Analysis comment

Resigning councillor: Labour excluded black members so white man chosen to replace me

Marcia Hutchinson quit membership and stood down as councillor accusing Labour of racism and bullying. She says black members were prevented from attending selection to ensure a white man with close links to party hierarchy picked

Black woman Marcia Hutchinson recently quit both as a Manchester councillor and as a Labour party member in disgust at what she described as the racism and bullying she had faced – which she said was the worst she had ever experienced. Another black woman councillor received a written warning and a threat of expulsion from the party for asking for the abuse toward Hutchinson to stop.

But now Hutchinson says the party has blocked black members from participating in the meeting to select Labour’s candidate to succeed her, in order to ensure that her replacement is a white man who works for a so-called ‘centrist’ Labour MP in the city.

Ms Hutchinson says that ‘rules were both changed and broken to replace me with Gareth Worthington, a white man’ – and that the selection is a textbook case of institutionalised racism:

After I resigned as a Manchester Councillor citing racism and bullying, you might have thought that every effort would be made to avoid racism in the selection process to replace me. You would be wrong. Rules were both changed and broken to replace me with Gareth Worthington, a white man.

The definition of institutionalised racism most currently in use was written by Sir William Macpherson after the enquiry into the Metropolitan Police found they had failed to investigate the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence:-

‘The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racial stereotyping.’

The process for my replacement is a case study in institutionalized racism.

Ms Hutchinson went on to outline the structure of the process and the multiple bodies of the party involved – yet in fact representing a relatively small number of influential individuals:

Actually there are a number of ‘organisations’ involved here but together they make up the ‘institution’ of the Labour Party.

● Ancoats and Beswick Labour Branch
● Manchester Central Constituency Labour Party
● City Party (Manchester’s Local Government Committee)
● North West Regional Labour office
● Manchester Labour Group (Manchester’s Labour Councillors)
● Manchester City Council (94 out of 96 councillors represent Labour)
● The Labour Party (nationally)

Although technically each of these organisations is separate there is a common thread of individuals involved.

And she points out the inadequate representation of black people on the council, which has less than half the number of black councillors that should be expected given their significance among the population:

It is not disputed that African Heritage people are underrepresented as councillors on Manchester City Council. We make up 12% of the population but less than 5% of councillors. To my knowledge no action has ever been taken by the Council, the Labour Group, or the Local Government Committee to address this imbalance.

Contrast this with the mammoth rule breaking efforts made to ensure that Gareth Worthington was selected as the Labour candidate to replace me.

Those rule breaches by the Labour right establishment on the council include a breach of the normal practice of imposing an all-women shortlist to replace a departing woman councillor, to ensure that women’s representation is not diluted:

Under Manchester Labour’s current rules where a female councillor steps down there is automatically an all woman shortlist. The rules sent out to members of Ancoats and Beswick branch explicitly state that when a female councillor ‘retires’ there will be an all-woman shortlist.

However, in the wake of my resignation, for the first time ever (as far as I know), an all woman shortlist was converted to an open shortlist in which male candidates were entitled to be shortlisted. There was no debate or vote on opening the shortlist.

The former councillor says that local officials and Labour’s regional office worked together to open up the shortlist to male applicants – and that some locals knew that it was happening six days before the decision was officially confirmed. She then goes on to outline the procedural methods used to disenfranchise black members and black women applicants:

In order to be allowed into the meeting branch members needed to have joined the Labour Party before the 24th of November 2020 and be up-to-date with their membership fees. Labour Party records are not always up to date but in every selection process that I’ve experienced in the past, the party records are sacrosanct. Basically, if your name’s not down you’re not coming in.

However two white people … were allowed to show bank statements to prove that they had in fact paid their subscriptions and were allowed into the meeting.

