27th January 2017
This letter came into our possession today and we are reprinting it in its entirety. We make only a very brief introduction because the letter makes its own introductory comments and goes on to explain in great detail the situation that vice-Chair Paul Davies and Wallasey Constituency Labour Party find themselves- which is in a state of extended suspension – that commenced in July 2016.
The suspension prevents official local activity and came about after sitting Wallasey MP Angela Eagle got wind of a democratic process which had begun that could have resulted in a vote of no confidence being passed in her and her position as Labour MP for Wallasey.
It is possible to construe from this outcome (suspension of the CLP) that it was the method chosen to prevent the vote of no confidence and to save Angela Eagle from deselection. This particular outcome’s prime purpose appears to be to serve as an entirely undemocratic and unjustified block on what would have been a fully democratic process, initiated, then backed by a clear majority of party members.
Labour Party Investigation into Paul Davies
“Kaftaesque is when you enter a surreal world in which all your control patterns, all your plans, the whole way in which you have configured your own behaviour, begins to fall to pieces, when you find yourself against a force that does not lend itself to the way you perceive the world.
You don’t give up, you don’t lie down and die. What you do is struggle against this with all your equipment, with whatever you have. But of course you don’t stand a chance. That’s Kaftaesque”
Franz Kafka December 1991
Watching events unfold since our AGM and the leadership election regarding the misrepresentation of our CLP in the media and taking part in a Labour Party Investigation is truly a Kaftaesque experience and worthy of a novel to rival the “Trial”.
Regardless of the fact that there are anonymous people making mainly unspecific allegations which allegedly occurred on unspecified dates, at places unknown and with no documentary evidence to support these allegations, the allegations have been believed by Labour Officials and reported to the NEC as fact. Unchallenged by the Labour Party they have of course been believed and widely covered by the Press.
Regardless of the documentary evidence provided by officers of the CLP to counter the false accusations, the Labour Disciplinary machine ploughs on as if such evidence had never been provided and then accuses those who defend themselves against false accusations as making the situation worse.
It is a situation akin to a person wrongly convicted to life imprisonment who is not allowed parole unless they admit they were guilty. They rightfully proclaim their innocence but as a result their punishment is worse! Their alternative is to say nothing and by implication admit their guilt.
Regardless of the fact that I have already proved beyond doubt that 2 false accusations have been made against me in the past this is has neither been acknowledged nor acted upon by the Labour Party officers.
I have been told by e mail that I am to be investigated because;
It is alleged that your conduct over a significant period of time are in breach of Rule 2.I.8: “No member of the Party shall engage in conduct which in the opinion of the NEC is prejudicial, or in any act which in the opinion of the NEC is grossly detrimental to the Party.”
Despite two requests I have not been told what actions of mine have led to this allegation, when they took place or who has made the accusations. Nevertheless I am expected to defend myself. I have attempted to construct a defence against any possible accusation that might be thrown at me.
Before commencing my defence, which will no doubt be ignored along with my previous letters and our 102 page Response to the Investigation, I wish from the outset to make some preliminary points and place them on the record especially for those who may not have the time to read the whole of this submission. I am already on record as making these points previously.
- There is no record of any complaint regarding Wallasey CLP or any member of it until after Angela Eagle announced her leadership bid
- I do not think it was politically astute to have a Leadership contest in 2016 especially when it was predictable that the outcome would be the same as the previous year.
- Nevertheless Angela Eagle had every right under the rules of the Labour Party to enter the Leadership race and it would be wrong to call for a vote of no confidence or seek her de-selection for acting within the democratic process of the Party.
- Any homophobic abuse, or indeed any other kind of abuse, directed towards or about Angela Eagle or her staff or any other individual should be condemned by all. Such actions have no place in a civilised society.
- The breaking of the window in Sherlock House should be condemned whether it was an act of Homophobic or Political terror or an act of vandalism.
- Any criminal acts such as Homophobic abuse, abusive phone calls or e mails and threatening behaviour should be reported to the Police.
- No amount of sympathy for the abuse Angela Eagle suffered by e mail or phone messages from persons unknown justifies the false description of the Wallasey CLP as portrayed in the press by a small number of politically motivated members who did not get their own way at the AGM or during the Leadership election.
- Despite assertions made at various times (by the same people who are making the general accusations against the CLP) I have never been a member of the Greens or a member, follower, reader etc. of Militant or Socialist Organiser (or any other such group). Nor was I ever expelled from the Labour Party.
- At no time was I contacted by Labour Party Officials and asked not to give press interviews or speak publicly or modify my behaviour.
I would also like to ask two questions of the Investigating Officer, of the General Secretary Iain McNicol and members of the NEC.
- If you were at a meeting at which you witnessed homophobic behaviour or intimidation would you stay silent and do nothing about it? I doubt it. What on earth makes you think that I and over 40 other Labour Party members would stay silent in that situation? What sort of people do you think we are?
- If you and your fellow Local Party members or indeed the NEC were wrongly accused in the national press and TV of allowing homophobia, threats and intimidation to go unchallenged would you stay silent and do nothing about it? I doubt it.
Why should I stay silent when false accusations are made against me and my fellow Party members?
Edmund Burke famously said
“ The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.
I am not prepared to do nothing or stay silent when I see the good people in Wallasey CLP being subjected to unjustified slurs.
