Comradely Meetings and the Mystery of the Boo

The Leicester Mercury (August 10) recently reported that the Harborough Constituency Labour Party (CLP) “held a secret ballot which came out by 67 to seven in favour of nominating current leader Mr Corbyn over challenger Owen Smith.” Another overwhelming victory for Corbyn!

Not everyone in the Labour movement is necessarily pleased by Corbyn’s popularity, however, and in the same issue of the Mercury, a letter addressed to the Harborough CLP was published by diehard Blairite Denis Bown. In response a local Corbyn supporter, Michael McLaughlin, had his response published in yesterday’s Mercury (“The party that has the answers,” August 15). As his letter began:

“I have no doubt Denis Bown’s heart is in the right place (Mailbox, August 10, “The Left refuses to face reality”). But that’s all he’s got right. He seems to think the left of the Labour Party lost the last two General Elections. He just hasn’t been paying attention.”

Michael also went on to thank Bown for his expressed interest in the future of the Harborough CLP, noting that “we now have 600 members – a 300 per cent increase since May 2015.” More good news; it certainly looks like the Labour movement is growing in strength by the day under Corbyn’s socialist leadership.

Leicester Mercury letter August 15 2016

Other disgruntled Labour representatives were also seen at the Leicester South CLP nomination meeting, which voted for Corbyn last Friday.

Deputy City Mayor Rory Palmer tweeted (at 8.14 PM) that someone had “booed” at the meeting, adding, “Disgrace. What have we become.” Seven minutes later Palmer tweeted his anger at this booing, noting “Unbelievable. Is this the new politics?” Just four minutes on, apparently on reflection, he tweeted: “For the most part a comradely debate.”

The following day, Palmer tweeted again how he had enjoyed going to the pub with his good friends Jon Ashworth and his wife, Emilie, the Executive Director of the Labour Party. So it is intriguing that during that night out, Mr Ashworth decided to echo Palmer’s earlier social media updates, and at 10.42 PM Ashworth tweeted:

“Debate in Leic South CLP generally comradely tonight. Members, CLP exec & I am clear that booing totally unacceptable & not how we do things”

For both the Deputy Mayor and an MP to feel the need to tweet so frantically about the booing seems strange unless it was a serious incident, but according to facebook posts by other attendees this was not the case.  One online report from a Labour Party member noted:

“There was, rightly, a lot of anger tonight when at the last minute it became clear that the goalposts had been moved again and some people who thought they could vote in the Leicester South CLP nominations were asked to leave the meeting. However there was no bullying, no intimidation, the meeting proceeded in an orderly fashion, speeches were balanced, there was one objection to an abusive term being used (“Tory”) and the outcome was that Jeremy Corbyn was nominated although not by an enormous margin. So, sorry to those who would wish to portray a Trotskyist plot but there wasn’t much evidence of it tonight.” (Facebook, August 12, 23.56 PM)

It certainly makes one wonder who the mystery booer was, why they booed, and whether it was followed by an apology commensurate with the aggressiveness of the boo in question?

What we can all agree on however is that booing is not necessary in Labour meeting, and that leading Labour MPs and Councillors might consider refrain from unnecessarily fanning the flames of the media frenzy about leftwing Corbynistas in their midst.

Palmer Ashworth tweets


For a useful, if lengthy, critical analysis of the bullying narrative as portrayed in the mainstream media read “The Abuse of Corbyn and his Supporters and How They Survive it: The Other Side of the Story.

UPDATE: In November 2017 I wrote a follow-up article which noted how Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Loughborough Nathan Oswin had also tweeted as part of the boo hysteria.

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