discriminated …”
      somewhat pollutes an inquiry, does it not? ‘Belief’ as a result of ‘complaints???

      1. RH 07/03/2019 at 10:22 am

        Interesting that the Groan has printed this article. I came across it originally on the JVL website.

        One could be forgiven for concluding that the Guardian occasionally publishes articles like this one so they can claim to be balanced when challenged.

        Mmmm. Does that mean they are looking into the discrimination against Chris Williamson, Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth etc.?

        That would be an interesting scenario.

      2. Your diagnosis of the Groan’s intent matches mine – just enough to keep sinking credibility afloat.

        As to the examination of *real* persecution – you’ll have gathered that I was being ironic. It would, indeed be interesting – if unlikely.

        Of course, the issue is that the victims aren’t suffering from ‘religious’ or ‘ethnic’ persecution (although the latter could be argued). It is political victimisation using fabrications related to religion- which the EHRC would probably disown

      3. Just a further thought.

        Standing back a bit – if the EHRC becomes embroiled in a politically manipulated spat/scam without examining the entire context and non-referred cases of contrary discrimination – what will happen to its credibility when it comes to dealing dispassionately with real discrimination?

      4. I think a suspension of judgment is necessary – important, because it distinguishes us from the JLM lynch mob.

        It is worth looking at some of the relevant parameters, relating to legislation, on the EHRC website (I extract). For instance :

        ” The Equality Act 2010 says you must not be discriminated against because:

        -you hold (or do not hold) a particular philosophical belief”

        Note that being targeted because you do *not* hold a particular belief – as well as holding one – counts as an offence.

        Note also :

        “The Equality Act also says that a belief must also be worthy of respect in a democratic society and not affect other people’s fundamental rights.”

        This is an interesting one, because it suggests that the extreme Zionist belief in the supremacy of Jewish religion as it relates to the constitution of Israel, falls foul of this definition. This raises fundamental questions about the legality of the IHRC ‘examples’ and the legitimacy of *not* subscribing to their import.

        Time the non-sectarian and rational started their own campaign, perhaps?

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