Red faces for Reed and supporters as CLP picks Corbyn

WALTER CRONXITE reports from the back row of a Thornton Heath church hall at a local Labour Party meeting, where the Blairites are becoming increasingly shrill in their discomfort

Steve Reed OBE, the Progress MP for Lambeth South, is looking increasingly out of step with the grassroots members of his own Constituency Labour Party, who last night chose Jeremy Corbyn as their nomination for the party leadership.

Steve Reed and Ken Livingstone campaign against police cuts earlier in the year

Steve Reed didn’t complain about “the lunatic wing of the Labour Party” when Ken Livingstone helped get him elected as an MP in 2012. Livingstone is one of Corbyn’s most notable supporters

Reed gave last night’s Constituency Labour Party meeting a miss as he is officially “on holiday”, though he did find the time to spend part of the day sending messages from his MP’s Twitter account seeking assistance with his runner bean crop, which has failed to deliver (we’ll leave you to devise your own punchlines for that one).

Earlier this month, Blairite Reed caused anger among rank-and-file members when he endorsed  a column in the Daily Torygraph under a headline which said “the lunatic wing of the Labour Party is still calling the shots”.

The column appeared after enough Labour Parliamentarians got to together to endorse Corbyn for the leadership, giving the Islington North MP a slot on the short-list. Since then, “Jezzamania” has taken hold among Labour Party members, with the veteran MP receiving the nominations of 120 CLPs, plus now – probably much to Reed’s embarrassment – Lambeth South (which is also known as Croydon North).

Reed has described Corbyn as representing “the toxic legacy of the hard left”, and that Corbyn’s candidancy will “make Labour unelectable again”. Oh to be a fly-on-the-wall when they next meet in the Westminster tea rooms.

The members of the Labour Party appear to disagree with Reed profoundly. A report in today’s Daily Mirror puts Corbyn on 42 per cent, 20 per cent ahead of Yvette Cooper according to some private polling.

May’s General Election has made many rightly wary of the predictions of pollsters, but the margin of difference in the Mirror report appears hard to argue with. And while CLP nominations are no indicator of the individual voting intentions of Labour members, supporters and affiliates, the numbers are beginning to mount against the other candidates.

Andy Burnham has nominations from 107 CLPs, Cooper 91 and Reed’s preferred candidate, the Blairite Liz Kendall, a mere 14 (including Croydon South).

Ballot papers for the “open primary” contest for Labour leader, deputy leader and to select Labour’s candidate for London Mayor, are sent out on August 14, with the result announced on September 12.

Reed has suffered a series of local set-backs lately. His trusted lieutenant, Matthew Bennett has stood down as the MP’s “head of office” at Westminster. Previously Reed’s “enforcer” as chief whip on Lambeth Council, Gipsy Hill councillor Bennett appears to have his hands full as the borough’s cabinet member for housing and – in a refreshing attitude among greedy local politicos – has decided to concentrate on trying to do one job properly, instead of raking in public money from more than one source.

Catriona Ogilvy: the ex-chair of Lambeth South CLP

Catriona Ogilvy: the ex-chair of Lambeth South CLP

Reed has also seen his former Streatham Labour Party colleague, Catriona Ogilvy, unseated as the chair of Lambeth South/Croydon North. Last night’s meeting was the first to be chaired by Patsy Cummings, though Ogilvy seemed to have some difficulty coming to terms with her loss of influence.

In Reed’s absence, it was left to Ogilvy to propose Liz Kendall as the CLP’s leadership nomination. Ogilvy left her fellow party members underwhelmed.

Cummings had to demonstrate the patience of a saint. Properly, Cummings had stated the rules at the start of the election process, but Ogilvy sought to ignore this. With a sense of entitlement which many in the meeting felt wholly inappropriate, Ogilvy demanded a second opportunity to speak in favour of Kendall.

