When is an AGM not an AGM?

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On Wednesday night, the Labour Party Irish Society (LPIS) – an affiliated Labour society with the ability to delegate members to constituency Labour parties and influence decisions and candidate selections – held its AGM.

It was reportedly a disgrace – and a number of Labour MPs and officials have serious questions to answer about behaviour that, if multiply-sourced allegations are true, shows utter contempt for democracy and the party’s/society’s membership.

One LPIS member complained on his Facebook page:

[Progress members came out to] pick their mates from the queue to go through the staffers’ entrance and occupy all the seats in the room, leaving dozens of fully paid-up LPIS members outside the building or outside the rooms in which the AGM was being held.

While paid-up LPIS members were left outside, such denizens of the Irish community as Stephen Pound MP, Chuka Ummuna MP, Stella Creasy MP, Siobhan McDonagh MP and dozens of suited and booted lanyard-wearing SPADs sat comfortably inside.

At one point, Stephen Pound MP even came out and told people, inaccurately, that the AGM had been cancelled! Dozens of LPIS members, not believing that an MP of all people would peddle lies, headed home at this point. Even though RSVPs were in excess of 100, the room booked (capacity 70) was not enough. A second room was procured, but even so, dozens of members were left outside in the corridor and denied the opportunity to register for the AGM.

Even candidates from the left ‘slate’ were denied entry according to the full report.

Now it seems that Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s office has intervened in the stitch-up. A senior source from McDonnell’s office told the SKWAWKBOX that this message has been sent to the Left members of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC):

I received this from Austin Harney of LPIS. It looks like AGM last night was hijacked. There will be a letter of complaint coming in. We need NEC members now calling upon McNicol to launch inquiry. Sooner rather than later.

Hi. Unfortunately, it did not go well. The room was overcrowded with Progress people, MPs, Lords, Baronesses and Labour officials. They were going to turn many of us away but had to open up a second room. Many Momentum members were not allowed in including some of our candidates.

Also, we had Stephen Pound at the entrance telling many Momentum members that the AGM was cancelled. I raised a point of order at the beginning of the AGM calling for it to be postponed because the room was not big enough. I was heckled but I held the floor. I had to go in the second meeting in the Thatcher Room and raise the point of order, there.

In both rooms, we were outvoted. Amongst the MPs were Siobhan McDonagh, Chuka Umunna, Vernon Coaker, Stella Creasy, Stephen Kinnock, Streeter etc. There were many with no Irish connections at all. Conor McGinn was seen remotely running around and getting his own cronies to come in.

This incident won’t go away. We intend to draft a letter of complaint to the NEC and call for the AGM to be declared null and void.

Harney was not the only one to complain. A Labour MP added a detailed account by a CLP vice-chair to the call for the anti-democratic proceedings to be annulled – which has also been sent to the Irish Post newspaper:

Are people aware of what happened at the AGM of the Labour Party Irish Society? This is appalling. Can we do anything? See account below. I was in PCH [Portcullis House] and am therefore aware of some of the shenanigans.

Letter to the Irish Post about the Labour Party Irish Society AGM 25/10/17

I am writing to you as i am appalled by the obviously corrupt events which took place last night at the Labour Party Irish Society AGM.

I am a fully paid up member of the LPIS, Labour Party and RSVP’d to the invitation to attend the AGM.

I joined the queue at approximately 5.45pm [the meeting was due to start at 6.30pm]

After standing in the queue for about half an hour, Steven Pound MP came out of the building and said the event had been cancelled – a large number of comrades left the queue at this point.

Luckily, I checked my messages and a comrade that was inside had sent me a text that there was an overflow room being made available – I challenged Mr Pound with this and he look quite startled – and went back inside – he later came out and said that the AGM had not been cancelled – He then proceeded to usher in people who had joined the queue after us into the meeting , he did this a number of times and i did attempt to ask what was going on and why were people behind me in the queue being ushered in , but he just ignored me .

Eventually we managed to get into the building and cleared security – we went upstairs to be told that the overflow room was now full and that we would not be let in – effectively, we had been locked out of the meeting with at least 20 other comrades.

What makes this even worse is that comrades inside the meeting were not having their credentials checked in any way to establish if they were Labour Party members, Labour Party Irish Society Members or had RSVP’d . No register was taken of participants in the meeting .

So who exactly was in the meeting?

Were they LPIS members?

Had they RSVP’d?

Were they even members of Labour?

It appears that no one knows.

So how can this travesty be allowed to stand as an AGM?

In my view it cant!

The LPIS AGM should be declared null and void.

A new AGM should be arranged where democratic process is followed.

In solidarity,

Patrick Hunter
Vice Chair Hendon CLP

The NEC must take action – and any MPs and Labour officials found to have participated in this affront to democracy must face the maximum available sanction.

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