Four black people who were in the Zoom waiting room were refused entry. When I queried this at the meeting, [the councillor in charge] explained that it was because they had not joined by the cut-off date. But I later found out that two of them, Sharlene Small and ‘IO’ had joined before the freeze date and had paid their memberships up to date. The system may have been showing arrears but unlike their white counterparts they were not given the opportunity to prove that they had paid.

Sharlene Small

Sharlene Small, one of the black women denied entry, said,

I arrived early for the meeting at 6:45 p.m. and stayed in the Zoom waiting room until the meeting was over. While I was waiting to get into the meeting nobody spoke to me. I was simply left in the waiting room. It is simply not true that I was given the opportunity to prove that my membership subscriptions were paid up.

The imbalance in the treatment of black and white members, together with the voting system used, turned out to be decisive in the outcome of the selection meeting:

Two black candidates, Thirza Asanga Rae and Kemoy Walker had eleven supporters, but only seven of those were allowed into the meeting. Gareth Worthington had six supporters and all six were allowed into the meeting.

The meeting voted for a shortlist of two. Had all those present and eligible been allowed to choose the shortlisted candidates by a show of hands, Kemoy and Thirza would have been shortlisted as they had the majority in the room.

However the decision was made to use the system called ‘Anonyvoter’, which meant that each of the people present would be sent an email after the meeting and would have to go online to select their candidates.

One of the people attending the meeting, an older Jamaican man ‘RB’, does not use a computer or a smart phone often and was unable to access his rarely used email account. Despite myself and other members writing to the branch secretary and the NW Regional Office to ask that he be allowed to vote in a different way, this was refused. His exclusion meant that Kemoy and Thirza’s supporters were reduced to just six. The same number of supporters as Gareth had at the meeting.

Brian Barton

Branch member Brian Barton said:

I was angry at the way Marcia Hutchinson was treated as a councillor. Also I was angry at the Chair of the selection meeting who refused to engage in my questioning of the procedures used at the shortlisting meeting.

On 14th November it was announced that Worthington and Asanga Rae had been shortlisted. Ms Hutchinson asked the meeting’s chair how Worthington had been shortlisted and was told this would be explained at the selection meeting. She says no such explanation was given, however, nor was a breakdown of the voting provided.

The selection meeting took place via Zoom on Wednesday 15 December. The three people who were excluded from the shortlisting meeting were so disgusted about their exclusion that they did not attempt to attend the selection meeting. Two of them have written letters of complaint.

Ms Hutchinson also wrote a letter of complaint to the party, copying in local officers and both the party’s regional director and his deputy. Based on the party’s existing track record, the issue is unlikely to be resolved before the by-election is over and done.

Marcia Hutchinson says the party breached its own rules and practices in installing Mr Worthington as its candidate and is calling for :-

● an investigation into the decision to allow an open shortlist
● an investigation into why the black branch members were excluded.
● a full explanation of how Gareth Worthington obtained enough votes to be shortlisted.
● the shortlisting meeting to be immediately rerun with the inclusion of the black members who were prevented from voting in the first one
● the post meeting ‘Anonyvote’ ballots to be sent to all people who were eligible to attend the meeting

She concludes:

All of the organisations and individuals involved in the process by which Gareth Worthington was selected will no doubt claim to be anti-racist and just following the rules but their actions undermine this. There is a name for what took place: gerrymandering.

It had a real impact on real people. Kemoy Walker, a black man who has been on the panel of prospective candidates for over five years was deliberately excluded. Kemoy is a teacher, activist and an active Labour member in Moss Side…

I am aware that much of this information is quite technical but I’m concerned that it reflects a deep-rooted culture of gerrymandering within the Labour Party and it’s something that I feel a moral duty to expose as a whistleblower. Black people are not just underrepresented within Manchester’s Labour Group, but throughout the Labour Party, and have been leaving the party in large numbers since the election of Keir Starmer as party leader.

Just imagine if one tenth of the effort put into getting Gareth Worthington selected was put into getting more black councillors elected in Manchester, the under representation could be sorted almost overnight.

