‘Clean sweep’ for Labour right challenged by both factions; right-wing treasurer candidate declared winner despite name being against same online ballot check-box as left-winger
Bristol West constituency Labour party (CLP) held its long-delayed annual general meeting (AGM) last night. Many members believe the original AGM was delayed by the party’s regional office because too many left-wingers had registered to attend the Zoom session. The CLP has also seen officers suspended for daring to allow discussion of a motion expressing solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn.
The new meeting, run directly by regional party representatives, was a deeply-troubling shambles that lasted more than six hours instead of the usual two – one in which all the chaos happened to favour the right-wing ‘slate’ of candidates, despite the long left-leaning history of the CLP.
The right ‘won’ a clean sweep of the officer positions at the Zoom meeting – with the right’s treasurer candidate being declared the winner even though she appeared on the ballot with the same check-box for both her and the left-wing candidate:
But that was a very long way form being the total of the problems with the meeting. Bristol West member Matthew Hollinshead listed the serious anti-democratic issues, which SKWAWKBOX has independently verified, in a Facebook post:
Members believe that the ‘incompetence’ was unquestionably politically motivated.
Estimates of the number of members deprived of a vote range from 100-150 – but those estimates appear only to include those who stayed to the end of the marathon and whose votes were still either not counted or unable to be cast. A large number of members had given up long before then because of fatigue, family responsibilities and needing to sleep before work the next day.
One major cause of the problem was region’s decision to use an online voting system that can handle a maximum of 300 voters for a meeting of 543 members – leading to split ballot sessions that then needed to be recombined manually. The lack of transparency in how the votes were handled – and the decision to set up the meeting so members could not see what questions or points of order were being made to the chair – disgusted many of those present.
Bristol has recently also seen a racism scandal, after Labour suspended a number of candidates and cancelled their selection. The party has also been accused of ‘stitching up’ the shortlist for the city’s mayoral candidacy so that members on the left had not one prospective candidate to vote for – leading to the selection of a right-wing candidate implicated, according to locals, in the expenses scandal.
Members on both left and right have raised objections to the conduct and outcome of the meeting. However, given the recent conduct of the regional office and the national leadership’s evident contempt for local party democracy, the chances of the fiasco being corrected do not look high.
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