The leader of Ealing Council’s majority Labour group used a ‘bully pulpit’ to block discussion of a motion of support for Jeremy Corbyn last week – and when challenged, shouted down a BAME member and told him to ‘shut up’, according to members of Ealing and Acton constituency party (CLP).
Salim Alam – the member told to shut up – has written an account of the events, corroborated by other members:
Nearly 100 Labour Party members attended the Ealing Central & Acton CLP All Members Zoom Meeting on Thursday 27 November 2020. A motion for debate had been circulated with the meeting invitation.
The motion wording was:
“This CLP expresses its solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn. Jeremy is a lifelong campaigner against racism and
antisemitism. We believe that unity, not division, is important for the Party to make progress and effectively challenge racism, fascism, antisemitism and harassment in whatever form this may take.”
The CLP Chair had worked tirelessly in the days leading up to the meeting on the issue and received formal confirmation from London Region that the motion could be put to the meeting, but a few hours before the meeting the CLP Chair received an e-mail from the General Secretary of the Labour Party which, in effect, said that motions mentioning Jeremy Corbyn must not be debated because this would undermine Labour’s anti-racism ethos.
The CLP Chair explained the invidious position of being caught between the two contradictory views and suggested that the motion could be debated – but only if the meeting voted by a 2/3 majority to overturn the Chair’s current ruling that the motion be taken off the agenda.
The Chair of the Ealing Labour Group of Councillors- Steve Donnelly- then interjected (without having been called by the Chair) and instructed the chair that there should be no debate or vote on whether or not to take the motion, on the basis that the Labour Party [acting] General Secretary’s last-minute edict was the highest authority on the matter of what CLPs can and cannot discuss.
When I, as an ordinary member, dared to challenge the factual basis of what Donnelly had said, Donnelly shouted ‘shut up’ at me to ‘shut up’.
The supreme irony and hypocrisy behind Donnelly’s shouting was that it was directed against a BAME party member – and only minutes after the CLP meeting had heard an excellent talk from expert speaker Lela Kogbara on the subject of ‘What is structural racism and how can the Labour Party help end it?’
Donnelly’s use of the bully pulpit resulted in the CLP Chair reversing her earlier position and the meeting was told that the motion and/or the agenda would not be debated or voted on.
A number of members spoke to urge the Chair to hold with her original decision to take a vote on putting the motion to debate, but without success. The result was that Labour Party members were denied their democratic rights to debate the motion and many were left angry, confused and disempowered. These are the foot soldiers that the Labour Party will no doubt be calling on to canvass and campaign in coming elections.
Members have said that Donnelly has a track record of similar behaviour, shouting previously at two Muslim members and ‘shouting in the face’ of a woman member on general election night last year.
The SKWAWKBOX tried repeatedly to obtain a responsefrom Cllr Donnelly to these allegations, but he refused to comment.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your help. The site is provided free of charge but depends on the support 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 to set up a monthly donation via GoCardless (SKWAWKBOX will contact you to confirm the GoCardless amount). Thanks for your solidarity so SKWAWKBOX can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.
If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.