EXCLUSIVE : The runners and riders in the race to be the next MP for Birkenhead

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Red silks all the way in a two horse race?

16th February 2019 could be the most the most significant date in Birkenhead’s  political history in the last 40 years. Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP) have started the process of finding a replacement for Frank Field – the man who has been the town’s MP since 1979 – and this Saturday will see a special meeting take place where a Selection Committee will vote on who will be the parliamentary candidate at the next General Election.

So let’s have a look at who is in the running for £77k (plus expenses) prize that comes with being first past the post:
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Whilst we understand that Frank Field is a non-runner following his withdrawal of the Labour whip and can no longer be considered a candidate we just hope that someone has checked the rule book when it comes to running for selection-  just in case there’s a Steward’s Enquiry when the result is announced. We say this as a journalist at New Statesman recently wrote this :

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Therefore assuming that Field is out of the race who are jockeying for position to be riding high as the Labour candidate in one of the safest seats in the UK ?

Well first off in stall 1 and running in the ‘Maomentum ‘ colours is Tony ‘Tight Fit’ Norbury, local councillor for Prenton and scion of the so-called Wirral ‘hard left’. He has a favourite’s chance due to his ‘comrade’ John Maher and that latter’s control of the Birkenhead CLP and consequently the make up of the  Selection Committee.  Under these circumstances Norbury would appear to be the front runner…

Norbury scarf

However in stall 2 running Norbury close will be Mick Whitley in the Unite colours . We recently introduced you to him here and reported

Mr Whitley, formerly a long-standing convener at the Vauxhall car plant in nearby Ellesmere Port, was born in the area and is the former north-west regional secretary of the Unite union.

He has gained the support of Momentum, which holds a powerful presence in north-west England, while left-wing MPs such as John McDonnell, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Dan Carden have voiced their support.

The local branches of Unite, FBU, RMT, BFAWU and Aslef have also formally endorsed Mr Whitley’s candidacy.

Thus far ,despite living in Wirral (but not in Birkenhead?), Whitley has, up until now, not had a local political (or media) profile. However now that Unite’s Regional Political Officer,Alison Spencer Scragg, is running his campaign (and pulling the reins) Whitley has taken a sudden interest in turning up at food banks,demos and picket lines and making sure he’s seen to be doing so on his Twitter account which was only set up in November 2018…

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Jez ‘n’ Mick

Finally, in stall 3 we have the token filly in the race. Theresa ‘I’m not Tony or Mick’  Griffin is running in the colours of  the EU flag/Unison/GMB. The clock is ticking on MEP Griffin as she looks like being out of a job by the end of next month unless Brexit is halted or delayed. Fresh from her defeat in the selection in Walton in 2017 we predict Theresa will again aim to be the token woman on the shortlist and hope that following her defeat she may make it third time lucky and actually win in Liverpool Riverside when their trigger ballot happens and current Labour incumbent Louise Ellman is ousted.  Consequently Griffin’s half-hearted attempt to become the next MP for Birkenhead has thus far amounted to nothing more than taking a sudden interest in Birkenhead’s flyovers :

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Thus a Labour insider sums up the current selection process situation for us as follows :

There will also be several local also rans who will no doubt throw their caps into the ring but in truth the members of Birkenhead CLP will have a choice between Tony Norbury or Mick Whitley, which will be akin to them being asked if they would like to be stabbed or burned to death.  Ah thank God for a new and kinder politics……

 

EXCLUSIVE : A Clean Sweep for the New Momentum Broom in Birkenhead CLP

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… but all is not as rosy as it may seem. For a start it would seem that former Wirral councillor Louise Reecejones (LRJ) – No. 6 in the above picture –  is back in a position of power and influence as Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP) ‘ Diversity Officer’ . Yes, the same LRJ who was as you can read here was removed as Secretary of Disability Labour earlier this year as Labour Party members had deemed her position had become ‘untenable and unworkable’.

However we leave the expert analysis to a Labour Party insider who attended the Birkenhead CLP Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Friday 28 September . Whilst we’ve always maintained that the only way that the local Labour Party could rehabilitate itself locally ,having been brought so low by a corrupt cabal , was by its own members holding them to account. The jury is out on whether these latest developments are the way forward. As you can see it’s a view that is shared by ‘Red Eye’ our eyewitness at the Birkenhead CLP AGM :

So, it was a clean sweep for the Left with the old guard well and truly swept aside.
Predictably there was much self-congratulation going around on the Left. Some of it deserved but perhaps satisfaction rather than congratulations was more appropriate.

There is no question that Corbyn has caused there to be a dramatic increase in
membership in Birkenhead; it has more than doubled. But this has not translated to increased attendance at meetings – to be fair not an uncommon feature across
England and Wales.

