Kathy Runswick

Wallasey suspended!

Kathy Runswick
Wallasey suspended!

BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS it will be out of date. Who knows what the next allegation against members of Wallasey CLP will be? Witchcraft perhaps? But as I write this, there doesn’t seem to be a single specific allegation against a named person, as is required by the Labour Party procedures.

What we do have is an orchestrated smear campaign, in close co-operation with the anti-Corbyn media, which is dragging the name of the whole Labour Party through the mud.

The homophobia allegations first appeared 11 days after the Wallasey AGM meeting on 24th June which asked Angela Eagle to back Jeremy. On the Daily Politics show on 5th July about Angela’s challenge, Rhea Wolfson pointed out that Angela’s CLP had backed Jeremy. Baroness Jowell responded, “I’ve spoken to Angela about her meeting. Angela faced homophobia at that meeting”. Except that’s not really a response is it? It’s changing the subject, implying that the reason that Wallasey CLP backed Jeremy is because we are homophobic. This CLP nominated Jeremy for leader last year, alongside Angela for deputy leader. When our AGM met, Angela was still in the Shadow Cabinet, and was being supportive of Jeremy - or so we thought! Our AGM voted to ask me to write to her, asking her to reject the motion of no confidence. Angela wasn’t even at the meeting and so could not have “faced homophobic abuse”.

As an active trade unionist all my adult life, I would never dismiss an allegation out of hand - unless it was obviously untrue, like Baroness Jowell’s claim. Each and every allegation should be independently investigated in detail, with the evidence for and against examined.

However it is hard to believe that in a small room crammed full of 44 Labour Party members, someone used a really offensive homophobic term about our MP and no one said or did anything at the time, or for the next week and a half. In the absence of anything specific, we are all being smeared by this allegation. It is particularly offensive to me and the new CLP Secretary. My youngest daughter self identifies as “queer” (I still struggle to use that term). She has written in the New Statesman about how supportive her parents have been. When they picked “homophobia”, presumably Angela and her supporters didn’t know that I had been mother of one of the brides at my daughter’s wedding the day after the AGM. Or that the new Secretary is a long standing campaigner for LGBTQ rights, alongside her gay son.

More recently, misogyny has been added to the charges by Angela. Our AGM elected a majority of women to the key CLP posts, and finished with an entirely female top table of Chair, Secretary and Treasurer.

The CLP has now been suspended and Wallasey members denied a leadership nomination meeting. Some local members think this is a political move, designed to prevent our CLP from nominating Jeremy, which would undermine Angela and her support for Owen Smith. I am being asked if administrative measures are being used for factional political advantage, either by elected officials or party officials. If so, the NEC must stop that.

This is Merseyside, so the situation has not been without its humour. After the massive Corbyn rally in Liverpool I saw this text: “Oh no! So many New Brighton members on the bus home, we are in danger of breaching the ban on meetings”. It’s been weird, with Granada and Newsnight filming in my kitchen.

Our spirits are high and we are confident that a thorough independent enquiry will establish the truth. If any allegations are true, there should be disciplinary action. If the allegations are malicious and vexatious, then the Labour Party procedures are clear - that is a disciplinary offence.

So what next? When CLPs are allowed to meet again, please consider putting motions calling for a full and independent enquiry into all the allegations, and for the lifting of the suspension of Wallasey CLP. Send these to the NEC with a copy to me via Wirralmomentum@btinternet.com.

was elected as Chair of Wallasey CLP at
its recent AGM.