Field of War – Let the Political Battle for Birkenhead Commence!

Bunker

After the phoney war that was Frank Field flouncing out of the local Labour Party and resigning the whip it would seem that hostilities have begun in earnest in what was dubbed the ‘Battle for Birkenhead’ in the local media , as if the town was the personal fiefdom of the sitting MP!

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We state this after receiving a leaked email sent out by Momentum which anticipates that Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) will instruct the Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP) to begin to select a new Prospective Parliamentary Candidate

It is further anticipated that there will be a large volume of applications and Momentum are requesting that anyone who wants to receive their support ‘must subscribe to the aims and values of the organisation as well as, and most importantly, support the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.’

This ,presumably, rules out Frank Field as he has done everything he can to undermine the Labour leader since he mischievously nominated him for leader ‘to encourage debate within the Labour Party’. This has since become a classic case of be careful what you wish for !

Of course being a wily politician and a peerless media manipulator we anticipate that Field will be in the bunker and gathering the old guard in a last ditch attempt to stave off what seems an inevitable defeat on the political battleground of Birkenhead.

2019 is already shaping up to be a momentous year for local politics.

In the new year, we anticipate that Labour’s NEC will instruct Birkenhead CLP to begin procedures to select a new Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, following the resignation of Frank Field from the Labour Party.

In the past few weeks, Momentum has called hundreds of members and supporters and many of you have participated in our survey consultation in Birkenhead. Thank you to those who spoke to us during this process. It was important to hear your hopes and aspirations for a Labour candidate in Birkenhead. Your views matter and will be fed into our process going forward whether you are active in Momentum and Labour or not. If we did not manage to speak to you during our consultation feel free to email us on the contact details provided below.

We have endeavoured to have the most open and involved process possible and have tried to involve every Momentum member and supporter in Birkenhead.

As is the case with seats like Birkenhead, it is expected that there will be a large volume of applications. If you are thinking about standing yourself or know somebody that is, and you/they wish to receive the support of Momentum through this process, you can apply by responding to this email. You do not have to be a member of Momentum to apply but you must subscribe to the aims and values of the organisation as well as, and most importantly, support the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

How to Apply for Momentum’s Support

  • Please email damian.bailey@peoplesmomentum.com to request an application form be sent.
  • Fill in the application form and return todamian.bailey@peoplesmomentum.com by midnight on Sunday 6th January.
  • If you have a problem with applying by the deadline owing to personal circumstances and/or have a problem filling in the application or any special requirements, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

What Happens Next?

  • Momentum’s democratically elected governing body, the National Coordinating Group has convened a panel of NCG members. These NCG representatives are elected by thousands of Momentum members to represent you. In addition, members from the Wirral and Birkenhead will be represented on the panel. It will be the panel’s task to review applications and interview prospective candidates.
  • The process to endorse a candidate will begin soon after the applications close. At this point, applications will be reviewed, and interviews will take place soon after with those candidates.
  • Prospective candidates will need to be available for interview at a date arranged by the panel in conjunction with the prospective candidates.

If you are interested, we hope to hear from you very soon. Indeed, if you have any questions do not hesitate to get in touch.

In Unity,

Momentum
http://momentum.nationbuilder.com/

Momentum is funded entirely by membership fees and donations from thousands of supporters across the UK.

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

Halting the Momentum

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One of the few advantages of the modern age is that you can get the Sunday papers on the continent on the same day of publication. OK – we might not get the supplements , but really, who needs know about Dry January diet and exercise tips and what our astrological signs have in store for us in 2018?

The only downside is that it does nothing for our blood pressure especially when Her Ladyship has a habit of lovingly ringing articles that I may find interesting/infuriating. One such ring of ire was reserved for a letter published in The Sunday Times titled  ‘Labour executive wrong to meddle’.

“Did you have to?…..” I harrumphed ” you know it bring on my Sandie Shaw Syndrome – there’s always something there to remind me “

“Oh dearest do stop griping – take two aspirin and tell me how you feel in the morning ………”  chirruped Her Ladyship .

So here goes.

It comes to something when leaders of Labour councils write to the establishment’s favourite mouthpiece ‘a-whingin’ and a-whinin’ about their own party’s National Executive Committee (and more particularly the Momentum element – although the dreaded ‘M ‘ word is studiously not used). You won’t be surprised to read that among the signatories were Mayor Joe Anderson  ( how many Mayors does Liverpool need f’chrissakes?) and your very own ‘leader’ (ha!ha!ha!) on Wirral – Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies.  The full letter is re-printed below . The list of signatories can be found here : Sunday Times letter and signatories

This internal clash of ideologies and political approaches comes as a result of the Labour NEC calling a halt on the Labour administration at Haringey Council wanting to get involved with Lendlease and develop a controversial housing scheme. The signatories consider that the Labour Party owe the leader of Haringey Ccouncil , Claire Kober  ,’a huge debt of gratitude’ :

LABOUR EXECUTIVE WRONG TO MEDDLE
It is a vital and long-standing rule of the Labour Party that individual Labour Groups, consisting of democratically elected Labour councillors, are sovereign bodies. As such, they have the ability, within available resources, party rules, and the law, to determine the most appropriate policies to serve their local communities.

