The pointless Labour leadership contest continues amid a growing climate of controversy. This week Momentum-supporting Labour Party members in Leicester West were forced into the unfortunate position of organising their own informal meeting to decide whether their CLP branch would endorse either Jeremy Corbyn or challenger Owen Smith. The results are now in with over 90% of the 55 local Labour members attending Thursday’s meeting voting to back Corbyn.
Previously, when the official Leicester West nomination meeting had been cancelled at the last minute, Andy Wynne, one of the organisers of the successful Momentum meeting, explained: “I think they [the leaders of the CLP] just want to avoid the embarrassment of Leicester West members supporting Jeremy Corbyn when Liz Kendall is so much against him” (Leicester Mercury, August 19). Such a fear of public embarrassment certainly applies to vocal Smith supporters like Leicester West CLP chair, Councillor Vi Dempster, and their secretary, Councillor Vijay Riyait.
Over the past week Councillor Riyait has been particularly vigourous in his condemnation of Corbyn and his supporters on social media. This is a man who publicly supported the chicken coup against Corbyn from the very start, and has taken to spreading lies on Facebook and Twitter that misrepresented my own criticisms of his undemocratic actions.
Evidently Councillor Riyait has now seen the error of his less-than-comradely ways, as he has deleted his own bullying Facebook post, and taken measures to block me from following and commenting on his Twitter feed.
Nevertheless, as has been the case with many Smith supporters, Councillor Riyait has used his social media accounts to support the rightwing press in misrepresenting the so-called ‘train incident’ which Corbyn used to emphasise the urgent need to renationalise our rail network. Again, Councillor Riyait backtracked by deleting his controversial posts, but not before smearing Corbyn by saying his party leader has supported negotiating with “actual terrorists like the IRA, Hamas, Hezbollah and not to mention Iranian TV!”
Finally, although it seems to have gone under the radar of the local media, yesterday afternoon Keith Vaz, the Labour MP for Leicester East, organised an invitation only meeting at Bobby’s restaurant on The Golden Mile, at which the guest speaker was none other than Owen Smith.
To my surprise, amongst the politicians at this special secret get-together was my own local councillor for the Evington ward, Deepak Bajaj. I say surprised because I had previously emailed him to thank him for publicly opposing the launch of the undemocratic coup against Corbyn.
But although Councillor Bajaj opposed the coup against Corbyn, it is not clear whether or not he supports his current leader. His attendance at the clandestine Smith rally in Leicester yesterday afternoon certainly raises question about whether he has left the ranks of the Corbyn “militants” (Councillor Paul Westley’s own description) to back the Muslim-demonising, PREVENT-loving, Smith brigade.
And so he goes… while Momentum grows.