Friday’s success was claimed by John Maher, Birkenhead CLP Secretary, the self-styled leader of the purge, as a masterclass in organisation.

The real reason for Friday night’s success was not down to some Left-wing uprising but down to a dramatic collapse in the old guard/opposition to the Left when compared to the previous year. Last year the ‘old guard’ attracted 80-100 votes compared to around 70 for the Left. But on Friday whilst the Left’s vote was broadly unchanged from the previous year the old-guard’s vote fell to around 40 or so.

No doubt the direction of the Labour Party nationally has heartened local socialists.The truth is that the Wirral ‘old guard’ are in disarray. Disheartened Blairites, the old guard councillor club and St Frank Field fan club are waving the white flag. For them accountability is an ugly word and they would rather remain at arm’s length from the accountability that party activists are beginning to demand.

So, it seems we are at last beginning to a new broom sweeping through Labour locally. Perhaps that is no bad thing as there is surely many decent and earnest people are amongst them. But there are some warnings signs too and grumbles are beginning to emerge.

As reported recently in the national Press, John Maher, self-styled leader of the group has a somewhat chequered history of party allegiance and embrace of democracy. As  Wirral Leaks  reported in 2016 here Maher has his own way of doing things and isn’t best pleased if you disagree with him. The prize at stake in Birkenhead is of course the Parliamentary Candidature. The NEC has given the go ahead for Birkenhead to proceed with an open selection.

John Maher has made no secret that Cllr Tony Norbury is his man for the job. Cllr Norbury has been quick to defend Maher when accusations of bullying and intimidation have been made by old guard councillors in the national Press. They seem to be a formidable tag team. So, is it a forgone conclusion that Cllr Norbury will become the MP? Will anyone have the temerity to challenge the anointing of Norbury? Will the resurgent Left in Birkenhead have a democratic choice of socialist candidates or will they do as Maher tells them? The prize is indeed great. Let’s hope they choose wisely and from a wide field of worthy candidates

Red Eye

Who are the real ‘Red Menace’ ?

Red Menace

Thanks to those who have got in touch with reactions to some rabid stories which have appeared in both the local and national press concerning the ongoing melodrama within the local Labour Party (and specifically Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party).

First there was the Wirral Globe front page story which was headlined : ‘Death Threats made to to Birkenhead MP Frank Field‘ although the article provides no examples of such threats being made on social media. Tweets wishing someone is dead may not be very nice but they still doesn’t constitute a death threat. Consequently the article just provides Frankenfield the opportunity to resurrect memories of Militant Tendency that resemble nothing more than McCarthyite-era fears of reds under the bed .

This ‘Red Menace’ theme was expanded on yesterday at great length in what can only be described as another piss-poor piece of scaremongering even by The Daily Mail’s risible standards under the headline :

How the hard left is reclaiming Merseyside: Three decades after Derek Hatton made them unelectable, Corbynistas are forcing Labour moderates from their heartlands

This week local Labour Party Secretary  John Maher and Labour councillor Tony Norbury are featured after last week’s Frank Field inspired press tsunami which starred his superannuated political groupie Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ McLaughlin playing a supporting role as a ‘witness’ to a bullying incident that she heard about secondhand on Twitter.  It didn’t stop The Sunday Times  publishing the story as ‘fact’. Whereas the sad fact in all this is the press attention that is being given to these no-marks for the former’s political ends and the latter’s personal ends.

Read it for yourself and make up your own mind: here

Having said that we’re inclined to believe some of what is written about Maher as needless to say we’ve featured him on Wirral Leaks before . Once again how prescient of us to write in 2016 about this Labour -turned Green-turned Red again political chameleon :

From what we can gather about his behaviour within the Green Party is that if he’s true to his “principles” it won’t be long before he falls out with his suddenly rekindled allegiances within the local  Labour Party  – as it’s a case of Maher-way or the highway.

Read more here :   A Maher-vellous Result for Labour 

However much of what is claimed in the Daily Mail shock horror probe about Maher is all a bit ‘meh’ .  Among the anonymous reports about him making people feel ‘incredibly uncomfortable’ there is this hilarious quote :

I was a police officer prior to re-joining the Labour Party and have been trained in reading body language when in confrontational situations. To me it was clear that the body language displayed by both John Maher and [a friend] was clearly threatening…

Meanwhile regurgitated from last week’s scare stories published elsewhere there’s patronising tales of Maher and Norbury upsetting the Labour ‘laydeez’ with their belligerent ways. All of the above conduct has apparently been reported to Andy Smith the Labour Party’s top official in the North-West by a group of six Labour politicians who plotted, sorry, met with Smith one Saturday at Birkenhead Town Hall (somebody needs to tell Daily Mail it’s not the Wirral Council HQ but again why let a lack of local knowledge get in the way of cutting edge investigative journalism?)

