Right-wing Labour MP Angela Smith has denounced members of her own constituency party as “a cabal of hard-left members” after she lost a vote of “no confidence” on Friday, November 16.
Penistone & Stocksbridge Labour Party supported the motion of “no confidence” in their MP by 27 votes to 20 against.
In response, Ms Smith released what can only be described as a rant on Twitter, as follows: “I take my responsibilities as a Member of Parliament very seriously and my first priority is always to do my job, to the best of my ability.
“It is frankly astonishing that a cabal of hard left members has absorbed everyone’s precious time and energy on an inaccurate and divisive motion of no confidence. Given that the country is facing its biggest crisis since Suez, one would have thought their attention would be better focused on the huge decision facing the country, a decision that will affect the lives of every one of my constituents for years to come.
“I will continue to prioritise our area and my constituents and will not be distracted by internal political posturing such as this.”
From my own point of view, it is less than a week since I was expelled from the Labour Party on a series of false, trumped-up charges, including one that I supported a claim that Tony Blair had been influenced, during his time as prime minister, by “a cabal of Jewish advisers”. I didn’t – but it seems to me that anyone using the word “cabal” is suggesting a conspiracy of some kind and deserves to have their behaviour examined.
Members of Penistone & Stocksbridge CLP have responded to Ms Smith’s rant by releasing the full text of their motion – to show that her claim that it was “inaccurate and divisive” is false. Here it is:
“This CLP notes that
1. Angela Smith has represented this CLP since it was created in 2010. Before that she was MP for Sheffield Hillsborough from 2005 to 2010. (1)
2. In 2015 Angela Smith voted against greater restrictions on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract shale gas in National Parks, the Broads, areas of outstanding natural beauty, World Heritage sites, and near points where water is abstracted for domestic and food production purposes. (2)
3. Angela said earlier this month at a water industry conference in Manchester that Labour’s plans for the return to public ownership of the privatised water industry were “undeveloped, uncosted and should not be a priority among so many post-Brexit challenges”. She denounced the proposals, promoted by John McDonnell, as ideological and founded in “the politics of the past”. (3)
4. Angela Smith has written in the press articles that undermine the leadership and the wider Party. (4)
5. Angela Smith tweets and retweets criticism of Jeremy Corbyn. (5)
6. Angela Smith was invited to the Annual Dinner in February. However, she advised the organisers that she would not be attending the Annual Dinner, but she would in fact be attending another event that was being held at the same venue, Wortley Hall.
“This CLP believes that:
• Angela Smith has by her conduct, her actions, and in articles she has written demonstrated that she no longer represents the views of the CLP.
• She has been a persistent and visceral critic of Jeremy Corbyn and through her divisive attacks on him she has damaged the Labour Party locally and nationally.
• Her articles and comments on Fracking and Privatised Water Companies that are contrary to the Labour Party Manifesto commitments demonstrate that she has lost touch with the Party and the constituents she was elected to represent.
• She has snubbed this CLP very publicly at an event to raise funds for her election campaign.
• The relationship of trust and respect that is an essential and fundamental requirement between an MP and their Constituency Party has broken down, perhaps irrevocably, and as a result this CLP has no confidence in Angela Smith to represents its members as our MP.
“This CLP resolves to:
1. Propose a vote of ‘no confidence’ in Angela Smith at the CLP General Meeting on 16 November 2018.
2. Write to the Chief Whip and ask that she has the whip removed.
“Appendix [also written by proposers of motion]:
1. Angela Christine Smith (born 16 August 1961) is a British Labour Party politician and former lecturer. She has represented the parliamentary seat of Penistone and Stocksbridge since 2010. Before boundary changes she was Member of Parliament (MP) for Sheffield Hillsborough from 2005 to 2010.
2. Angela Smith voted against greater restrictions on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract shale gas in National Parks, the Broads, areas of oustanding natural beauty, World Heritage sites, and near points where water is abstracted for domestic and food production purposes. A majority of MPs disagreed and voted for greater restrictions on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract shale gas in National Parks, the Broads, areas of oustanding natural beauty, World Heritage sites, and near points where water is abstracted for domestic and food production purposes. 296 for, 259 against, 0 abstained, 91 absent.
3. ‘Labour MP savages party’s water policy’, The Times, 17 April 2018
4. ”Car crash’ Jeremy Corbyn under pressure over foreign trips’, Daily Express, 20 August 2018
It should also be noted that the motion was submitted by a branch of the CLP at the beginning of October – long before the current crisis over Brexit began.
Ms Smith’s behaviour has attracted justifiable criticism:
During the local elections this MP wrote an article for the Murdoch press denouncing Labour’s plans for public ownership of water, which polls show 83% back, including a large majority of Tory voters, without mentioning her links to private water companies. https://t.co/1GuV7WsBbv
— Owen Jones 🌹 (@OwenJones84) November 17, 2018
Along with most of the #Labour membership, I support Labour & I support Corbyn as Labour leader.
We are NOT 'hard-left'.
We DO NOT belong to a 'cabal'.
Your arrogance is highly distasteful, & your smears are wholly offensive. Leave the Labour Party now. https://t.co/zK327qz5s7
— John Clarke (@JohnClarke1960) November 17, 2018
But it is fair to say that she has also attracted support – from some of the usual so-called “centrist” suspects, like Chuka Umunna and Chris Leslie. Their comments appear below, along with representative responses:
Chuka going large on a vote of no confidence on shit stirring Angela Smith.
Says nothing about Claire Perry's libellous attack on Jeremy Corbyn.
Go figure. https://t.co/Vn0F91X5EG
— Wolfie. 🖐 (@Tpopularfront) November 17, 2018
Hi Chris, this is your conscience speaking, what are you going to post on Twitter as "appalling";
UN report describing austerity driven poverty as "punitive, mean-spirited & callous"?
2. A disruptive private water company lobbyist being reminded her job is actually as an MP? https://t.co/m74WbBS83F
— Matt Thomas #GrassrootsVoice (@Trickyjabs) November 17, 2018
It seems some members of Labour’s higher echelons still think they have a right to trample over the membership at large. Considering my own treatment at the hands of the National Constitutional Committee, it seems there may be some justification in that belief.
But times are changing, as the recent swathe of “no confidence” votes indicates.
Perhaps the following Tweet sums up the situation best:
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I have no problem with Angela Smith being a member of the Labour Party. We ARE a broad church, after all. But the problem comes when someone is an MP, representing the Party in Parliament. Then , we can’t have our “representative” opposing fundamental aspects of our manifesto or, even, writing articles slagging off a very popular leader (Jeremy Corbyn). Of course, we expect some differences of opinion on policy matters by all members (I have some myself) but, again, when they are so fundamental as to openly oppose restrictions on fracking, or to oppose public ownership of the utilities, surely, we cannot afford to be “represented” by someone who, in fact, doesn’t really represent us.