Chingford & Woodford Green members support suspended CLP officers

JVL Introduction

Members of Chingford & Woodford Green CLP have made a statement explaining what happened at their general meeting on November 30 and expressing their solidarity with suspended officers.

Leaks to hostile media generated inaccurate reports which were the prelude to the suspension from Labour Party membership of constituency Chair Gary Lefley and Vice-Chair Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi.

In expressing their solidarity, GM members join a growing wave of resistance to the party leadership’s increasing authoritarianism.

As CLP secretary Aktar Beg says in an addendum to the collective statement:

It is the duty of the Labour Party to offer … protection to individuals and certainly not victimise them by taking the side of the hostile media. Administrative Suspensions must be lifted. We are all volunteers, unpaid workers. We should be listened to.

Read the full statement below.

The truth about our General Meeting

We are members of Chingford and Woodford Green CLP who attended the November monthly general meeting as delegates from our branches and affiliates.

We wish to put right inaccurate impressions of our meeting conveyed in some media reports, which have been used to justify the suspension of two senior CLP officers.

The meeting took place on Monday November 30 via Zoom with up to 47 members present at any one time.

A motion calling for the whip to be restored to Jeremy Corbyn, was submitted in accordance with due process by Churchfields, Monkhams and South Woodford branch.The motion was removed from the agenda in advance of the meeting after our CLP secretary received an email from the Governance and Legal Unit of the Party ruling it out of order.

The meeting began with CLP Chair Gary Lefley making his opening remarks. Gary’s remarks can be viewed in full here.

Gary responded to a question about the admittance of new delegates to the meeting, explicitly welcoming new delegates from the Jewish Labour Movement. The member who had raised the question thanked him for the clarification.

The political discussion that followed was open for anyone present to raise issues that concerned them. A number of speakers contributed on subjects Gary had raised in his opening remarks, including the Government’s disastrous handling of the Covid-19 crisis, its impact on schools and education more broadly, Keir Starmer’s failure to challenge the Tories robustly and his role in suppressing freedom of speech in the party.

Among those who spoke were our vice-chair, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, a Jewish member of our local party. Naomi’s contribution can be viewed here.

In the chat, some delegates said that they felt uncomfortable, but they did not clarify what it was that caused their discomfort nor did they respond to invitations by other members to put their point of view in the discussion. The discussion remained at all times within the bounds of a normal exchange of political views. No individual members were targeted or abused and it is hard to understand what was said to make people feel uncomfortable, other than disagreeing with the leadership of the party.

After the discussion the meeting proceeded in orderly fashion, confirming dates for branch AGMs in the New Year and agreeing a resolution making a donation to a local community Covid-19 scheme.

The meeting concluded at 9.45pm and delegates wished each other season’s greetings as our next meeting was not until the New Year.
The leaked distortion of what happened

The next morning we discovered to our horror that someone present had clandestinely recorded the meeting, copied the chat and sent details to Jewish Chronicle journalist Lee Harpin. He emailed Naomi with a number of allegations about what he called a “deeply unpleasant meeting”, asking for comment from her and Gary, saying he would also be asking the Labour Party to comment.
Our CLP secretary Aktar Beg wrote immediately to GM delegates:

“I am sorry to inform you that someone has leaked details of our GM meeting to the media.

Our GM and indeed all our meetings are meant to be private and confidential to its members.When individuals are identified in this way I believe the person or person leaking information are also in breach of Data Protection Regulations.

As you are aware I use BCC in my emails to protect the identity of individuals.

The person or persons involved in the breach of privacy right of the individual need to come forward and apologise.

I am seeking advice from the Regional Director on how as a CLP we should address this and what we can do to protect our members in the future.”

Many members also submitted formal complaints to the Labour Party calling for an investigation to establish who was responsible for leaking details of an internal party meeting to the press.  Our local party has, to date, received no support from the Regional Director nor any acknowledgement of our complaints.