Proven False Accusations
I will start my submission by detailing the two specific allegations that have been made against me in the past in the hope that someone in the Labour Party might come to the conclusion that this might explain the current accusations.
Unauthorised use of Labour Party data 1
I will deal with the background to this later but the accusation was laid out in a letter to me from John Stolliday Head of Constitutional Unit dated 18/2/16. Unfortunately I cannot lay my hands on his letter but this will be on record in Labour HQ under reference A414096
The accusation was that I had called an unauthorised meeting of Labour Party members in New Brighton, made unauthorised use of Labour Party data and unauthorised use of the Labour Party logo. I was told (before I had even been asked if the allegation was true) that I was on a final warning.
The meeting referred to had in fact been called by me (as campaign co-ordinator) on the instruction of the New Brighton Branch in the build up to our Council Election campaign. It was attended by one of our sitting Councillors Pat Hackett and our, successful, candidate last year Tony Jones. (our other sitting Councillor Christine Spriggs was on other Labour Party business and unable to attend)
I wrote to John Stolliday explaining this and so did the Chair of the branch appendix 1&1a. Not having any response I then sent a polite reminder. To date neither the chair nor I have received an acknowledgement that the accusation was false.
This accusation was easy to disprove as I knew exactly what it referred to. To this date I do not know who made the false accusation and wonder if that person is also one of my accusers this time around. No doubt the Investigating Officer can check this out and no doubt I will never be informed of the outcome.
Unauthorised use of Labour Party data 2
This accusation was in a letter to me from Katherine Buckingham dated 2/8/16 appendix 2.
I was accused of using Labour Party data, without authorisation, to distribute leaflets publicising a Public Meeting called by Wirral TUC.
If that letter had been all I had received then I would have had great difficulty disproving it as there was no date or location as to when and where the alleged activity took place. I certainly was not made aware of who had made the allegation. As it turned out it would have been 3 members’ word against mine and I presume they would have been believed.
Fortunately for me my accusers had copied in various Labour Party Officers including Iain McNicol, Jeremy Corbyn and the Chair and Secretary of the CLP. They also released their letter to the Liverpool Echo and various other media outlets. The CLP officers sent me a copy and asked to explain my actions.
Just before I received the copy of the letter from the CLP officers, an Echo Reporter contacted me to ask about the allegation as somebody had also contacted them by phone and this phone call was the first I had heard about this allegation.
I asked him the date I was supposed to have undertaken this leafleting and the time. He knew the date and got back to me, after speaking to my (at that time) anonymous accuser, regarding the time.
I was able to prove to him and provide evidence to the Labour Party that I was in London on the weekend in question and therefore could not have been leafleting in Wallasey.
I wrote to both Katherine Buckingham appendix 2a and Iain McNicol appendix 2b regarding this but to date I have had no response.
The Echo did not run the story but the author of the letter false accuser member (identity withheld) was reported on line www.politicshome.com 1st August 2016 (before I had even had a chance to respond) making the same accusations. I do not know if it was also reported elsewhere. I feel that in the absence of any response or assistance from the Labour Party I am entitled to defend myself publicly.
So two specific false allegations have been made against me which had no supporting evidence and which I could easily disprove. The approach from Labour Party Officials in both instances is an interesting switch from the presumption of innocence until proven guilty as it would appear that I am guilty until I can prove my innocence and even then this was not good enough for the Labour Party officers and I got no support whatsoever or any acknowledgment that the accusations had been disproved.
I also submitted a complaint regarding Angela Eagle apparently misusing Party data when she e mailed all members seeking support for Owen Smith but got no response. Several other members also submitted similar complaints but got no response.
There was a telephone banking of members in Wallasey by persons unknown saying they were ringing on behalf of Wallasey Labour Party and seeking support for Angela for Leader. Several members complained about and when the CLP Secretary raised it with the Labour Party she was told that these sorts of things happen.
Some members logged the number of the phone used to ring them. When I rang the one of the numbers I got the answer machine of Member of Angela’s staff (identity withheld in this version) in Angela Eagles office, the other number had been disconnected.
I am a retired full Time Union Officer. I was District Secretary for the TGWU from1979 until around 2003 when I became a National Officer, of by then Unite, based in London.
During my time on the Wirral I was Chair of the Trades Council and Chair of the District Labour Party. I was Secretary of Merseyside TUC and a member of the North West TUC Executive. I was the chair of the Merseyside Unemployed Centres.
It was the Thatcher years and I organised a number of high profile demonstrations, numerous successful strikes and organised occupations in opposition to hospital closures and council cuts. I was what is known disparagingly by some in the Party; an activist. It is fair to say I was pretty well known in the area due to regular press coverage. It is also fair to say that I was not popular with a small group of Labour Party members who then and now refer to themselves as “moderates”.
After two high profile and controversial internal selection battles with Frank Field in 1990 and 1992 I eventually dropped out of the Labour Party and only decided to re-join once I retired from the Union.
