Steve Reed OBE, the MP for Croydon North/Lambeth South [delete to taste] has been accused of “riding roughshod” over local Labour Party members, after supportive officials at his Constituency Labour Party have manoeuvred to stage a leadership nomination meeting at short notice, excluding more than a thousand members from having a say.Calls for Reed’s de-selection are growing louder as a consequence.
“There’s a real sense of fear,” one Labour member from the north of the borough told Inside Croydon today. “I’m just an ordinary member, and I just want to have my say, to have my vote, but Reed and his friends want to deny me that.
“And the members know that if there’s any sort of protest on Thursday, they risk being purged by Reed and the Progress lot, accused of intimidation, bullying or worse.”
Reed, a former leader of Lambeth Council, is the vice-chairman of the Progress, the party-within-a-party which is funded by Blairite millionaire Lord Sainsbury. He was a willing participant in the “coup” among aome Labour MPs to dislodge Corbyn as the party leader.
“Even the Tory Party has one member, one vote. But that’s not allowed in Steve Reed’s version of democracy,” was the view of another Labour member.
And a third party member said, “One of my friends said that they never even wanted to consider re-selection of their MP, but after what has happened, they are fed up of Reed ignoring the members. He’s just riding roughshod over us all the time.”
Reed was not present last year, when at a meeting which was open to all members of the Croydon North CLP, they voted overwhelmingly to nominate Jeremy Corbyn for leader.
“Reed was off sunning himself somewhere. He will have been really red-faced with embarrassment if he’d been at that meeting.”
Since then, Reed has refused to discuss the Labour leadership situation with Croydon North members, even at the recent CLP annual meeting, though he has repeatedly claimed that his resignation from Corbyn’s shadow team and his calls for the leader to resign has the support of his local party.
Reed managed to install Ann O’Connor, known to support the Blairite MP, as the CLP chair last month.
Last night, she circulated this email to members of the CLP:
First we must express our sincere apologies for the lateness of this message.
We are writing to inform you that Croydon North Constituency Labour Party will be holding a Supporting Nomination Meeting.
This meeting will be held for General Committee delegates only.
The details are as follows: Venue : Parchmore Community Centre, 97 Parchmore Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey. CR7 8LY. (Please enter from Fernham Road entrance)
Date: 28th July 2016
All GC delegates shall face a membership verification check at the door.
Also note: There will be an opportunity for delegates to speak once, for a maximum of 3mins in support of one of the candidates
Registration will close at 8.10pm.
Please note that anyone arriving after the 8.10pm deadline will not be allowed entry.
There will be a move to ballot, the outcome will be recorded and the supporting nomination form will be returned by the 15th August 2016.
Please see the following link to gain information about the two candidates: http://www.labour.org.uk/pages/labour-party-leadership-election-2016 …
Thank you for your patience
Ann O’Connor and Janet Campbell
Croydon North Labour Party Chair and Secretary
In Croydon North, the General Committee delegates – those who will be allowed to attend this meeting – number around 56, comprising representatives from the co-operative movement, trades unions and each of the wards in the constituency, plus the CLP officers. Croydon North has 1,300 members.
“Reed must reckon he’s got a majority on the GC who will vote against Corbyn,” said the CLP member.
The nominations process is, in fact, little more than a bit of a willy-waggling exercise between the candidates, as they try to demonstrate that they have the greater grassroots support from CLPs, unions and other affiliated organisations, ahead of the actual ballot.
Only then, it seems, will Croydon North CLP members actually get to vote – unless, as some fear, they are “purged” in the meantime.
“It’s becoming ever clearer that the Labour Party machine – not just the MPs who carried out their failed coup, but officials and some of the paid employees, many of whom were installed during the Blair era – have been working against Corbyn since the day he was elected,” a senior Croydon Labour figure said today.
“They can’t understand how there might be a mass movement of ordinary people who want real change.
“The MPs and officials have done things to try to reduce or erode support for the leadership. Their miserablist attitude for the past year, their chorus of how Corbyn is not a good leader, becomes self-fulfilling when they have undermined him constantly.
“This meeting in Croydon North is just another example of how the party machine is working against Corbyn. Other examples are the disenfranchisement of members who joined after January 12, the hike in the fee for registered supporters to £25, the ban on meetings – at least any meeting which might favour Corbyn – and the suspension of whole parties in Brighton and Wallasey.”
Reed’s latest move in Croydon North, though, might yet fail. Some members believe that the party’s rules require that any such meetings require at least seven days’ notice.
However Thursday’s meeting pans out, Reed’s relationship with his local party membership – the people who he will expect to canvass and leaflet for him and his Progress-supporting councillor friends at election time – looks to be shattered beyond repair.
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