The Jewish Chronicle published its report on Tuesday afternoon, December 1. Gary and Naomi were suspended from the party the following day. Such disciplinary actions are meant to be confidential within the party, but Lee Harpin tweeted about them immediately and the Jewish Chronicle published a report written by him.
Why the suspensions?
Contrary to media reports, our meeting did not debate any motion that contravened General Secretary David Evan’s proscriptions about “competent business” and we do not know the reasons for the suspension of our chair and vice-chair.

We can only assume that it is the content of their speeches that has led to their suspension, both of which are now in the public domain and can be seen on links above.

We find such an attack on members’ right to express political opinions reprehensible and disturbing. We also consider that the leak of the meeting to the press undermines the security and safety of our members, who were filmed and recorded without their permission.

The Labour rule book states: “The disclosure of confidential information relating to the Party or to any other member… shall be considered conduct prejudicial to the Party.”

We stand in solidarity with our suspended members and call for their immediate reinstatement.

Nadia Amara
Nadia Baksh
Aktar Beg, CLP Secretary *
Helen Butler
Sarah Chaney
Simon Deville
Sue Dexter
Pippa Dowswell
Norma Dudley
Akin Gazi
Ben Gliniecki
Noel Hayes
Derrick Hibbett
Colin Jenkins
Fiona Lali
Brian Lester
Gerard Lyons
Mick  Moore
Pat Murrell
Brian O’Leary
Sonia Rowbury
Faiza Shaheen
Helen Watson
Stephen Woolnough
Bill  Wright

* Aktar Beg, CLP secretary, has made this additional statement:

London Regional Officer and Director have not replied to my emails and given no advice as to how we can protect our members from unwarranted leaks to the media damaging individuals and the Labour Party.  In such case it’s the duty of the Labour Party to offer that protection to individuals and certainly not victimise them by taking the side of the hostile media. Administrative Suspensions must be lifted. We are all volunteers, unpaid workers. We should be listened to.

Comments (8)

  • DJ says:

    This clearly demonstrates the level of complicity between the Labour Party leadership and the Israeli Lobby. The leadership represents a threat to the integrity of the party.

  • Simon Deville says:

    It truly is absurd that the (unelected) General Secretary can, without any reference to party rules, suspend Jewish members of the party claiming that it is in order to make meetings a “safe space for Jewish members”. Evans claims to be responding to the EHRC report which calls for consistent and fair disciplinary processes that are not interfered with by the leaders office by issuing more and more threats of disciplinary action against parties that discuss issues that he doesn’t want discussed. Far from supporting Evans’ actions the EHRC report claims that freedom of speech would be protected. It is truly shameful that the party is carrying out this purge of dissidents using antisemitism as an excuse for its authoritarianism.

  • John Thatcher says:

    Is it fair to suggest that there might be a connection between the attendance by members of JLM and subsequent leaks to the media given their prior record.

  • Ray Kelly says:

    Perhaps demonstrations outside Transport House, if that is still the Labour Party HQ is called for.

  • Lesley Finlayson says:

    I am losing my faith in the leadership of the Labour Parties leadership of Keir Starmer. Solidarity with Gary and Naomi. Whoever leaked this should feel ashamed of themselves.

  • This has been happening for years since Jeremy became leader Many CLPs and members have suffered the same fate and many are still suspended on trumped up charges.
    Our CLP members had no support and LP administration ignored us. We were suspended for a year pending the outcome of a legal case concerning a violent attack by an officer on one of our members. The other officers lied in court
    Many other CLPs were also struggling with the sImilar issues. Many members left the party for their own sanity because they realised they were wasting their time and health by staying in a party that has been infiltrated by the corrupt.

  • Andrew ovens says:

    Absolutely disgusting quick to suspend members no response at all about leaks.

  • LM Santamera says:

    We stand by members of Chingford & Woodford Green CLP who have made a valuable and important statement in solidarity with
    constituency Chair Gary Lefley and Vice-Chair Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi. This vile treatment by Starmer must stop. All members of our Labour Party must be allowed to voice their opinions without fear of wilful reprisals by the leadership. As always in solidarity with our comrades in the JVL. Way past the time for a day of reckoning with the the JLM and their constant snide attacks on our party and its members.

Comments are now closed.