Labour Local Government wishes to make it clear to all members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) that they have no right or justification to interfere in or influence the legitimate actions of locally elected representatives. Such actions are not just outside of the party’s rules, but an affront to the basic principles of democracy.

We are extremely disappointed at the circumstances in which an issue in Haringey was brought forward and discussed by the NEC. Haringey Labour Group was not informed that such a discussion would take place, no advance notice was given, and no papers were produced, meaning the NEC discussion took place based on opinion and speculation rather than facts.

This sets a dangerous and alarming precedent and we ask the NEC for categorical assurances that such circumstances will not arise again in relation to this or any other Labour Group.

Labour councillors around the country are deeply concerned that, in seeking to mitigate Tory austerity by proposing radical new solutions, we face calls for disciplinary action against us. Such calls are uncomradely, disrespectful, and wilfully ignore the difficult and challenging role that we play in doing our best to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.

Councillor Claire Kober has an outstanding record of improving the lives of residents in Haringey. Claire became the leader of Haringey Council in 2008 at the age of thirty, assuming the immense personal responsibility of leading a council in crisis following the appalling public service failures that led to the death of Peter Connelly (‘Baby P’).

Under her inspirational leadership, and despite suffering funding cuts of over 40% since 2010, the Haringey Labour Group has delivered the fastest improving schools in the country and generated billions of pounds of investment in the borough, and in 2017 the council won the Children’s Services of the Year award. We believe the Labour Party owes her a huge debt of gratitude for turning around a failing authority and as a result protecting thousands of the most vulnerable children and adults.”

However we feel we get a better insight into why certain Labour Council leaders such as Mayor Joe and Power Boy Pip would hold Cllr Kober in such high regard from a bravura (and brave) letter of resignation from one of her own Haringey councillors ,Cllr Stuart McNamara,which was written last November. The damning indictment of Kober’s leadership (which can be read in full here) includes the following claims:

Somebody has to call you out on your wrecking ball tactics and horrific wasting of public money on nonsense vanity projects whilst council services are starved of cash or sold off to the lowest bidder, making horrendous Tory government cuts even worse. This government and its behaviour towards the most vulnerable in our society is an absolute scandal; I am not suggesting they are not the core cause of the council’s financial predicament, rather that your ideological determination to pursue out-dated and maverick policies, whilst losing sight completely of the Labour values we are supposed to stand for, has made a very bad situation immeasurably worse.

The council’s reputation and recent history had warranted change and you came to us at a time of crisis at Haringey Council when a fresh direction was urgently needed. Like many people, I initially supported your leadership. You had, and still have, a right to be objectively and fairly judged on the merits of your leadership. Sadly, and on that basis, your leadership has been largely focused on the ideological pursuit of a poorly thought-through version of a commissioning and out-sourcing council.

You have projected a falsely positive view of Haringey to other local authorities and people of influence elsewhere in local and central government that is increasingly divorced from the reality on the ground. You have also placed a far higher importance on having good relations with private developers than with others in the Labour Party in Haringey and with residents, the very people we were elected to support and represent.

You are generous with council resources, waiving rents and large payments from powerful organisations when it suits you and you condone councillors dining out and enjoying corporate hospitality when the meals on wheels service has been cut. All too often, Labour councillors and residents find out about these things after the event, through member enquiries or FOI requests.

All you would need to do would be insert Wirral for Haringey and you’d  have a pin -point accurate description of Power Boy Pip’s administration except you wouldn’t get anyone brave enough within his cabal of careerist and complacent councillors to tell it like it is.  And as for the telling the Labour NEC ‘it has no right or justification to interfere in or influence the legitimate actions of locally elected representatives ‘,  perhaps Pip needs to think about matters closer to home and remind Birkenhead MP Frank Field about Wirral Council’s ‘sovereignty’ and ‘party rules and the law to determine the most appropriate policies to serve our communities’ and then ponder as to why Momentum is gaining,er , momentum and scaring the Blairites. We’ve long said that with feeble local political opposition the only thing that would sort the local Labour group out would be their own members – pass the hors d’oeuvres things could get really interesting in the run up to the local elections in May.