Who are the unnamed ‘Gang of Six’ we ask ourselves? We’d go for  Birkenhead MP  Frank Field , Cllr George Davies (of course), Cllr Phil Davies , Cllr Moira McLaughlin,  Cllr Steve Foulkes , Cllr Brian Kenny  or Cllr Jean Stapleton  (you may have your own pick of the politicians – let us know) .

PuppetMaster

Whoever they were they were complaining about an ‘an orchestrated campaign to remove long-standing and hard-working’ Labour officials in which ‘suggestions have been made that people are corrupt and ineffective’

We have to say that this is something we can wholeheartedly get with. What’s more we think that knowing what he knows about the local Labour cabal Maher has been rather restrained – and yes, Mr Maher we have seen the emails which contain similar information to that which was sent to Anna Hutchinson – Regional Director of Labour North West.

Under the circumstances is there a more sickening, hypocritical spectacle than Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies whinging that ‘Bullying is a serious issue, and to have it ignored like this just beggars belief.  Isn’t this someone who was part of a small gang of Labour politicians who tried (and failed) to suppress allegations of a bullying culture at Wirral Council which we maintain persists to this day? And could this be the same ‘gang’ who are now feigning victimhood about being ‘bullied’ themselves? We think the people of Wirral should be told – and fear not Wirral Leaks will be telling ALL very soon…

… and finally in light of the information contained in the Daily Mail  article can we say the most offensive thing we could identify was the sight of Derek Hatton’s mullet!

 

Exclusive : Will Frank Field have the Labour Whip withdrawn?

Local Labour Party leakers have provided details of a particular interesting item on the agenda at the next meeting of Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP) . As you can see item 5 concerns a motion about Birkenhead MP Frank Field and his recent voting behaviour in the House of Commons which we reported here : Brexit Quiz

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What makes the motion even more intriguing is that it emanates from the Labour stronghold of Bidston & St James and what makes it positively fascinating is that the Chair of that branch is none other than former Wirral Leaks regular Louise Reecejones (aka LRJ) . And so it would appear that LRJ’s ‘retirement’ from local politics was a particularly brief episode and as we all know hell hath no fury than a woman who was previously suspended by the local Labour Party.

Here we present Bidston & St James Branch motion in full submitted by Secretary Brian Parsons (only addresses and contact details have been omitted)

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Not only is the request for ” The withdrawal of The Labour Whip from Frank Field MP” of particular interest as this means that that the MP would be effectively expelled from the party (but keeps his seat) and must sit as an independent until the whip is restored but also the revelation that Frankenfield  refuses to attend Birkenhead CLP monthly meetings. The latter news comes as no surprise to us as we’ve regularly commented on his highhandedness and reluctance to put himself in any position where he’s challenged or held accountable. What’s more they should know by now that their constituency MP is far too busy writing for The S*n or taking advantage – and we use the term advisedly – of photo opportunities at foodbanks and the like to grace the Birkenhead CLP with his celestial presence.

Along with the news that six Labour councillors have received written warnings after they abstained at a recent Wirral Council meeting we are particularly pleased to report that even if Field doesn’t get the Labour Whip withdrawn –  the local Labour old guard will almost certainly see to it that he doesn’t  –  it is reassuring to hear that the old certainties are over and the peasants are revolting…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Maher-vellous Result For Labour

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We reported yesterday on the close result between Labour and the Greens in the Birkenhead & Tranmere ward where little Jeanie Stapleton just held on for victory. Fortunately for the old dear she had a bit of help  – mainly from that man in the picture with a bobble hat.

That man goes by the name of John Maher who just prior to the local elections urged local voters to back Labour after being elected Treasurer and Secretary of the Green Party just after for the previous local elections where Pat Cleary ousted local Labour Party favourite Brian Kenny.

What Maher doesn’t mention in the leaflet is that prior to joining the Green Party he was a prominent political agent of  – yes you guessed it – the local Labour Party!.

Now we’re not suggesting that he was a Labour Party infiltrator straight after that shock result – but from what we’ve heard he was particularly keen to ingratiate himself with the idealistic Greens by being critical of his former political masters at every opportunity.

From what we can gather about his behaviour within the Green Party is that if he’s true to his “principles” it won’t be long before he falls out with his suddenly rekindled allegiances within the local  Labour Party  – as it’s a case of Maher-way or the highway.

“By voting Green you just get Blue” said John desperately in the shoddy leaflet.

Sorry  John we beg to differ , we think people get blue (with a small b) listening to duplicitous bullshit.