Witnesses: 78 statements - 27,222 words
Anonymised statements — a total of 27,222 words — from 78 people (out of about 600) who attended the annual meeting of Brighton, Hove and District Labour Party on Saturday, July 9. The original emails from which these were extracted have been forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org, following the email — on July 28 — from Katherine Buckingham, the Labour Party’s head of disputes and discipline, in advance of the August 8 deadline for responses.
I just want to state I attended the recent BHDLP AGM and saw nothing that would have affected or altered what was an overwhelmingly clear set of results.
I find it disgraceful that the results were voided. It is a total nonsense.
It seems to me very likely that any allegations were used by those who wanted the results overturned from the outset and were desperate to find any excuse.
This was clear by the glum faces of some councillors and EC members at the meeting who were supporting candidates who lost.
In fact, John Warmington even hinted in an email that notified members of the coming AGM that he thought the meeting wouldn’t be a happy one. A disgraceful slur against those thinking of attending.
I think these councillors & members have brought the party into disrepute by their actions. They are not the actions of people who support the principles of equality and social democracy.
This whole sorry episode has been a terrible slur on those who attended what was overwhelmingly a properly run and comradely meeting.
We should be welcoming new members not putting them off by voiding their votes, excluding them from ballots and meetings etc etc.
I don’t believe the party nationally has covered itself in glory in this regard either.
Sadly I don’t have much faith in this investigation, but hopefully you will prove me wrong on that. The correct course of action is to reinstate the result and apologise to all members.
I understand that you are conducting an investigation into Brighton, Hove and District Labour Party (BH DLP) and have requested statements from members.
I attach my statement for you and also attach a copy of the letter jointly sent by myself, Anne Pissaridou and Christine Robinson to the NEC on 17 July 2016. Anne, Christine and I are the three members of the outgoing Executive of BH DLP who were re-elected at the AGM held on 9 July.
As a member of the Executive of BH DLP I am eager to see our Party fully reinstated and the disproportionate decision to annul our AGM of 9 July reversed.
As an individual Labour member, as well as a Branch Secretary in Brighton Pavilion CLP, I should be grateful to learn why I have yet to receive your email which I presume should have been sent to all local members. I am not the only member who has not received it, which I find rather worrying.
I should be grateful if you would acknowledge receipt of this email. Please let me know if you do not receive two attachments under this cover, as I shall be happy to re-send them for your attention.
I am writing to object in the strongest possible terms to the NEC’s decision to suspend the BHDLP and void the democratic votes of 100s of its members, including mine.
I am an elderly wheelchair user and attended/voted at the BHDLP AGM on July 9th, 2016, assisted by my daughter. While pleased to see the unusually large turnout, I did, initially, wonder how the organisers would arrange a fair voting system for such a large crowd and hoped that everyone would remain patient and keep their cool, particularly as it was a very nice day and people might easily have become frustrated at losing too much of the rarely available sunshine on the beach.
However it soon became obvious that there was absolutely no cause for concern. As soon as organisers had agreed the most efficient method for allowing all eligible members to both hear the candidates and cast their vote, they informed everyone concerned and the crowd settled down to wait in an orderly queue. Instead of the alleged ‘abusive behaviour’ and ‘intimidation’, I only saw a large, but good natured and extremely patient gathering of people, who were actually willing to wait in line to cast their vote, something the LP should be proud of in these days of political apathy!! Although crowds can sometimes be difficult to navigate in a wheelchair, this time it was very easy, since everyone was helpful, polite and in good humour.
Having attended countless political events, mass meetings, rallies, and demonstrations, I can honestly say that this AGM was one of the best managed and well disciplined meetings I have experienced and Lloyd Russell-Moyle must be congratulated for chairing it with both fairness and great skill. Although we managed to get into the first ‘round’, we chose to stay on afterwards to watch and take pictures and again saw nothing that even remotely resembled rude or aggressive behaviour.
Despite being somewhat vulnerable, I never felt fearful, unsafe or intimidated nor did we witness any hostile, angry or even impatient conduct.
However, there certainly is a degree of conflict in the BHDLP, which has a negative effect on the ‘comradely’ atmosphere at local LP member meetings and has mainly been triggered by the leadership’s relentless, and needlessly antagonistic, campaign against Mr. Corbyn. Having observed a number of these meetings, I realised that these tensions are not necessarily related to outright support for Mr. Corbyn, but are caused by the distinct notion that the leadership is contemptuous of any members who disagree with, or just question the democratic legitimacy of the removing any duly elected LP leader, since such views are either dismissed as ‘far left extremism ’ or responded to with scorn or derision.
This negative, if not hostile, attitude is most often displayed by Cllr. Warren Morgan (Leader of the City Council Labour Group and member of ‘Progress’) and his viewpoint is clearly demonstrated in a private email he sent to a select group of LP members on July 1st, a week before the AGM vote. Clearly unhappy at the election of certain Conference Delegates, this email alleges that ‘clearly hostile left wing groups’ are intent on staging a ‘takeover’ of the City Labour Party Group and asks the LP recipients of the email to attend the AGM to ‘face down’ the ‘Militants’.
The language and tone of this highly objectionable communication are clearly designed to invite hostility and unrest at the AGM and to create division in the LP, which should be unacceptable in any democratic party. I believe that this email wildly oversteps all the bounds of legitimate campaigning and civilised political discourse and that Cllr. Morgan should therefore be censored for bringing the LP into disrepute.
In the context of conduct and behaviour by Councillors and MPs, I must seriously question why the LP NEC was so quick, if not eager, to punish ordinary LP members on the basis of extremely flimsy, unsubstantiated evidence, while making no attempt whatsoever to discipline any of the many PLP members and Councillors who refused to accept the LP’s democratic process and had no hesitation to wage war against both a duly elected LP leader and all the LP members or supporters who voted for him.
I trust you will inform me of the outcome of your review and would be interested in your comments on the points I have raised.
- B Viner
Thank you for the invitation to comment on the district party and particularly the recent AGM.
I recently re-joined the Labour Party having previously been an active member from 1975 to 2002 in Hornsey.
I attended one meeting of the district party prior to the AGM and participated in activities around the EU referendum. The meeting I attended was conducted soundly with around 100 people attending and all the business on the agenda was covered.
I attended the AGM and found a queue forming outside the hall some fifteen minutes before the meeting was due to start. This was annoying and frustrating and quite unusual for a Labour Party meeting. After some time we were told by the stewards that the hall was full and it would take time for us to get in, but that we would be able to collect our ballot papers and vote. Also that there would be a relay system for us to enter the hall and to hear the speeches of the various candidates.
I must have queued for a further half an hour but eventually was directed to the person who would deal with allocating the ballot paper for my ward. I produced my membership card which was duly checked against a list and I was allocated a ballot paper.
After a few minutes I was able to gain access to the hall where I listened to the candidates and filled in my ballot paper and handed it to a steward and left. The whole process took over an hour and a quarter.
I would like to make the following observations.
The major error made on that day was to book a hall that was far too small. The hall took about 250 but over 600 people turned up.. I suspect the party officials were as surprised as anyone else.
Given the above problem the rest of the organisation for the AGM was handled well.
The queue was kept informed regularly regarding what would happen. Members were frustrated but good tempered. I talked to several members including councillors. At no point during the time I spent there was there any bad behaviour. I understand allegations of such bad behaviour has been made but I can honestly say that I experienced no such thing.
The allocation of ballot papers was conducted properly and efficiently.
The meeting was conducted in an orderly manner and the conduct of all was beyond reproach.
I was disappointed to hear that allegations had been made and the party suspended. I can say clearly and honestly that during the time I spent at the AGM all matters were dealt with in an orderly manner.
I hope this note will help you understand events that day and to quickly resolve this matter.
As a member of the Labour Party I attended Brighton, Hove & District Labour Party’s AGM on Saturday, 9 July, 2016. I went early as I was anticipating a big crowd in view of the local support for Jeremy Corbyn, and also because I have had two strokes in the past year and some heart procedures and walk with the aid of a stick, so I wanted to get in and obtain a seat.
When I arrived at the venue, City College, there was a long queue winding up the stairs which I joined. Everyone was good-humoured and there was a happy mood. I waited for some time and there was an announcement that we would all get in but that the election for new officers, etc. might have to be done in tranches and that the business of the meeting would be delayed until the next meeting. Everyone was very patient.
A man asked if disabled people could go up in the lift and gain admission to the hall and I was one of those who went in. This was the first meeting of the afternoon and when it started the prospective officers gave their speeches to applause. There was no disturbance and everything was carried out in a friendly manner except for a solitary boo, although I was not sure whether that was meant to be humorous. Apart from that one incident I witnessed no hostility, aggression or abuse of any kind. I think everyone understood that a larger venue should have been booked.
When we had voted we took our ballot papers and placed them in buckets and then left the room. I remember passing Lord Bassam who was queuing on the stairs and saying hello to him. The queue was again mannerly and during the whole time I was at City College I had neither seen nor heard any unpleasantness.
I could not believe it when I heard that the chair of the NEC’s Disputes Panel had arbitrarily decided to suspend the Brighton, Hove and District Labour Party and declare the election void. I very much regret this decision and I can see no valid reason for it. I hope that it will be reversed at the earliest possible opportunity and the AGM results reinstated.
Although your email does not specify, I assume that at least some of the complaints relate to the District AGM held on 9th July at Pelham College in Brighton.
I attended this meeting for the entire duration, having arrived some 10 minutes before the start and queued to get into the third sitting.
I can confirm that despite the inconvenience caused by the unexpectedly large attendance I had no sense at any time of a lack of safety. Nor did I see or hear anything to support the claims apparently made later about intimidation and unruly behaviour.
The organisers, who I think were the outgoing committee, responded well to the large numbers and all expected checks of membership cards etc were made in an orderly fashion.
In general the mood throughout was friendly and engaged, with many people talking to others both in the queue and inside the hall while waiting to get in without hostility. During the hustings themselves it became clear that some supporters of the outgoing committee were understandably unhappy about the likely prospect of pro-Corbyn candidates being elected, but again this was expressed in an entirely reasonable manner.
So far as I am aware therefore there is no justification for annulling the vote which seemed to take place in a fair and well regulated manner, for accusing the district party organisers of inadequate attention to safety, or for accusing party members themselves of inappropriate behaviour.
Indeed I was astonished to discover a week or so later of the claims made and actions taken, and to small extent as a rather mild mannered labour party member of 62 personally offended.
I attended the Brighton and Hove Labour Party AGM at City College Brighton on Saturday 9th July.
I approached the building just before 4pm, when the AGM was due to start, and found a queue of people that went along the street and round the corner.
I joined the end of the queue, and other people continued to join the queue after me.
After about 10 minutes, one of the officials of the Labour Party came along, and seeing me standing with a stick (I have arthritis and standing is very painful) he invited me to come into the building to have a seat while I waited. He took me up in the lift to the floor where the hall was, where there were many more people waiting. Someone found me a chair and I settled down to wait.
Although there were so many people waiting, they were all good humoured and patient, and very kind to me.
I was thirsty, but was 20p short of the money needed to buy a can of cold drink, and a total stranger gave me the money, which I thought was very kind.
As the meeting had had to be divided into 3 groups, I went in with the 3rd sitting.
As we went in to the hall we were given our voting papers. We heard the main speakers, and when they had finished we filled in our voting papers and handed them into the collectors’ buckets. Then we left. Throughout the afternoon I saw only kindness, tolerance and patience from the crowd of people.
I find it hard to believe that any one in that meeting behaved badly — what I saw was a democratic process in action in a civilised manner.
I am writing to give you my views about recent events in Brighton, Hove and District Labour Party. I attended the AGM on 9 July.
When I arrived at about 3.30pm there were already many people inside the building as well as many others arriving. However, I managed to join the queue and get inside the doors almost straightaway.
Initially there was some confusion as to what was going to happen, given the large number of people. However, quite quickly we were told that all other business was to be deferred but that there were going to be several sessions of voting and that we would all be able to get in and cast our votes.
I therefore remained in the queue, where people were chatting together amicably, and eventually got in to vote during the second session. At no point, neither outside the venue, in the queue nor in the meeting room did I witness any hostility or harassment of anyone or any other kind of inappropriate behaviour.
The meeting proceeded in an orderly fashion and all the candidates were allowed to speak and put forward their views, each being given two minutes to do so by the chair, who very clearly explained the whole procedure. In fact, I felt he did a valiant job in dealing with what could have easily become a chaotic situation in a calm and efficient manner.
I do not therefore recognise the characterisation of the AGM given by certain people in the media. In fact, I felt very excited and enthused about the fact that so many residents of Brighton and Hove, whoever they intended to vote for, took the time on a Saturday afternoon to come and exercise their democratic right, in some cases waiting over 2 hours to do so. I very much hope that the proposed investigation will show that no procedures were broken and that those elected will be reinstated without us having to hold a further election.
I feel very angry about the draconian steps that have been taken against the whole of the BHDLP on the basis of what appear to be sham allegations made up by a few who disliked the outcome of the elections.
Even if there were any problems, which I sincerely doubt, given my own experience and apparently that of most others attending the meeting, surely appropriate action should only be taken against those directly concerned and not against all of us.
Thank you for asking me for my views on the current issues in the B&HDLP.
Although I have been a lifelong Labour voter, I have never been inspired to get more involved or join the party — until recently. The rise again of the Tories, with them winning the General Election in 2015, and the EU referendum result in June, left me feeling very disillusioned with the state of the political debate in the UK. The one bright spot has been the emergence of a mass popular movement inspired by the resurgence of a socialist agenda within the Labour Party and the resulting large margin of victory of Jeremy Corbyn in the 2015 leadership election.
So, having signed up as a member of the Labour Party after the referendum, it happened that the BHDLP AGM was to take place soon after.
There was also a pro-Corbyn rally organised by BH Momentum to take place earlier the same afternoon. Although a little apprehensive following the stories in the media about bullying and intimidation associated with Momentum and Corbyn supporters, my wife and I decided we wanted to go along and find out for ourselves.
