Streatham Labour is engulfed in an internal row, as party officials have been accused of mishandling an annual general meeting by local members who claim eligible voters were disenfranchised and early results were leaked.
Allegations emerged following the Streatham party’s AGM last Thursday. Members on the party’s left were already unhappy that the regional Labour office took control of the meeting in which elections to the local executive were held.
After the meeting took place, some activists accused party officials in London of blocking left-wing and Black members from participating, not sending ballots to certain members and leaking information on the results of votes.
Results of the AGM have now been released in an email to members. “It’s the whole Labour right slate,” one told LabourList. “The amount of extra work this has caused many of us… And no apology at all.”
Another local source said the claims had been made by a group of people who were “absolutely determined to say this was all rigged when it definitely wasn’t” amid a surge in support for Labour leader Keir Starmer.
Local member Jason Bond wrote for LabourList last week about how London region had decided to take control of the meeting. He argued that the intervention was irregular in a constituency party not placed under ‘special measures’.
One source rejected the argument that Labour can, or should, only take over the meeting of a CLP placed under special measures as “totally not true” as regional offices are responsible for ensuring that local parties run smoothly.
LabourList has been told that London region may have decided to run the meeting as a result of past complaints around balloting in the CLP going back two years. London Labour declined to comment.
One source reported that members repeatedly trying to send out pre-registration links for the meeting was a problem, as signifying who was set to attend the meeting would advantage those organising for particular candidates.
Some have complained that members, particularly Black members, were blocked from entering the Thursday meeting, however. 68 have written to Labour demanding an investigation and accusing officials of disenfranchisement.
Members have said they were kept in the Zoom waiting room for an extended period, while others claimed they were denied entry to the virtually held CLP meeting altogether. Some claim as many as 90 were blocked from attending.
LabourList understands that there were issues with a small number of members during the AGM, but that officials were messaging and responding to emails to try to verify members and admit them throughout the meeting.
Party locals have also alleged that at least 30 left-wing members did not receive a ballot, with one group commenting that London region “stripped local members of the right to run our own meetings and has made a total mess of it”.
LabourList was told by a separate source that there were issues with ballots on Saturday, but those issues were identified and members were reissued with ballots and no disenfranchisement of any group had taken place.
They described accusations that Labour staffers had attempted to block Black and left-wing members from attending as “incredible” and “unfair”, and said the claims were being made as a result of factional interests in the local party.
Further controversy was sparked when a WhatsApp message telling certain members that the “figures coming in are looking good so far” emerged on social media. Tellers were not due to receive information on votes until Monday.
Bond told LabourList: “Up until now, I had thought this was a software issue with Anonyvote seeming to not be fit for purpose, and potentially admin incompetence. However, this new evidence suggests there might be more happening here.”
Labour has arranged for all members to use Anonyvote, a private company that provides online ballots, for votes taken in virtual local party AGMs. The party has set out guidance for local parties using the service.
A source told LabourList that Anonyvote would have made it “technically impossible” for anyone to have seen the result at that time. They suggested the message was from someone who had drawn conclusions based on attendance of the meeting.
Streatham CLP selected Bell Ribeiro-Addy, a former chief of staff and political advisor to Diane Abbott, as its candidate for MP in 2019 after Chuka Umunna defected from the party in what was seen as a key victory for the left.
Below is the email with the results sent to Streatham members today.
We are writing to let you know the results of the Streatham CLP AGM that took place on Thursday evening.
Thanks to members that attended, the Chair of the meeting and the outgoing committee.
Chair: Maxine James
Vice-Chair: Anne Fairweather
Vice-Chair Membership: Hakeem Duckworth-Porter & Tom Rutland (Job share)
Secretary: Nick Cattermole
Treasurer: Mark Sheiham
Policy Officer: Lydia Serwaa
Women’s Officer: Olga Fitzroy & Hannah Gomersall (Job share)
BAME Officer: Erica McAlpine
Disability Officer: Ebenezer Akinsanmi
LGBTQ+ Officer: Rhodri Roberts
Youth Officer: Jessica Chowdhury
Trade Union Liaison Officer: Laura McCormack
Political Education Officer: Rob Fuller
Communications & Social Media Officer: Charles Owen & Richard Payne (Job share)
Fundraising Officer: Elizabeth Davidson
Campaigns Officer: Maureen Alcorn & John Arthey (Job share)
Cooperative and Socialist Societies Officer: Dave Salisbury Jones
General membership representatives on the Executive Committee:
– Robert Hill
– Dorothea Hodge
– Linda Redford
– John Arthey
– Rob Fuller
– Maxine James
– Laura McCormack
– Abigail Wood
634 ballots were issued and the results are attached to this email.
Thanks to all members that put themselves forward for a position and congratulations to the new committee.
London Labour Party