First, he refused to speak to the members about the Labour leadership at his constituency party’s annual meeting.
Then, he took part in a visit to central Croydon with Owen Smith, the challenger to Jeremy Corbyn, but didn’t bother to tell any of his local party members nor, out of common courtesy, formally advise officials of the Constituency Labour Party where the meeting was taking place.
But Steve Reed OBE, the Progress MP for Croydon North/Lambeth South [delete to taste], is still trying to concoct some sort of response so that he can try to pretend to his Blairite colleagues in parliament that the Labour membership in the constituency he represents in some way supports his views. Yesterday, he issued an emailed plea to the CLP’s members with a badly skewed survey on the leadership contest.
“So far, he’s treated us members with utter contempt, then he’s deliberately told people he consulted the membership, when he did no such thing, and now he’s trying this. It’s all looking a bit desperate,” one Croydon Labour member told Inside Croydon after receiving Reed’s email yesterday.
“Let’s face it, they still have time to hold an all-member nomination meeting. There’s only one reason why they’re not doing that – Reed won’t like the outcome.”
Another member said, “I think he’s trying to find out where the anti-Corbyn people are in the CLP, so he can encourage them to come to future meetings and save his neck for him. Of course, he is one of the few souls allowed access to the membership list.”
But amid the growing distrust and “sense of fear” among ordinary Labour members in Croydon, there is another reason suggested for Reed sending out his email: “He could be fishing to identify Corbyn supporters to get them banned on some premise before they get to vote in the leadership election.
“Trades unionists and old Labour supporters, like Mark Steel, have been banned from coming back to the party because they supported other political groups in protest against Blair taking us into the Iraq War.
“And there’s already been attempts to purge the membership, with respected Labour figures locally, who are known to be Corbyn supporters, like Andrew Fisher and David White, who have been suspended on the flimsiest of grounds. It seems Progress and the Blairites will stoop very low.”
Last year, when given the opportunity, Croydon North CLP voted to support Jeremy Corbyn. This was an extremely embarrassing outcome for Reed, who is vice-chair of Progress, the party-within-a-party, when its candidate in the leadership race, Liz Kendall, polled just 4 per cent of the vote.
After Corbyn’s election as leader, with almost 60 per cent, Reed set aside any reservations he may have had and accepted a job in the shadow team at Westminster, until he tagged along with the failed coup by the Parliamentary Labour Party last month.
Yesterday, using his Croydon Labour account, Reed sent out an email to members in the constituency, with a somewhat misleading “Labour Leadership Survey” in the subject field (it’s really no such thing, but rather a blatant piece of lobbying, and possibly done by a member of Reed’s parliamentary staff).
Under the heading: “Why I am supporting Owen Smith to be the next leader of the Labour Party”, the MP who was reluctant to face members’ questions or be accountable to his own CLP over the party’s leadership, managed to deliver a 500-word essay on the subject.
In his email, Reed describes Owen Smith as “our best and only hope”, apparently in all seriousness..
We reproduce Reed’s email in full here:
Last year Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour Leader. I have done my best to make his leadership work. I was proud to serve as Shadow Local Government minister under Jeremy, and proud that I helped expose the unfair way the Tories have targeted funding cuts on the poorest councils.
But like most of my colleagues who served on Jeremy’s frontbench team, I became deeply disillusioned with his leadership. His performance repeatedly lets the Tories off the hook such as his failure to strike out when Iain Duncan Smith resigned. Lilian Greenwood MP served as Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, and explains here [we’ve removed the link, which has some embedded tracking] how Jeremy’s lack of basic leadership skills undermined her work. During the EU referendum, Jeremy campaigned half-heartedly and even took a week’s holiday in the crucial final few weeks before one of the most important votes in our history. His approach left many Labour voters so unclear about the party’s position they voted to damage the country by leaving the EU. Those of us who resigned from the front bench did so in utter despair.
Recent election results show Jeremy is failing to connect with the voters. In May we suffered our worst election results in Scotland since 1910, in Wales since 1918, in England since 1983, and the worst results for any new leader of the opposition ever. New polls this week show Labour 16 points behind the Tories, a quarter of all 2015 Labour voters planning to vote for other parties, and millions of Labour voters preferring Theresa May over Jeremy Corbyn. If Jeremy remains leader we face electoral destruction that will result in decades of Tory rule. We simply can’t abandon millions of our fellow citizens to that fate.
Owen Smith is our best and only hope of reuniting to defeat the Tories. He is radical, articulate and driven by Labour values that will change our country for the better. Owen has announced a £200bn British New Deal to end austerity and bring in the investment we need for jobs and economic growth, for a major housebuilding programme to end homelessness, and to end the privatisation of our NHS, railways and other vital public services. Owen led the campaign that forced the Tories to scrap their plans to cut tax credits for the low-paid, he is every bit as radical as Jeremy Corbyn but he has the skills to unify and lead our party to victory that Jeremy sadly lacks.
This is a leadership election like no other before. If we want to save our party and defeat the Tories, we must elect Owen Smith to unite us and lead us forward. Please use the survey below to confirm your support for Owen Smith.
“I look forward to hearing from you.”
The survey Reed refers to is a single question, “Do you support Owen Smith to be leader of the Labour Party?” with three options (Yes, No and Undecided).
“It’s another of Reed’s biased opinion surveys,” said a senior figure within the local Labour Party. “Like the one where he asked members if they were in favour of a) Bombing Iraq and Syria or b) Just bombing Iraq.
“It has no more or less validity than the online polls you sometime conduct on Inside Croydon. But at least your polls are conducted anonymously.
“Reed no doubt intends to publish the outcome if he gets the desired result. He’ll say it doesn’t matter that Croydon North didn’t have a nomination meeting because he has consulted all members. If the survey produces the ‘wrong’ result, then he’ll just bury it and we’ll never hear any more about it.”
Croydon North abandoned its plans to have a nomination meeting last night limited to delegates to its CLP general committee, and has not announced any alternative, all-member meeting date.
Croydon South has not announced any date for an all-member nomination meeting, though to comply with party rules requiring seven days’ notice, officials in both CLPs have until August 5 to call such a meeting.
Croydon Central staged its all-member nomination meeting on Wednesday, and despite support from a dozen local councillors for Smith, it voted in favour of Corbyn.
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