What we experienced took us very much by surprise. The Momentum meeting was packed with people who looked like us (ordinary people, in our 50s) and not young zealots or hard talking political types. The speakers were inspirational, and what they had to say about a better future that can be achieved together inspired hope, and was warmly received.
At the end of the meeting the large crowd dispersed into the surrounding streets and we and many others made our way to the City College for the AGM.
We recognised a few people along the way who had been at the rally, but it was very much a case of lots of individuals making their way through the streets, and there was no sense of a march or mass migration, which to be honest was what we had half expected.
On arriving at the AGM venue, we queued calmly as everyone was checked against the membership list, given their ballot papers and ushered through to the hall. It was very clear that the hall was not big enough to take all the people queuing, and when it was announced that all business apart from the elections was to be postponed and the elections would be carried out in 3 identical sessions, as agreed with all candidates, it seemed a sensible way to deal with it in the circumstances. We were in the first session.
The main business got underway, with the candidates for the officer posts given 2 mins each to make their case. Naturally some candidates received a more enthusiastic reaction from the audience than others, but there was no heckling, interruptions or any other negative response. All candidates who spoke were given a hearing and applauded. We completed our ballot papers at the end of the session, and filed out, placing them in one of the buckets provided for the purpose. After that we left to go home.
We were very surprised to hear the news a few days later that the NEC had annulled the election and suspended the DLP. Had we not been present ourselves we would have believed that there must have been problems, after all that is the kind of thing we hear in the media a lot. Not only did we experience a calm and professionally run meeting and election process, but we also know people who were at the later sessions, who reported a similar experience.
The only conclusion we can draw from this is that the complaints made to the NEC had no basis in fact, and I can only speculate about the motivation of those people who made the complaints. We were not at all surprised by the results of the election, having experienced the massive support and enthusiasm for the socialist-leaning candidates. This was not a takeover of the party by a particular faction, it was a reflection of the mobilisation of ordinary people who want to work together for a fairer society.
My opinion on these events is that the public perception of the Labour Party in Brighton and Hove has been severely tarnished, not by the membership, nor by the newly elected officers, but by the few individuals who have made what appear to be unfounded complaints or reports, and by the NEC Disputes committee in immediately suspending the local party and annulling the elections, without making any attempt to investigate and assess the true picture. It smacks of high handed and anti-democratic process, and goes against the general assumption of innocent until proven guilty that applies in our legal system. I believe the only correct outcome should be for the NEC to reinstate the party and accept the election results, and also to make a public statement acknowledging the mistake made in its earlier actions. The many, many new members of the party like ourselves are inspired by the idea of a new kinder and different way of doing politics, and we have not seen that in the actions of the NEC over this matter.
Finally, I would like to say I appreciate being given the opportunity to provide input to the investigation, even if a little belatedly.
I was at the AGM and all I can say is I saw and heard nothing that could be regarded as anything near intimidation or bad behaviour. In fact the only “incident” in the first session was one person booing Greg Hadfield which was treated with disdain by all (pro and anti Corbyn groups alike). I listened to the second session for about 30 minutes and there was no bad behaviour at all
Warren Morgan left after the first session and although he did not look happy there was no indication of experiencing anything other than voting he did not approve of. The intimidation accusation is a total fabrication from what I saw. How can the vote be questionable? Voting slips were handed out on the basis of showing ID and having your name ticked off on a list of members provided by the Party. The election was run by the officers elected in 2015.
The only problems were; a very long wait to get in and the room not being large enough
I have not seen anything from anyone who was “intimidated”, only those who have heard reports of intimidation. The only exception was an incident in a local pub afterwards which was racial abuse of someone who had spoken at the Corbyn rally beforehand.
Having been to thousands of political meetings in my life I would not even describe the meeting as boisterous!
As a member of CLP Brighton and Hove, I recently received your email inviting responses to the suspension of our branch and the conduct of our recent AGM. I welcome your invitation to send responses and hope you received several hundreds. I shall give you my account of my time of the meeting and my thoughts on the current situation.
I was welcomed at the entrance to the City College and joined the queue for my ward. I spent the 5 or 6 minutes talking to my queue neighbours and had friendly conversations with people I had not previously met.
There was a lively and friendly atmosphere. My party card and details were checked by a volunteer and I found one of the few remaining seats for the first batch of people. I overheard a couple of people complaining about a lack of resources in May but it seemed like quite normal conversation.
As someone who just moved to Brighton I was a little nervous at knowing almost no-one, so I was comforted by the comradely feeling that the meeting expressed. It makes me more confident that I will be welcomed into the CLP, once its suspension is cancelled.
The Chair announced that due to the turnout, the only practical way of conducting the business was to hold 3 hustings. This did not seem to bother any of the candidates, all of whom were physically present, nor did it seem anything other than the only sensible, fair option.
The speeches were short and understandable to new members, the ballot was timely and not rushed, and the Chair was competent and orderly. The voting slips were collected in buckets on the way out in full view of the meeting. Then I left.
At no point did I detect anything untoward or any conduct that remotely would justify an investigation, let alone an ad-hoc suspension with no due process of appeal. I would be very upset if there was any bullying and it is precisely because we must take bullying and intimidation seriously that we must also be vigilant that false accusations of bullying are not thrown about in a way that clouds over real cases of unacceptable behaviour.
I am extremely concerned both by the lack of due process shown throughout this suspension and the contradictory messages the party is sending to members and to the public, especially given the politically fraught times we are in. If the alleged conduct was so dangerous that only an immediate administrative suspension, personally authorised by the chair of the Disputes Panel, could protect the good name of the party and protect members from themselves, why has it taken two weeks since the beginning of the suspension for the General Secretary to instruct the Head of Disputes and Discipline to begin an investigation? This delay is completely inappropriate given the gravity of the situation and the immediate functional and political impact the decision is having, not only locally but nationally too. If this were a legal or judicial case, the timing would be actionable.
This is extremely poor behaviour by the party for two principle reasons: firstly, for several weeks nearly 6000 of its members in Brighton and Hove have been in the Kafkaesque position of being suspended from exercising normal democratic functions of the local party without knowing any details of allegations that had been put to them, nor the process, if any, by which this decision could be appealed, which apart from the stress it is causing to the local party and its members reflects badly on the administrative functioning of the regional and national party; secondly, perhaps even more importantly given an immanent city council by-election, this is bringing the ENTIRE party into disrepute and mockery in the eyes of the public.
It is not just the administrative functions of the party that are being looked on with bewilderment by the public, it is making the party look completely dysfunctional, and despite the hard work we are doing to elect Lloyd, who chaired the AGM, we will be besides ourselves in despair if this administrative decision costs the residents of one of the most deprived areas of the city a much-needed Labour councillor. It will be a great testament to how functional the local party actually is if Lloyd is indeed elected.
I have already corresponded with Ann Black over this matter and have urged her to cancel this suspension, or at the very least call an immediate full meeting of the Disputes Panel. It is deeply worrying that a pattern of behaviour is being allowed to emerge that is placing the organs of the party responsible for ensuring good conduct in a state of disrepute amongst CLPs, party members and the public. This must never be allowed to happen again and I hope that your investigation, not only in
Brighton and Hove but amongst the handful of other suspended CLPs, gives clear recommendations not only on how abuse should be dealt with but also how abuse allegations should be weighed and investigated first before heavy-handed, unappealable measures are used against pole-axed members.
For the avoidance of doubt, none of what I have said is a personal criticism of you or the professionalism of your work. I have no doubt whatsoever that yourself and the chair of the Disputes Panel are acting in anything other than good faith, professional conduct and in very difficult circumstances not of your making.
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I’m aware if some of the accusations surroundibg the AGM. I attended the AGM and was impressed by ethos and process, as well as patience and cordiality of people queuing to vote. I’ve written to that effect already so hopefully you have access to that message.
Your email is unhelpfully vague, though, about precisely what you are investigating. I have to say that NEC handling of whatever it thinks it is handling has been high-handed and obtuse, particularly given the national context.
I am writing to give you my statement of events at the AGM in Brighton. I arrived At 3.30pm only to be told that we couldn’t enter as the building was full. I told the man that we had come to vote and that we had a right to vote.
The man then left as he realised that we were within our rights to enter. There was no argument on the door at all it was all done peacefully. I then went in and stood in a queue. The chairman then came out and said that we could all vote and that there would be 3 sittings as the room was at capacity.
There was general good humour and we were all happy to wait. We were then directed to our prospective tables of what region we lived in. I was given my voting papers which I then studied to see who I was voting for. I had already a good idea who to vote for as I had studied the email of all the prospective individuals.
After waiting about half an hour in a very hot room we were then allowed into the hall. I must say I didn’t hear one word of anger at all, everybody was happy to wait so that they could get a vote. In the hall we had a drink from the drinks counter and waited for people to get seated. I then listened to all the speeches. There was no anger or bullying at all. I never witnessed anybody spitting or being harassed. I then put in my vote and left by the hall door.
It was all organised in a vey good way and I felt pleased that I was able to vote at my first AGM. I feel very disappointed that my first step into politics was annulled especially as I had made an effort and had taken the day of work and payed someone to work in my shop.
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As a candidate for the EC I was in attendance throughout all 3 sessions of the AGM and certainly can confirm the entire meeting was conducted in an organised and open manner. At no time did I discern any inappropriate or intimidating behaviour by those present.
The decision to hold the AGM in 3 sessions was the only viable option for the Chair to take on the grounds of safety given the large number of members wishing to participate in what was the greatest exercise in democracy ever in the history of the DLP.
The patience of those members who were wating is indeed to be commended, the queue was immense but all were regularly updated as to what was happening, understanding and accepting the unique circumstances which prevailed.
I fail to understand the reason for the accusations of misconduct and intimidation being levelled, those who have done so, certainly from my knowledge of the meeting, have no justifiable grounds for any such complaint.
I was also a scrutineer for the counting of the ballots for the officer positions of the EC which were carried out immediately after the meeting closed — the count was carried out in full accordance of Party rules with the votes for each candidate verified by the Chair and the candidates for the post, the successful candidates each had significant majorities — there is absolutely no question that the count was a true and valid reflection of the votes cast by the members attending the AGM.
I am more than willing to be contacted if you wish to clarify any points I have stated.
I write in response to the suspension of the Brighton and Hove CLP and the annulment of the elections held on 9th July.
It is not clear precisely what complaints have been made, and I call upon the party to release details of the allegations, although I would not expect that details of the sources of those allegations would be released.
I then wish to put forward my own evidence of my experience of the meeting.
I am Membership Secretary of Queens Park Ward, and served as a steward at the meeting, arriving at 3pm. The stewards were directed by Christine Robinson, Vice-Chair of the Party.
The meeting was held at City College, its usual venue, which had previously been large enough for all the members attending. I was in position at the top of the stairs inside the building, directing members to form two queues according to their constituency, on one side for Pavilion, on the other for Hove and Kemp Town, as this is how the tables where members were being signed in and allocated ballot papers were arranged.
Around 3.30 members began to attend in large numbers, and it became clear that the venue was nowhere near large enough. At this point, the stewards were directed to stop more people coming into the building as there were safety concerns, and to stop people already in the building from coming past the top of the stairs into the upstairs foyer.
There was initial confusion, because it was not clear what was going to be the outcome, and there were a couple of raised voices questioning whether members would be denied the right to vote. However, in the main people waited with commendable good nature and patience. There was certainly no violence or abuse, and even though I was standing as it were in the front line, I did not feel in the least bit intimidated by anyone.
Once the party officers had taken the decision to proceed with the meeting in tranches to elect officers, but not to take the motion on the agenda in support of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, our party Chair Lloyd Russell-Moyle communicated this clearly to the people waiting on the stairs and inside the building, and then to the people queuing outside. I heard one raised voice, but the decision was accepted, and people continued to wait patiently for their turn to enter the meeting hall.
My husband and two of my daughters were towards the end of the queue outside the building, and they all commented afterwards on how well-behaved and good-natured the members queuing had been, despite the long wait and occasional confusion.
After an hour or so, my position at the top of the stairs was taken by another steward, and I moved between the signing in tables, assisting with collating ballot papers for handing out, and fetching more ballot papers and candidate lists as needed. Members were queuing to show their cards and collect their papers in an orderly fashion, all the stewards signing them in were experienced and long-standing members, and the ballot papers and other stationery were safely under the control of the stewards and Christine Robinson. I cannot imagine that it could have arisen that papers were improperly taken.
I went in to the third part of the meeting to cast my ballot. Once again, the meeting was orderly and good-natured and properly conducted. There was no abuse and no threatening behaviour. The ballot cast was secret. I should perhaps add that I voted for a balanced EC of candidates from all sections of the party, and was not particularly enthusiastic about the clean sweep for the Momentum backed candidates. However, I of course accepted the result as democratically valid. And the fact that a good proportion of the voting was for non-Momentum candidates must suggest that no one felt intimidated.
I left the meeting after voting and did not remain for the count, so have no knowledge of any alleged discrepancies in voting. However, I
subsequently attended our normal Queens Park ward meeting on 12th July. Several members had remained for the count, but I did not hear complaints of any such discrepancies. The meeting had an informal discussion around the future of the party, and a wide range of opinions were expressed in a good-natured and comradely way. The meeting noted at the end its thanks to Lloyd Russell-Moyle for the competent way in which the CLP meeting had been conducted, despite difficulties. I attach a copy of the minutes.
To be honest, I find the complaints that have apparently been made quite incomprehensible. Neither I nor anyone else I know witnessed any inappropriate behaviour at the meeting. And the suggestion that officers and stewards acted either incompetently or deliberately in contravention of party rules I find quite offensive.
I would like to make it clear that I am happy to attend in person to give evidence to any enquiry should it be required. I am also more than happy for the statement I make here to be made fully public along with my name, as I have no fear whatsoever of intimidation from anyone.
On Saturday 9th July at City College I attended the District Labour Party’s AGM. I arrived at 3.40pm and had to queue to get into the building. I was taken aback at the number of Labour members who had turned up and at the quiet good natured mood of the queue. Because I had nominated myself to be an Observer of the Labour group, I was given passage straight into the Hall and was astounded that it was already full. I had a maned seat in the second row.
