Clacton Constituency Labour Party

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Seven out of ten Clacton CLP members support Jeremy Corbyn

The Clacton Constituency Labour Party (CLP) has a membership approaching 400, over half of whom joined following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party in 2015.

On 22 March 2017, at a packed meeting of the Clacton CLP, an entirely new Executive Committee (EC) was elected. New EC Chair George Taylor said:

“The Executive Committee is a brilliant group of Clacton residents who live all over the constituency. They include midwives, teachers, managers, self-employed, young students, tradespeople and retirees. There is not one member of the EC who is self-serving, their raison d’être is to represent and serve all, not just a few. All are passionate about giving the people of Clacton a voice and an opportunity to make their lives better.
“There are many electors who feel they have no political home; we aim to offer them a home, and the chance for them to change politics in Clacton for the better. We can only do this with support from the people, so now is the chance for the silent to speak out - we are listening.”[1]

Blairite Executive Committee

Left to Right Nicole El-Safty, Richard Howitt, Sam Atkinson and Ivan Henderson at Clacton CLP's All Members Meeting on 6 October 2016

The former Clacton CLP Executive Committee (EC), re-appointed at the June 2016 AGM, comprised:

The EC should have appointed four ordinary non-voting members to the EC at the June 2015 AGM. As a result of this failure, four ordinary members were not appointed at the June 2016 AGM either.

Filibustering

On Thursday 6 October 2017, Sam Atkinson invited Richard Howitt MEP and her brother-in-law Ivan Henderson to speak at that evening's All Members Meeting in Clacton. There was no Agenda but, disrupting the business of the AMM, Richard Howitt then spoke for an hour and announced that he was standing down as an MEP and would be handing over to Alex Mayer in November. Ivan Henderson spoke for a further 30 minutes, leaving less than 45 minutes for members' business to be conducted (nominations for non-voting EC members and a defamatory Treasurer's report presented in June 2016.

Patrick Haseldine tweeted:

"Nice but lengthy farewell speech, Richard, at the Tendring Stroke Services Centre for the Clacton Labour Party AMM last night.
"Good luck with your new job at the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC).
"Hope you (and Ivan) will now pledge support for Jeremy Corbyn instead of your previous pusillanimity!"[2]

Resignations

On 2 February 2017, four of the EC (understood to be Sam Atkinson, Danielle Atkinson, Chris Bird and Dan Casey) resigned with immediate effect. No reason was given for their resignation.

Nicole El-Safty did not resign, and her partner, Jack Parsons, maintains his refusal to resign his seat on Tendring District Council.

On 4 February 2017, Darren Greenwood, journalist at the Clacton Gazette, emailed Patrick Haseldine:

"Good Evening Patrick,

"These are quite sensational revelations.

"I spoke to Dan Casey about the issue this afternoon and whilst he rejected what you said. Laughing them off, he sounded somewhat cagey as if something is going on.

"He told me he wasn’t allowed to comment on certain matters and i would have to go through their press officer.

"From March to December 2016, I worked in the Clacton office of the Gazette, but am now based in Colchester.

"I know the people concerned and became good mates with Jack Parsons and Nicole El-Safty. But alas the friendship with Jack ended as he did not appreciate what I wrote about his defection to Labour.

"I am sure you can appreciate the inconsistency of a councillor who wants to lead UKIP one month, and has been plotting against its local MP and his group leader, suddenly deciding to jump ship to Labour. The story was too good to ignore.

"My understanding from his former UKIP colleagues is that Jack has had a tough time in Labour, which is confirmed by your reports.

"As this story is dynamite, some people I have told say it is too good to be true. I hope not and we do need to make it stand up."[3]

New Pro-Corbyn EC

Team Corbyn takes charge of Clacton CLP

On 27 February 2017, Eastern Region Director Cameron Scott emailed each member of the Clacton CLP to invite nominations for 6 Executive Officer positions and 4 non-officer EC members and to inform them that the AGM was to be held on 22 March 2017. Eileen Davidson, Chair of the East of England Labour Party, conducted the AGM which commenced with one minute's silence in memory of the victims of the 2017 Westminster attack. The following pro-Corbyn Executive Committee was elected:

  • George Taylor (Chair)
  • Wendy Brown (vice-Chair) – Labour candidate in the 6th April 2017 St James ward Clacton by-election[4]
  • Tracey Osben (vice-Chair, membership)
  • Robert Porter (Secretary) – Labour candidate in the 4th May 2017 Essex County Council elections for the Clacton East division
  • Andy White (Treasurer) – Labour candidate in the 4th May 2017 Essex County Council elections for the Frinton & Walton division[5]
  • Natasha Osben (Women's Officer)
  • Christopher Bailey, Sheila Hammond, David Jones and Danielle White (non-officer EC members)

Coordinators (can attend EC but without voting rights):

  • Chris Bee (Campaigns Coordinator)
  • Dawn Bostock (Equality and Diversity Officer)
  • Victor Graves (Political Education Officer)
  • Norman Jacobs (Press/Communications Officer)
  • Brian Bostock (Trade Union Liaison Officer)
  • Kamil Kolas (Youth Officer)

Delegates to the Essex Local Campaign Forum (ELCF) which oversees the selection process and campaign for the Essex County Council elections:

  • Chris Bee, Wendy Brown, Kamil Kolas and Renata Kolas[6]

Exposed by SKWAWKBOX

On 4 January 2017, the SKWAWKBOX blog reported (wrongly) that the Clacton CLP had been suspended for supporting Jeremy Corbyn:

Following the debacles at Wallasey CLP and Brighton & Hove CLP, the SKWAWKBOX wrote that Clacton CLP in Essex had – in effect – been suspended. This was untrue.

Members of Clacton have told this blog that a vote of no-confidence in the EC was likely to be carried at an ‘All Members Meeting’ (AMM) scheduled for tomorrow – and apparently with considerable justification. The CLP EC includes:

  • Vice-Chair Dan Casey
  • A Chair (Sam Atkinson) who rubbished the decision of two-thirds of CLP members to support Corbyn for last summer’s leadership election – and said she wished for a snap election to be called and Labour to lose, to get rid of the party’s leader;
  • The Chair’s 17-year-old daughter, Danielle;
  • Chris Bird
  • Nicole El-Safty

In order to prevent the much-needed clear-out of the unfit EC, which has been extensively discussed among the members, including on the CLP’s Facebook page, Labour East’s regional director, only today – the day before the meeting – sent this:

All,
I wish to make you aware that I am instructing Clacton CLP officers to cancel the CLP All Members Meeting planned for Thursday 5 January.
Should any meeting go ahead any decisions taken will be considered void.
I would request that the CLP Secretary or other officer emails members to inform them of this asap, and to explain that the instruction has been given by the Labour East Regional Director on the grounds that concerns have been raised with him about the proceedings of the meeting and that no Regional Officer is available to attend.
I have discussed the issue with the Chair of the Labour East Regional Board, Eileen Davidson who is in agreement with this action.
If any member has any queries about this please direct them to email eastern@labour.org.uk whereby a Regional Officer will respond to their query.
I will contact you next week to discuss next steps.
Best wishes,
Cameron Scott
Regional Director
Labour East

While this is not – yet – a formal suspension of the CLP, a key meeting has been summarily cancelled from on high. Not because of anything that has happened, but because of ‘concerns’ about what might be done at the meeting. There are no grounds whatever to assume that there will be any unacceptable behaviour. The only ‘concerns’ will be those of the EC, who are aware that they were likely to be out on their ear via the vote of no-confidence.

Members tell me that they fully expect a formal suspension of the CLP to be imposed soon – as has already happened in Wallasey and Brighton/Hove under similar circumstances. Once is unfortunate. Twice is worrying. Three times is a pattern. It’s clear that we’re seeing a pattern emerge of entrenched, right-wing MPs, Councillors and CLP ECs who will resort to causing the suspension of their local party rather than allow its Corbyn-supporting majority to run it democratically – with the collusion of regional and even national authorities to enable them.

This is, beyond question, bringing the Labour Party into disrepute and the MPs, Councillors or Members responsible should be on administrative suspension pending an investigation to decide whether they should be expelled. The SKWAWKBOX calls on Labour’s NEC (National Executive Committee) to intervene in all these cases and to do so with an independent investigator so that the similar debacles in Wallasey and Brighton are corrected and not repeated in Clacton.

