Angela Eagle quit the Labour leadership race, but she left a time bomb to detonate behind her

Steve Topple

Angela Eagle might have only served as a stalking horse in the Labour leadership race and now quit, but she left a time bomb to detonate in her wake.

Eagle’s constituency Labour party (CLP) was suspended on Wednesday – amid allegations of “bullying” and “intimidation”.

Wallasey CLP recently voted in favour of a motion to support embattled Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and has now had its administrative operations taken over by the North West regional branch of the party, which says:

Any complaints of bullying or intimidation and allegations of misconduct are always taken very seriously.

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An email passed to The Canary which was sent from Iain McNicol, general secretary of the Labour party, to members of Wallasey CLP’s executive committee stated:

A number of allegations have been brought to the attention of the national officers of the Labour party involving recent meetings of Wallasey CLP. These allegations relate to the conduct of Labour party members both during and outside Labour party meetings. The Labour party takes allegations of abusive behaviour very seriously.

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While no specific incidents were mentioned, the allegations have apparently been made in the “last few days”. And this is where the situation gets somewhat odd.

Wallasey CLP held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 24 June, and had a meeting of its Executive Committee on 11 July. No further formal meetings have been held since.

Previous allegations against Wallasey CLP

As The Canary previously reported, former Labour MP Tessa Jowell accused Wallasey CLP of allowing alleged homophobic slurs against Eagle to go unquestioned. Jowell claimed that in a meeting of Eagle’s CLP, the latter:

faced homophobic abuse at that meeting. Talk to MPs all around the country, under the influence of Momentum, activists, members of parliament and their staff are facing day in, day out harassment and – in some cases – intimidation.

But the chair of Wallasey CLP said that Eagle hadn’t even been present at the meeting in question, and denied that any such abuse took place. Considering her daughter got married the next day to her longtime (female) partner, it’s probable that the CLP chair’s word is better than Jowell’s.

The Canary spoke to Wallasey CLP’s secretary, Kathy Miller, who also confirmed that these allegations were baseless. And she has a gay son, who she’s openly campaigned with for LGBTQ+ rights.

Miller said:

I find it very strange that these allegations have only come up recently. The CLP came out in support of Corbyn, and these allegations have only surfaced since then. I just find it very odd. Strange.

Eagle’s ill-fated campaign for Labour leader was dogged by accusations of manipulating events for political leverage.

On top of the seemingly false allegations of homophobic abuse, Eagle claimed that a question and answer session at a hotel had to be cancelled due to the venue receiving threat. But this was untrue.

She also claimed that her constituency office window had been smashed by Corbyn supporters. But it wasn’t her window, and there is no evidence that the perpetrators were linked to Corbyn.

A pattern of local pro-Corbyn parties being suspended

This is not the first CLP to be suspended after coming out in support of the Labour leader.

Last week, Brighton and Hove district Labour party (DLP) was also suspended, amid allegations of an incident at its AGM. This came amid, again, a vote of confidence in Corbyn, and elections which saw the local party install a pro-Corbyn executive committee – against a group of Progress-affiliated councillors. The same thing has happened to Manchester Gorton CLP, with the same reasons cited as those in Brighton and Hove.

A local member of Wallasey CLP, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Canary:

The next Wallasey CLP meeting was due this Friday (22 July). It was called off last week due to the national ban on CLP meetings. However, because New Brighton branch (my branch and one of six branches within Wallasey CLP) met up informally last week, they may have been worried Wallasey CLP would do same (although I certainly hadn’t heard anything). At New Brighton branch, gathering people still debated and informal votes were held, overwhelmingly in favour of Corbyn. They may not have wanted to risk the same happening at CLP so acted now.

Minutes from the New Brighton branch meeting were given to The Canary:

Wallasey minutes

The member of the CLP also said that:

Angela Eagle & Jeremy Corbyn supporters from New Brighton branch of Wallasey CLP went for drinks Tuesday evening. No fights, abuse, or slurs. It was excellent.

While there is no denying that any allegations of misconduct, abuse or intimidation must be taken very seriously, there appears to be a theme with these CLP suspensions.

Both secretaries of Brighton and Hove DLP and Wallasey CLP have told The Canary that regular procedure in the case of complaints about abuse or conduct in their branch has not been followed.

It would be normal for the executive committee of a branch to investigate allegations themselves, first – by appointing three members to look into events and report back. In the case of both Brighton and Hove and Wallasey, the national Labour party has immediately intervened and suspended the branches.

To an outsider, it may appear that the national party is, as many are saying, trying to silence local pro-Corbyn organisations.

Whether this is true or not remains to be seen.

But with events like these, and the controversial restrictions that have been imposed around voting in the leadership elections, the national party is not painting a very pretty picture of itself.

Democracy and free speech would appear to be fine – but only if the national Labour party says so.

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