The hustings and vote that took place in the first meeting was conducted with good grace . Each candidate was listened to and at the end the voting took place and I left the meeting. At no time did I witness any unseemly behaviour, and therefore I was shocked later in the week that the Party had been suspended and that the AGM was going to have to take place again after 25th September.
I remain very angry at the decision to suspend all activities of the local Labour parties.
In Withdean we are very active in opposing, for example, the move to academies and the poor service on the railways and that work has had to be suspended.
I am a member of Worthing CLP. I am 60 years old, semi retired. Until 9 July I had no association with anybody mentioned in this statement, nor with any of the Brighton CLP officers elected on the day.
I attended the Momentum rally at the Brighthelm Centre at 2pm on 9 July, along with my husband. We also took our small dog along. The meeting room was full, my husband found a chair for me and placed it and the end of a row. We were settled in just in time for the meeting to start. We enjoyed hearing the speeches, there was a very positive atmosphere throughout. People sitting around us were mainly middle aged and families, some with babies. At the end of the meeting I struck up conversation with a woman holding a ‘Corbyn 50+’ banner, and some other 50+ ladies. We posed for a couple of photos outside the meeting, lots of people were petting our dog, and I also ran into a comrade from Worthing there.
We walked towards the AGM venue at Brighton City College with the ladies we had met, and we then intended to do some shopping in Brighton. When we arrived at the college the comrades from Brighton went inside. At this point a man who seemed to be a caretaker came out through the entrance doors and announced ‘doors are closing’. The man was wearing a hooded sweatshirt with no visible ID badge. I looked at my watch, it was just after 3.30 pm: the meeting was due to start at 4pm. Behind us was a steady stream of people arriving for the meeting. At first I don’t think I thought he was serious, but he then tried to prevent people entering. I (and others) told him this couldn’t happen as all the members had not arrived. But he tried to pull the doors closed. At this point my husband and I called to the members to hurry up and enter in a steady stream (so that the doors could not be closed). This was reasonably successful but as a gap appeared the man tried to close the doors again. He cited ‘health and safety’ as the reason, saying the room was full and people were queuing on the stairs. The college is a very large building, with plenty of capacity for people to enter.
Then he wanted to lock the exit doors as well, even though a young man was trying to come out of the building. I demanded that he open the doors, as it was obviously not safe to lock people into a building. He refused at first — I told him I would call the Fire Brigade if he didn’t open the door at once and let the guy out. The caretaker’s colleague came over at that point (inside the doors) and he unlocked the door. The young man — who I now know to be Matt Tully, came out and a few of us remarked on the folly of trying to lock people inside a public building.
Only the next day did I find out that Matt is the person accused and that this could be the alleged ‘spitting incident’ — if that is the case, it simply did not happen. Matt was calm: he obviously urged the man to open the doors. He said (and did) nothing further to the caretaker once the door had been opened.
I only learned that this was ‘the incident’ the next day on Twitter. Realising that I had witnessed the incident at the heart of all the fuss, I challenged some people who were quoting the allegation of spitting as a fact — including Cllr Warren Morgan, who was not on the spot as I was. I was then subjected to bullying challenges from him and some other men, which I found threatening. I have attached a screenshot of some of the exchanges. Warren Morgan also assumed, publicly, that I had gone into the AGM under false pretences and he said so on Twitter, even though I had at no point said I was in the AGM. Two of the men, @JoshuaJPE (a progress member from Matlock, Derbyshire) and @dave_c_coughlin (who lives in Exeter), continued to bombard me with interrogative questions as if I were in some kind of disciplinary arena. I was feeling quite intimidated — I had only spoken the truth as a witness, I did not expect to be hounded in this way.
[Also to Harry Gregson]
I attended the BH & D LP AGM on 9th July with two of my daughters. We arrived at 4 pm and left at 6 pm. We queued for 1 ½ hours and sat in the meeting room for ½ hour. We registered at our appropriate constituency desks, satisfied the stewards of our identities and qualifications to vote, and were each issued with one set of ballot papers. The vote itself was by secret ballot.
At no time did we see any abuse, intimidation or disruptive behaviour. On the contrary, everyone was patient and good humoured.
I am therefore astonished that the Chair of the NEC’s Disputes Panel has arbitrarily decided to suspend the District Party and declare the election void.
I call upon the NEC to publish the information they have which led to this decision being taken. I also call upon them to rescind the suspension and to reinstate the results of the election.
As a solicitor with 35 years of experience in criminal litigation, I can say that the judicial system separates the investigation of complaints, the prosecution of defendants and the tribunal which decides on guilt or innocence. The Chair of the Disputes Panel has conflated each of these separate functions and unilaterally pronounced judgement. This goes against the principles of natural justice.
The judicial system also provides for the open disclosure of evidence and hears evidence for and against complaints. The NEC have failed to do this. Again, this offends the principles of natural justice.
In suspending the District Party and declaring the election void, the NEC have effectively accused all 600 plus members who attended the AGM and who voted of impropriety. This is outrageous.
The NEC Disputes Panel should now properly and fairly investigate the complaints which have been made, hear relevant evidence from all who wish to give it and then reach an informed decision. All of this should be done publicly.
In the meantime, the suspension must be lifted and the election result be allowed to stand.
I’m writing to you to give my witness account of what happened at the recent AGM in the City College.
Arriving at the Pelham street entrance of the City College, I observed a staff member trying to lock the doors — which would have resulted in over a third of Labour Party members being denied their democratic right to vote in the Executive Committee elections. He (the staff member) locked the entrance door but then the exit door opened and some LP members calmly walked in. This infuriated the staff member and he became agitated. He then proceeded to lock the exit door, which among
other things, constituted a fire risk. At this time voices were raised, until the staff member’s colleague /superior came along and the matter was
resolved. The allegations of spitting are entirely false — I was about 10ft inside the building and heard and saw everything. I consider
it disgraceful that an election result and democracy itself were annulled because of false allegations brought about by disgruntled losers. I sincerely hope this matter can be resolved both quickly and amicably so we, as a party, can get on with fighting the Tories rather than each other.
On 15th July I wrote the following to my MP Peter Kyle on his public facebook page;
“Couple of things Peter. You were present on Saturday and it would be helpful if you made a public statement to acknowledge that the AGM was held in a very cordial and friendly spirit, and that the stories being put around in the media about a nasty atmosphere are false. This falsehood is giving Brighton CLP a bad name and you know it wasnt true, they were excellent meetings, the best attended meetings of our CLP in decades I believe. Secondly if it is the NEC who have suspended the party, and annulled the elections for a reason that is unclear (the result was not close so this is very worrying for local members) are you able to provide a name for us to write to. The NEC met on tuesday, and this decision was after that, so it appears to local members a very murky, unaccountable decision. I am sure all local members, and your constituents will want to be reassurance that you too are not happy with the NEC for this shocking attack on democracy in our local party. You say it is an issue about the internal committee of the local party, but members have not been given an explanation about what that issue is. If you know what ithe issue is, please explain — if you dont know please protest to the party’s NEC on our behalf?”
As of today, 19 July, Mr Kyle has not replied, though he has replied to some other comments and queries in the same thread.
For the record I arrived in the queue at approximately 3:45pm and queued for around an hour I believe. I was one of the last to get in to the “2nd AGM”.
I am astonished at the stories that have emerged as I saw only a good natured and friendly atmosphere for the whole 2+ hours I was at City College. The picture being drawn — I believe for undemocratic purposes — of a hostile atmosphere is, as far as I am concerned, based on what I witnessed, pure fantasy.
My partner & I are both long-standing Labour Party members. We arrived at City College for the meeting where we joined a long queue up the stairs. A volunteer helpfully divided people into two lines to show Party cards, be signed off the register of members & receive ballot papers. We were only waiting for around 20 minutes.
It should be remembered in all this, that this was a meeting arranged by the then existing District Party EC, with a recently increased membership of 6,000, it being an AGM, in the teeth of a PLP driven coup against the leader of the Party, when a lot of people would clearly be keen to register their votes in support of candidates who actually supported the elected leader. It was arranged in a venue holding 200 or so and 600 people turned up.
As we reached the doors, we were told that the room was full. The behaviour of everybody in the queue around us was exemplary. It soon became clear that an annexe was being opened to allow a few more people into the first meeting. We went in and sat at the back of the hall.
It was very clearly explained by the chair that the existing EC and the candidates had come to the pragmatic decision, because everybody had come to vote, and nobody wanted to be disappointed, and rearrange the whole thing, that the agenda had been scrapped and the meeting would simply happen 3 times to accommodate all the members who had come, with 2 minute speeches from all the candidates for the officer positions.
The feeling of the meeting around me was that everybody thought this was an excellent decision. Nobody wanted to go home without a vote, and this was an excellent way of achieving this.
I have read the comments of Warren Morgan and various councillors and a few ex-EC members to the extent that there was intimidation, an incident of spitting, violent and abusive behaviour, etc.
I have to say this is the exact opposite of the disciplined, well-behaved, comradely meeting I attended. I genuinely have to say that it was one of the most orderly mass meetings, especially in the circumstances of 3 times as many people attending as the then-EC had catered for, I have ever been to.
The only sour note in the meeting I went to was that one of the candidates for Secretary, Greg Hadfield, received a solitary boo from a person who I feel has let himself down very, very badly indeed on this day.
Every speech, from all the candidates, whichever side they were on, was exceptionally well made and were listened to and received attentively. Initially people were cheering each side depending what they heard, but the Chair asked people not to do this & that ended immediately. I would say the mood of the meeting was attentive and disciplined, overcoming natural political differences to an extent that my partner & I discussed was actually quite amazing and uplifting.
Subsequently I have spoken with fellow members who attended the 2nd and 3rd meetings & they have both independently told me that they saw nothing but orderliness in the queues and excellent and respectful behaviour in the meetings.
I was with absolute disbelief and outrage that I heard the DLP had been suspended 6 days later along with an annulment of the result.
I have sadly come to the view, reading Twitter messages from Warren Morgan and some councillors supporting him that any perceived incident, actual or otherwise, was going to be used and blown up out of all proportion in the case of the vote going the way they did not want.
Now this has come to pass. The honour of Labour Party members has been trashed by this approach. Injustice abounds. All that matters is democracy is trampled to achieve the ‘right result’. This behaviour has literally brought the party into disrepute.
I strongly believe the suspension must be lifted.
I am writing to express my concern over the decision to suspend the district Labour Party after allegations of abuse at the AGM.
I was in attendance with my husband who is also a Labour party member and my three year old son and am also heavily pregnant. It was very busy with many people queueing and waiting on the stairs. Had there been any aggression whatsoever I would not have felt at all comfortable staying given our circumstances. As it was people were kind and polite. I was given a bottle of water and one of the candidates’ wives even offered to help me with my son who was getting a bit impatient.
All in all I was impressed with how the meeting was managed given that the turnout greatly exceeded expectation.
I hope this decision is overturned promptly so the elected members can get on with their important roles.
[To Harry Gregson — confidential]
I am responding to the request for details of Labour Party members’
experience of the AGM of Brighton, Hove and District Labour Party AGM on 10/07/16 from the South East Regional Director, as posted on Facebook.
I am a member of Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven CLP, one of the
constituent CLPs of Brighton, Hove and District Labour Party.
When I arrived at the AGM there was a long queue because of the rigorous checking of members details to ensure that they were current members of a Brighton, Hove and District District CLP. My membership card was checked by an officer of one of the constituent branch Labour parties of
BHDLP (even though that officer has known me for a least five years, and is a friend!) Considering the queue to get in was very long and slow,
members waited patiently. The process of queuing was well-managed and
paid attention to the health and safety needs of the number of people there.
Inside the hall the meeting was split into three sessions in order to
meet the venue’s health and safety (fire) requirements for maximum
number of people in the room.
The meeting was conducted with a very high degree of attention to
process by the chair of the BHDLP (Lloyd Russell-Moyle).
I neither saw nor heard any uncomradely behaviour in the session of the
meeting I attended. In fact, the behaviour of members was more courteous than it normally is at all-member meetings; and I have attended a lot of all-member meetings.
The collection of complete ballot papers was undertaken efficiently.
When I left the venue I heard or saw no uncomradely behaviour outside
Please note I was not a member of the 2015–2016 EC, and I was not
standing for election for the 2016–17 EC.
If you would like further information please don’t hesitate to contact
me. I am happy to give verbal evidence on the meeting if required.
As a candidate and an organiser for Momentum I am well placed to comment on the AGM, as I arrived at the college at 3pm to hand leaflets out at the doors and left after the final session at around 6pm. I remained in the main hall throughout the three sessions. Here is my account:
Arrived at Brighthelm Centre to help set up Keep Corbyn rally.
Helped facilitate rally, attended by hundreds, which was good natured.
Left for City College alone with A4 ‘We have confidence in Corbyn’ leaflets. These had the official statements of the pro-Corbyn candidates printed on them.
Arrived at City College. As I arrived, Mark Jackson (candidate for Chair), was stood at the door. I shook his hand, told him that I hoped he didn’t win but that if he did I would be happy to work with him.
Mark went in and I proceeded to hand out leaflets at the doors.
Cllr Emma Daniels arrived outside to have a cigarette. We spoke briefly about the leaflet. She asked about one or two of the candidates and said she would vote for experience and not either slate. I said that was fair enough. It was a pleasant and comradely conversation. We also discussed giving up smoking as I had given up 2 years hence. Emma went back inside.
I ran out of leaflets and others including my wife arrived. I went in and joined an already large queue to get in the hall. I spoke with NPF rep Simeon Elliot in the queue. It was hot, but people were in good spirits.
As I neared the front of the queue, one member, a man I didn’t recognise walked back through the queue telling everybody the meeting was at capacity. I was already at the desk to sign in, so did and received my ballots. I probably waited another five minutes just back from the door to the hall. There was a fair amount of confusion but no anger or aggression. Jack Spooner, the local party organiser appeared to be panicking and rushing to and from the door. Harris Fitch shouted “you’re doing a good job Jack.” My view is that he was not doing a good job.
