THE SOUTH Shields Labour Party constituency branch has been suspended after an inquiry into allegations of bullying and intimidation. Henceforth, it will be run by officials in Labour’s regional office, who will organise training sessions and members meetings in an attempt to put a stop to the branch’s problems.
This follows an inquiry by the national party into the branch.
In a report was produced by Labour’s Compliance Unit, the body responsible for internal discipline, found that a long-standing culture of bullying had grown up which meant different groups of members were at in conflict.
The report has not been published, but it is understood that there are no allegations of wrongdoing by the constituency’s MP, Emma Lewell-Buck, a Shadow Local Government Minister.
A Labour North spokesperson said:
'The Labour Party has today informed the local constituency party of the outcomes of its investigation in the conduct of South Shields constituency Labour Party (CLP). The investigation has found that there is a genuine problem in the relationships between some members, and there is a deep separation of different parts of the local party that is not seen in other CLPs.
'Labour will not accept bullying and intimidation in any form. The party are therefore suspending South Shields CLP until January 2017 so that a number of changes can be made to improve the working of the local party including all member meetings, training sessions and a renewed focus on campaigning in the community.
'Day to day administration of the CLP will be taken over by the Regional Office of the Labour Party. We are hopeful that this suspension will be short and that all members in the constituency party can play a part in bringing the local party together.'
Last week, in the 'Rotten Boroughs' section of the current Private Eye a correspondent declared:
'All this has been the case for ages, so why the sudden crisis?', and asked 'What are the chances of Lewell-Buck's vision of a new touchy-feely local party coming to pass?'
It seems that, according the Private Eye, that the former MEP Alan Donnelly ('godfather of Labour in the North East, chair of lobbying firm Sovereign Strategy') is the man of the moment who'll be sorting out the mess, together with his deputy, Iain Malcolm, who is himself leader of the Council and head of the currently dysfunctional local Labour Party since 2008.