HAMPSTEAD and Kilburn’s constituency Labour Party were last night and today vehemently denying new stories of anti-semitism, insisting that several affiliates – not just the Jewish Labour Movement – saw delegates told that they would be unable to vote at Thursday’s annual general meeting.
It all blew up after the former council leader Sarah Hayward tweeted: “It has been reported to me that JLM (yes, the Jewish Labour Movement) delegates to Hampstead & Kilburn GC were *barred* from taking part in its AGM last night. If this is true
@JennieGenSec needs to investigate urgently to find out why and if reasons were valid. Looks awful.”
I read this and thought does this mean people had been stopped from voting because they were from JLM or even because they were Jewish? It doesn’t actually say that and asks for ‘valid reasons’ to be investigated.
But, as is the nature of social media, it seemed like lots of other people translated the tweet in a similar way too, it’s a live issue after all. And this latest episode in the increasingly fractious Labour relations in H&K swiftly jumped from the usual Twitter to and fro and onto the print pixels of the Guardian, which reports: Local Labour parties drawn into row over antisemitism claims.
Ms Hayward, who called for the constituency to be suspended last year, later added tweets that explained that other groups had seen their delegates stopped from voting, and, as the social media whirlwind grew faster, reminded followers that she had caveated her first report as an if true tweet. This led to some of her responders to ask whether she had contacted the CLP with her concerns before taking the public step of social media.
She has, it should be noted, not accused anyone or the CLP of anti-semitism; others have done that. “My motives are [to] restore the Labour to party of equality,” she said when asked online.
Adam Langleben, the former Barnet councillor who has quit the party over Labour’s handling of anti-semitism, however, has tweeted that the CLP’s explanation will not hold water when scrutinised further.
In response, organisers in H&K are pretty dismayed with how this is all being treated by some as a racist move or even a move against a group which is at odds with Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, pointing out that delegates from trade unions who are loyal to the leader were also told they could not participate and were said to be equally disappointed.
“A number of other trade unions and societies didn’t pay on time or didn’t pay fully so could not send any delegates or could not send as many as they wanted,” the CLP’s own account tweeted. “All unions and societies were treated equally, according to the CLP standing orders and the Party’s rule book.”
As a result, some members are saying if JLM or any other group was told it was in arrears or had not paid enough to qualify for more delegates, then this was a jobsworth, stickler to some rule or another, rather than a malicious attempt to exclude one group – a Jewish one – from participating.
The line that Jewish women were elected to be chair, vice-chair and fund-raising officer in Hampstead and Kilburn is also circulating among those who say the constituency is being unfairly connected to the anti-semitism controversy within Labour.
2. Minutes of AGM March 2018.
Agreed. No matters arising.
Point of order: XXX introduced himself as the CLP Trade Union Liaison Officer. He reported to the meeting that in the last 24 hours, delegates were told that they couldn’t vote today and half of the Unison delegation could not vote.
Katharine Bligh (Chair) explained that four or five socialist organisations or Trade Unions had sent imperfect information about delegates.
She thanked XXX and XXX for their hard work in collecting the information together. She had contacted Unions and societies and received replies very late, one cheque had been sent to the wrong place, one affiliation had paid for just one delegate, one affiliation was in arrears, they were not all compliant with the rules. Katharine had been trying to sort it out.
Katharine was very sorry when she discovered that some delegates hadn’t been paid for.
XXX had been receiving cheques in February and the deadline was January 24th. Katharine was upset to discover that two delegates from XXX’s Union were not eligible to vote. It is up to the Union to inform us about their delegates. Even tonight, she had spoken to two people.
XXX said that it was more than two people. Katharine said that she had been emailing secretaries from the Trade Unions, and thanked XXX and XXX for their hard work.
Point of order: XXX asked when affiliations were informed of the deadline. Katharine replied that there is a deadline, which was not met.
XXX said that this was important for democracy and how many delegates were ineligible. Katharine replied that it was less than ten.
It is unlikely to end in the black and white of the minutes.
Even without the element of accusations about Jewish members being stopped from taking part, there are protests about what should and should not have happened. Even if less than ten delegates (see above) were wrongly – on procedural rules – stopped from taking part, it might have affected the outcome given the chair was eventually elected by a handful of votes.
But organisers are very, very adamant that basic rules were simply being followed on arrears, delegate numbers and later gender balance voting, and challenges to the final outcome will not succeed. The backlash among some, it has been suggested privately, has come from those who just did not like the near clean sweep for left-wingers at the AGM elections.
All this, without even getting onto the raised voices, shouting, heckling and aggression which apparently unfolds at these meetings. The neighbours of the Kingsgate Community Centre have generously not yet filed a noise complaint.