Chuka Umunna: Members of the Labour Party in his Streatham constituency were blocked from voting for the leadership candidate of their choice.

Chuka Umunna: Members of the Labour Party in his Streatham constituency were blocked from voting for the leadership candidate of their choice.

We all know the campaign to elect Owen Smith as the new leader of the Labour Party isn’t going well – so his supporters are resorting to anti-democratic, dirty tricks to make it seem he is doing better.

Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee has given each local party the option of nominating a candidate through a members’ vote or one by the party’s general committee.

So far, it seems 76 Constituency Labour Parties have held meetings and declared the results which are: Jeremy Corbyn – 57; Owen Smith – 15; Neutral – 4.

But it seems those declaring for Owen Smith may have done so by underhand means – locking out the wider membership and holding delegate-only meetings in order to control the result.

We know this happened in Conor McGinn’s St Helen’s North constituency.

Here’s evidence it happened in Blaenau Gwent:

160729 Blaenau Gwent lock-out

And the Evening Standard is reporting that it has happened in Streatham. That’s one-fifth of all the constituencies that have supported Smith, and there’s no reason to believe they are the only ones.

According to the Standard, “a party source said  the decision was taken on practical grounds as arranging a short-notice members’ vote for a party with such a large membership would have  been too difficult”.

This is rubbish.

If the problem is notifying members, then haven’t they heard of email? If the problem is fitting them all in, then they should take a hint from Jeremy Corbyn, who said they should simply hire a bigger hall.

Perhaps the organisers of these ‘stitch-up’ meetings do not realise that they are storing up a huge amount of ill-feeling among members, who are likely to make their feelings – which is to say, demands – known as soon as possible. Then these operators will be out in the cold.

It is possible that this does not worry them, as it seems plans to split the party and steal its assets are well advanced (of which, more in another article).

In the meantime, anyone who feels mistreated by this attempt to sidestep democracy is entitled to express their displeasure to the NEC – perhaps in the form of a multiple-signature letter or petition; perhaps with a motion of no confidence in the nomination decision and the process by which it was made.

A row broke out today in the local party of one of Labour’s best-known MPs after it formally backed Owen Smith for leader over Jeremy Corbyn.

Grassroots members in Chuka Umunna’s Streatham seat claimed they were “locked out” of the vote to decide the nomination. The decision was instead taken by the party’s general committee, with Mr Smith winning the support of 44 delegates compared with 14 for Mr Corbyn.

Some accused local leaders, including Mr Umunna, of blocking them out of fear of a Corbyn surge.

Unison delegate to the party Dan Jeffries said: “The way they have done it is totally unfair. “Other constituency parties, including in Lambeth, have allowed members to vote.”

Source: Corbynites attack ‘stitch-up’ as Streatham Labour party backs Owen Smith | Politics | News | London Evening Standard


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