Centrist Virendra Sharma loses heavily in no-confidence vote backed by full spectrum of Labour members
Ealing Southall MPVirendra Sharma had not attended a meeting of his local Labour party (CLP) for twenty-one months. Tonight that came back to haunt him after delegates voted by 41 – 18 in support of a motion of no confidence in him.
Delegates from all wings of the party and from all groups within the local community spoke for the motion against the man they often describe as its ‘absent MP’. When asked to attend, he stated that does as its MP, he does not ‘need to’.
Sharma has also claimed that he is too busy with parliamentary duties to attend CLP meetings. However, delegates pointed out that fellow Ealing MPs Stephen Pound and Rupa Huq attend the majority of members meetings despite holding at times front bench positions – and maintaining near 80% parliamentary attendance rates while Sharma’s attendance rate languishes at 59%.
Members have also criticised the MP for a ‘slow and inadequate’ response to case work. Speakers condemned a recent e-mail Sharma sent to all members suggesting new members were racist.
Members who had been in the party three years countered that he was in little position to judge – as he had never met them. Sharma was also labelled ‘divisive’ for comments that have upset Muslim and Sikh communities, leading to a multi-faith demonstration outside his offices before the general election asking the Labour Party to chose a better candidate.
Members have also complained that a large property development on the site of the old gasworks has been blowing noxious benzine into residents’ homes for over a year, affecting their health and leading to schoolchildren being kept inside at break-times because of the intense smell. Sharma has been criticised by members of Clean Air for Southall and Hayes (CASH) him for not visiting even one residents’ home to discuss the issue.
Rheian Davies, moving the motion on behalf of UNITE legal workers said:
Ealing Southall has some of the most deprived wards in London, with a man in Norwood Green year expected to live 6.5 years less than a man two miles up the road in leafy Hanger Hill. Austerity is literally killing us.
We need, more than ever, a strong Labour MP. Instead we have Virendra Sharma who simply doesn’t show up when needed; be it saving our town hall or seeing that constituents don’t choke on the air they breathe. He feels no need to take action on behalf of his constituents or account to the party workers who knock doors for him.
Ealing council leader Julian Bell, who doubles as Virendra’s office manager, opposed the no-confidence vote being held as a secret ballot, but the attempt to make it a show of hands vote was defeated by 44 votes to 15. The attempt was defunct – Labour rules mandate a secret ballot if only four people request it.
JLM delegate to the CLP Peter Mason argued that the motion should be dropped in the name of unity. Youth delegate Maxim Lundlack-Orr countered that this was surprising since only last week Mason had called for the whole party leadership to be expelled and JLM has tabled a motion of no confidence in Corbyn and co for its next meeting.
The SKWAWKBOX attempted to contact Sharma’s office for comment but calls were not answered. However, the SKWAWKBOX understands that Sharma – who turned up to the meeting for the first time since 2017 – was asked for comment after the vote by a local journalist and responded that the issue was an internal party matter. After the vote he said he had heard the criticism and promised to change.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal or here for a monthly donation via GoCardless. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.
If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.