Some people at the front appeared to be let into a room adjoining the main hall. As we went through, some walked into the main hall. As I followed, somebody, I don’t remember who, said Lloyd wanted to speak with all the candidates. I walked to the front, the hall was full but not overly so. There were empty seats and to me it looked like a few more could fit. Everybody was happy and waiting for the meeting to start. Lloyd set out three options which he said he had discussed with the Regional Officer present. These were:
1) Postpone the AGM
2) Extend capacity to the adjoining room and rotate speakers
3) Conduct elections by allowing all 5 Officer candidates to speak, no questions, and then collecting ballots. After this the room would be emptied via the balcony and the room filled with those waiting outside. At this point the process would be repeated. All other AGM business would be postponed.
These options were very clear. There were one or two questions but I do not recall any objections. All candidates agreed on option 3.
The first meeting got underway. When Greg Hadfield was introduced, one person booed, I looked for who it was but couldn’t see. Apart from this all speeches followed respectfully and to time.
Ballots were collected. This was done in an orderly way with volunteer tellers collecting them in buckets.
After voting session 1 audience left via the balcony, and the second tranche were permitted entry. The chair made it very clear that apart from the candidates anybody who was present at the first meeting should leave via the balcony.
Peter Kyle MP arrived. I shook his hand and asked how he was. We don’t see eye to eye politically but I was conscious that he would still be grieving for his friend Jo Cox. This either took place here or before the first session. I can’t recall.
I remained throughout the next two sessions and witnessed no bad behaviour, threats, or intimidation at all. All speeches were received respectfully.
The chair declared the meeting closed around 6.00pm. I left and met Mark Sandell and a few members of his family in The Price Albert Pub, had one drink and left.
— — —
I attended the Labour Party AGM at City College last weekend with my partner [redacted].
We saw no incidents of aggression or unacceptable behaviour of any kind. We were impressed by the orderly fashion in which the event was conducted. The atmosphere was calm, pleasant and friendly. Even though the number of attendees was far too great for the size of the meeting room, those who couldn’t get in for the first session waited patiently outside for the meeting to be rerun. We walked around the back of the building after we came out of the first session to see how many people were still waiting to go in, and saw people queuing calmly and chatting as they waited. We saw no attitude, no spitting incident and the whole event was well organised and pleasant to be part of.
Just a quick note to say that I queued for an hour to enter the third session of last weekend’s Labour Party AGM in City College and there were no incidents to report. Everyone waited patiently and politely in the queue and there were no arguments of any description whatsoever.
The organisers were very efficient in adapting the meeting to accommodate the large turnout and we were regularly updated on the time it would take to enter the meeting and which session we would be attending.
When the queuing ended, the meeting itself was very well organised and a credit to Brighton and Hove Labour Party.
Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make last weekend’s AGM such a success.
[To Katherine Buckingham and Harry Gregson]
Dear Ms Buckingham, Mr Gregson
I was distressed to receive an unsigned email from the District Party announcing that it had been suspended, following complaints of “abusive behaviour by some attendees, as well as reports that the ballots results were not properly reached. We are particularly concerned that the safety of members at the meeting was compromised.” As a result, the result of the AGM was annulled, and the District Party is forbidden to organize hustings meetings.
I understand that Ms Buckingham as the head of disputes and discipline will be overseeing any investigation, and that Mr Gregson has taken over management of the local party while it is suspended.
I am writing to give an account of my experience of this meeting, which was completely at odds with these allegations. I am happy to give evidence to the Disputes Committee or otherwise to assist with any investigation. I may say that I find it extraordinary that the District Party was not allowed to deal with any such allegations themselves, and that an investigation could not have been carried on without such drastic steps being taken.
I am a long standing Labour voter and a rejoined member, leaving some 18 years ago and rejoining last September. I am a solicitor, having qualified in 1986. I was made “Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year” in my category in 2011. Most recently I have been studying and teaching in Birkbeck College School of Law.
This was the third District Party meeting I had attended. At the second Lloyd Russell-Moyle was elected the new Chair; I was impressed then by the clarity and force with which he conducted proceedings and was very much impressed by the way he Chaired the AGM last Saturday.
It was obvious that many more people were attending the AGM than had been at the previous two meetings. I queued for a considerable time to get into the meeting. Everyone had to show their membership card at tables for their own constituency. Mine is Hove. My card was checked and my name marked off on the membership list; then I was given my ballot papers. The process seemed thorough and fair.
There was a good deal of excitement, and generally much good humour. I overheard two or three young members referring to Momentum supporters as “nutters”, but they were just talking among themselves and I made nothing of it; the atmosphere was good. I was near the back of the hall and soon after me the hall was closed to more people. People were saying “there’s more room” but we were being told that the hall had reached its health and safety limit of 320. Soon after that, Lloyd spoke to us. He told us that the hall was full to its safety limit and that there would be no compromise on that. He said he’d spoken to the executive and to the candidates and they had reached a compromise to which all had agreed. All business apart from voting would be suspended to a later meeting. The candidates for the executive posts would speak briefly and we would vote; then we would leave (through one of the fire exits if possible — I think the idea was that some disabled people would not be able to do this and that they would go back through the main entrance) and they would bring in the next tranche of members. He was expecting that there would need to be three tranches.
This decision might have led to unrest — we had arrived expecting to debate a very important motion about which many held strong views. But the speed and clarity of the decision prevented that, and so far as IO could see and hear the decision was accepted with good humour. The speeches were listened to in a comradely way; at one point Lloyd took to the mirophone to warn some members in the hall against making audible expressions of support for parts of the speeches — he referred to them, humorously, as “squealing”, which drew a laugh. He said that he felt they were unnecessarily inflammatory and that we should confine ourselves to respectful clapping, and so we did. I did not think that the meeting had been getting at all out of order, but his intervention certainly made the hall calmer and I thought he had judged it well.
Following the speeches, we filed out through the French windows to the side of the hall, handing our votes to the appointed volunteers as we did so, and dispersed in an orderly way. It was a difficult situation that had been handled in an exemplary way. I heard no personal abuse or unpleasantness and nothing to indicate that safety was compromised or that there was any irregularity in the balloting.
Clearly I didn’t see anything that happened after that, or outside the hall. Hopefully, however, my testimony may be of use.
Finally, if the District Party is to be prevented from organizing hustings, may I call on the Regional Party to do it for us. I see no reason why we should not have the opportunity.
[Statement by to Regional Office and NEC]
I have been a member of the Labour Party continuously since 1959. I moved house in 2014 and transferred my membership to Brighton and Hove. My membership card says Hove CLP but the constituency parties in Brighton and Hove do not meet (except presumably for the selection of parliamentary candidates) but that there is a city-wide District Labour Party comprising members in the three parliamentary constituencies.
Since moving to Hove, apart from canvassing extensively for Peter Kyle in the last General Election and delivering leaflets for the Remain campaign in the European Referendum, my political activity locally has been limited to attending my branch meeting. (I live in Wish Ward but branch meetings are joint meetings with Westbourne branch).
At branch meetings, and at a reception for new members organised by the MP, I have met a number of new Party members. A few have been returning members, some of whom left the Party due to policy disagreements such as privatisation of public services and Iraq and have rejoined as they now see the Party more in tune with their views. I should add that a number of those to whom I have spoken rejoined before the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Leader. I have also met a number of first-time members, some of whom had joined shortly after the General Election and (and before the Leadership election) because they were horrified by the General Election result and felt a need to do something about it. Others joined after Jeremy Corbyn’s election because they felt he represented a new kind of open politics, even if they did not agree with him on all issues.
On Saturday 9 July, I attended the Annual General Meeting with my wife. Prior to the AGM, I attended the Momentum meeting at the Brighthelm Centre. For the record, I am not a member of Momentum and have never been a member of any factional group within the Labour Party outside of Parliament.
The Momentum meeting was packed, orderly and calm. Not all of those present were Party Members. I sat next to a 40 year old man with left leanings who had never been a member of any political party but felt enthused and energised by Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and was resolved to join the Party. I suspect he was not untypical. At the end of the meeting those who were Party Members were urged to attend the AGM and to support candidates who supported the Leader. There was no incitement or encouragement to do anything other than attend and vote and to do so in an orderly and polite manner.
I arrived 30 minutes early for the AGM and joined a queue which went down two flights iof stairs and outside outside the building. Inside the building the queue was divided into two — one for members of Pavilion and the other for Hove and Kemptown members. There were three separate desks — one for each constituency — they were staffed by volunteers who had the list of members eligible to vote and I assume this had all been organised and approved by the outgoing Executive. At the desk, members were required to give their membership number, or produce their membership card or provide some other form of identity. Only when this was done were ballot papers issued and their names ticked. It was done in a calm and methodical manner.
My wife and I received our ballot papers but then found the door to the hall closed and we were told that no more members could be admitted under health and safety regulations and that organisers were exploring the possibility of getting a larger hall or opening an extension. Eventually the doors opened on to an annexe/anteroom to the main hall. Once inside, many members had to stand and the doors were closed leaving many members outside. Whilst in the queue some members did query whether this might be an attempt by those in control to deny members a vote but the queue remained calm, although people were anxious to know what was going on. When told that everyone would get in and no one would be denied a vote anxieties were calmed. I accept that the mood might have been more anxious farther down the queue but assumed they were also being informed that they would not be excluded from the meeting.
Inside, the Chair calmly told the meeting what was proposed i.e. to proceed with the election of officers and executive committee etc and conduct no further business; the hall would then be vacated and a second meeting would be held for those who had been unable to gain access.
We were asked to vacate the building by a side door as soon as we had voted and everyone did this in a calm and orderly manner.
With regard to the voting, the Chair announced at the beginning that the candidates had agreed to the procedure whereby each candidate would address the meeting for two minutes. None of the candidates objected to the procedure and the meeting accepted it without dissent and the meeting went ahead.
I find it strange that some people are now objecting to the procedure, after the event, when they agreed to it at the time. The ballot proceeded peacefully and without incident and a second meeting followed. I later learned that three sessions were required, all of which passed without incident.
I have subsequently seen, in social media, complaints that some people who voted were not eligible and there were complaints that it was not possible to ask questions of the candidates. In my 57 years’ membership
I have been to countless AGMs where candidates have not even spoken let alone answered questions and the results were never challenged.
Whilst it might be desirable to have a Q&A session, it was not asked for by any of the candidates or by anyone present at the meeting and would have been impractical given the number of members present and the time available. As far as I am aware no infringements of the rules took place.
As far as eligibility to vote is concerned, the procedure had been agreed by the outgoing Executive and ballot papers were issued only to those on the membership list which presumably had been approved by the outgoing Executive or Officers.
It is worthy of note that up until the declaration of the results of the elections the outgoing officers and executive were in full control of the procedures and proceedings.
I have been a member of the Labour Party for 57 years — I served as a local councillor for 24 and for 18 years as a Member of Parliament, defeating Militant to gain selection as a candidate and defeating the SDP to get elected. I have rarely seen such a well ordered, calm and friendly meeting, and I am appalled by the lengths that those previously in control of the district party seem to be prepared to go to retain their position.
I am astonished that the Disputes Committee could take such drastic action, as suspending the party, on such flimsy evidence. I feel the full NEC should either immediately reverse the suspension or reconvene a general meeting of members to allow us to make a supporting nomination for the Leadership, otherwise I and hundreds of other law-abiding members will be denied our democratic rights.
[To Harry Gregson]
Dear Comrade Gregson ,
I managed to get to the venue after the Momentum rally . The Momentum rally was very crowded indeed but very enjoyable it felt like being back with my old Labour party. Having succumbed to a industrial injury , my body told me to rest in a nearby cafe .
I then walked to the city college venue to find a large queue of people .going up the stairs to the hall . There was no bad feeling , no bad comments and we all chatted about our own individula political opinions .
The stewarding was superb , Comrade Chairman Lloyd spoke and explained he had sought guidance from a Regional Officer as there were too many people to get into the venue .
A member did start shouting but Comrade Lloyd dealt with him politely and firmly and the member desisted . I was tired and my leg was hurting throughy my recent injury at work so I completed the ballot votting papers and gave them to trusted comrade to place in the ballot box and left as the AGM sitting two was about to take place . The queue of people extended right along Pelham Road for what wpuld have been sittings 3 .
Suggestions for nex time , hold a optional postal or online ballot
To keep the numbers down also the cost of hiring somewhere like the dome or the Brighton Centre .
More stewards ( I am willing to help , my leg will be better by then ) I enjoy helping other people .
Entry by ticket plus membership card or online verification of membership before the event . There were individuals at the venue that were not CLP members and were asked to leave and they did leave .
My Deepest Respect
I have been a member of the Labour Party for over 20 years and attended Brighton and Hove District Labour Party’s AGM on Saturday 9th July at City College to participate in the vote for new Officers. I am aware that the Labour Party NEC has suspended the local party due to allegations of improper conduct at the meeting and annulled the results of the AGM.
I am somewhat bewildered by this action. The turnout for the meeting was tremendously encouraging, with what appeared to be over 600 members enthusiastically participating in the ballot and democratic process. It was clear that not everyone would be able to fit into the hall and the officials led by Lloyd Russell-Moyle made a very sensible decision to conduct the AGM and ballot process in repeat sittings. I was part of the first sitting. All candidates and participants were respectful, orderly and good humoured. The voting process was clearly explained and I was able to cast my votes along with all others in the room in a proper and orthodox manner. I left the building and waited for my partner who was queuing outside the hall for a subsequent sitting. I am clear that I witnessed nothing untoward at all.
I am disappointed with the NEC’s decision which, in the context of my experience on the day, appears irrational and ill-informed, and denies the fundamental democratic process.
I went along to Brighton and Hove District Labour Party’s AGM on Saturday 9th July at City College to participate in the vote for new Officers. I understand that the Labour Party NEC has since suspended the local party due to allegations of improper conduct at this meeting and has annulled the results of the AGM. I want to say that I witnessed no improper conduct; in fact everyone who I observed was extremely good-humoured, in spite of the challenging situation that had occurred because so many members had turned up to vote.
