Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones campaigning with Alun Davies in Blaenau Gwent in the run-up to this year's Welsh Assembly elections [Image: Wales Online].

Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones campaigning with Alun Davies in Blaenau Gwent in the run-up to this year’s Welsh Assembly elections. Did Mr Davies have anything to do with the alleged rigging of BG’s Labour leadership election nomination? [Image: Wales Online.]

It seems some of Blaenau Gwent Labour’s CLP officers (and former officers) were lucky not to be put up against a wall and shot after revelations at their meeting this week.
Blaenau Gwent was one of very few constituency parties in Wales that nominated Owen Smith as its choice to be leader of the Labour Party nationally – and it transpires that this was against the wishes of the majority of members.Instead of asking all members to attend a meeting and nominate their choice of leader on a one-member-one-vote basis, as happened in the 2015 leader election when Jeremy Corbyn was nominated, Blaenau Gwent’s officers decided that only delegates to their general committee would be allowed to vote – in a secret ballot.

This meant Owen Smith was nominated by 26 members – against the wishes of the 250-strong CLP membership.

Secretary Mick Bishop (who has since resigned, we’re told) read an email from Welsh Labour headquarters which advised CLP officers to hold a secret vote.

As a result, it appears CLP chairman Mark Thomas-Turner, who also chaired the ‘secret vote’ meeting, is facing calls for a vote of ‘no confidence’. He has been forced to agree that all key decisions from now on – including the election of a new constituency secretary – will be carried out on a one-member-one-vote basis.

This is from a post by Paul Starling on his Facebook page: “There was total chaos at one point, with questions being fired from all directions. An attempt to appoint a CLP officer to monitor and control social media groups and posts got lost in a meeting determined not to be deflected away from the key questions.

“The now-resigned clp secretary Mr. Bishop now faces questions of whether he was parachuted in, from the Reading CLP, to smooth the way for the secret vote. He told the meeting that the nomination vote (the secret vote) ‘was on the advice of the Welsh Labour HQ’.”

Mr Starling added that the removal of the former CLP secretary and the decision to change the voting system would not be the end of the matter. A meeting was to be held on Friday (October 14), in advance of a special meeting of all members, to compile a further series of questions and plan a strategy to disempower those at the heart of what they describe as the “stitch up”.

A key figure said, before this evening’s meeting .. “the fight-back started last night .. the leadership nomination process was roundly-condemned by the meeting, and we are going to make sure this never happens again”.

Mr Starling urged members of other Constituency Labour Parties across the UK to share the Blaenau Gwent revelations as widely as possible, so every Labour member feels empowered to “join the fightback” against those who tried to hijack democracy in the Labour Party.

This Writer’s CLP – Brecon and Radnorshire – never held a nomination meeting. Members were never asked if they wanted one. This is a questionable omission in itself, but the revelations in Blaenau Gwent raise further questions. Did my CLP officers receive a similar email from Labour HQ?

Did yours?

Note: Blaenau Gwent’s Assembly Member is Alun Davies, recently nominated by Carwyn Jones to be Welsh Labour’s representative on the party’s National Executive Committee. Did he participate in this “stitch up”?

If so, I think his loyalties must be called into question. Welsh Labour must not allow an enemy of democracy to make decisions on the NEC.

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