The country needs a Labour Party focused on moving forward and winning – and that requires decisive action against those clinging to positions of power who are prepared to lose elections to protect those positions.[7]

Dissociated by Frinton candidate

Patrick Haseldine congratulates Tory Councillor Pamela Walford

Following the SKWAWKBOX revelations, Patrick Haseldine, Labour candidate in the 2017 Frinton by-election, immediately dissociated himself and his election campaign from the Clacton CLP's EC. None of them was allowed to take part in the campaign, culminating on election day: Thursday 19 January 2017. Undaunted by the prospect of inevitable defeat in the Tory stronghold of Frinton, Haseldine had prepared his victory speech. The Declaration took place at 23:10, Conservative Pamela Walford was declared the winner but, in the absence of any media at the event, declined to speak.[8] This is what Haseldine would have said:

"The voters of Frinton have today responded to my electoral friend request: 'Let’s Be Friends in Frinton'.[9]
"Like the rest of the United Kingdom, Frinton has been needlessly divided after last June’s EU Referendum. A majority voted to Leave, a big minority wanted to Remain and nearly one third Abstained from voting altogether. Scotland and Northern Ireland were Remainers, while England and Wales were Brexiteers. Regions, communities and even families were and are divided. So let’s come together inside the gates, heal our divisions and talk to each other again. Let’s show the rest of the UK outside the gates how to do it!
"Some Frintonians have been quick to challenge me, saying: 'that’s all very well, but what about all the divisions in the Labour Party?'
"My response was that Jeremy Corbyn has been at pains to offer the hand of friendship to his Blairite parliamentary colleagues but they spurned him in 2015 when he was first elected Labour leader, and many continue to do so after Jeremy's re-election as leader with an even greater majority in 2016.
"If these recalcitrant MPs are not prepared to support Jeremy now, then they should step down and cause a by-election – just as happened today in Frinton. The local Constituency Labour Party must then select one of the hundreds of thousands of new members, who are overwhelmingly pro-Corbyn supporters, to replace them. I’m thinking of MPs like Angela Eagle, Owen Smith, Tom Watson, Rachel Reeves (and her brother-in-law John Cryer), John Woodcock, Ruth Smeeth and Wes Streeting. A lot of them belong to Labour Friends of Israel which has a visceral dislike of Corbyn.
But it’s no good if the local CLP’s Executive Committee is similarly anti-Corbyn (like Clacton’s current six-member EC: Sam Atkinson, her daughter Danielle Atkinson, Chris Bird, Dan Casey, Nicole El-Safty and her partner Jack Parsons) who then select another Blairite to replace them.[10] In such a case, the whole Executive Committee should resign immediately and hand over to the new pro-Corbyn membership.
"So let’s heal the divides and be friends in Frinton. Let’s unite inside and outside the gates of Frinton. Let unity break out in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, and we’ll have a Labour government in Next to No Time!"

Support for Corbyn

Seventy members attended an All Members Meeting (AAM) on 11 August 2016 when a vote was taken on which candidate to nominate for the leadership of the Labour Party:

48 (69.57%) nominated Jeremy Corbyn for re-election and 21 (30.43%) nominated Owen Smith (one spoilt ballot).

The result of the 2016 leadership election was announced at a special conference on 24 September 2016:

Total votes: Jeremy Corbyn 313,209 (61.80%), Owen Smith 193,229 (38.20%).[11]

References

  1. "New Clacton Labour Party Team ‘to serve all’"
  2. "Nice but lengthy farewell speech, Richard
  3. "UKIP's Jack Parsons defects to Labour scandal: Clacton Gazette says story is "dynamite'"
  4. "Five candidates nominated for St James Ward"
  5. "Essex County Council Labour Candidates for 2017"
  6. "New Executive Committee elected"
  7. "SKWAWKBOX Exposé"
  8. "Declaration of Frinton by-election result"
  9. "Let's Be Friends in Frinton"
  10. "NOW CLACTON #LABOUR ‘SUSPENDED’ FOR SUPPORTING #CORBYN"'
  11. "Labour Leadership Election 2016"