Keith Vaz is Back… But For How Long?

Keith Vaz is back, and it is almost like he has never been away. On Tuesday night he rose again from alleged ill-health, notoriety and temporary obscurity by being formally elected chairman of the Leicester East Constituency Labour Party at a meeting of local members.*

Importantly the Leicester Mercury (January 16) observed that the new Labour MP for Leicester East, Claudia Webbe, “was not present and it is understood she was not made aware of the meeting until a short time beforehand.”

It also seems likely that the meeting was organised to facilitate Webbe non-attendance as the local paper correctly explained: “CLP meetings in Leicester have traditionally been held on Thursday or Friday evenings when MPs have returned to their constituencies after a week in Westminster.”

For those living locally, it is known that meetings of Labour members had always been something of a rarity under Vaz’s parliamentary reign, as local party democracy was certainly not something that concerned Vaz his many, many cronies (which includes the majority of Labour councillors in Leicester East).

vaz back

So those Labour members who were lucky enough to find out about this week’s exceptional meeting were, as one might have expected, not informed of Vaz’s plan to ensure that latecomers would be barred from entry to his special inauguration. This ‘oversight’ led to a number of Labour members being physically blocked from entering the meeting, and in one instance led to one of Vaz’s bouncers (allegedly a local Labour councillor) assaulting one of the said latecomers! An incident that is currently being investigated by Leicestershire Police.

Vaz, ever the self publicist, made sure that in the course of his very exclusionary meeting that Labour members heard much from Vaz about Vaz, and with a stroke of triumphalism Vaz was duly elected chairman of the CLP by the majority of the hundred odd people in attendance. This ‘election’ was on the cards as in the week before his controversial ‘election’ Vaz had already attended another city-wide Labour meeting where, with the power of what can only be referred to as dictatorial foresight, Vaz had premptively announced his own election.

All this being said, Vaz’s latest ‘democratic’ victory is not all that surprising when one considers the authoritarian grip he continues to maintain over Leicester East. So the millionaire-dollar question that now remains is this: what is Claudia Webbe going to do to help bring democracy back to Leicester East?

Notes

*John Thomas, the previous chairman of Vaz’s Midland’s fiefdom had chosen to publicly quit the Labour Party during the General Election all the better to denounce Jeremy Corbyn!

2 comments

  1. This is an excellently written article and explains what happened at the meeting very well. I took unofficial minutes at this meeting and therefore have the evidence about self publicity.

    In 2017, Vaz organised a similar – Vaz overpowering – meeting to hold a second AGM to close down Evington branch and reselect new officers to run the branch. Mokhtar, Margaret and me were then no longer officers. At that meeting Margaret had minutes of the last AGM, Keith Vaz had none. Our names were read out as willing to stand again, but nobody was allowed to talk before the election, and loads else, very well documented in the letters of complaints we wrote to the region and Jeremy Corbyn. Nothing was done about it. However, as Treasurer, I had £134 in cash, because this money had been used to hold regular branch meetings. I gave this money to Mokhtar and we ignored one request for it to be returned. At the CLP AGM on 21st June 2019, Cllr. Ratilal Govind (of gatekeeping fame at the 2020 all-members CLP meeting,) asked about this money. I said that I had given it to Mokhtar as he was the Chair at the time. Vaz then said, the Treasurer of Evington Branch (which was Ajay Agarwal) was to contact Mokhtar about the money. Mokhtar heard nothing. Before the meeting I got two emails I ignored from Luis Fonseca (Secretary) saying that I was responsible for the money and it needed to be returned. Then at this all-members meeting Vaz seeing me, asked about this money saying that it needed to go into the pot to pay for Claudia’s election campaign. Again I said that Mokhtar had it. Mokhtar said he had it, and then a member said he was an old tax inspector and unaccounted money shouldn’t be lying around. Vaz repeated what he wanted to happen to the money and asked if any other branches were holding on to money. No one admitted to holding money. After the meeting Vaz made a bee-line for us and very politely explained again why the money needed to be returned. Mokhtar said it wasn’t the amount of money but a matter of principle. Vaz was then very keen to arrange a meeting with us both to discuss the money. I won’t go to any privately arranged meeting with Vaz, and Mokhtar says he would make sure he was supported. The branch money I had looked after, was raised by members when we had monthly meetings, and was needed to pay the rent. CLP didn’t give us anything. Now Vaz is keen to get Branches working properly again, but in Evington he has his 2017 favourite protege Cllr. Ruma Ali as secretary. She, like many other councillors in Leicester East, only got in because of Vaz’s patronage. This saga shows that between 2017 and 2020, Vaz closed down a branch that was working and growing members for the Labour Party to substitute it with an inactive branch. He now wants to bury the evidence.

    Also you may be aware that on 7th January, Vaz went along to the Leicester Campaign Forum (LCF) while the chair was away, and made himself the Campaign coordinator.

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