Angela Eagle MP’s apparent smear campaign against her own Constituency Labour Party (CLP) members was reinvigorated recently across the mainstream media. An internal party report has backed her claims that she was subject to homophobic abuse by Wallasey CLP.
But a number of Eagle’s CLP members aren’t having it. They are taking action in the form of a crowdfunded campaign to sue the former Labour leadership hopeful for defamation. Numerous Wallasey CLP members are outraged at Eagle’s claims, which they say amount to allegations of hate crimes, along with the implication that local officers may have facilitated such ‘abuse’.
One local party member told SKWAWKBOX:
Angela appears to have forgotten that Parliamentary privilege (protection from legal action for MPs under certain circumstances for things said during parliamentary proceedings) does not extend to party hearings or to things said outside official proceedings at Westminster. She is therefore liable for defamation of character if she makes untrue accusations and is not simply free to make things up for whatever purposes she has in mind. We’ve been slurred as a group, but also as individuals, as the expulsion and other sanctions threatened by Angela against members clearly show.
A number of Wallasey CLP members are presently taking legal advice with the aim to sue the Labour Disputes Panel and Eagle personally. The planned crowdfunded campaign was inspired by the five Labour members who took legal action against the party for the arbitrary, mass disenfranchisement of over 130,000 members during the leadership election.
Trumpeted in the mainstream media, the internal report supports all of Eagle’s claims of abuse. But, like her original allegations, it offers no evidence.
Back in mid-July, Eagle faced a no-confidence vote from her CLP that was expected to be carried by a landslide. A meeting the week before had set the tone, as her CLP passed “a motion of support for Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour party… with an overwhelming majority”. But just before the no-confidence vote was undertaken, the Wallasey MP claimed she had received homophobic abuse from members. As a result, CLP meetings were suspended, meaning the vote could not take place.
The report calls for the suspension of Wallasey CLP to continue. Yet it gives no evidence for allegations of homophobic abuse, other than claims some unnamed members have “truthfully” confirmed it.
But the chair of Wallasey CLP said that Eagle wasn’t even present at the meeting in question, and denied that any such abuse took place. Shocked at the allegations, the chair’s daughter (who is gay) penned an article in the New Statesman, stating categorically that no “complaint of homophobia” was “raised in her absence”.
The report also deals with a separate allegation made by Eagle. She suggested that a brick was thrown through her constituency office window as part of a string of incidents carried out in Jeremy Corbyn’s name, in response to her leadership challenge against him.
Again, the report offers no evidence that the brick was directed at Eagle or that it was politically motivated. But it concludes that accusations she has been lying are “categorically untrue” and says it is “highly likely” it was politically motivated. On the contrary, video footage shows the broken window was on a communal stairwell. And while the Companies House register shows that five businesses operate out of the same address as Eagle’s office, the Labour report says it’s only the party and the building’s landlord there. But, again, no evidence to prove this assertion is offered. Furthermore, there was no political messaging or any indication it was a Corbyn supporter.
Eagle’s record on the truth
If Eagle is twisting the truth when it comes to her allegations, it wouldn’t be the first time she appears to have fabricated abuse. In mid-July, she claimed a hotel had cancelled a Labour meeting because it had received threats. But a statement from the hotel later revealed that it was cancelled only because the company was unaware of the “nature” of the meeting.
Eagle’s record on the truth is quite rocky. She needed virtually no evidence to vote for the Iraq war, and now she appears to need none to demonise her own party members.
Fortunately, grassroots members are taking action. Let’s hope the crowdfunded campaign is up and running soon.
– Support The Canary so we can continue to bring you the context to the news that matters.
– Write to your MP to express any discontent.
– Pledge to take direct action.
Featured image via screengrab
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?