I presume that the events of the 1990s are not part of this investigation although Angela Eagle does seem to keep harking back to them and criticising me for standing against Frank Field. She repeatedly (since my press interviews) links me with Militant Tendency and infiltration even though she knows full well that Militant stood their own candidate in that selection contest. I will make no further comment in my own defence on this but refer the Investigating Officer (or anyone else who might be interested) to the book “Left Behind” written by Peter Kilfoyle ex Regional Organiser and ex MP who I presume will be accepted as no great friend of the “hard left” or “infiltrators” . Pages 234-236 and 275-276 appendix 3
I do find it somewhat ironic that whilst those who make these current accusations defend the right to make a challenge to the Leader because it is provided for in the rulebook they seem to think I was out of order challenging Frank Field even though it was also provided for under the rules and seem to think it outrageous for anyone to ever challenge a sitting MP even if it is provided for in the rules.
It is sad to say that the Labour Party I re-joined in Wallasey was in a pretty sorry state with very few active members and although there had been a surge in membership due to the leadership election there had not been a corresponding surge in attendance at meetings or participation in campaigning.
There was however a number of the new members who were becoming active by attending meetings and these outnumbered the old guard who had held the Party together for many years. Most, but not all, of the old guard welcomed the new members and the assistance they could provide.
With change there is always tension and with new blood and new ideas there was tension with a few of the old guard within the Wallasey CLP. Perhaps understandably a few of the existing members resented the people they referred to as the “newbies” coming in with new ideas. They had after all kept the local Party going with stretched resources for many years.
I am a member of New Brighton Branch and with one or two notable exceptions there was absolutely no tension between the new and long established members. There continued to be a good relationship with the Councillors and an understanding of the difficult decisions they are forced to make.
I was elected Campaign Co-ordinator and set out my proposals for 2016 in a report to the branch appendix 4 which was fully supported by the Branch although the Secretary seemed to harbour some resentment towards me and my ideas.
Disunity in Wallasey CLP
Much has been made recently of alleged disunity within Wallasey CLP and it has been alleged that there is a “toxic atmosphere”. This came as news to members of the CLP!
There have never been “camps”` in Wallasey. Debates were held freely, without acrimony or insult and it is difficult to label members into those traditional, and unhelpful, demarcations; Left and Right.
There would appear to be 3 main general groupings in Wallasey membership.
There are some who are supporters of Progress and some who are supporters of Momentum. There were no major disagreements between supporters of the two groups over policies or nominations. The vast bulk of the membership were, and are, supporters of neither group and any division into “camps” only came after the AGM and the launch of the Leadership Election.
Even now there is no real split and no “toxic” atmosphere. The vast majority of members are angry about the interviews which gave a false impression of Wallasey CLP but I am absolutely confident that this will not translate into the sort of behaviour which would lead to anything that could be described as intimidation. The only toxicity emanates from the small group making the false accusations who are determined that we remain suspended.
I will repeat what I said to Iain McNicol in my letter to him dated 16/1/17 in reference to the Public Meeting held in December;
“At this meeting there was general consensus that once the suspension is lifted there is nothing to be gained by raking over the coals of what happened subsequent to the AGM. We have better things to do.
I think it was Barrack Obama who advised Hilary Clinton to go high when Donald Trump went low. Advice she failed to follow in my opinion.
The vast majority of Wallasey members know the truth and will go high, leaving those who want to go low and make false accusations to their own devices, and we will avoid infighting in order to get on with the much more important task of working to expose the policies of the Tories, fighting for a properly funded NHS, fighting against inequality of wealth and opportunity and campaigning for the election of a Labour Government.”
Allegations against me
I do not know the specifics of these but as they arise following the publication of the NEC Report into Wallasey CLP I presume I am accused of being involved in some of the false allegations covered in this Report. This is still difficult to respond to as it is unclear which comments in the Report constitute allegations of misconduct and which are mere observations.
Before dealing with the allegations in the Investigation Report I will deal with what I presume is the main complaint against me; my participation in media interviews, my response to the Investigation Report and my participation in two public meetings called by Wirral TUC.
The media first became interested in Wallasey CLP when our MP decided she would enter the Leadership Contest. A whole range of reporters were contacting us for comment. At no time did any officer of the Labour Party contact us to request that we do not take part in interviews.
As most of the interviews were in the day and both the Chair and Secretary are employed full time it was agreed that I would deal with the press.
I appreciated from the outset that in my conduct in any interview I would be accountable later to the CLP membership. I would be more than happy for my conduct to be judged by a general meeting of the membership and if they feel I have at any time misrepresented their views I would apologise and offer my resignation as Vice Chair.
My line was simple and straight forward in every interview I did during this first phase;
- That the CLP had nominated Jeremy Corbyn first time around and had confirmed their support for him as Leader at the AGM only days earlier
- Angela Eagle was entitled to stand under the rules but the AGM had been opposed to any challenge
- Support for Jeremy Corbyn would remain the policy of the CLP until the nomination meeting was held at which time the membership would decide whether to continue this support or nominate someone else.
- I would not predict the outcome of the nomination meeting. I could say what the current policy of the CLP was but would not comment on the views of 1300 members.
- The CLP continued to support Angela Eagle as our MP. In at least one interview I was pressed as to whether I would support a vote of no confidence in Angela and I said I would not as she was acting within the rules.
The first phase of the press coverage was quite easy and straight forward to deal with. The second phase, after allegations were made against the CLP, was much more difficult but again nobody from the Labour Party contacted us to ask that we did not talk to the media or offer us any guidance. I presume no one from the Labour Party contacted those making the allegations about the CLP either asking them to keep out of the press and deal with any complaints using the Labour Party Complaints Procedure.