They could change things if they wanted to, they just don’t want to.

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40 comments

  1. With such manoeuvres to rig the selection process to give positions to their mates, the only remaining selling point of Labour remaining, “they’re not as bad as the Tories”, is well gone.

    I’m certain this way of working will continue when awarding contracts… Jobs for the boys…

    1. “they’re not as bad as the Tories”

      Quite correct.

      They’re worse. In just about every department.

    2. you’re right Ben. The Labour right pull these sort of tricks EVERY time important positions come up, can the Labour left (what remains of Labours left wing) study them then learn how to prevent them working in the future?

      1. WHY? So we repeat them and become as bad as them. Sorry I have seen no argument or reason to stay in Labour any lober. When I meet my peaents again if I ever do I want to be abole to hold my head up for my beliefs why should I comprimise and vecome like them. No When we finally have a socalist only Labour party call me I will help and support that. The old Labour pary is dead accept it morn it move on stop repeating the endless cycles of fighting to get into power then have them ruin it every time. Enought no more there is no purpose in haveing right wing in Labour that’s Tory lite NOT labour.

      2. Never confuse Main Street with Wall Street
        Never confuse the few Cockwombles on the right with anything the party stands for
        Next time you drive them out of the Labour party into the bucket party where they belong

  2. Utter disgrace. Just another examplefor making it clear that democracy in LP is dead and gone, that it is institutionally racist. Pity, yhat we as members have no means of getting rid of those who really are racist, discriminating, bullying in words and actions, who by acting in this way damage the reputation of LP, making it a toxic outfit that needs a government health warning slapped on it.

  3. You’d think by now that this would be in the past. Especially considering how much effort and exposure crimes like this have been given.

    Nothing will happen, except hopefully Ms Hutchinson will be involved in electorial karma.

  4. Has jess ‘mouthpiece’ phillips been contacted for comment?

    Or stella greasy?

  5. Just came across an email in my inbox from The Assange Defense Committee in which it says that The New York Times editorial board has spoken out about the prosecution of Julian:

    The Times blasted the Biden administration for striking “at the very foundations of a free press” by prosecuting Julian:

    “It is most unfortunate that the U.S. government has chosen to continue to use a law as potent as the Espionage Act to pursue Mr. Assange. There is a debate about whether Mr. Assange is a journalist, but equating the publication of classified materials received from government sources with espionage strikes at the very foundations of a free press and should be rejected by Mr. Biden.” – The New York Times Editorial Board (December 18, 2021)

    And about time TOO!

    1. Well done Allan Howard…..keeping an innocent journalists on the agenda,whilst this disgraceful system lets a sick man die or as a “aciddent” whilst incarcerated at “Her Majestys pleasure” ….The establishment sinks to a new low when they do the bidding of the USA at the request of a President thats little more than a senile old molester.

  6. There’s a pattern here. Preferred being selected, non-preferred being discarded, held-back, even and denied their votes in a selection processes.

    Marcia Hutchinson is probably right. The people involved in the selection of Gareth Worthington would claim not to be racist, they’d even proclaim themselves antii-racist.

    Is it racism? Or is it the aggressively sectarianism of a group of defensive and neurotic right wingers?

    It’s both. Blacks, Asians, Left wingers – they’ll pick on anyone they see as an obstacle to their interests and their control of the Labour party.

    1. In the very first month of Starmer’s leadership he unilaterally change Corbyn’s Conference position on Kashmir to reassure (and woo) the hard-right Modi/Netanyahu positions and let the billionaires know that he intended to ‘fix’ their Labour party problem.

      These people know what they’re doing. Like their leader they are insidious, malicious and clever. The synchronised MSM and BBC will give them cover.

      We have to work out how to be that tiny bit cleverer – easier said than done.

    2. Yes Quertiboi, I think that it is cleaning house of anything remotely left wing and anti-Zionist. Too blatant to be what it appears. Remember, their colour is green.

