Enfield North Constituency Labour Party’s vice-chair Mark French and treasurer Mira Glavadarnov speak out about the recent vote against their MP
We are writing as members of Enfield North Constituency Labour Party (CLP), following a vote of ‘no confidence’ in our Member of Parliament, Joan Ryan.
We are part of a local party membership that has massively increased since the election of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – finally giving voice to ordinary people who suffer under austerity as the rich get richer. We are also an active part of the democratisation process that is taking place within the Labour Party.
On Thursday 6th September we carried a vote of ‘no confidence’ against Joan. We now wish to answer some of the slurs directed at us in the media since this happened. There have been deliberate misrepresentations of the reasons for the vote by our MP, attempts to dismiss the result, as well as attacks and insults directed at some of the members in the press and social media.
The vote was part of a legitimate democratic process by ordinary party members. The motivation behind it was the long frustration felt by members over the conduct of Joan Ryan, after she deliberately tried to undermine Jeremy Corbyn outside of party structures.
Examples included her statements in the press that “Corbyn appals me” and “he is not interested in Middle East peace – just in meeting terrorists with blood on their hands”. In the motion that was carried, it was stressed that disagreement with leadership was not, in itself, the issue. Labour is a democratic party that welcomes debate, but ignoring due process and using the hostile press and social media to smear the leader’s character was not acceptable.
Prior to the vote, emails were sent to all members – just under 1,000 people – inviting them to attend the meeting and giving details about the motion. Around 200 members turned up, which we understand is the highest number ever to attend an Enfield North CLP meeting. The motion was heard and there was an orderly debate, including an address by Joan herself. The motion was passed by 95 to 92 votes.
Afterwards, Joan immediately began to pour out abuse on Twitter, brandishing the 95 members who backed the motion as “Trots, Stalinists, Communists, and assorted hard left”. The immediate dismissal of members’ views is all too typical of the approach that led to this vote.
She also tried to resort to anti-Semitism accusations, claiming the motion was made against her because of her position as chair of Labour Friends of Israel. This is a very serious accusation against political opponents which avoids addressing our real concerns. As many Labour Party members will know, this is not the first time Joan has acted in such a way. She is not used to a democratic challenge and can only answer with insults.
It is not unusual that politicians whose time has passed at first try to ignore the results and dismiss them as a “plot” by a small number of people with “extreme” views. They don’t realise that the world around them is changing and that the membership is reflecting that.
The Tory government’s cuts, which even the United Nations envoy has condemned, are doing immeasurable harm to the working class of Enfield and the country – Labour’s anti-austerity message is a growing echo. We are determined to campaign on this message locally and be part of electing a government to reverse austerity.