I will make it absolutely clear, again and repeatedly, that there have been false accusations made in the Press, and later to the Party, by a very small number of members against the general membership of Wallasey CLP.
I cannot say with certainty, and have never said, that among 1300 plus members there could not possibly be one or two who have been involved in acts of Homophobia, threats or intimidation. I do not know all the members and have not been to every branch meeting.
I can say, with certainty, that I have never witnessed such acts or even heard reports of such acts until after the AGM. I can say, with certainty, that the impression given in a number of interviews in the press and on television by a small number of members regarding the general behaviour of Labour Party members in Wallasey is completely and utterly false.
I reproduce just a few of the many reports below;
Labour Baroness (identity withheld in this version)
On Politics today on 5th July, speaking in support of Angela’s leadership bid and responding to a point that Angela’s Party were backing Corbyn:
“I’ve spoken to Angela about her meeting. Angela faced homophobic abuse at that meeting”.
Delegate 1 (identity withheld in this version)
On North West Tonight on 7th July 2016 speaking about the AGM:
“There were homophobic gestures made to our newly elected LGBT member. There was hostile names called at Angela. At one point somebody called her a dyke. Now people will say that that didn’t happen, but there are people who will give evidence to that that that’s the type of thing that were happened through this meeting”.
Standing in front of Sherlock House and responding to the vandalism there, Delegate 1 alleged that a Wallasey Labour Party member threw the brick through the window at Sherlock House.
” I’m absolutely disgrace disgusted with what’s happened it’s awful this isn’t how people should this isn’t how people should work it’s not how the Labour group should work this is not what Labour members should be doing to their MP it’s a disgrace”. (sic)
Delegate 2 (identity withheld in this version)
On Newsnight on 12th July 2016 in answer to the question “What sort of things have you heard at meetings?”
Delegate 2 said
“Well, homophobic comments made at Angela Eagle, who wasn’t present at the meeting, homophobic gestures made towards people at the meeting at the mention of Angela’s name. One lady at a recent meeting even threatened to punch somebody.”
And on BBC North West Tonight:
“At the last meeting there was threats of violence, homophobic abuse, arguments between grown men and women, it’s not a pleasant environment to be in”.
And on Newsnight
“Well within Wallasey the tone of the meetings has been appalling, threats of violence, homophobia, arguments between grown men and women, and now most recently today we’ve had an actual act of violence – a brick thrown through a window”.
Delegate 3; The Guardian: 1st August (identity withheld in this version)
Angela Eagle’s local Labour party is in further turmoil over a formal complaint that alleges she was referred to as “Angie the dyke”, and that a member was threatened with being punched in the head at an official meeting.
The Labour MP, who challenged Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership before withdrawing from the contest, saw her constituency party of Wallasey suspended last month over the claim of bullying and intimidation. The complaint by 17 Wallasey party members, seen by the Guardian, alleges that Eagle was the subject of the homophobic slur, and that others were intimidated at the annual general meeting on 24 June, which the MP did not attend. The original complaint about the AGM was made by 17 delegates led by Delegate 3, of the suspended party.
“Meetings have become very hostile, with people attending who should not be present. Members have been heard threatening people, saying they ‘Would come back there and punch you in the head’ for having an opinion. This is commonplace now and goes unchallenged by anyone because of intimidation and bullying,” the complaint says.
“When people try to leave, people stand in the way of the door and are told those trying to leave, they are not leaving and sit down. While people do leave, the actions are an intimidating act … At our AGM, when electing the LBGT officer, there was some delegates who started limping their wrists to each other and laughing. Homophobic comments have been said by members including ‘Angie the dyke’, making reference to Angela Eagle MP.
By one of those strange co-incidences that seem to recur in Wallasey; Delegate 3 is related to at least one of the women who wrote the letter of complaint falsely accusing me of distributing leaflets.
The impression given in these press interviews is that there was more widespread abuse and Homophobia than an isolated comment by one or two individuals. Indeed they make it look like the meeting was a total disgrace and more like a Wild West Saloon than a CLP meeting.
We have never received an explanation as to why, when none of them are shrinking violets, they could not have raised the issue at the meeting/s they took place.
We have never received an explanation as to why these members, who could have raised their concerns quietly within the Labour Party Procedures, chose instead to go to the media and denigrate the Wallasey CLP. Their actions cast a slur on Wallasey members and the Party in general.
We have never received an explanation as to why the accusations of widespread homophobic abuse that appeared in the Press appear to have changed into an allegation of an isolated and underhand incident that most of us could not have witnessed.
The Investigation Report gave credibility to the allegations and in our 102 page Response we challenged the Labour Party to come up with evidence to support any of these allegations , but to date none has been provided.
The question in the mind of any neutral observer would be why any members would make up such stories.
The clue to this is in a text sent by one of the prominent media interviewees Delegate 2 a week after the AGM.
Following this first interview on Politics Today 3rd of July he was involved in the following text exchange with ****** :
Hi Delegate 2 ****** here. What happened at the AGM. I saw your interview this morning
Hi *****. The AGM was by far the worst meeting I’ve ever attended. Momentum and the Trades Unions were evidently extremely well organised, essentially taking the vast majority of key positions on the executive. Prior to the start of the meeting, names were read out – as to ensure that only delegates were in attendance. One member produced a list of TU delegates, from UNITE. The list was backdated to December 2015, and differed to the actually one the CLP had received in December. Heated debate descended into outright arguments – at one point, somebody threatened to punch somebody. Following this, the atmosphere in the room calmed somewhat, and elections proceeded. Prior to the end of the meeting, Momentum passed a motion calling upon the CLP to urge Angela to support Corbyn.
