It was just after the snap general election of June 2017. Weaver Vale Labour had just ousted a useless Tory and succeeded in returning a Labour MP to Parliament for the first time in eight years. Cause for a bit of celebration you would think. For most of the CLP that was the case, but not for a few.
The following month (July), Weaver Vale held it’s first CLP meeting since the election but the atmosphere at the executive meeting held prior to the full general meeting was not a happy, celebratory one. Quite the opposite.
First, there was a row about who was or was not a delegate to the executive. I won’t go into the details here, but the upshot was that the campaign coordinator who had walked away from her role saying she wanted nothing more to do with the campaign, but still expected to retain her CLP role, left the meeting. Another delegate had already left the meeting in tears after being subjected to a tirade of abuse.
They then turned their venom onto the CLP chair (who was also the Parliamentary agent and had helped to plan and run the successful campaign) and myself.
The chair was shouted at over and over again by the Runcorn delegates one in particular claiming that he “was a disgrace, should be ashamed of himself, and if he had any decency would resign”. Err, we had just WON the election and with a decent majority, not LOST it. I was shouted at and accused of something so unpleasant I would rather not repeat it (another false allegation) and that I was no better (no better than what or who wasn’t clear) and that it was only the swing to Corbyn that enabled us to return a Labour MP. For examples of how these same members did their best to upset the campaign see here Putting the Record Straight
It could be construed that these individuals didn’t want a Labour MP, even though it says is the Labour Rule Book that members are obliged –
….to promote the election of Labour Party representatives at all level of the democratic process
The team that knocked on doors, canvassed by telephone, leafleted, held fundraising events, hosted guest MPs and celebraties and ran a highly successful social media campaign, had just turned a 806 Tory majority into an almost 4,000 majority for Labour. But the Runcorn side were acting like we had just suffered the most miserable and humiliating defeat. Go figure (actually I have a theory).
Even though the chair tried to bring some order to the meeting, these delegates were not having any of it and the meeting was continually disrupted, until it finally descended into chaos. That the meeting was disrupted was confirmed by one of these delegates at the next meeting in September and I have an audio recording of him saying the meeting was chaos with everybody shouting – actually, I take issue with that, a few were shouting the rest of the delegates were trying to be heard.
This event has subsequently been omitted from the history of Weaver Vale and you will not find any of this reflected in the minutes. Minutes were posted to delegates, without any consultation with the chair, a courtesy and standard practice in every organisation I have known. Despite emails to the temporary secretary (a Runcorn delegate and member of the NEC) asking for amendments, they were refused. More about how this atrocious incident was air brushed from Weaver Vale history soon.
I have attended many meetings in my time as a civil servant, and as a Labour party member, even when the remains of Militant were still attending meetings, but I was shocked and appalled by the outburst and continued aggression. This was obviously all staged to make delegates feel intimidated, but mostly to catch the chair off his guard. This time I made a formal complaint to Anna Hutchinson the Regional Director. I’m still waiting for a reasonable response.
For some idea of just how unpleasant the meeting was, that same individual gives a vastly toned down demonstration on the video below (this was in public, not behind closed doors). Note the jabbing finger and the body language to the the lady protester.
This video was taken shortly after a council meeting where the tolls of a local controversial bridge had been discussed.