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Labour Uncut: Lies and smears about NEC candidate

Pete Willsman

Peter Willsman

Two weeks ago, we commented here on the resemblance of  Labour Uncut to the planned Red Rag, the website to consist of lies, smears and innuendo that Derek Draper described as “absolutely totally brilliant”, except that its targets are not Tories but our own side. The latest victim is Peter Willsman, NEC member and Secretary of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy.

Peter has been the victim of an attempt in Erith & Thamesmead CLP, where he has been an active member for over 30 years, to prevent him again being a candidate for the NEC. In a series of “quotes” from unnamed sources and unsubstantiated comments, Labour Uncut makes a number of false allegations about Peter’s actions both in the constituency and at the NEC, some of which relate to the parliamentary selection which was subject to considerable outside interference, not to mention tampering with the ballot box whilst it was at Labour headquarters for “safe keeping”. Peter has therefore issued the following statement:

When the original vote was taken at the Erith & Thamesmead GC on whether there should be an all-women shortlist, I abstained. Everyone else voted against. Nevertheless, I explained to the GC the reasons why the NEC believes all-women shortlists are vital, a position which I personally support.

At the NEC organisation committee, there was no vote on the all-women shortlist recommendations which related to Erith & Thamesmead and several other CLPs. As with almost all officer recommendations, the report was nodded through. I made it clear to the Organisation Committee that the GC opposed an all-women shortlist. I later informed the CLP of this, although it became apparent that some members of the CLP were being fed false information by someone connected to the NEC.

I have never told any NEC member, or anyone else for that matter, that the CLP supported an all-women shortlist. On this too, CLP members have been fed false information. If the anonymous correspondent will name their anonymous sources, I will confront the person concerned, presumably an NEC member.

The removal of the CLP Secretary and CLP Chair during the parliamentary selection process was carried out by the General Secretary and I had no prior warning of it. When it happened, I made it clear that I was not happy about it.

In Erith & Thamesmead, there are some men in particular who remain very angry about the all-women shortlist. Unfortunately they seem only too willing to believe the worst of me.

Peter has for some time been intending to move to Oxford, he had viewed several places over the last year and had already signed the lease on a flat prior to these events. He intends to sell his London flat when it has been put into a marketable state. Before this vindictive act, he had intended to stay on until the next AGM in Erith & Thamesmead to complete 17 years as branch secertary but he has now transferred his membership to Oxford East CLP. As Ann Black, Chair of the NEC and Secretary of Oxford East CLP says on Labout Uncut:

Should a few dozen people (actually it was fifteen – Ed) in Erith & Thamesmead, or anywhere else, deprive tens of thousands of members of a full choice of candidates? It may be the rules, but it negates any normal definition of democracy.

2 Comments

  1. Mark Seddon says:

    I was shocked to read the statement by Pete Willsman, who I have known for nearly twenty years. Even his political opponents would willingly acknowledge Pete’s unswerving commitment to the Labour Movement and democracy. His contribution has been – and is – enormous, and never has he sought personal gain or publicity. Those who are engaged in these malicious attacks on Pete, who would attempt to corrupt the democratic process, should be utterly ashamed of themselves.

  2. Peter Kenyon says:

    Dear Jon

    Ann Black’s remarks about Pete and choice are welcome. But it is a pity that she did not apply the same logic to candidates for the Leadership….whither John McDonnell? Or indeed a proposal to apply the rules to the issue of nomination papers for Deputy Leader, which only Christine Shawcroft and I of the four CLGA members currently on the NEC supported.

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