It was by far the worst meeting I have attended. The CLP has essentially been hijacked by Momentum and Corbyn supporters. Similar instances of intimidation and infiltration have been reported in Liverpool and Lewisham. From what I saw in Wallasey – things aren’t looking good.
Delegate 2 makes no mention of homophobia in his text. His main concern seems to be that there had been a supposed takeover by members of Momentum and the Trades Unions.
In reality the AGM was rather mundane than in even his original description of it and results were not the result of strict slates. Most seats were uncontested and the main officer’s positions all resulted in different results with one 22:22, one 26:18 and one 27:17. This was dealt with fully in our 102 page Response.
I can understand his frustration at the outcome of the AGM as he appears from his tweets to be an enthusiastic supporter of Progress which had preferred candidates for the CLP Officers and he initially supported Angela Eagle’s Leadership bid but then switched to Owen Smith.
Delegate 2 is a prolific use of tweets and sometimes does 6 a day. His Twitter site shows that he has made 1,200 tweets and has 886 followers; a considerable audience.
I went back only as far as December 2015 and there is no mention of any nastiness in CLP or branch meetings prior to the Election Contest but there is an interesting change of tone once Angela Eagle announced her Leadership bid that exactly mirrors the change in behaviour of the group of members, who according to the Guardian are led by Delegate 3, who started to make complaints after the AGM.
Until June 2016 it was a fairly ordinary series of tweets. He is obviously a supporter of Progress (with their logo on his site) and regularly tweeted in support of Alison McGovern and Liz Kendall but there were also 8 tweets in support of Jeremy Corbyn. There were many tweets against the Tories. There are occasional tweets critical of Momentum but also some supporting some of their activities.
On the evening of 24th June AGM Delegate 2 was silent. There was no mention of Homophobia or Threatening behaviour at the AGM held that day.
On the 26th it was announced that Angela Eagle had resigned from the Shadow Cabinet and might stand against Jeremy Corbyn and the tone of the tweets changed.
June 26th; mocking Corbyn
27th; 3 re resignations from shadow cabinet
28th; Corbyn should resign
28th; condemning support for Jeremy Corbyn at the AGM and first mention of Fake TU lists and threats of violence. No mention of homophobia.
29th; Anti Corbyn
July 3rd link to his interview on Politics today in which he complains of entryism and a takeover at the AGM, Momentum and violence. No mention of Homophobia
July 10th and Delegate 2 is in the Liverpool Echo complaining of threatening behaviour at the AGM. No mention of Homophobia.
July 11th Labour Baroness on Politics Today is the first to allege homophobia
12th July; link to his TV interview and first mention of Homophobia.
From there on in he goes into overdrive and there are too many disparaging comments about Jeremy Corbyn to count. Perhaps some would excuse these comments as being part of a robust election campaign but it certainly was not part of “keeping it comradely”!
(There are also dozens of anti Momentum tweets but I presume that although not “keeping it comradely” it is allowed to attack groups that are not official Labour Party affiliates)
Since the result of the Leadership Vote the disparaging and divisive tweets have continued without any of his followers or fellow interviewees counselling him to moderate his behaviour.
For the first few days after the election he calms down and calls for moderation but then:
25th September; John McDonnell is a nasty piece of work
26th anti John McDonnell
27th 2 anti McDonnell
28th 2 anti Corbyn
4th October 3 anti Corbyn
6th Denigrating shadow cabinet reshuffle
8th anti Corbyn
17th anti Corbyn
19th Violence, homophobia and intimidation proven in Labour Investigation into Wallasey. Link to NW Tonight interview
5th November anti Corbyn
14th anti Corbyn
15th anti Corbyn
20th anti Corbyn
21st anti Corbyn
2nd December anti Corbyn
14th 3 anti Corbyn
16th anti Corbyn
28th anti Corbyn
2nd January mocking CLP meetings
19th January anti Corbyn
If I had been involve in a series of tweets like this then I would expect to be subjected to disciplinary action.
Member of Angela’s staff who works for Angela Eagle as ******* and whose phone was apparently used to ring round seeking support for Angela is also keen on Twitter and there are several entries on the evening of the AGM and many in the weeks that followed. I cannot find any mention of alleged homophobia at the AGM or any reference to any problems within Wallasey CLP.
Member of Angela’s staff was previously Equalities Officer for ***** and is never slow at coming forward to promote Equalities. She featured in several TV reports and in the press; mainly in connection with the smashed window but also regarding the alleged homophobic incidents.
At the AGM Member of Angela’s staff spoke up after the first period when there had been a dispute regarding the eligibility of delegates. She made a plea for comradely behaviour for the rest of the meeting. To her credit she always calls for comradely behaviour. It is inconceivable to me that she would have witnessed any homophobic behaviour and not protested loudly especially as she was sitting with several of her friends so would have got considerable support from them.
It is apparent that there is a small group of Labour Party members in Wallasey who are behind the stories of entryism, open homophobia and intimidation who are not only concerned at the influx of new members but perhaps genuinely believe that we are all being influenced by Trotskyists who have just been waiting for the opportunity to strike a blow for international socialism by taking over Wallasey CLP. Paranoia can make people behave in strange ways.
