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Ian Davidson

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2017 Frinton by-election Declaration by Returning Officer Ian Davidson

Ian Davidson is Chief Executive and Returning Officer for Tendring District Council.[1]

TDC election irregularities

On 27 January 2017, Patrick Haseldine sent this email to Ian Davidson, Chief Executive of Tendring District Council:

Dear Returning Officer,

As you know, I stood as the Labour Party candidate in the Frinton by-election that was held on 19 January 2017. A video of the Declaration is available here:

I have to inform you of a number of irregularities in relation to the 2017 Frinton by-election and to the St Paul's by-election on 5 May 2016.

2017 Frinton by-election

On Sunday 18 December 2016 Nicole El-Safty, vice-Chair of Clacton Constituency Labour Party, arranged for her grandparents who live in Frinton to propose and second a blank nomination paper. On Monday 19 December 2016, I was informed that, although I'd been a Labour party member for over twenty years (1990-2007), I hadn't been a member for the prescribed 12 months continuous period to qualify as a candidate. Also since I'd never been a union member, which was another qualification, Labour's Eastern Region would have to approve my candidature.

Nicole telephoned me at 10:00am on Tuesday 20 December 2016 to say that Region were happy for me to stand, and I should come and sign the nomination papers. At 10:30am my wife and I drove to Clacton and visited Ms El-Safty, and met her partner the former UKIP - now Labour - Councillor Jack Parsons, who helped me fill in the nomination paper that two days earlier had been signed by Nicole's grandparents - who I have never met! Cllr Parsons witnessed my signature and said he was waiting to hear from Labour's Eastern Region to get the Certificate of authority signed. Jack suggested I should leave the nomination papers with him and offered to deliver them to the Town Hall before the 4:00pm deadline. I declined the offer because I didn't trust him, and also because I had brought along a covering letter addressed to the Returning Officer.

My wife and I took the incomplete nomination papers to Alison Rowlands at the Town Hall at midday, saying that Region would email the authorisation before the deadline. Alison told us that an email was not acceptable, it had to be an original signature. She suggested that Sam Atkinson, Chair of Clacton CLP, could be Labour's authorised signatory. Back we went to see Jack (Nicole had gone to work) who then telephoned Region (no response) and Sam Atkinson (no response). Jack finally got through to Chris Bird (Treasurer and acting Secretary) of Clacton CLP and explained that Region had not yet authorised anyone to sign the certificate, but could he nonetheless sign and get Region's authority later. Chris Bird agreed, and my wife and I walked to his address in Marine Parade East. So, technically, when Chris signed my papers at 13:30 he was not the "party's registered Nominating Officer (or person authorised by the registered Nominating Officer." I am given to understand that Region's authority was received before the 16:00 hours deadline, but I have not seen a copy of it. We handed in the completed papers to Rachel Tappenden at 14:00 hours.

2016 St Paul's by-election

The whole Executive Committee of the Clacton CLP were reported to have been involved in the 2016 St Paul's by-election scandal, reported in a SKWAWKBOX article dated 4 January 2017. The "weak Labour candidate in the St Paul's by-election", Chris Bird, was represented by his agent, Joe Freebody, who was Secretary of the Clacton CLP until August 2016.

Exposed by SKWAWKBOX Tendring News Channel interviews UKIP defector Jack Parsons (9 December 2016): On 4 January 2017, the SKWAWKBOX blog reported that the Clacton CLP had been suspended for supporting Jeremy Corbyn:

Following the debacles at Wallasey CLP and Brighton & Hove CLP, the SKWAWKBOX has learned that Clacton CLP in Essex has – in effect – been suspended because its Executive Committee (EC) – which consists more or less entirely of right-wingers – feel their positions are threatened by the steadfast support of the majority of its members for Jeremy Corbyn.

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:

One member (Dan Casey) who claimed, just last month, to have deliberately fielded a weak council-election candidate (Chris Bird) just so a UKIP candidate would win because the EC member ‘knew’ that the winning UKIP Councillor (Jack Parsons) would ‘jump’ to Labour. Hard to believe, but it’s right from the horse’s (or ass’) mouth;
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;
The ‘weak’ council candidate (Chris Bird) who, if the above claim is to be believed, stood in order to lose;
Another EC member (Nicole El-Safty) who is in a relationship with the former UKIP councillor (Jack Parsons) in whose favour the party apparently ‘threw’ the recent council ward election.

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:

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 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."

Thorough investigation

I should be grateful if you would conduct a thorough investigation into these two by-elections, and institute proceedings where offences may have been committed.

Please acknowledge receipt of this email, which I am copying to the media and to Eileen Davidson, Chair of Labour's Eastern Region. (I assume Eileen is not related, Ian!)

Thank you,

Yours faithfully,

Patrick Haseldine