Conor McGinn, Labour MP for St Helens North, has been embroiled in a row within his local constituency Labour party (CLP) – after reporting a group of members to the police and publicising it in an article for Politics Home. Evidence has come to light that McGinn’s claims may form part of a continued smear campaign against the progressive wing of the party.
McGinn, who has received some notoriety of late – firstly being accused by Sky News of instigating the attempted Labour coup, and then tweeting that Jeremy Corbyn had threatened to “call his Dad” – said in the article that:
Jeremy’s supporters have subjected me […] to a torrent of abuse and threats. In my constituency, a group of people gained access to my shared office building under false pretences and filmed themselves protesting outside the door […] in an incident that has been reported to the police. They threatened to disrupt my surgeries and events I was attending, requiring me to have a police presence at those last weekend.
But The Canary has learned that McGinn appears to be following in the footsteps of his colleague Angela Eagle. That is, exaggerating the truth somewhat. Speaking exclusively but anonymously to The Canary, several members who were present at the time of the alleged “protest” tell a different story.
According to witnesses, on 7 July at around 7pm, 10 female members of the Labour party arrived at McGinn’s office at Century House in St Helens. The women were strangers to each other, and had arrived independently. They’d chosen to attend after being told by local councillors that a CLP meeting was taking place there, and a vote of confidence in Jeremy Corbyn was to be held. St Helens CLP operate a “General Committee” system; that means that delegates from branch parties and affiliated groups are nominated to be representatives, and not all members have a right to vote.
The women that wanted to attend were aware of this, however as one told The Canary:
We can’t vote but we could attend to listen, and that’s all we wanted to do was listen to their reasoning as we already knew which way the vote would go.
Having been advised that there was a meeting going on, and directed to the appropriate room, one member said:
We went up to the room and the lights were on. We knocked but there was no answer, so we waited a few minutes – and then the lights went out. We kept knocking but nobody responded. After repeatedly trying we went down spoke to security. They had no clue so we left and all stood outside talking for a while.