Formby asked and Labour answered: Reform Labour’s complaints system. But will she listen?

Jennie Formby: Rather than taking a confrontational attitude to rank-and-file Labour members, she should consider the words behind her in this image.

Labour Party general secretary Jennie Formby took to Twitter to appeal for members not to use the social media forum to attack MPs…

… and had her posterior handed to her by scores of people, representing just a fraction of the Party membership that has had enough of a system that favours privileged members of Parliament over the hard-working campaigners who put them there.

She tweeted her appeal after This Site’s article about Wes Streeting’s disgraceful attempt to smear a party member as an anti-Semite by using a doctored image and releasing personal details of the person involved without her permission (doxxing).

That person responded sharply to Ms Formby’s intervention, which has been taken as an attempt to take the heat off Mr Streeting, rather than any commitment to justice:

Asked how she was coping by another Twitter user, she responded: “The attackers are still at it. Someone is keeping a great deal of information on all of us to bring up to accuse us all. Nothing I can do. Wes Streeting is a police matter.”

The “Diane” mentioned above is Diane Abbott, Shadow Home Secretary. @xpressanny believes her to have been bullied by Mr Streeting.

She stated she would put in a request to Labour under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to see who has accessed her data: “No stone will be left unturned. But I am exhausted, stressed & very anxious for my safety and that of my husband. It seems MPs can dump on members & get away with it whilst members can be expelled, rubbished & lied about.”

I can say from my own experience that Labour is unlikely to honour any such request. I put in a Subject Access Request for all information held on me by the Labour Party last year, while I was facing false claims of anti-Semitism (as @xpressanny is now). It was neither acknowledged nor actioned and I am still waiting for the information. The Information Commissioner’s Office stated that I would have to take Labour to court myself if I wanted the information.

Other Twitter users tweeted their support for @xpressanny…

… and their disgust that the Labour Party’s general secretary seems so keen to ignore the issue.

Others – and there were many more than I can list here – pointed out to Ms Formby that they have no faith in Labour’s complaints system (it’s called the Compliance Unit), pointing out that they know it favours elected representatives over subscription-paying members because members had been suspended for offences including enjoying the music of the Foo Fighters, while here we have an elected member who has exposed a 70-year-old woman (@xpressanny is a pensioner) to the threat of harm by faking an accusation of anti-Semitism and releasing personal details that make it possible to track her down.

I tweeted on this myself: “The complaints system is not fit for purpose as it favours MPs over members. The current Streeting issue makes that clear.”

Here‘s Ruth Morgan “Polluting Wes’s Bullshit Mentions”: “Sorry but when we have mp’s like Streeting making scurrilous attacks on paying members then that’s the tipping point. Rather than attacking the government, he and his ilk are more engaged in falsifying smears against people who are actually doing his job without pay. Remove him!”

Sullycorbynista: “If you did something about it when members complain there would be no need for ‘Trial by Twitter’. Yet when an MP complains it’s dealt with ASAP – one rule for them and another for us members. Pull your socks up and start dealing with these rebellious MP’s attacking members.”

And @milkysue, who tweets under the presumably-satirical handle Turning Point UK Spalding, stated: “We will not stop. As long as u r silent over the despicable behaviour of a labour MP’s treatment to a 70 yr old member, resulting in her being in tears and getting 24/7 insults. Live up to the slogan ‘for the many not the few’.”

These are valid points:

Masmit hit the nail on the head: “All I will say is one rule for members then, and one rule for MPs. It’s time MPs were treated the Same way as members, when they use social media, as a tool to lie and smear, then attack members. Obviously rules are inadequate, because they are out of control.”

This theme was expanded by “brenda105”, who stated: “For the past 3 years we have been called every name under the sun by the so-called centrist, and nothing is ever done to these MPs. we have had enough and its about time they were booted out of the LP.”

Mary S Wheeler made what might seem an obvious point: “You can not change human reaction. If we are attacked by the Wes Streetings and Gapes of the world we will defend ourselves. You’re asking the wrong people.”