In the face of widespread media reports that there was something very rotten in Wallasey CLP I then had two choices. I could say nothing or could defend the good name of Wallasey members. I chose to defend our reputation.
I have to say that my approach was not borne just out of my support for other members. I was outraged that it was being suggested that I personally had been at meetings at which I had sat back and witnessed homophobic comments and intimidation and had done nothing about it
My outrage was best summed up in the complaint I submitted to our Secretary a copy of which was handed to Noel Hutchinson of NW Labour at our one and only Executive meeting on 11th July (and later sent by e mail to NW Labour):
From: Paul Davies
Date: 11 July 2016 08:31:34 BST
Subject: Alleged homophobic behaviour
I am deeply disturbed at suggestions in the media by Labour Baroness and Delegate 1 that there was homophobic abuse at our last meeting.
The impression was given that there were several incidents and by implication that none of us at the meeting did anything to stop the alleged comments.
I cannot say there was no homophobic comments or gestures but if they occurred they were made in an underhand fashion.
I believe I have a good track record in this regard including taking on a gang in Liverpool (and getting thumped and kicked) who were beating up a young gay lad.
I would do that again and certainly would not be afraid to confront someone at a meeting!
I now feel that I have to go round assuring gay family and friends that I was not at a meeting with
homophobic comments being thrown about and failed to take action.
I also have to assure those straight family and friends who feel strongly about homophobia.
I wish to raise a formal complaint against those who are on record as witnessing such atrocious
behaviour but who did nothing about it at the time.
How could they sit there while anyone at the meeting was being abused and Angela being referred to as a “dyke”
To witness such behaviour and do nothing is nearly as bad as indulging in such behaviour in my eyes.
I am also outraged that, with no evidence to support their claims, there were allegations of threats and intimidation. I have witnessed none but even if there had been I would have expected it to be dealt with by using the Labour Party Procedures rather than inflicting damage on the reputation of the Party by going to the Press.
In any interviews I did following the Public accusations I always stressed that although I had not witnessed Homophobia or Intimidation any such allegation should be investigated and dealt with. I also stressed the point that any members who acted that way would be a very small minority who should be dealt with by the police.
I never denigrated the Labour Party or any member of it. I never said anything that was not factual.
I would request that any interviews in which it is alleged I brought the Party into disrepute or wronged any Party member or made a factually incorrect statement be brought to my attention.
I would have preferred that there had been no public meetings. Members should have been allowed to meet on the 22nd July and then again following the Investigation. This is the Peoples Party and the People who make up the membership should be kept informed of what is happening.
Our 1300 members many of whom had never attended a meeting were being kept in the dark other than what they saw and read in the media. That is no way to treat a membership the vast majority of who, even if the allegations were true, have done absolutely nothing wrong.
As a former President of Wirral TUC I was invited to speak at a meeting they had decided to call in August 2016. I agreed only on the basis that representatives of the Labour Party and the MP were also invited. The meeting would not have been called if the Labour Party had kept its own members informed and called its own meeting.
I repeat that I would have preferred that there had not been a Public Meeting and that the Labour Party had made the clarifications and corrections as requested to Iain McNicol by me in my letter to him dated 24th October 2016; appendix 2b;
Rather than us all individually countering the mistakes and clarifying the Report it would be preferable if the Labour Party did this for us. I believe that you owe a duty of care to all your members including both those who allege homophobia and those whose conduct has been misrepresented by the contents of your Report and the accompanying press coverage
At that Public meeting (which was reported in the Liverpool Echo who had a reporter in attendance) there were 400 people present. I outlined what had actually happened at the AGM and read out some of the press reports about what had allegedly happened. I pointed out the inconsistencies in the Press reports.
The Echo reporter did a live tweet of the meeting.
At no stage did I refer to any member by name who had not already put themselves in the Public Domain by speaking to the press. At no stage did I say that there should not be an investigation. At no stage did I denigrate the Labour Party or any member of the Labour Party. At no stage did I say there could not have been homophobia or intimidation anywhere in Wallasey but only that it could not have been as obvious or widespread as alleged in the press reports. I stick by that.
If it is alleged that I said anything that was out of order at that meeting or not true I request details of that allegation and evidence to that effect.
Having not received any response to my letter to Iain McNicol the CLP Officers decided to prepare a fuller written Response to the Investigation Report.
This 102 page Response was not circulated to anyone other than the General Secretary and, later, to members of the NEC. We refused to make copies available to the press.
This 102 page report did not receive a response either and the Wirral TUC decided to call another Public Meeting to keep people informed of developments
At this meeting I covered the many mistakes that were included in the NEC Investigation Report. I based this on a personal Response I have written which mentions no names whatsoever.
At that second meeting the consensus was that once the CLP suspension was lifted there would be nothing to gain in raking over the coals of events subsequent to the AGM but that we should concentrate on fighting the Tories and not each other.
As far as I recall at no stage in this saga have I publicly criticised the labour party or denigrated any member. It seems ironic to me if I am now being investigated for actually defending the good name of Wallasey CLP and its members whilst those who have publicly denigrated the CLP and its members with false accusations do not face any disciplinary action.
Following the Public Meeting I circulated my own Response to the Labour Party Investigation Report which as stated above contained no names of Party members.