  7. Are you serious? Another example of the bourgeois ‘wokes’ demanding quotas. “See me see only my colour as well as my gender., rather than this being a ‘class issue’. The MacPherson Report is a joke that defines reality as ‘how you feel’. As a representative of the people you do not represent only one demographic, or do you?

    1. If they treat minorities like disposable rubbish, do you think they’ll stop at you?

      Racism, corruption and incompetence usually come as a package.

      1. Interesting concept MINORITIES, however women are not a minority group & bourgeois women do very well out of the quota system. Depends what criteria you use to measure minorities, I find I am usually in a minority of one over most things, but then I never liked the Guardian. My father’s family are gypsy but my skin colour is white; my gender is male & I would probably be described as a stale. male & pale baby boomer. Jack Straw described me as a troublesome scouser from Bristol although I do have a rare blood group. I believe that the class struggle is the only sensible criteria for measuring inequality..

    2. “Another example of the bourgeois ‘wokes’ demanding quotas. “See me see only my colour as well as my gender., rather than this being a ‘class issue’.”
      Regarding the gender aspect of this – surely it’s simply a matter of the LP disregarding its own rules. Whether or not we approve, the party appears to have a policy of having a women only shortlist when a female councillor leaves, and in this case it appears to have disregarded its own rule in order to select a candidate approved of by a particular faction.

  8. So is membersnet accessable to BLP/CLP secretaries again?

    From Ann Black’s 21st November 2021, NEC update

    “Local parties have now been unable to access membership data for a month. I asked for secretaries to be contacted regularly even if there is no firm date for resolution and, until then, advised on how to run trigger ballots, council and parliamentary candidate selections, AGMs and other meetings without knowing who is entitled to participate. We are all open to challenge at any time if anything goes wrong”.

    Same time period as the data breach. What a coincidence.

  9. “What a coincidence” – and evidence that the LabourRight is following a plan? Its attacks on Labour values and members have been too relentless NOT to be the steps of a plan.

    We must admit this and treat the perpetrators of the attacks on Labour democracy and Labour members as more than just ‘opponents’ with a different set of values. They are intent on the death of Labour as a party of the protest and a party of the left.

    Strikes me that until we also form a plan and concert our actions, the neurotic LabourRight are odds-on to win.

  10. What have we got that they do not? Numbers. We are a prospective Movement more than we are a prospective ‘new party’, which, like a Chuka Umunna party tries to run before it can walk.

    The victory of Gabriel Boric in Chile should encourage us. “If Chile was the cradle of neoliberalism, it will also be its grave.” His victory teaches us that we are nothing if we are not a movement of diverse parties, interests and bodies. Boric harnessed the energies and frustrations of “the streets”.

    Labour’s relevance was derived from its movement-like attributes, briefly resonating under Corbyn and terrifying the Powers That Be. Maybe now it’s the time to remember that and incorporate it into our thinking.

    We should not expect the plp to be a part of that revival.

    1. Why not, qwertboi? We put them there in the first place. They ought to be accountable to us and their constituencies.

  11. Fear not – not all the Labour Party is like Marcia Hutchinson’s branch.

    During the selection for our Councillor candidate every effort was made
    to ensure that everyone got a say .. including those struggling with
    technology and those with health issues .. We managed to succeed
    after spending a lot of extra time one it.

    The problem is that the head honchos set such a very poor example
    to the rest of the Party!

  12. Does anyone have any evidence of this kind of thing happening or having happened to Jewish members? Does anyone recall Margaret Hodge getting foul-mouthed about anti-black racism? Does anyone have any record of Starmer promising to root it out? Has anyone heard Rayner saying if it’s necessary to expel thousands of anti-black racists it will happen? Black activists have an unfortunate tendency to be radical. And it’s to be noted that a number of the Labour seats lost in the so-called Red Wall, have small immigrant populations. Starmer has no principles, no fundamental morality, only a desire for power.

