- Labour branch secretary accuses Labour council candidate of taking part in “smear campaign”
- Other Labour members complain of “dirty tricks” at selection meeting
- Police issue ‘Prevention of Harassment’ letter to a member of the public for tweeting about the story
I’ve written before about the controversy over the Labour Party’s selections for this May’s Haringey Council elections, with allegations of vote fixing at a key selection meeting:
The selection was for St Ann’s Ward, where one Labour councillor was standing down after being charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice. The other two were deselected at the selection meeting, where according to one account 5 Labour members who live outside the ward were wrongly allowed to vote, which would have been a very significant part of the total number of votes cast as another Labour Party member has said 26 voting members were present.
As one of the Labour members said:
If there were indeed five people voting who were ineligible, then that would have made a huge difference, based on my notes of the announced number of votes in all the rounds for different candidates.
Another Labour party member has also expressed concerns over the number of members signing up to the party in just one day in July, and also saying:
There were a few dirty tricks at the meeting. One member for example called for a break in the meeting in order to try and prevent one of the candidates from leaving on time to get to her own ward meeting, to select her own council candidates. It was obvious to those of us who knew what was going on. Another candidate appeared, to some of us, to be reading pre-written answers to three questions that were supposed to be sprung on candidates at the meeting itself. There is a big question mark hanging over some of the other addresses.
Now a leaked email, which briefly appeared on the HarringayOnline website, adds to the accounts of several Labour Party members, revealing the depth of the animosity within the Labour Party over the issues.
John Blake, the ward secretary who took part in overseeing the controversial ward selection in St Ann’s, emailed other Labour Party activists and the London Region Director in December, accusing a Labour member (and selected candidate elsewhere in Haringey) who had complained about the issue of, “a malicious and vexatious complaint … knowingly made false statements to officers of the party … This campaign is damaging to the prospects of the Labour Party in the local elections”. He went on to request their sacking as a Labour candidate.
Not a happy ship.
Moreover, the evidence presented by several Labour Party members and witnesses on HarringayOnline provides, in my view, convincing evidence of problems with the selection, undermining John Blake’s defence of the way in which the selection – which resulted in the deselection of two sitting councillors – was conducted. However, the Labour Party has decided officially not to rerun or overturn the selection, a decision which several Labour members and supporters in the area have heavily criticised.
Police issue warning to member of the public who tweeted about the story
Furthermore, a member of the public, John McMullan, has been visited by the police after complaints about his tweets on the issue. According to his account:
On Monday the 10th of February, the same evening that Ed Miliband gave his Hugo Young lecture, Haringey MPS made a visit to me on behalf of the secretary of the St Ann’s Labour Party and his partner. It was alleged that I had called him filth on Twitter (which I have not, that was someone else) and that I said “I know I’m hassling you but…”. I was served with a Notice of Harassment Letter which will now appear in extended CRB checks.
The visit is over. The two officers, were apologetic (even indignant) but apparently a couple of my tweets mentioning him over the past few months have crossed the line. I didn’t swear at him or even make death threats but it seems that is enough for a grown man, capable of fighting his own battles in politics, to involve the police. Ridiculous. Anyway, I have been issued with a “Prevention of Harassment Letter”, so I guess that’s me effectively silenced. Anyone else want to take up the baton?
Given that the accusations about the tweets don’t involve incitement to violence, high volumes of abuse, personal threats or the like, the intervention of the police is rather worrying on free speech grounds.
In response, many other commenters have pledged £20 to his legal fees, including Labour supporters, angered at the use of the police against someone criticising their party’s selection process. Examples of the comments include:
As a local Labour member I’m shocked that this action has been taken by the police against someone standing up against corruption and lack of transparency, and yet the police are not (apparently) proceeding in spite of evidence. [Source]
I have decided not to vote labour it saddens me but I think we need to flush out the the current blockage. [Source]
I am a former Labour party activist – I was election organiser in St Anne’s when Bernie was first elected. I can never vote Tory, and after the ConDem alliance would find it very difficult to vote lib-dem. Yet, I now find myself in an impossible position, despite being in Harringay ward I will find it very difficult to vote Labour locally. [Source]
I don’t live in St Anns, so I can’t show my repugnance for the way their candidates have been selected (as well as for the way in which the matter has then been dealt with) by not voting Labour there. I know some people have argued that it wouldn’t be right or effective to refuse to vote Labour in Harringay, because the candidates there should not be tarred with the same brush – but I think that is the way it is going to have to be for me, because I don’t see how else I can send a message to the Labour party that local people have noticed this dodgy selection game and have had enough. [Source]