I arrived at City College approximately 20 minutes before the meeting was due to start and needed to queue outside the building because of the large number of people present. As people calmly moved inside, I got as far as the lobby, when it became apparent that the venue was full. After waiting along with many others for a few minutes, Lloyd Russell-Moyle addressed everyone from the stairs saying that because of fire regulations no-one else would be allowed into the hall at that point, but that the ballot process would be conducted in repeat sittings to give everyone who wanted to cast their votes the opportunity to do so. This message was received politely and patiently by those waiting as a sensible process in the circumstances — I witnessed no untoward behaviour at all, on anyone’s part.
I waited in the queue for some 20 minutes — all was peaceful and orderly — and then proceeded to have my membership card checked and moved into the hall where those standing for the officer positions each made a 2 minute speech. The voting process was explained fully and again everything was conducted in an orderly fashion. Along with all others present, I was able to cast my vote appropriately, and left the hall, to be followed by those in the third sitting.
i attended the meeting the other week.
After attending the rally labour members continued to the AGM at city college. the meeting started at 3, but i arrived at 2.30 and the queue was already at the entrance. upon arrival the city college security were getting very stressed, they obviously were struggling with the number of people, in fact the whole meeting was obviously unprepared for the hundreds of people that turned up.
The security started saying that they were going to lock the doors, as they were getting flustered (due to the circumstance not confrontation) they were already bolshie. a couple of the labour members highlighted that, that would be a fire hazard as well as locking people in a building. this did get a bit heated but not much and mostly lead my unprepared, flustered and rude security guards.
the queue continued and was a squeeze at times but i felt people were considerate and respectful. i got the feeling of a positive atmosphere from people who were excited by what was happening. in the meeting people were respectful. and afterwards i had a lovely time outside talking to people.
i find the action of suspending the local group, a bizarre response to this issue, even if a incident did happen. this would be an issue to raise with the individuals because it was most defiantly not reflected in the atmosphere of the mass. to withdraw a legitimate vote and silence of local political group during such an important time for politics seems an ill thought out response.
I attended the first husting at the AGM. I witnessed a well conducted husting & voting. The only rudeness I heard was when Greg Hadfield got up to speak & somebody in the audience booed. Even this didn’t cause a reaction from others.
I felt that Lloyd Russell-Moyle chaired the meeting very well. Friends who were in the hustings two & three reported that it was well conducted.
I may be a bit late in sending this so apologies.
I attended last week’s AGM. Although there was a lot of moaning about the queuing, once everyone was told they would get a chance to vote, it became very calm. I was chatting with a very lovely man as we entered the building, but I was then fast tracked as a Hove member to register. Afterwards I chatted with a lady who had not made her mind up in advance and was going to listen to all the speeches. Very refreshing!
All in all VERY peaceful and friendly. I was stood not far from Peter Kyle who seemed permanently to be grinning and laughing with people. The meeting/vote was good humoured (I was in the 2nd one) and I went away happy I had had the chance to vote.
Hope this helps, though guess it’ll be the same story others have told!!
Last Saturday, for the first time ever, I attended the Labour Party AGM. Having never attended before, I do not have anything to compare it to, but I found the experience generally very positive.
Considering the fact that there were so many people there and we therefore had to wait around for long periods of time, I feel that there was a real sense of calm. There may have been a slight air of anticipation, maybe even bordering on excitement at times but not at any point did I feel intimidated. I didn’t witness any cases of intimidation either.
My friend and I had forgotten to bring pens so a very kind lady lent us a pen. We chatted for a while and it felt very nice. I would say there was a sense of camaraderie between us.
The only thing I remember experiencing as even slightly negative happened after i left the building and a young man commented that “that was depressing”. I was slightly confused by his comment as I felt that the overall feeling in the room was one of buoyancy and excitement. This was my experience anyway.
Upon reading the news that the results had been voided, I felt very cheated. I waited for a long time to cast my vote, only to find that it didn’t count because of some false reporting of aggression and intimidation. Apparently some attendees felt threatened. I find this extremely hard to believe. This didn’t happen anywhere for me to witness and everybody that I have spoken to who attended had the same experience as I did.
I feel deeply aggrieved that this had been allowed to happen. I believe that the democratic process was sabotaged and I am deeply troubled by this.
I hope that this situation will be quickly rectified for the sake of everybody who took part in the vote, in good faith that it was a fair and democratic process.
Thank you for accepting my friend request and also for your wonderful speech at the rally, it was excellent.
I grew up in Thorne (Doncaster), the daughter of a miner during Thatcher’s reign and I know the suffering a right wing government can inflict without a care. I’m now seeing my children go through the same, and I can’t stand by and do nothing.
I’m not as involved in the party as I’d like to be but I have to hold things down at home to allow James to do his part. Anyway, to the point, I’d like to contribute my experience of the AGM:
When I arrived at City College for the AGM I was taken aback at the sheer volume of people queuing to get through the doors, it was overwhelming but also incredibly inspiring.
It was made clear to us by the stewards that the number of people was unprecedented and that we wouldn’t all fit in the room.
There were a few sighs and quiet grumbles but the people accepted the state of affairs and politely queued, as British people do. I waited an hour to vote, and whilst I did I can say, hand on heart, that I heard no aggression, intimidation or violence. I am prepared to testify in court, if necessary, that this was the case.
Behind me in the queue I listened with interest as people with conflicting views about the direction the party should take debated, in a courteous and polite manner.
They respectfully listened to each others point of view and in instances agreed to disagree. When a disabled person arrived in a wheel chair they collectively made way and aided the lady and spoke warmly to each other.
I saw no hate, no disrespect, no violence of any kind. Once in the room where the voting took place all members were civil and respectful. A lady sitting near me kindly let me use her pen, with no question of my intentions. The congregation were obedient and vey well mannered. From my observations most people clapped indiscriminately after each candidate spoke, no heckling, no hatred.
I hope this helps. I look forward to meeting you some day soon and keep up the good work.
I’m writing to you today because I attended the recent Brighton and Hove District Labour AGM having read about the event on the Labour Party website, and receiving a confirmation email to say I was welcome to attend at City College on the 9th July from 4pm.
As a self employed 40 year old mother of two young children, I was very glad to contribute and join with many enthusiastic Labour Party members.
The atmosphere was friendly, caring and joyful. And I was keen to hear the various candidate present their experience. The ladies I sat next to were helpful and chatty.
I am shocked to hear that our local Labour Party has been suspended! That our votes have been annulled and the newly elected candidates barred from further meetings until after the Labour Party Leader vote has taken place.
I find this ludicrous. I was in attendance from 4pm to 6pm and saw only friendly faces. And certainly no abusive behaviour as is suggested in the press.
I sincerely hope the decision to void our votes will be overturned.
I was at the Brighton & Hove CLP meeting on Saturday 9th July 2016.
I am not a member of Momentum. I have never been a member of any political party before joining Labour last year in support of Jeremy Corbyn. This was, therefore, my first political vote other than during national elections. I am 52.
I turned up early by about half an hour to find a queue stretching out of the door of the building. At a rough estimate there were almost 1000 people waiting. From what I overheard this is approximately ten times the normal attendance.
The volunteer organisers were overwhelmed but still very much in control. We were kept aware of developments as they happened. The meeting room only held about 250 people and therefore it was decided to hold three voting sessions.
I got into the second after a wait of just over an hour. The atmosphere in the queue as we waited was cordial, reasonable and rather excited. I felt that a lot of people were in a broadly similar position to mine: very happy to have something worthwhile to vote for again after many wilderness years.
There was an obvious desire to put both new and rekindled interests in politics to good use. It should also be noted that there were a wide variety of people attending, of all ages and probably about an equal number of men and women.
I saw nothing untoward in the queue or in the meeting, though obviously I did not see several things — specifically, the other two meetings, the last queue or how people who turned up later than me reacted to the organisation of the vote. However, there was no indication at any point of any issues.
The chairman told us that, after the speeches and position voting was done, the tabled motions would not be voted on in order to save time which, at that point, I felt was entirely reasonable given the numbers.
Now, however, I think this was at least a shame and also a mistake in many ways, as the only two motions were to support or not support Corbyn. This kind of visible public confirmation is currently very valuable. It was quite obvious to me that the meeting I was in would have overwhelmingly supported him.
The results were, I imagine, exactly as most people there expected: an almost complete change in the makeup of the committee, with Corbyn supporters winning by a large majority. This, once again, I felt was obvious to everyone at the time though not openly discussed or taken for granted.
I am astonished that this has all been rendered pointless. It beggars belief and defies any logic that an annulment of these results is in any way desirable, let alone possible.
The reversal feeds timeless disappointment and paranoia about power and politics and supports more recent condemnations of anti-democratic secrecy and the apparent inability of the left in general to focus on the important issues of opposition and vision. It is stunningly high- and heavy-handed and quite patently a deliberate and petty political move.
How is it possible to see it in any other way?
That is a serious question and I would address it to anyone who formulated and executed the annulment.
As for any other possible incidents that have been brought to some people’s attention, whether they happened or not, I would say this. I work in a large and busy library. We recently had to throw someone out for spitting on the floor and then being generally offensive. We didn’t close the library. We didn’t have to reissue the last week’s books. We just chucked him out. No-one else in the building knew or cared that this had happened.
Get a grip.
Thank you for your time. I will also be posting this on numerous Facebook groups.
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[Also to Katherine Buckingham]
I hope this email finds you well, and hopefully in receipt of a deluge of emails about this particular subject!
As a member, I was present at the Brighton AGM last Saturday. I incredulously received the the email this week from the Brighton and Hove District LP, informing me that the results of the AGM had been annulled due to alleged abusive behaviour, and in particular for concerns around the safety of those present at the meeting.
As witness I would like to report that I neither felt any compromise to my own safety or saw others indulging in abusive behaviour that could truly be called threatening.
It is true that it was an enthusiastic crowd, and many of the candidates (of all persuasions) were greeted with excitable applause and cheering, but the Chair handled this well I thought and kept distractions to a minimum — tough when there was such a large crowd.
There was one instance which could be described as mildly abusive (if you were of a particularly sensitive nature) when one of the candidates, Greg Hadfield was met with isolated and short-lived booing from a member of the crowd as he walked up to the lectern to make his candidate speech.
This was given short shrift by both chair and candidate and no such incident was repeated. In my view, this one minor incident does not qualify as abusive enough, or of such import to have me worrying about my personal safety. Rather, this was just part and parcel of a rather an exciting, passionate and very popular AGM. It is not often you can say such a thing about a meeting!
I think that it is undemocratic to cancel the votes cast at the AGM because of concerns that are merely described as ‘alleged’ in the email from BHDLP. Surely a much wider investigation would be needed to convert ‘alleged’ behaviour to ‘confirmed’ before a hard decision was made to annul the outcomes. A cynic may well take the view that there is some other narrative behind this baffling decision?
I welcome your further thoughts.
[Also to Labour Party in response to anonymous Labour Party email]
Dear Sir/ Madam.
I am very confused by this email you have sent me.
I was present at the AGM and I do not recognize anything you are describing.
On the contrary, the meeting was an exceptionally civilized affair with everyone seated quietly listening to the hustings of the candidates and then filling in their ballot papers.
As there were far too many members to fit into the hall at the same time a number of sittings had to be arranged with those who had voted being led out of the hall via the balcony exit at the side so as not to interfere with those waiting to come in through the front.
Needless to say, because it was not possible to accommodate everyone in the hall at the same time, all other business, apart from the voting, had to be suspended.
So, as no issues were raised there was simply nothing to argue about, let alone become abusive about.
I arrived at City College at about 3.30 pm and stayed until about 4.30 pm.
During that time I observed nothing remotely uncomradely whatsoever — everyone was on their best behaviour.
As for ballots results not being properly reached, please can you explain what this means in simple English.
And could you also tell me how the safety of members at the meeting was compromised.
Indeed, we were advised that the very reason why several sittings had to be arranged was because at no time could the hall exceed the maximum safe capacity. Thus the safety of the members was ensured, not compromised.
All we did was stand in a queue, go into the hall, sit down, listen to the candidates, fill in our ballot papers , fold our ballot papers together , put them in the ballot boxes (buckets) and leave the hall via the balcony exit.
In my opinion, considering the very large number of members who attended, the AGM was exceptionally well managed, and with good humour.
I can only conclude that there are certain members of the Labour Party who didn’t like the result of this poll and have therefore sought a pretext to make it null and void.
By refusing to abide by the democratic decisions of ordinary members of the Labour Party you risk destroying its credibility and thereby losing the respect of the wider British public.
I arrived shortly after 4.30pm, and was surprised to find a queue that was already spilling out of the college building and into the Street. I was so surprised to discover the entrance Doors had been locked, and instead visitors were forced to enter the building through the exit door.
Behind me I was joined by the hove mp, Peter Kyle, who briefly said hello, before turning around to talk to other members he was evidently was more familiar with.
Everyone waited with remarkable patients on aware about the reason the queue was making no progress at all. When we finally got in to the building there seems to be a degree of chaos and panic coming from the volunteer stewards who were shouting incomprehensible and ambiguous directions to the members about to reach the meeting.
I think they said something like members for Hove and Kemptown should join the queue on the right hand side, and wondering if this meant that pavilion members should join the left hand side. In any case it made little sense to decide which side to join in the lobby and even reached the staircase.
When I got halfway up the stairs there was another announcement, this time from the current Chair, Russell Lloyd Moyle. Again it was difficult to understand exactly what he was saying is voice was quite loud in my perception.
I think he said that the college staff had decided that there was insufficient capacity to hold the meeting in one room, so it had been decided that we should be split into a series of some meetings. As a result, I think he said that the normal agenda had been suspended to enable the election park to go ahead without any other business.
At one point during his announcement there was a aggressive sounding heckle from the front of the queue, presumably from somebody who had failed to gain access to the first meeting. Russell was quite stressed by this and the other issues, and put down this go with what I thought was a needless threat to eject him if he was unhappy.
That was the least pleasant event I witnessed throughout my attendance, and as Russell is normally very calm and amiable by nature, I assume that the heckler was from the progressive side of the debate. Hope others can confirm this.
By the time we reached the top of the stairs it was after 4 o’clock, and it was clear that there will be three separate meetings to accommodate the attendance that was clearly in excess of the 500 capacity of two meetings.