    1. Hi Frank, I suspect the answer to your questions is ‘no’. The new management never try to root out anti-black/asian racism. In fact, they seem to be the main perpetrators of it!

      I watched a brilliant snippet of not the andrew marr show recently in which it was claimed that Margaret Hodge even deliberately stiired up fear of the immigrant and blacks to achieve her disguised-racism The local to her BNP party even sent her some flowers to thank her for her promotion of them.

      If capitalism has its ‘contradictions’ which will cause “all that is solid” to “melt into air”, then so does neoliberalism when feigning a Labour identity (‘centralism’). Hodge and Starmer are certain;ly instances of it….

  13. On another note, I’m sad to see Jon Snow’s gone from ch4 news after tonight. By far the best news anchor this country’s had in my opinion.

    All the best, Jon, and thanks.

    And on another note, z-list actress maureen lipman was on BBC news today going on about cancel culture… Yes – the same lipman that has cancelled her labour membership on numerous occasions.

    1. Toffee …….Bidens not the only one senile…wishing the Squawkbox Steve walker,toffee for the poetry and laughs and even Steve H centrist. Dad for being the only Opposition party in existence despite broadcasting from his own robbers roost in the Caribbean bolt hole..and of course the brilliant and educational comments from our posters……..enjoy a peaceful and tranquil Christmas..PS and thankyou quertboi for sharing your knowledge on this appalling exploited Virus.

    2. ……..& the reason I couldn’t stand an hour of bourgeois woke drivel.

  14. NO JUSTICE! NO PEACE!
    Tanya Byfield is organising this fundraising appeal on behalf of Jaahzina Powell
    Over the past 9 months, myself and a group of Black women, have been subjected to the most abhorrent racial abuse online. It’s been relentless. It’s been monotonous. It’s been vicious. Its been racist nasty abuse. Every day.
    Over the past 9 months, myself and a group of Black women, have been subjected to the most abhorrent racial abuse online. It’s been relentless. It’s been monotonous. It’s been vicious. Its been racist nasty abuse. Every day.
    https://www.gofundme.com/f/ec999-no-justice-no-peace?member=14704121&sharetype=teams&utm_campaign=p_na+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer

    1. What does NO JUSTICE NO PEACE actually mean & who will be subjected to violence?

  15. Funny how the SKWAWKBOX does not support the victims of racist abuse on Twitter?
    Why is that?

  16. So I wake up to anti black asian socialists in the “Labour party” .Christmas eve
    and news is shocking but not “news” in this appalling Labour party
    .Upsetting if you actually believe that it should not happen in your Labour party.Well it does and its to be expected because your betters “realise that you will aceppt anything they dish up.and still keep funding the parasites i.Your money your choice ?

    1. Go to Twitter, and you will see “socialists” trolling black people.

      1. Different Frank…..socialists are not saints but aspire to be good for the people not the elite league.We all slip and fall but the tradition of a working-class movement will never die because we cannot aford to let the government and their little helpers the Labour party succeed.
        Frank does class war and tim scargill still exist,I can remember that we spent some hours arguing that I didnt need him tagging on to our NHS defence campaign when we marched through the town centre of Redhill and Reigate.because they wouldn’t give the impression we needed in front of the media who in the early ninteys were slightly less obvious of their bias.A black flag and bover boots wasnt the best way to defend the NHS,but I am quickly moving to the opinion that we have to up the ante with the government and Opposition parties to make them realise that we the people can bite back……just like the poll tax riots.?

      2. This lot have been abusing Catherine H. Higgins on Twitter for most of this year and as a reminder to this Group Ms Higgins is Black and an actual Socialist of good standing on Twitter.

        Further, we’ve yet to hear any statement from the Police on this issue, despite the Police being involved and, finally, even your own Solicitor’s have advised you to refrain from your activities on Twitter, which you seem incapable of doing.

        You can pull the wool over many persons eyes, but to say your behaviour has been appalling is a gross understatement.

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