Songs of The Labour Movement : Two Tribes

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Our interest in the rising tide of Corbynism is, of course, how it impacts on local politics.  And you can say what you like about Jezzamania but it has at least shaken up (or a least slightly stirred) the moribund and complacent cabal at the heart of Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP).  Frank Field, having decried the Labour leader at every opportunity prior to this year’s general election, has been awfully quiet on the Corbyn front lately hasn’t he?
However where the impact has been most felt has been in the Wallasey CLP.  Ever since Wallasey MP Angela Eagle’s doomed Labour leadership challenge there have been deep divisions within the local CLP…..and it would seem from a leaked email from Cllr Adrian Jones sent to ‘Momentum Comrades’ – which somehow made its way to us – there clearly still are!
We’ll spare you the full text of the email as it’s more Citizen Smith than Councillor Jones. Suffice to say it’s as long-winded and self righteous as his council speeches and sets out his long-standing Corbyn – supporting credentials.

The genesis of all this rift was a bitter CLP meeting on 24th June 2016, when Cllr Bernie Mooney (now Joint Deputy Leader of Wirral Council Labour Group ) was voted out of her position as secretary of Wallasey CLP and replaced by lefty Kathy Miller.  Paul Davies was voted in as co-vice Chair ( Cllr Paul Stuart was the other co-Vice Chair.)

The CLP voted to back Corbyn in his leadership bid.  Eagle got wind of this and was presumably an ‘Angry Bird’!  She hadn’t yet said she was going to run for leader… and didn’t until early July.

Meanwhile the CLP was suspended by the Labour NEC at their London HQ and remains suspended to this day.  Indeed the CLP only realised they’d been suspended when they read it in the Liverpool Echo!

This suspension was done on the ‘strength’ of bogus allegations that were lodged with the press (not the police, where they should have gone – but that presumably would have risked counter charges of wasting police time) saying that some members at the above meeting had engaged in bullying of others, intimidation and ‘homophobic acts’ against Eagle, who was not even present.

Reputedly, it was Cllr Stuart who was the ringleader of 17 people alleging bullying, intimidation and homophobia.  Angela Eagle christened them “whistleblowers”, sullying the name of genuine, good faith whistleblowers everywhere, and whatdyaknow?  the likes of the Liverpool Echo and The Guardian were there, ever eager to fuel the fire.

Throughout all this nothing was heard from Cllr Adrian Jones, the huge “Corbyn fan”, as his hero was pilloried in order to push Eagle’s leadership chances.  And whaddyaknow?  Both Jones’s Mr and Mrs and Cllr Stuart can be seen in the photos attached to this tweet, supporting Eagle.  This was in the run-up to the 2017 election, 9 months after the CLP suspension and #Brickgate.

Ultimately the allegations went nowhere, but the damage inflicted by the media coverage had been done. We understand one CLP member still has a charge hanging over them, whilst those making bogus allegations have been strangely passed over for any disciplinary action.  Is it any wonder the rifts persist and that there are plenty of angry left wingers in Wallasey CLP who feel betrayed?  After being expected to tramp the streets in support of Angela Eagle during the general election campaign , some are suspecting that deals will now be done behind their backs rather than the embedded enemy within faced head on and challenged.

 

Meanwhile, Cllr Paul Stuart who’d nailed his colours to the Eagle mast has,  since Corbyn’s unexpectedly strong performance in the general election,  had a bit of a rethink and now wants the world to know, via the leaked Jones email , that he is supporting Jezza. But the idea that Cllr Stuart would now also be backing Corbyn is outrageous when you can find him on the internet posing for photos outside the smashed window of #Brickgate.  Along with Cllr Stuart , Eagle diehards Cllr Mooney, and Merseyside Police & Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy were immediately on hand to be interviewed on TV and press suggesting that Corbyn supporters were behind the brick through the shared stairwell window ….which apparently wasn’t Eagle’s constituency office window anyway! You can get a flavour of the furore here 
Moreover, Merseyside plod calmly intoned six months later that the constituency office window was never reported to them as being damaged !  But you wouldn’t know this if you picked up any national or local newspaper because they wouldn’t touch it !  And by that time, the whole sorry circus of MSM dissemblers had left Eagle’s “busy summer of lies” unretracted, and moved onto the next emerging #FakeNews bombshell needing their undivided attention….
Meanwhile only time will tell whether Cllr Stuart proves to be as an effective shape-shifting politico as Cllr Jones,

 

To quote from the latter’s email…

Comrades, “Now is the time” to stop acting like a “Party within a party” – and even like a “Momentum within Momentum”.

It is time to grasp that the mainstream (often called the “Left”) has won back the heart and soul of the Labour Party.  I do not know of a single member of the Seacombe Branch who has not fully supported my own declarations for Corbyn on the two websites or who does not support him now.  So why introduce friction where there need be none? Let’s try now to be a single Labour Party in Seacombe Ward.

Some comrades will remember that we also, for a while, held “Songs of the Labour Movement” musical evenings in the Park View Social Club – an opportunity for comrades to perform – or just listen and rub shoulders informally.  But, since then, we have had the difficulty of the Party being suspended so long that many of us don’t even know each other.

Under the circumstances can we suggest that any future CLP sing-a-long  starts off with a rousing rendition of  “Two Tribes” ?