I will now turn to the allegations that appear in the NEC Investigation Report some of which may be targeted at me.
Local Party Environment
This section refers to a small number of new members starting to attend CLP meetings and being allegedly at odds with pre-existing members as to the way that meetings were being run due to lack of structure and confusion over the rules. It is stated that formal motions and scripted questions became a new feature of meetings.
This is dealt with fully in the CLP Officers Response but I will refer to my input at meetings.
At the meetings I attended I accept that I was one of the people who “clashed” with the way the meetings were being run. I was probably the main pain in the backside over this.
I was critical in both New Brighton Branch and the CLP that there were no rules or Standing Orders.
I was ruled out of attending the 2015 AGM of New Brighton Branch ( which I had been invited to) by the Secretary until I produced a copy of the Labour Party Model Rules contradicting her ruling. The Chair then asked me to send him a copy for future reference which I did.
The rules published Nationally are Model Rules and are very easy to amend to suit the local party units. It takes about 20 minutes to insert words in blank spaces or delete paragraphs when there are multi choices but despite this Wallasey CLP rules and New Brighton rules were not available to any member including the respective Chairs and Secretaries.
There was a tendency for rules to be quoted such as “our rules do not allow meetings in August or December” without anyone being able to provide a copy of any such rule.
To me it was quite simple. Fill in the blanks, delete the appropriate paragraphs and then provide copies to all members. To others I was a complete pain for making such repeated requests and I admit I was getting quite bored with myself over this.
Eventually New Brighton simply adopted the rules of Seacombe Branch with a change of name and meeting dates. It took about 5 minutes to do and I still cannot understand why this request led to “clashes”.
There were further clashes between myself and the Secretary of New Brighton when I and others suggested that we should take steps to encourage greater participation of members; new and long standing. We suggested knocking on members doors to make personal contact rather than just sending out rather dry meeting agendas.
A further criticism some of us had was that New Brighton Branch had no bank account and apparently never has. That has been remedied only recently.
After these initial “clashes” over organisation matters and resistance to change I would maintain that the New Brighton Branch is functioning well with good debates .
During the last Council elections there was an unprecedented turnout to leaflet for our candidate and similarly during the European Referendum. In the past there had just been half a dozen stalwarts including the Councillors to leaflet the whole Ward.
I freely admit that I also submitted formal motions to the branch and then via the branch to the CLP. I thought that was why the rules provided for motions . I also admit that there were a very few of the long standing members who did not think we should be bothered about debating issues such as the bombing of Syria but should concentrate solely local issues such as street lighting .
The 3 motions I submitted to my branch and through it to the CLP that I recall related to ;
- Publication of our Rules and Standing Orders
They are reproduced in full as appendix 5 . I would ask that the Investigating Officer point out any problems with these motions. All of which were agreed by the CLP.
Campaign against the Local Council
The first thing I ever heard about this was in the Investigation Report. I am still waiting for the requested minutes of meetings to substantiate this.
My involvement with Councillors was at my Branch and I believe I gave them every possible support. A letter from them confirming this is attached appendix 6
As far as I know I am not accused of being the person allegedly responsible for homophobic behaviour or intimidation at the meeting.
My only activity at the AGM apart from being elected as Vice Chair was;
- To assist in getting additional chairs
- To encourage a distressed member, who believed he was a delegate, to sit down whilst his eligibility to attend was discussed . He left in disgust unfortunately. I can get a statement off him if required.
- To encourage two members who believed they were delegates who were standing behind me in the doorway after they had been asked to leave to actually leave the building. I can get statements of them if required.
- To suggest that a delegate who made what I believed to be a sexist comment to desist (he meant it as light hearted but it was inappropriate).
- To make a suggestion as to a way forward when there was a discussion about passing a resolution in support of Jeremy Corbyn. I proposed a simple letter to Angela instead.
- At the end of the meeting I had a brief discussion with ****** who had been unsuccessful but congratulated me on defeating him in the ballot for Vice Chair and a brief discussion with Delegate 3 about our respective roles and working together in the year ahead.
I did not witness any such behaviour and if I had of would have challenged it. I admit I am contemptuous of any member who did witness such behaviour at the meeting and did not challenge it there and then.
I first heard of the allegations when on holiday in the Lake District and I was telephoned about the Labour Baroness interview.
I e mailed Angela Eagle asking why she had not corrected the impression being given in the media that she had been at the AGM and “subjected” to homophobic abuse appendix 7 .
I received no response.
I was determined that this matter be investigated and on my return I discussed the matter with the Chair of the CLP and then consulted with the police at Wallasey Police station. In consultation with the Chair and Secretary I then drew up the Officers report on how we should deal with the matter which included a recommendation that we report it to the police.
At the CLP Executive on 11th July I presented the report on how we should deal with the matter and it was agreed that it be circulated to all members due to the serious nature of the allegation and our determination that members should know that it was being taken seriously.
During the discussion our ************* told us that the abuse was done in an underhand manner that could not have been witnessed by any of the Executive Members present and that none of the executive was being accused. This is in the minutes and was witnessed by Noel Hutchinson of North West Labour so I presume I have no allegation levelled against me in this regard.
The matter was then taken out of our hands.
I have never been accused of abusive behaviour in my life; inside or outside of the Party. I have not left any abusive message or sent any abusive e mails. No one has ever heard me swear at a meeting or outside of meetings.