She’s right. Mr Streeting had taken to Twitter to make his accusation but it was rank and file Labour members who were being criticised by Ms Formby it seemed. Here are a couple of tweets that put the issue in a nutshell:

“m00 cow”, who published a template complaint letter online, only to have fellow members complain that the Compliance Unit had rejected their concerns out-of-hand, tweeted her frustration:

Socialist Sam’s point came a little late, in fact, as @xpressanny is understood to have contacted the police already.

One positive aspect of this is that Ms Formby has at last found an issue that concerns party members more than the fabricated claims of rampant anti-Semitism. Her problem is that people are angry that she has done absolutely nothing to halt the flow of falsehoods or penalise those who broadcast them.

The sheer volume of tweets on the subject made it abundantly clear that Labour Party members who expressed an opinion have no confidence in the Compliance Unit or Ms Formby’s words:

Vanessa Frank was even more blunt: “I did. You said I wasn’t allowed to complain – literally.”

Here‘s Dallo: “Jenny, if you start to discipline the Blairites, Bitterites, Centrists (whatever you want to call them), maybe members will complain more to LP HQ, but sorry people are sick of tired of the you doing sweet FA about them constantly bringing the party into disrepute.”

“terry6120” pointed out the glaring omissions in Ms Formby’s tweet that suggest a lack of sincerity on her part: “You missed a few important words eg ‘we’ll investigate, take action, expel if necessary’ between ‘send it to us’ and ‘then let’s all…'”

Others made clear what they thought the Compliance Unit would do with any complaints about MPs like Mr Streeting. Here‘s Julian Rowlands: “‘send it to us and we’ll force you to sign a NDA before sweeping it under the carpet'”

And here‘s Ian Musgrave: “f you have a complaint send it to us and we’ll ignore it.”

Anthony McNamara: “Yes let’s cover it up. Unacceptable.”

Jay: “The problem is that ‘sending complaints’ to you is akin to attempting to heat a vacuum.”

Here‘s TheStewart@LeftWingBlog: “What frustrates many of us is that those who are Corbyn / Left Labour seem to get summary judgements made against them, yet certain Labour MP’s can say and do as they like. It would help if when a Complaint was made that it was acknowledged.”

Ms G Richards expanded on this: “Maybe if you started dealing with MPs like Wes Streeting who is happy to doxx party members on twitter, people might start having a bit of confidence that you will act fairly. Just sayin’.”

“Rho” pointed out that loyalty goes both ways and that Ms Formby and the Labour leadership are being disloyal to members by allowing MPs to get away with behaviour that may be illegal:

Challenged over her threat to quit the party, she pointed out that it is hard-working members and campaigners who are being attacked, with no evidence, by liars who seem to be immune to censure because they happen to have a Parliamentary seat:

“I Daniel Blake” expanded on the realities of Mr Streeting’s behaviour: “Doxxing is illegal & harrassment, & something has to be done when an MP not only does it, but uses a photo-shopped tweet as his reason.”

Weston Labour Party has provided important information: “You can report @wesstreeting to the ICO for revealing the personal details of Twitter user @xpressanny 

Finally, consider this lunacy:

That’s right – when “Karen” stood up for @xpressanny, someone took it on themselves to report her for bullying. That report is presumably with the Compliance Unit. Will it be thrown out or will “Karen” be penalised?

What do you think?

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  1. Dan February 7, 2019 at 2:15 pm - Reply

    I’ve said this before and no doubt will say it again. I wonder how many more people like me would join Labour if we didn’t see this sort of thing going on all the time? Labour need a complaints system that is fit for purpose even more urgently than they need to get rid of bitter Blairite MPs.

    • John D. Ingleson February 7, 2019 at 10:31 pm - Reply

      Hear, hear.

  2. Marie Gatfield February 7, 2019 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    Did they get ‘complaint’ and ‘compliant’ mixed up. Compliant means bend over backwards and do as you are told. Why send complaints to a compliance department? They might as well call themselves ‘the thought police’. I despair.

    • Zippi February 12, 2019 at 2:26 pm - Reply


  3. Zippi February 12, 2019 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    I’m still awaiting acknowledgement of my complaint, which I sent some time last year. Given that I was out of the country from early October and it was sent well before that, this seems proof that complaints are ignored, or filtered.

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