H&K campaigns officer warns: Stop smearing us!

I GUESS that escalated quickly.

What was reported in the Camden New Journal and on these pages as mumbling and muttering has now become full-scale heckling. This after the Peeps story about five or so people at a recent Labour Party meeting in the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency being unwilling to take part in a minute’s silence for Dame Tessa Jowell leapt onto the websites of the Daily Mail, The Sun and so on. The resistance did happen, but it seems to get louder with each re-telling.

Meanwhile, former council leader Sarah Hayward has called, says, via Twitter, natch, there is a case for the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency to be suspended, while the left-wing of the party have been roundly blamed in a thousand tweets all day.

Rather than just lift lines from us, the Evening Standard has made its own calls to some local Labour figures, and the party’s constituency secretary Helen Brown tells the paper: “The serious incident will not be ignored and shall be dealt with accordingly.”

The coverage has led to a complaint from Rebecca Shirazi, the party’s campaigns officer who it is understood has e-mailed the constituency chairman, the recently elected Leao Neto, and other organisers demanding that they do more to crack down on leaks… hang on, maybe, I shouldn’t be blogging this. 

“The above article in the Evening Standard has been brought to my attention,” Ms Shirazi, who stood in Frognal and Fitzjohns at the council elections earlier this month, has said in a private email this afternoon, which has already been shared beyond its initial list of addressees. “Please, can we add this to the agenda to discuss at EC [Executive Committee]  – it is completely unacceptable to be briefing the press in this way, especially when the allegations in the article are false/exaggerated and deeply damaging for the party not only locally but also nationally.”

It added: “A small minority of our membership in Hampstead & Kilburn are repeatedly briefing against us to the press after GC [General Committee] meetings, with false and exaggerated versions of the meeting. These smears are intentional and directed at members on the left of the party, specifically targetted to undermine public confidence in us.”

The message goes on to complain that it is “inappropriate” for former councillor Phil Rosenberg to comment because he was not at the meeting. It also alludes to some internal pushback around his decision to write about the details of private constituency meetings in blogs and articles before; you’ll remember he did so the name of exposing local anti-semitism.

As it goes, we’ve also had people virtually live-tweet from meetings before, so from the outside it’s not immediately clear what the rules or disciplinary code is on all of this, but given Labour’s domination of local politics in Camden you can’t blame a journalist for trying to piece together what goes on behind its closed doors doors.

Ms Shirazi’s email adds: “Helen, you’re quoted too, if complaints have been made you need to follow the proper process and the complaints should be brought in front of the whole EC and not sensationalised in the national tabloids.”

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