If I am being accused under this heading I await any evidence with great interest.
Campaign against Angela Eagle
I have never been involved in any campaign against Angela Eagle. I have never criticised her voting record or her record as Wallasey MP.
The Investigation Report refers to the abusive phone calls and e mails Angela’s office received the smashed window and the death threat. None had anything to do with me and to date I have seen no evidence that any of these incidents had anything to do with any member of Wallasey CLP.
All the incidents are unreservedly condemned by me and should be reported to the Police.
The Report also makes reference to the lack of support that was shown to Angela and her staff when they faced this abuse.
Support for Angela and her staff was made most unlikely when, immediately after the smashing of the window, supporters of Angela were popping up in the media stating, without any evidence, not only that the window was smashed by a Wallasey Labour member but by a Corbyn Supporter. Members are entitled to think that this was a piece of deduction about what happened to Sherlock House that surpassed the powers of even a Sherlock Holmes
Support for Angela and her staff was made most unlikely when Labour members were reading comments in the press by Angela’s supporters that Wallasey members had been responsible for creating a toxic atmosphere in their meetings. Members knew this was untrue.
Support for Angela and her staff was made most unlikely when members who attended the AGM were reading false reports about what happened at the meeting.
There is a big problem when people know you have not been telling the truth. They start to mistrust everything you say. That is what happened to the supporters of Angela Eagle who appeared in the press and so all sorts of conspiracy theories started to appear.
The concept of there being a conspiracy is enhanced when the Labour Party report is so poorly written with no factual accuracy and appears to readily accept any allegations without checking the facts. For example when referring to the smashed window the report states;
The position of the window made it very unlikely that this was a random passer-by. The window was directly between two Labour offices. Untrue rumours were subsequently spread that the building was occupied by many companies and the window was in an unrelated stairwell. This was based on a Companies House search which found that the landlord had a number of companies registered there; in fact the only other occupant is the landlord on the upper floor. Once this incorrect rumour was spread, members repeated it as clear evidence that Angela Eagle was lying. This is categorically untrue.
Local people know that the window in question is down a fairly wide alleyway between two roads and is opposite the pub with the worst reputation for violence in Liscard so a random passer by could have broken the window or it could have been the same person who tried to break into the off licence opposite only two weeks earlier.
Local people in fact got the “untrue rumour” that the building was occupied by several companies by the interviews given on the day by Delegate 1. In her interview in the Daily Mail on line 24th June for example; pictured next to the boarded up window she said ;
“Someone put a brick through the window last night. At the side of Angela’s Office there is a massive window from the floor to the top with six or seven panes and its broken one of them. They had come up the side of the building. There are three or four businesses in here as well as Angela’s office.” (my emphasis)
I proposed 2 motions (over a 12 month period) to the CLP that I thought might impact on Angela and I gave her advance notice so that she could prepare for any contribution she might want to make. I also wrote to Merseyside Police complaining that they were not offering her protection appendix 8. These are not the actions of someone who was campaigning against her.
I have never been a fan of Conspiracy Theories. I believe that the Americans did land on the moon and don’t believe that the CIA was responsible for the assassination of Kennedy or 9/11.
I can understand the concerns however of those who believe that the resignations of Shadow Cabinet members was orchestrated by supporters of Tony Blair such as those who now work for Portland Communications to deflect from the Chilcot Report but don’t know if that is true.
I can understand the concerns of those who think it is suspicious that Joe McCrae who was a special advisor to Tony Blair registered a domain angela4leader 2 days before she decided to resign but cannot say it is untrue when she says this was done without her knowledge.
I can understand the concerns of members who do not know what to believe when they hear reports of a meeting for Angela Eagle in Luton Hotel being cancelled due to death threats and then hear reports that the hotel manager says that this is not true.
There is so much of what has been going on that is a complete mystery to me which may come out one day but I do know with certainty that:
- The Labour Party Investigation into Wallasey CLP has no supporting documentary evidence for the allegations even though minutes of meetings would show if most of the allegations were true or not
- There is not one single accusation recorded about Wallasey CLP or any branch within it regarding intimidation, abuse, homophobia, campaigns against the Councillors or MP before the Leadership Election started in 2016 and the CLP expressed continued to support Jeremy Corbyn
- Someone made a proven false accusation about me February 2016 .They are not being investigated.
- 3 members were somehow looking out of their windows at the same time in July 2016 and managed to see me delivering leaflets to their houses even though I could prove I was 200 miles away in London. They are not being investigated.
- Members have made false accusations in the press about Wallasey CLP without providing any minutes which could easily prove if they were telling the truth. They are not being investigated.
- Members who claimed there was repeated and open homophobic behaviour at the AGM when talking to the press are now saying it was underhand and would not have been witnessed by most of us. They are not being investigated.
- At least one member has made a string of derogatory comments about the Leader our party on his Twitter account. He is not being investigated.
- I have never made any derogatory comments about anyone but have merely countered false statements and only because the Labour Party failed to do so. I provided documentary evidence to support what I say. No one has challenged the veracity of anything I have said.
- I am being investigated.
If only Franz Kafka was still alive. He could write a book about it; or perhaps this would all be too surreal even for him!
Appendices are not attached to this version but were provided to the labour Party as were the names of all the individuals whose identities are hidden in this document.