When thwarted, Ogilvy, from a position she had taken on the stage in St Jude’s church hall (other party members, save for Norbury councillor Maggie Mansell, felt satisfied to sit in chairs arranged on the floor of the hall), then started muttering audibly about a breach of party rules.

“If Ogilvy and Reed reckon they are from the ‘sane’ wing of the party,” one annoyed party member confided, “then they really need to seek a second opinion.”

“What is Catriona Ogilvy’s problem?” asked another. “I had heard that Catriona didn’t take kindly to her rejection ‎as CLP chair, but didn’t think much of it at the time. That was until I saw the manifestation of Ogilvy’s sour grapes.

“Anyone with even a passing interest in body language and power dynamics could see that Ogilvy’s position and constant obstruction from the main stage was her attempt to assert power. Perhaps someone should have a word with Ogilvy or, better still, perhaps Ogilvy should have a word with herself: she is no longer chair so she had better get used to it.”

Reed’s inability to deliver Kendall a 15th CLP nomination ought to be a severe embarrassment to the MP. But the chances are that he doesn’t give a toss for the interests of his local party members, since their hard work in the constituency during Malcolm Wicks’ time as the MP has managed to build a 21,000-vote majority, and so provide Reed with an assured job for life.

Croydon North’s members other nominations last night were Stella Creasy for deputy leader and Marina Ahmad to be the Labour candidate in Croydon and Sutton at next May’s London Assembly elections. Kendall-backing Croydon South CLP also met last night and also nominated Ahmad, the losing parliamentary candidate in Beckenham in May.

The third and final Croydon CLP to make its nominations, Central, meets tonight.

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6 Responses to Red faces for Reed and supporters as CLP picks Corbyn

  1. mraemiller says:

    Ah the exitiement of the Labour Leadership contest… what wonderful choices we have…

    Leaving aside her “Blairist” politics the main problem I see with Liz Kendell is she has no experience much despite never really having had a proper job outside politics. She’s not even actually in the shadow cabinet just “allowed to show up”.

    I presume the idea behind electing Andy Burnham to leader is some clever attempt at boring Dave Cameron to death. 4th position in the last leadership contest where he was an even duller presence (if that’s possible) there’s just an element of buggins turn next about him

    Similarly but not so much could say the same of Yvette Cooper’s who’s previous government jobs Minister of State for Housing and Planning. That went well. One imagines endless “Ed Balls wife” jokes from the government benches which I will not stoop to….

    Jeremy Corbyn. Leaving aside his leftiness, his support of Tony Benn and CND (the Campaign for No Defence) …he’s never even been in the shadow cabinet and one wonders how such an individualist will adapt to actually working with other people. Maybe it will all work out but … will Red Corbyn actually be any redder than “Red Ed” when in the hot seat?

    More interesting though than who is standing is probably the number of people who could have stood but just can’t be arsed. Perhaps they couldn’t get the finance or have decided that standing for Deputy Leader or Mayor of London is a cushier number. In the words of Iain Duncan Smith: “being Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition isn’t what it’s cracked up to be”.

    Anyway … you’ll forgive me if I don’t get enthused by anybody…

  2. farmersboy says:

    Surely a job for life is a socialist way of thinking Mr Reed?

  3. It worries me that mraemiller’s comments are too close to what many of us have been thinking since this election campaign was announced. Jeremy reminds me too much of the old days both of Labour Politics in long term opposition and Michael Foot as Leader, and I am old enough to be guilty of both those politics and campaigning with Michael, who was a lovely man who I admired for his beliefs and principles (even if I did not share all of them) but he was never going to lead us back to winning elections and attracted the same media jokes that Ed Milliband and now Jeremy Corbyn attract. Ed was never going to win the last General election, for many reasons I will not attempt to bore you with but largely because he never shook off the Geek image he was branded with. Jeremy has already been labelled as a dinosaur (brilliantly by Private Eye) and is not going to shake that off either. His anti-Europe views will add the inevitable divisions in the Party that his leadership will cause.

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