STOP THE STITCH UP IN STREATHAM – TAKE ACTION NOW
Last week’s Streatham Labour ‘AMM’ CLP (all-member constituency meeting), according to members who attended the ‘Zoom’, was a chaotic, shameful and undemocratic shambles that made Handforth Parish Council look functional.
Members say they were muted, denied the chance to speak and that the party’s rulebook was trampled as the new right-wing ‘exec’ refused to hear two emergency motions on conference delegate nominations and solidarity with Palestine.
The episode began with all members being muted throughout the Zoom call and the chat function being disabled, meaning members were effectively silenced throughout their monthly meeting, the first such meeting under the new right-wing executive – which followed a similar ‘stitch-up’ of the CLP’s annual general meeting, where many members were denied entry and their vote.
After enduring over 90 minutes of “keynote Speaker” Lord Adonis, in an apparent attempt to filibuster the monthly meeting, the meeting continued with the two emergency motions being ruled both out of order by the chair, despite obvious problems with the branch nomination meetings denying many members the opportunity to nominate delegates.
The first motion was on ‘Solidarity with Palestine’, which the chair refused to hear because: “the situation in Palestine is not an emergency”. The motion had been drafted by two Jewish members of Streatham Labour who wanted to show solidarity with the people of Palestine.
The second emergency motion was on conference nominations – tabled after members said the new officers of the party failed to follow an inclusive and democratic process and instead effectively appointed their preferred factional candidates to all delegate and committee posts without allowing a full and proper branch nomination or election process. Many local members who wanted to stand as delegates were excluded.
Skwawkbox has been in touch with members in Streatham, who allege that the following serious irregularities occurred before and during the meeting:
- branches were not all invited to make nominations, as Secretaries were not informed in writing that they needed to hold nominations in May.
- during the meeting a request to take nominations from the floor, and not exclude members from engaging in the process, was ignored.
- hands were raised to speak on around twenty occasions, but no-one was allowed to speak despite many holding signs stating “point of order” – a call that a meeting’s chair is obliged to hear
- when a member was finally invited to speak & made a formal challenge to the chair, the chair denied this request and ended the zoom while the member was speaking; again such calls are supposed to be immediately put to attendees to see whether there is sufficient support
“Authoritarian, toxic and chaotic”
One local member told Skwawkbox:
I’ve been a Labour Party member for almost 20 years and I have never known a Labour meeting to be so authoritarian, toxic and chaotic. To rule the conference nomination Emergency Motion out of order, refuse to take nominations from the floor and then effectively hand all the delegate and committee posts to their preferred right-wing candidates is a direct attack on local democracy and local party members will simply not accept this.
The Labour Party is nothing without democracy and its members and this new right-wing executive in Streatham have shamed themselves.
To add insult to injury and then refuse to hear the Solidarity with Palestine motion and disallow debate on such an important and indeed emergency situation is beyond shameful. We have British Palestinian members in Streatham Labour Party and they were disgusted to hear the Chair claim “the situation in Palestine is not an emergency”.
Skwawkbox has been shown a video of the meeting which supports the claims of angry members that the shambles of Handforth Parish Council’s now-notorious meeting pales beside the conduct of the new regime running Streatham Labour.
The situation was so bad that Streatham members have posted an open letter to Labour’s acting general secretary David Evans, condemning the widespread abuse of Zoom functionality to deny members their democracy and impose factional agendas. Mike Cushman, one of the organisers of the letter, told Skwawkbox:
David Evans has been keen to tell CLPs what they may or may not discuss, something which is beyond his powers as General Secretary. He has suspended many CLP Officers who have tried to fulfil their democratic duties to allow full and respectful debate of controversial issues.
Conversely, he has failed to take any action against the CLP Officers, and indeed his own paid regional officials, who have abused the control afforded to them by Zoom to crush contrary views at CLP meetings. Chairs at many CLPs, including mine, have made illegitimate rulings about what may be discussed, misreported votes and refused to unmute members who wished to challenge their rulings, giving them a total control they are not empowered to wield under the rule book. Often, chat is disabled so members cannot share their concerns about abuse of process.
Evans must immediately take steps to issue guidance so that Zoom, which can promote inclusivity if meetings are properly run, is not used to silence and exclude
Members around the country are reporting similar measures by right-wing execs to control conference delegate selections, which they believe is a prelude to attempts by the right to change the party’s rules and prevent future left-wing MPs standing for election as party leader.
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