Meeting abandoned amid chaos: ‘I’ve never seen anything like it”
And in an astonishing backlash tonight, the constituency party (CLP) annual general meeting (AGM) has been abandoned in chaos after the arrival of hundreds of members – many of whom were said to be ineligible to vote – turned up and members objected to Hodge’s presence in the meeting as she does not live within the constituency.
And – yet again – the drama has been driven by the right of the CLP, with one of Hodge’s former protégées even threatening to call the police on the Barking MP.
Members present have told the SKWAWKBOX that some 250 people turned up to the meeting, more than double the usual number expected at an AGM – many of whom were new and did not have the necessary eight weeks’ membership to be entitled to vote in the meeting.
Before the meeting’s agenda could even be distributed, a councillor – Hodge’s former ally – made two ‘points of order’:
- that Hodge, who is not a CLP member, could not participate in the meeting or act as a teller (vote-counter) because she lives in Islington, outside the constituency boundary and
- that members with less than eight weeks standing should also be excluded
Hodge objected to the first point, claiming that she had always done it in the past, but was told that did not entitle her to do so now.
The CLP chair asked the secretary about the eight-week requirement, but the secretary said she was not sure about it. The rule is a well-known and fundamental principle of all CLP votes and clearly laid out in the party’s rule-book.
The chair asked for members to volunteer to self-identify if they did not meet the membership requirement. Some fifteen people did so in a room of around 250 people.
Some attendees attempted to have the meeting postponed, saying there were too many people in the room for health and safety but others were insisting it had to go ahead.
One member described the resulting scene:
Some people wanted to carry on the meeting even though we had no way of knowing how many people hadn’t put their hand up. How can you do that, what if someone loses by a couple of votes?
At that point the meeting just descended into absolute mayhem, with people screaming and shouting.
[Hodge’s former councillor ally] was on the microphone shouting, “The meeting’s rigged! The meeting’s rigged!” Margaret Hodge was trying to get involved and [the councillor] shouted that if Hodge pushed her again she was going to call the police.
In the end, they had to abort the meeting without a single vote being cast because it had gone into absolute mayhem, with people shouting over each other about the rules or claiming it was rigged.
In decades of being a member I’ve never seen anything like it, it was so toxic. And there were lots of members have said they didn’t even receive an email about the meeting so there could have been even more people there.
They’re talking about rescheduling it in a couple of weeks’ time, but as you can imagine we’ve got the [parliamentary] selection as well. Who knows what’s going to happen? And it’s all driven by people on the right who are angry that Margaret isn’t standing down like she said she would.
If the AGM is rescheduled, the ‘freeze’ date for eligibility to vote will have to be maintained as if the meeting took place this evening.
Margaret Hodge was contacted for comment.
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