It was estimated each meeting would last around 30 minutes, so I estimated the third meeting would take place after 5pm.
I confirmed this with one of the stewards before making my way back out of the building, with the aim of returning in time for the last meeting. I was very surprised to find that the exit by this time entrance/Exit doors had been locked, but managed to make my way out after getting help from the security personnel.
With some difficulty I managed to re-enter the building after 5pm then after I had explained that I was returning from the overcrowded attendance an hour earlier. That were still around 200 waiting to gain access to the third meeting at this time, but everyone seemed remarkably patient and calm under the circumstances.
I was one of the last people to enter the meeting hall, and found one of the few remaining seats at the back. By chance I sat next to ex cllr Roy Pennington, and would have been keen to talk to him as we haven’t met recently, but it was clearly not the right time for talking as the meeting started shortly afterwards.
I may be completely misreading this, but I suspected there was a slight tension throughout as everyone knew that there was a somewhat binary choice to be made, and nobody knew what side others were on, but it was fair to say that the outcome was somewhat predictable even though I somehow managed to lose my own ballot paper on my way to the ballot buckets!
Needless to say there is nothing that can be done about this, and this was confirmed by the person who accepted my remaining voting papers.
Overall, I would say that the series of meetings almost subdued considering the difference of approach to the party politics we were voting on.
Personally, I felt disappointed and frustrated that there was no vote on the motion on the agenda, but nobody else expressed any complaints as far as I’m aware.
The only health and safety issue I noticed was inappropriate use of the entrance and exit doors, which worked intermittently locked without any rational explanation. And the only aggression I noticed was the heckler at the top of the stairs I could not identify.
[To Jeremy Corbyn]
I was appalled to hear that the Disputes Committee of the NEC had suspended the BH District Party on the basis of spurious and unsubstantiated allegations. Members in Brighton and Hove are being denied the opportunity to make a supporting nomination.
It also unbelievable that despite the party being suspended, head office has reinstated the officers who were voted out democratically at the AGM. What is the role of unelected officers of a suspended party?
I was present at the AGM which was so heavily attended by members, all of whom were eligible to vote, that the elections were held in 3 sessions with some members having to queue for 2 hours to vote. It is to be expected that some tempers may have frayed but my observation was that proceedings were carried out in a calm and dignified manner and in accordance with the rules.
There were no problems inside the meeting whilst I was present although I believe there were some minor incidents outside when people thought they might be excluded from the meeting.
I am shocked that such an arbitrary decision can be taken in the name of the NEC to deny me my basic democratic rights in a party which I have been a member for 57 years. I think the NEC should meet speedily to reverse this undemocratic and arbitrary decision.
— — —
Following the suspension of Brighton and Hove Labour Party activities and the annulment of the EC vote which took place at the AGM on Saturday, I would like to relay my experience of the meeting.
I arrived at City College at 3.30 approximately to find a queue coming outside. I was inside within two minutes, to discover the large amounts of people already inside.
Shortly after entering, the caretaker told members around me that he may have to close the entrance door due to overcapacity inside. He did say that Labour officials were working on a solution. Despite the very slow moving queue up the stairs, the atmosphere atmosphere among members was jovial and good natured.
Once up stairs, I queued to check in. Despite the overcrowding and quite warm temperature , the membership all stayed patient, even though at that point many wondered if they would make it inside meeting.
Lloyd Russell Moyle came upstairs to explain that the meeting would be held in three consecutive sessions, to allow all members to be able to vote. He was applauded and the friendly atmosphere continued. I didn’t make it into first session.
Whilst waiting this was a good opportunity to chat with and meet new people. I looked downstairs and could see and hear a similar atmosphere to what I was experiencing. I noticed the long queue outside too . I was waiting near to Peter Kyle MP who was also in good spirits.
I made it into the second session . All speakers and candidates were treated respectfully and there was an air of enthusiasm in the room that was a pleasure to be part of. At the end of the session, so many expressed how good they felt to have been a part of the meeting. I stayed for the last session and it was much the same.
To sum up, this was a well run meeting , considering the unexpected numbers of people involved. There was no misconduct, and the membership were patient and we’ll behaved at all times. I see no reason why the results of AGM have been annulled. I would like to thank everyone involved in the organisation and running of the meeting.
The AGM was very crowded and cramped as there were more people then the venue had expected.
There were people from all walks of life, elderly and families with young children waiting patiently for a few hours to cast their vote.
Despite the cramped conditions and long wait the general mood of the people was positive and good willed, a feeling of comradeship people coming together on a Saturday afternoon to vote for people who had inspired them, a vote that in my view would bring about support of Jeremy Corybn the leader of our Party. In my view there was no hostility or aggression.
PS The only hostility I came across was a lady describing the crowd coming out of the rally as a mob likening it to the communist party.
[Also to Ann Black]
I just wanted to commend what I observed at a very well run agm by Lloyd Russell Moyle and his team. My wife and I arrived a little late and found ourselves queuing for the third sitting of the meeting. Everyone was very well behaved and queued patiently.
We felt very safe with our 13 month daughter in the sling. Fellow members were very polite and courteous to us. I have attached a photo of our daughter with the candidate sheet when we were sitting in the meeting hall of the agm itself.
We were sitting on the edges of the room in case she became upset during the meeting but as you can see, she was having a lovely time since the meeting was conducted in good spirits with lots of polite listening and clapping for all the candidates. Please don’t undermine this great exercise in democracy that the membership took part in last Saturday.
I arrived early for the AGM, before 3.30, and joined an already long queue to get in. People were confused about what would happen with so many attending, but orderly and patient in the queue. After a while there was a call for candidates to go into the hall, so I did so, registering and picking up my ballot papers on the way in. The registration tables were busy but calm.
Inside the hall, the proposed way of dealing with the vast numbers attending was explained by the chair to the candidates, none of whom dissented. The three mini-meetings took place in a good-humoured and respectful atmosphere.
As a candidate I stayed for all three, as it seemed polite to those who had to wait outside for the second and third meetings at least to allow them to see who they might be voting for, even though those of us standing for ordinary exec positions were no longer required to make our one-minute speeches.
Lloyd chaired the meetings well, the officer candidates all obediently stopped speaking after their allotted two minutes, there was no abusive language and I did not hear any heckling. People voted and left promptly after each meeting, enabling the next cohort to enter. The room did not appear overcrowded or unsafe at any time.
A group of vote counters, observers and candidates moved to an adjoining room where the count for officer votes took place from approx 6pm to 7.45pm.
The count was very well organised by a professional electoral services officer, and overseen by Lloyd as returning officer. The atmosphere was tense but calm and quiet, and everyone remained polite. I was one of the last to leave the building just before 8pm; the rooms were cleared of rubbish before we went, and as we left we were laughing and joking with two members of venue staff and apologising that they had had such a long day; they replied that they had no problem with this.
The count resumed on Monday afternoon at Friends Meeting House, the ballot papers having been sealed in the meantime. The count was extremely complex and there was some minor dissent and one or two cross remarks.
Lloyd dealt with each minor incident as it arose, and the afternoon ended with good humour and apologies all round for any comments uttered in the heat of the moment. Everyone appeared to part on good terms.
Just a thought: will a re-run AGM after the leadership election, ie late September at the earliest, be soon enough to be constitutional, or will it be too long after the 2015 AGM?
I attended the Brighton & Hove Labour Party AGM on Saturday 9th July. It was my first meeting as a member of the Labour Party, having rejoined recently after many years.
Obviously, the meeting was larger than the room could accommodate, but there was no pushing and shoving — people queued patiently. I was there early, so I didn’t have to queue for very long. The front desk was efficiently managed by a team of volunteers, who checked everyone’s membership status and gave out ballot papers and agendas.
Everyone sat down in the hall and waited for the meeting to begin. People were saying that there were many more people outside who could not fit in. I could see that the Chair and the candidates for election were meeting at the front of the hall to decide what to do.
The Chair announced that the plan was to drop all the items from the meeting agenda other than the election of a new Executive committee, and that the meeting would be held in several sittings, each of which would hear speeches from the candidates for officer posts, cast their votes and then leave the room. This was greeted with applause, I think. It had been agreed by all the election candidates.
The candidates made their speeches and were applauded by everyone in the meeting. One of the candidates (Kate Kendrick) withdrew her candidacy and it was announced that she would not be asked to speak in the subsequent sittings. The Chair asked everyone to keep their applause to a minimum, so that we could get through the meeting quickly.
Three volunteers came forward from the floor to collect the ballot papers. Everyone voted and left the room by the fire exit, making room for the next session.
I saw no intimidation or bullying. There was a lot of talk of working together to win the East Brighton byelection. The Chair was fully in control of the meeting.
i had attended the Momentum rally before the meeting, at which several speakers made a specific point of appealing to everyone to conduct themselves calmly and respectfully.
After the meeting, I heard about two separate incidents that had happened in connection with the meeting (a member of City College staff being spat at and a speaker at the Momentum rally being verbally abused in a nearby pub later in the evening). I did not witness either of these incidents. I understood that these incidents were both being followed up and investigated, and that the people who had behaved badly would be dealt with.
I am insulted that I, and all the other people who queued and participated in this unprecedentedly large meeting, have been labelled as uncomradely by the decision of the NEC to suspend the District Labour Party, without any attempt to investigate the truth of whatever allegations have been made.
I have this evening watched the local news, where the impression was given (in part by the MP for Hove) that the AGM was chaotic and improperly conducted. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am extremely disappointed that party officials who were not present have caused this false narrative to be created.
I would just like to say that I was at the meeting in North Street and later at the AGM held at City College to cast my vote ….. I managed to get into the hall for the first vote while my son and daughter queued in the street for an hour to cast their vote.
At no time did I or my family witness any intimidation, in fact we never heard as much as a cross word from anyone. The atmosphere was one of calm resolution under trying conditions and I commend all the officials for the way they handled it
— — — —
I was one of the 600 plus Labour Party members who attended the AGM Saturday 9th July.
By the time I arrived there were already fears being expressed that not everyone would be able to get in but people were calm and polite. We walked in and ended up queuing on the stairs for a while. All that time the mood was friendly.
I had an exchange with a man in front of me which involved him saying all the Corbyn supporters who had come “we’re just wrong” to which I reposted that democracy works on the greatest number deciding whatever individuals might think of the decision and this exchange was comradely and far from aggressive.
When it was explained to the waiting people that the AGM would be organised in three sessions focusing just on the voting this was accepted readily. We were told this had been agreed with the regional official. I think most people were relieved that the AGM wasn’t going to have to be re-scheduled.
Whilst I was queuing to show my membership card and get my voting slips, I witnessed another exchange between Jean Lepper and a man in the queue.
Her opening gambit was that if “all these people had bothered to campaign previously, maybe Labour wouldn’t be in opposition” this lead to me ( I am a 57 year old woman about the same size as Jean Lepper) interjecting about the appeal of the new direction of the Labour Party.
She asked me to stop jabbing my finger at her (I wasn’t ) and I apologised. She then said that she objected to the threatening and bullying by some on the left making particular reference to the threat of deselection of democratically elected MPs.
The man she was discussing with said (very calmly) he agreed and that he objected to the attempt at effectively deselecting the leader of the party who also had been democratically elected. At that point she said she found the discussion threatening and moved away.
I describe this episode in detail because it may act as a corrective to a differing version of the same incident which may be reported. In the hall people listened to all the candidates politely. There was no heckling or unpleasantness and people filed out calmly casting their vote on the way out.
I saw no aggression and in fact given the length of time people had to wait and the heat was struck by how calm and good natured everyone remained. I saw nothing that would call the conduct of the meeting into question and I am very concerned about the suspension of the DLP executive which I have every confidence was legitimately elected.
My experience and from what you can see from the images, the whole process was well conducted in a civil manner with everybody being very British, we do know how to queue.
People were assisting others, particularly if they were unable to stand for any length of time, by getting seats and making way for people in wheel chairs etc. who wanted to get to the lift.
The organisers came to explain what was happening on a number of occasions, keeping us well informed and people listened and were courteous.
You will notice in one of the photos, that I was about 2 or 3 yards behind Peter Kyle (he has his back to the person with glasses and just in front of the woman with dark hair in the centre of image 2016–07–09 16.10.27), so he should also be able to give a similar account.
I would also say in the light of the recent football clashes and disturbances related to Southern Rail, this is by far the best behaved group of people I have seen for a long time.
I am happy for you to use these images and my comments if you need to, also please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like any other information.
I am a seventy year old retired Clinical Psychologist from Brighton. I rejoined the labour party at the time of the last general election. I did vote in the last leadership election but not for Jeremy Corbyn.
After the referendum result I felt I needed to get more involved, and with some trepidation I attended a branch meeting, and subsequently the district AGM. After all the rumours in the press I was amazed at how good humoured and well-run both meetings were.
I had to queue for an hour and a half for the AGM because of the number of people who attended, but the efficient way in which the votes were held in several sessions seemed sensible, and worked out well.
The only things that could be criticised as far as I could see, was that one person had to be asked to stop distributing leaflets inside the building as this was against the rules, and that a proposed motion of support for Corbyn was not put to the meeting to be voted upon. I strongly object to the way in which my vote — the first time I’ve voted at a party meeting — has now been disregarded.
[Also to Iain McNicol and BHDLP]
I am deeply dismayed to read this letter which I note has not been signed by any individual. I would like to know who drafted this letter?
I attended the Brighton AGM on 9 July.
The venue that had been booked was not large enough to accommodate the 600 plus Labour Party members who turned up so people had to queue and vote on the ballot in three stages and every candidate had to speak three times.
This was done with patience and good humour. I stayed in the building throughout the day as I had offered to help with the count at the end.
At no time did I see any intimidation, any abusive behaviour or anything that could be described as a problem. In fact it was noteworthy how cordial and cheerful people were considering they had to wait a long time on a hot day to participate in the voting.
I watched the ballot papers being put into the boxes and pails and later I kept guard over them until the count. I also helped with the count.
Everything was done carefully and rigorously with observers present.
Those candidates who won did so with a large majority.
I was stunned to read that the decision had been voided.
If there is intimidation where is the evidence of it? Who saw it? There is CCTV at the building which can be checked. Who has made these allegations?
