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Angela Eagle says homophobia has ‘no place’ in Labour as her local party is suspended

Nick Duffy July 20, 2016
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The Labour Party has suspended the constituency party of out MP Angela Eagle amid claims of bullying and intimidation.

The MP for Wallasey was a key shadow cabinet ally of Jeremy Corbyn until last month, when she launched a leadership challenge against him – though she has since bowed out in favour of another challenger, Owen Smith.

The leadership challenges sparked an angry backlash from Corbyn supporters, and has also led to tensions in Ms Eagle’s local Constituency Labour Party (CLP) – with a contingency of members denouncing her criticisms of Mr Corbyn’s leadership.

Labour peer Baroness Jowell alleged that Ms Eagle had been on the receiving end of bullying and even homophobic comments from members of her CLP; though this was strongly denied by Momentum and some party members.

Amid a torrent of abuse, Ms Eagle’s staff put out a plea for an end to a culture of “intimidation” locally and nationally. A brick was thrown through the window of Ms Eagle’s constituency office days after she launched her bid, while one man was arrested in Scotland over death threats sent to Ms Eagle. There is no suggestion that either incident was connected to the local party.

Labour has today acted to suspend the Wallasey CLP as a group.

The BBC reports that the CLP “has been suspended following complaints of bullying or intimidation” – preventing members from meeting under any circumstances until further notice.

In a statement, Ms Eagle said: “Bullying, intimidation, misogyny and homophobia have no place in the Labour Party and it is right that the national Labour Party now investigate this behaviour. I hope that the issues can be resolved, and that we can have an active, inclusive and effective local Labour Party that can tackle the real problems faced in our local community.”

A spokesperson for Labour said: “Any complaints of bullying or intimidation and allegations of misconduct are always taken very seriously.”

But members of the CLP claim it an attempt to stifle their views.

Vice chair Paul Davies, a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, told the Liverpool Echo that he was unaware of any allegations of bullying.

He said: “No one from the Labour Party has ever raised any allegation with Wallasey CLP.

“There was no allegation made until we said we still support Jeremy Corbyn.

“This suspension, when all CLPs were already prevented from meeting anyway until October, is merely an attempt to smear ordinary members who had the temerity to challenge the Labour Party establishment; the same establishment that has banned 150,000 members from voting in the leadership election.”

Helen Osgood – a senior caseworker at Ms Eagle’s office – recently pleaded for an end to abuse directed at Ms Eagle and members of her staff.

She said “I think that all of this violence needs to stop. We can’t live in a society that’s divided by hatred like this.

“I’m calling for people to stop this violence and the bad behaviour and let’s just get behind whatever leader you choose.”

The worker also revealed that a meeting Ms Eagle was due to attend in Luton had to be cancelled, after the hotel hosting the event was bombarded with threats and complaints.

In the wake of the brick attack, Mr Corbyn said “it is extremely concerning that Angela Eagle has been the victim of a threatening act and that other MPs are receiving abuse and threats.

“As someone who has also received death threats this week and previously, I am calling on all Labour party members and supporters to act with calm and treat each other with respect and dignity, even where there is disagreement.”

Related topics: 2016 Leadership Contests, Angela Eagle, Homophobia, Jeremy Corbyn, Labour, LGBT

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