11th July 2016 – Wallasey
Our MP, Angela Eagle, this morning announced her intention to stand as a Labour leadership candidate.
On learning about this prospect a couple of weeks back, some locals found it surprising, and many more found it astonishing, given that she’d scraped a very poor 4th in the poll for deputy leader, conducted in the summer of 2015. Jeremy Corbyn, the current leader, and the man she’s challenging for that leadership, breezed home superbly well with a virtual 60% mandate from members – a new record. This was followed by solid by-election successes and a huge rise in membership which continues to this day.
A small crumb of comfort for Angela was that her own Wallasey branch of the local Constituency Labour Party had graciously nominated her for deputy (a nomination that still stands) and selected Corbyn, whom she seemed supportive of at the time, to be leader.
But how did Angela repay her local members’ and Corbyn’s loyalty and backing?
By throwing it back in their faces, going against her own recent approval of Corbyn and by claiming that he lacked the leadership to win an election. Hunnh??
So what’s changed in the meantime? What’s behind this amazing transformation from Corbyn backing deputy leader no-hoper to burgeoning leadership candidate and potential Prime Minister – who all of a sudden despises Corbyn?
Very little from our vantage point.
And after failing with the deputy bid, how ironic to set it out under a banner screaming “Real Leadership”, with the predictable backing of the BBC and mainstream media?
We have very long memories and can still recall the time in 1992 when Bridlington born Angela first set a tentative toe in Wallasey.
Firstly, we need to set the scene by briefly describing what had been going on politically in this town, a stalwart Tory seat under Ernest Marples and later Lynda Chalker. Following a spirited campaign, the iron grip of the Tories had been loosened and virtually broken by Lol Duffy and team in the run-up to the 1987 general election, against all the odds. And when we say odds … what was very odd was the behaviour of a very panicky Frank Field in neighbouring Birkenhead.
Upon hearing that the May election in Wallasey was getting too close to call, he went public, encouraging the town’s electorate not to vote Labour – to vote Tory – anything to prevent the popular people’s choice winning it. This was at a time when Neil Kinnock and Roy Hattersley were conducting a national witch hunt to purge the party of persons they regarded as ‘too left wing’. So forget about Lol and his campaigners achieving a 40 % rise in Labour’s fortunes. At Walworth Road, the Labour Party’s HQ, paranoia swept all before it.
It seemed the dirty deed done by Field had the desired result. If 280 more people had voted for Lol Duffy, he would have unseated Tory Lynda Chalker.
Over to a 1992 article in Private Eye for a concise summary of the 1992 Wallasey candidacy, where the rulebook was frantically torn up by Kinnock. Lol Duffy was excluded, previously unheard of Angela Eagle was secretly slotted in and put in a position where she could profit from Lol and his team’s achievements five years earlier, all against the local public’s wishes:
And here we are now in 2016, with Blair supporting Angela Eagle’s dubious origins long forgotten, and with the slotted in Wallasey MP perhaps on the brink of gaining the Labour Party leadership.
But how curiously reticent she is about the details of what happened in 1992 – if her write up on http://www.angela4leader.org* is anything to go by:
As readers can now appreciate, in Wallasey we are very poorly served. And please be warned. Let’s not make the mistake of extending that poor service to the whole country.
* Angela Eagle resigned citing Hilary Benn’s dismissal. However, this domain, set up by Tony Blair’s former PR man, a Mr Joe McRea, was registered before Ms Eagle resigned.