I believe them to be smears.
As a long term member of the Labour Party this feels like the most underhand attempt to overthrow a legitimate democratic decision and I am deeply disturbed at this.
Still reeling in shock at our suspension today and the annulment of the vote last Saturday.
You wanted attendees views.
I am a 56year old woman and long standing member of the Labour party (since 1992). My youngest son and I helped out with Nancy Platts campaign for election to Kemptown constituency last May.
I was at the first pub meeting in Kemptown to support Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign for leader and my son and I spent many hours phone banking to get his message out during the summer.
I attended the meeting at Brighthelm and was at City College on the dot of 4pm for AGM. The queue to get in was already out of the door and just turning the corner when I got there.
No-one could believe the amount of people who had turned up for an AGM, but it was all good humoured and well managed.
We were kept informed in the queue of what was happening and that, due to numbers, and safety concerns, the meeting was going to split into 3 or 4 short sessions, to enable all candidate to speak to the attendees and then vote.
It was a long wait, especially as Pavilion, my constituency, was made to wait until the end. But everyone waited in an orderly fashion, chatting to each other quietly.
Periodically people came to check we all had our members cards to enable us to register to vote. At some point someone from Momentum came and handed out bottles of water. We were constantly updated about the progress of the meetings.
Registration appeared to be very well organised, if a little chaotic, when we were finally handed our ballot papers and filed into the hall. It was a buzzy atmosphere, lively and attentive and due respect and attention was given to each candidates as they made their pitch for the positions on the EC.
I didn’t enjoy the long wait, but I did enjoy the meeting. Quite frankly, it was a relief to get away from all the dry and dusty middle-aged old men who pontificate, hold forth and generally drive away any young person who might want to get involved in local politics.
At no time during the procedures did I get sight of or hear any disturbance or abusive or unpleasant behaviour. Nor was there any rumour or sniff or murmur spread through the queue that any bad behaviour had occurred. Nothing percolated back to us out of the meeting hall and I was there in the building from start to finish.
I joined Momentum today as direct result of us being suspended and am ready and willing to help in any way I can. I would love to be at Tuesday’s meeting but will be away on holiday until the 8/8/16.
I am writing to you as the recently elected secretary of the BHDP.
I cannot understand why the BHDP has been suspended.
I attended the AGM on Sat 11 July 2016 and would like to stress that despite the large number of members who attended, it was conducted excellently by the outgoing Chair Lloyd Russell-Moyle.
As there were too many people for the hall in the City College, Lloyd and the committee organised a sequence of three meetings to enable members to vote for a new committee.
I attended the second meeting by which time I had been waiting an hour. Presumably those who attended the last meeting had been waiting for nearly two hours.
In part the length of time waiting was due to the meticulous checking of members credentials.
All members and supporters were listed and their names carefully checked against the list of members.
Indeed I saw a member turned away as he had not received his Labour membership card though he had recently joined. He accepted this with good grace.
The AGM was well conducted, speakers spoke well and there was no problem with the voting slips.
I can see no reason for those not elected to complain about procedure. It was completely democratic.
I just wanted to let you know that myself my husband and my three children went to the Brighthelm centre rally last Saturday. We were outside as the inside was full; my brother and parents were inside listening to the speakers.
We stayed for the whole event, listened to speakers, were asked politely to move on from outside the building as there were too many people…we hung around for my folks to come out after the meeting, and we all walked down to city college where the four of us who are members spent the next 2 1/2hours to get our chance to vote.
At absolutely no point was there any trouble of any sort, a raised voice inside city college when we realised three sittings were going to be necessary wasn’t exactly a protest!
I am in absolutely no doubt that stories have been invented purely because of the way the vote went….my children aged 8, 10 and 15 felt perfectly safe among reasonable people out to support what they believe in and those people who attended know this too. My family inside the meeting also saw nothing but support for the speakers, the same followed inside the voting hall.
I will be happy to vote again as I’m sure everyone will be and the vote will be the same next time as we are determined to get our voices heard!
I joined the queue outside City College at about 3.30 — along with Lord Bassam and many others.
I finally got into the Hall to listen to the candidates and to vote at around 5.00. I think we probably cast our votes and left at around 5.30. In all this time everyone was uniformly good–natured, cheerful, and patient. I was particularly impressed with the patience and calmness of the people checking our credentials.
I did not witness one cross word from anyone — only a quiet determination to cast their vote.
When rumours came around that the doors were to be closed and some people would probably be excluded from voting, everyone around me treated this with amusement, reckoning that no–one would have the effrontery to deny people their democratic rights, and that a way would be found to make sure everyone was able to attend the sessions and to vote — and, so far as I could tell, this was what happened.
In the Hall itself for the third sitting, everyone listened quietly to each candidate limiting themselves to normal applause when they agreed with points being made. If they didn’t agree, they didn’t applaud — no–one even heckled, let alone abused anyone.
Going by those who applauded, I reckoned that about two–thirds supported Corbynista candidates, and the rest the incumbents — and this seemed to be reflected in the final results.
All in all, I thought that the organisers did all they could to ensure that everyone could exercise their democratic rights to speak and to vote in circumstances made difficult only be the sheer number of members who turned up.
All in all it was a triumph of patience, politeness, forbearance and improvised organisation — everything that British people are supposed to be renowned for!
It is a disgrace that the NEC (or officials acting on its behalf?) should use baseless rumours and anecdotes to suspend a democratically controlled and popular local party. Surely they can be challenged through Party procedures, and, in the last resort, in court?
Good luck with the struggle for a democratic mass party!
I am writing in response to your request for people to share their experiences of the AGM in confidence.
I attended the AGM last Saturday. I arrived at about 3.30pm and there were already people queuing right down the road outside. Initially there was some confusion as to what was going to happen, given the large number of people.
However, quite quickly we were told that all other business was to be deferred but that there were going to be several sessions of voting and that we would all be able to get in and cast our votes.
I therefore remained in the queue and eventually got in to vote during the second session. At no point, neither outside the venue, in the queue nor in the meeting room did I witness any hostility or harassment of anyone.
The meeting proceeded in an orderly fashion and all the candidates were allowed to speak and put forward their views, each being given two minutes to do so by the chair, who very clearly explained the whole procedure.
I do not therefore recognise the characterisation of the AGM given by certain people in the media. In fact, I felt very excited and enthused about the fact that so many residents of Brighton and Hove, whoever they intended to vote for, took the time on a Saturday afternoon to come and exercise their democratic right, in some cases waiting over 2 hours to do so.
I very much hope that the proposed investigation will show that no procedures were broken and that you will all be reinstated without having to hold a further election.
There was no time for any other business apart from the elections, so nobody spoke
When in the queue a young man behind me was telling his friend and anyone else that he had never voted for Labour but was standing on a Corbyn ticket.
People in front of me were voting only for pro Corbyn people without actually listening to who or what they were saying
We did not have the opportunity to question any of the candidates
I would feel that the chaos is due to the outgoing committee booking an inadequate hall knowing that we have a large membership
I would really like to choose candidates based on their ability which we were denied due to the lack of space & questioning, however, democracy was served and I for one respect that as should the NEC
I have just seen the news that the results of this vote have been annulled.
I am horrified by this lack of respect for democracy. As someone who attended the vote I saw nothing untoward, unless you include one of the organisers refusing to lend me a pen because they suspected ‘I was voting for the wrong side’. Something that puzzled me enormously as I was under the belief we are one party.
I am deeply saddened by seeing the party I love beginning to eat itself from the inside out. This is no way to behave during a time of national crisis, and also of opportunity.
I would appreciate receiving information as to why this vote was declared void as I have heard nothing officially.
I would like to say that this agm was conducted as well as can be expected considering the lack of meeting space.
I was quite happy to cast my votes and leave so that the agm could be finished, I hope that the person that hired the hall takes some responsibility for the disruption that was caused.
I was in the first tranche to vote and saw no aggravation apart from a steward that was jumping up and down, I did not see the MP for Hove during this process, and the chair said that he would only allow the potential committee members to speak, and no else spoke at all
I have just read the notice concerning the administrative suspension of the Brighton and Hove Labour Party and I wanted to write to let you know that the depiction of the AGM in the NEC’s letter in no way reflects my experience of the meeting.
I arrived at City College for the Labour Brighton and Hove AGM on Saturday 9th July at around 3:50pm. At this time there was already a queue on the street outside City College and I was not able to enter the venue.
We were soon informed that, due to the high turnout of members, the meeting would be held in three shifts (presumably due to health and safety requirements).
While people queueing outside were surprised, I only heard good-natured responses to this announcement.
Despite the apparently unforeseen numbers, the event seemed to be well-managed by the organisers and there was an orderly (if somewhat long) queue into City College and the room that was being used for the AGM.
As we approached the front of the main queue, members were asked to join specific lines according to their local branch. At the end of each line their membership was checked and they received their ballot papers.
Shortly afterwards we entered the room, heard speeches from candidates for the key posts, and submitted our votes. I was part of the third group to go in and vote.
At no point, between 3:50pm and when I left following the submission of the last votes, did I see or hear any abusive behaviour taking place.
As far as I was aware, at no stage of the meeting was the safety of members compromised.
My experience of the AGM was overwhelming positive with friendly discussions taking place between people in the queue. The only negative remark I heard was one man expressing irritation towards Momentum as he appeared to hold them responsible for his having to queue.
I attended the Labour AGM last Saturday in Brighton.
The AGM was over-subscribed for the venue and it was clear that the majority of people in attendance were pro Corbyn. Due to the swathes of members, it was suggested that only the vote, not the motions, would take place, and in rounds, to allow for more people to vote.
It was also mentioned, however, that the doors would shut at 4pm — which would mean many people wouldn’t be able to vote. I was there from the beginning until the first round of votes — so around 5pm I think. There was absolutely no bad or abusive behaviour from anyone during that time.
In fact, the person in charge told us all not to cheer at any point, under the premise that by doing so we would be wasting time for others to vote.
I am new to the party and I am utterly appalled by the abuse the party leader and new members are receiving. The outrageous behaviour of the PLP and the utterly un-democratic NEC election-rigging and treatment of new members who have joined in good faith and because of promises that we could vote is an abomination.
Do we want to unite to defeat the Tories or do we want to tear Labour apart from the inside? It’s shameful.
I am absolutely appalled at the suggestions that the branch AGM features threats, intimidation and bullying.
I was in the first tranche of voters and it was a good natured meeting I thought.
People listened to all candidates respectfully. In fact the only person booed — when he was walking up to speak — was in fact one of the winning candidates.
But of course you know all this because you attended the meeting.
I cannot believe what is happening with this party but am determined to stay in it if only to play my part in deselecting Peter Kyle.
I’m just writing in response to the call for statements about the AGM.
I was in the third group to enter the meeting and I didn’t experience any incidents. There was a misunderstanding when members less able to stand were given the option to come inside early (but not to vote until it was their turn) and this was interpreted to mean that they would not be able to vote /at all/ — but the most that came off this was a few raised voices, if that.
The conditions inside were busy but no more so than an airport or a pub in Friday night — people stayed calm and I have a lot of respect to the committee for achieving all they did in a trying situation.
That said, I do want to emphasise that just because I did not personally experience harassment does not mean it didn’t exist. The allegations made by the NEC are very serious and I believe the CLP should treat them seriously, despite our understandable anger at the NEC’s recent undemocratic decisions.
If we want to become a party deserving of leadership, one where all voices can feel safe, then we need to treat allegations made against our members as rigourously as we would expect to have allegations made by our members treated.
I attended this AGM meeting in Brighton and Hove on the saturday.
It was exciting to see that many people enagaged, the turn out was massive.
Initially it was a bit chaotic but the management immediatly took care fo the situation. I found it very orderly and properly done, there was no difficulties in getting your vote through. I didnt experience any nasty vibe or comments from anyone. Im a bit worried by this decision from the NEC, Im concerned its based on very little.
I am writing to describe my experience of the AGM on 9 July, which I attended with my 3 year old daughter. We arrived to large queues to get into the meeting so waited a while before joining towards the back of the queue — we were in the third group to enter the meeting hall.
I witnessed no poor behaviour on the day, in fact quite the opposite.
There were other families waiting so my daughter played with other children while I chatted to people in the queue. The stewards were visible at all times and even handed out water when the building got too warm — they should be congratulated.
The atmosphere was friendly and I met members I already knew and had chance to talk to new people.
There was a feeling of amazement that so many people had come together in such a positive way hoping to make a difference in the name of the Labour Party.
I was given my ballot paper and we took our seats in the hall. I hadn’t decided on how I would vote — I have been a member for many years but don’t identify with Momentum or any other group associated with the Labour Party — and the speeches helped me to decide.
Despite some differing views in the hall, all of the speeches were well received. I left feeling positive about my support of the Labour Party and confident that the ballot had been conducted in a fair and transparent way.
I was saddened to hear reports of an incident of bad behaviour outside of the venue. I witnessed nothing of the sort and wish I had taken more photos but you can see from the attached photo that there is evidence of an orderly queue.
I would like to complain about a couple of uncomradely incidents that took place around the meeting. I felt that Warren Morgan’s email (that was leaked) urging people not to vote for the Momentum slate of candidates was offensive. I can understand wanting to endorse people but that should be through positive campaigning and making the case, not lazy political punches from the Leader of the council.
I also felt that Warren Morgan’s incredibly negative press statement after the result on Saturday undermined the party and the strength of feeling shown by so many ordinary members who attended. I’m not even sure he was there.
This sort of behaviour from the Leader of the council brings the party into disrepute. I have kept quiet until now but I can not sit by while the events of Saturday are rewritten because a minority of people didn’t like the result.
The turnout and conduct of members on Saturday should be a cause for celebration.
I would be grateful if you could share this statement with the NEC and I would be happy to be contacted and interviewed further.
I was at the AGM. My experience was a good one [despite the long wait]. I was impressed to see so many people and did not hear any
any arguments or abuse — this is not to say they did not happen but they did not happen around me whilst queuing for an hour to go in and during the middle meeting.
I got there at 15:30 [never been to an AGM before] considering we waited an hour in very hot landing/stairwell to go into 2nd of three meetings the general mood and atmosphere was pretty good.
I spoke to loads of people around me during that hour who were by no means all Jeremy supporters and an old friend [who I am sure was there to vote for status quo as old member] — no bad words, no shouting, etc. just good natured chat about how bonkers politics is at the moment.
We went into the meeting — during which people had cups of tea, chatted until speakers started, then we put our ballots inbox, then we left.
No controversial questions — no comments from floor at all as far as I remember and certainly no rudeness/abuse that I heard. We left at 5 and did not see anything untoward out in the car park etc
I am writing to express my sadness with regard to the results of the AGM being annulled!
I attended the meeting and found the whole event to be very respectful. I am 27 years old and have never joined a political party before, frankly I have always found it disheartening, but I choose to join as Jeremy Corbyn makes me feel hopeful.
I was apprehensive when attending the meeting as there were A LOT of people there and I was attending alone, however the atmosphere was very pleasant. I sat next to a lady and her elderly mother, we very clearly shared different opinions but I had a pleasant conversation with them and we were respectful of each other views, end of.
The more I write the more my sadness turns to anger, I can’t help but think this is a massive ploy to block Jeremy.
This kind of underhand going on behind the scenes is not what I joined for, not what I thought labour stood for and certainly does not represent democracy! I feel as I write I’m wasting my time and my emotion because I do not have a voice, the people who elected the new AGM do not have a voice.
What a sad time in British politics, I will try my best to borrow the £25 need to vote for Jeremy. This is so wrong so wrong.
Normal people like me whose parent worked themselves silly to even provide a meal deserve better than this, labour should be ashamed. Sorry it’s not the academic witty letter I’m sure you normally receive but this is the only way I know how.
The situation is disgusting!
[With email sent to Warren Morgan appended]
Just wanted to forward my email that I sent to Warren Morgan on the evening of the AGM concerning my experience and his online conduct. I am still awaiting any sort of response from him but to be honest it seems Twitter would be the better tool to get his attention.
Like many who attended the AGM and many who couldn't we are utterly taken aback by what has happened. My experience of the first wave of the meeting was extremely positive.
Obviously I was not involved or aware of any incidents outside as I was lucky enough to be let in first.
Sitting at the back I was sat next to a gentleman in a wheel chair and his carer. I do not know who this gentleman was but he seemed to have a lot of friends who came to say hello and welcome him to the meeting.
It gave me a calming sense of solidarity and his carer was being helped by other members. This gentleman needed easy access into and out of the hall and there was every provision made to not block the fire escape at the back in order for his ease of access.
As for the marshalling of the crowds, coming from an industry where we have to manage similar numbers I was very impressed.
I am of the understanding the choice to hold the meeting was made by the NEC and they were aware of the numbers. When requested to calm our applause everyone complied. Far more so than I would have ever imagined, with such heightened tension and would be a great example to those in the House of Commons.
After the first session people left quickly and calmly and without incident.
I hope this finds its way to relevant people
(No previous political affiliation)
Dear Mr Morgan
I would like to say first how impressed I was with the Labour Party and how they managed to deal with an incredible turn out, as someone who is involved in Trade Show Events, from what I saw this was dealt with as efficiently and to the safety standards I would expect in the UK. Credit to the Chair and the organisers to be able to deal with such numbers democratically.
That being said as a new member of the Labour party in his mid 30s (of no previous political affiliation) and given his first time to really become involved in the political process. I am sincerely concerned, like many of my peers with your desire to keep to the status quo and discredit elected members. There are many issues that face us in the future and there is now a movement to face them. The candidates that were put forward today at the AGM and democratically elected gained support through the energy and leadership of the current leader of the Labour Party, and also by the fact they offered something new that will realistically challenge the Conservative Party. People turned out in their droves. People from all walks of life and unlike your blog and twitter account suggest, not from the Far Left. To be honest I would have been impressed if there were that many Far Left still around.
As a Labour member, a labour voter and a believer in workers rights I hope you will dismiss any thoughts of betrayal from Brighton and Hove and embrace the thought that The Labour party is now the strongest it has ever been, with potential to help its population and work to bringing a more socially aware country.
As requested, my personal experience of the Labour Party AGM.
I was at the Momentum meeting, where the participants were enthusiastic and vocal about supporting the Labour Party leader, but peaceful. The speakers urged us to behave respectfully in every way at the forthcoming AGM.
We moved on to the AGM and had to queue to get into the hall — I did not witness any unpleasantness and the crowd were good natured. We were presently informed that the hall was filled to capacity which provoked a couple of verbal responses and a slight rustle of panic amongst the crowd — it did seem for a few minutes that we were going to be precluded from voting.
The capacity problem was not explained as a fire hazard very coherently and neither was it clear that everyone would be allowed to vote.
However, with hindsight, this was quite understandable due to the large, unexpected turnout. The organisers had to improvise and they dealt with the situation well, I would say.
That said, there were some officious and somewhat aggressive commands directed at the people waiting politely in the queue — personally, I did not see anyone in the crowd respond to this, negatively.
I was in the first group that entered the hall and there were no incidents during the voting. Members were asked not to clap/cheer during the speeches because of the time restriction and they responded to this request.
As per your request for eyewitness accounts of what occurred at the AGM last Saturday 9th July and having read the letter of suspension I am somewhat surprised to put it mildly.
I arrived with my wife, also a Labour member, and three year old son at a quarter-to-four to find the event at City College so well attended there was a queue out of the door. We were surprised at the numbers, as were other people in the queue so this was clearly an unexpected and unpredictably high turnout.
A man wearing a badge with ‘Steward’ written on it moved down the road encouraging people to step onto the pavement, explained that due to the numbers only members of standing for the senior positions would speak and that voting would occur in three shifts, simply due to capacity issues in the venue. He assured those queuing that everyone would be able to vote and that we would be waiting around half-an-hour.
Everything was comradely and orderly. My wife and I left with our son to a cafe down the road where we could see the queue to wait. We observed no issues. Returning after about half an hour we went inside City College and were some of the last people inside. There was a queue right around the stairs and up to the mezzanine level. Again, people were cheerful and simply getting on with waiting. We observed no problems.
After a few minutes we proceeded up to the mezzanine. This area was packed. The event was however well organised and there was no disorderly conduct. I witnessed no disruption or shouting, just members queuing or sitting in groups talking. One member moved through the crowd giving our plastic bottles of water to people who needed them as it was quite warm.
We then proceeded to have our names checked off and received our voting papers. Again, it was very busy but people queued patiently. At this point our three year old was extremely tired of waiting so we requested we move to the front of the queue. My wife is pregnant so a seat was brought out and we continued to wait.
I would note at this point that given I was attending an event with my pregnant partner and a three year old if there was any possibility “that the safety of members at the meeting was compromised” we would have been out the door like a shot. Far from it. People were kind and considerate.
Also note we were in the last group to enter and there was absolutely no mention from anyone to us, either directly or overheard of any disruptive behaviour having occurred. Given the large number of people waiting around and eager to find out what was going on one would expect any news of any incidents of “abusive behaviour” to have spread quickly throughout the crowd.
The speeches inside the hall proceeded in an orderly fashion. I witnessed no disruption. We voted and left through the side exits.
Given we were there for a considerable length of time and were in the last group I would have expected us to be well aware of any issues. There were none.
I’m afraid that given what I witnessed I am deeply suspicious of the allegations made in the suspension letter.
As a member I would be extremely interested to know:
— How many complaints were made?
— How these complaints are being investigated?
— What efforts are being made to corroborate these accounts?
— Given the email by a council member about a ‘leftist takeover’ prior to the meeting what effort is being made to ensure this is not a deliberate attempt to disrupt a legitimate democratic vote of members?
I am quite prepared to accept that incidents between individuals may occur at any large event. The fact these unsubstantiated reports are not being treated as individual incidents but are being used to suspend the entire BHDLP is highly questionable and anti-democratic.
Nothing I witnessed indicated that the voting occurred in anything other than a completely above board fashion and at no time did I feel unsafe nor did anyone around me indicate they were experiencing difficulties.
I am quite happy to be contacted about my experience and if the “concern” is indeed genuine I would expect the NEC to investigate further.
I attended and voted at this AGM. When I arrived after rushing from work I joined my brother and his very pregnant partner in the queue. There was a feeling of great excitement and hope among the crowd as we realised how big the attendance was. We chatted amiably with our fellow comrades, mostly about the weather which was glorious and the joy we felt seeing so many people politically engaged.
In the hall I chatted with and lent my pen to a man who I knew had different views to my own. I experienced no nastiness at all. Yes we clapped enthusiastically for speeches we agreed with but there was no booing or negativity towards or from others.
This was my first AGM even though I have been a member for quite a few years. I and my two young children have delivered cards at Christmas for the party, in the dark and the rain.
I have leafleted before the 2015 election and knocked on doors to help get the labour vote out.
I feel quite aggrieved that my vote has been annulled along with hundreds of others due to spurious accusations that have not been investigated or proved. I felt the AGM was managed very well in the circumstances. The only difficulty it experienced was due to its overwhelming popularity. I really feel like the NEC is repressing democratic engagement. It is such a shame because all this energy and hope could now be being harnessed to fight the Tories.
I attended the AGM and made it into the first meeting. I saw no bad behaviour except for a couple of boos when Greg Hadfield was called to the stage to give his statement. This is very minor and I didn’t feel the need to complain at the time, I was however a little surprised. No other candidates received such treatment in the 1st session.
Apart from a tiny and very brief chorus of booing directed at Greg Hadfield, the meeting was very peaceful, it was nice to meet other members and take part in the democracy of my party.
I was present at the AGM on the 9th July and have been shocked and disturbed by reports that the local party has been suspended as a result of abusive behaviour.
I arrived at 15:50 on the day and discovered that the queue was already around the block. There was an upbeat atmosphere with a lot of positive feeling about the upsurge of support and the revised support for the party.
Much of this support seemed to focus on Jeremy Corbyn and I was most impressed by wide age range of those in the queue from young students to members who must have been over 80!
The only abusive incident I observed was when a young male organiser, who I would recognise again, approach the queue as it neared the door.
He shouted loudly and aggressively that the people outside would [not be ] allowed to vote as it was too busy inside. He seemed upset and slightly out of control.
Members of the queue began to argue and suggested that he could not arbitrarily deny them voting rights. I was surprised by the aggression in his voice and body language as he held his ground and he seemed to be upset that his authority was being challenged.
Two older men in black T Shirts then approached him and seemed to calm the situation down. They told him and the queue that everyone would be able to vote, and seemed to shepherd the young man away, who seemed confused and disappointed. I was a little unclear about the role of these two gentlemen but they seemed confident and official.
All those waiting for vote were then admitted. There were a few loudly vocal individuals in the queue immediately behind me, complaining that the Corbynites were ‘killing’ their party, but they were ignored and the atmosphere continued to be highly congenial and hopeful. I certainly saw no other examples of abusive behaviour.
It would be very disappointing if indeed, following an investigation, there was abusive behaviour and I would hope that if proven then appropriate sanctions will be taken against any individuals involved.
Similarly I would hope sanctions will be applied if there was a suggestion that the incident was a mischievous allegation. In either case I am surprised that a democratic election where there has been no suspicion cast on electoral integrity, should be suspended in this way.
While the result may have been inconvenient for certain factions within the party, we remain a democratic movement and attempts to suspend the process in this way should be viewed as unacceptable.
Currently, the decision made by the NEC as a result of these allegations, seems to be a cynical attempt to pervert the electoral process and I would hope all individuals are held fully to account.
I look forward to an open investigation and will expect to see a full and appropriate response to all the issue raised here.
I attended the AGM as a new member of the party. I saw no evidence of any abusive or intimidating behaviour. I was in the first session of the three, and although it was lively it was conducted in a respectful and comradely way.
I am appalled by the decision to suspend the local party and annul the results, and my response is to be even more determined to ensure that democracy prevails.
I was there for about an hour queuing (for second shift in hall) and 30–40 minutes in the hall.
I saw no intimidation or abuse at all. (A man shouting at organiser who was trying to let us know what was happening was told by everyone else to shut up but I’m assuming this doesn’t count.) on the contrary: I posted on Facebook at the time that things were friendly and patient (I can retrieve that if helpful.)
In terms of the accusations that branch risked safety: I saw the organisers in constant discussion with fire/safety officers in the building (who seemed happy) and we were told that a regional LP officer has been contacted for advice.
The actions of the NEC are truly shocking. Apart from anything else, the misuse of words like intimidation and bullying devalues them, putting at risk people who might really need help.
Thank you for all the work you are doing. I hope this is resolved soon.
Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.
I attended the first meeting at the AGM
The meeting was peaceful.
I witnessed clapping and initially a degree of vocal exuberance that was entirely well behaved. The chair pointed out that extended clapping etc would delay the meeting and mean that the other people waiting might not be able to vote in the alotted 2 hours which people respected.
The worst thing that I witnessed was when one of the candidates was booed by one person. The chair frowned pointedly in the direction of the booer and the person did not do it again.
I felt the meeting was very succesfully ‘held’ by the chair and said as much in an email to him afterwards. I did not think the room was over filled. I was one of the last to be let in and easily found a seat and there were some more empty seats.
I realise that you are asking for information on ‘trouble’ — but in all the queuing beforehand, in close quarters with a great many people and in great heat, without knowing if we would be allowed to vote I thought it was remarkable that people were quietly waiting to see what would happen and were patient and calm.
When I got into the meeting- not knowing what to expect- it was the same. We had to wait for quite a while for the meeting to start. It was the same- patience and calmness.
I can confirm I attended the meeting on 9th July. I was amazed by the number of attendees. I was in the second voting group and as such queued for some 30–40 mins before going into the hall.
The hall was packed , from teen to retired ( I was talking to two retired teachers whilst in the queue) .
The meeting was good natured with the chairperson acting like a true professional , limiting the speakers to 2 mins exactly.
There were no unseemly incidents no shouting no heckling no comments made during candidates speeches. Additionally , because I was one of the last to enter the meeting I was also amongst the last to leave the meeting ( we exited via the fire escape ) .