A truth can walk naked… but a lie always needs to be dressed – Kahlil Gibran
Angela Eagle, 55, has been the Member of Parliament for Wallasey since the 1992 General Election. She was born in Bridlington and studied PPE at Oxford University, before working for the CBI and the trade union COHSE.
She served as the Minister of State for Pensions from June 2009 until May 2010. She was elected to the Shadow Cabinet in October 2010 and was appointed by Ed Miliband to be Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
In October 2011, she was appointed Shadow Leader of the House of Commons when Miliband reshuffled his Shadow Cabinet. She was appointed as both Shadow First Secretary of State and Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills in September 2015 in Jeremy Corbyn’s first Shadow Cabinet. She resigned from the Shadow Cabinet in June 2016.
As I reported in January, Angela Eagle is supported by the right wing Progress group.
Progress is the Blairite power behind the core group of MPs who sought a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn two weeks ago.
Progress runs on £260,000-a-year funding from Lord Sainsbury.
Read more about this shadowy cabal in Hanging from Traitors’ Gate – Progress: Labour’s right wing Militant.
Eagle’s Selection as Parliamentary Candidate
Wallasey is now a solidly Labour-voting constituency, and Angela Eagle, who enjoyed a 16,348 majority in last year’s General Election, has been its MP since 1992.
Before that, by contrast, Wallasey had historically been a Conservative seat. It was represented by Tory MP Ernest Marples from 1945 to 1974, and then by his successor Lynda Chalker from 1974 to 1992.
In 1987, though, Chalker only narrowly held on to the seat, with her majority reduced from 6,708 to 279, in the face of a vigorous campaign by the local Labour party in support of its candidate Lol Duffy.
Duffy would very likely have won, had it not been for the intervention of Frank Field, the right wing Labour MP for the neighbouring Birkenhead constituency.
Field circulated a letter attacking Duffy, who at the time was associated with the Socialist Organiser group. He declared that he would not be supporting Duffy’s candidacy and would refuse to appear on any platform with him. The letter was published on the front page of a local newspaper, during the election campaign, under the headline Marxist Lol slammed by Frank Field.
No action was taken by the Labour Party against Frank Field over this political scabbing that ensured a Tory victory in Wallasey. Instead, in response to his denunciations of the role of Socialist Organiser activists in Wirral Labour Party, the Labour national executive committee (NEC) launched an investigation into the group. A report by the party’s director of organisation, Joyce Gould, led to the proscription of Socialist Organiser in 1990.
One result of the move against Socialist Organiser was to delay the parliamentary selection in Wallasey.
The Wallasey Labour party officers pressed for a prompt start to the selection procedure. After all, this was now a highly winnable seat and it made sense to have a candidate like Lol Duffy in place as early as possible. But the national Labour Party and the regional office prevaricated.
In December 1991 the regional office was forced at last to agree a selection timetable with the constituency officers.
Duffy received over 70% of the nominations including the support of five of the six local party branches, the women’s section and numerous trade unions.
His 24 nominations far exceeded the tally of five achieved by his nearest rival, Angela Eagle.
But in January 1992, in a move which now stinks of a rancid coup, the NEC decided that the imminence of a General Election demanded the intervention of an emergency ‘by-election panel’ to interview potential candidates and shortlist contenders in those constituencies without a Labour candidate already in place.
During the panel’s interviewing of Wallasey candidates, Roy Hattersley asked Lol Duffy how he would reconcile his personal beliefs – notably his support for unilateralism and repeal of all anti-union laws – with the party’s current policy. Duffy made it clear that he would have no problem with this. But Hattersley’s NEC panel then excluded Duffy from the Wallasey shortlist.
Under the rules of the Labour Party, if more than 50% of those who vote in a parliamentary selection return blank ballot papers the selection must start from scratch with new nominations.
Contrary to party rules, no independent scrutineer was allowed into the Wallasey count held at the regional office in Warrington. When pressed, Eileen Murfin (Labour Party regional organiser) admitted that the officials had not bothered to count the blank votes, again in contravention of the rules.
But sources leaked the total to the media, which reported that 163 blank papers had been returned by local members in protest at the exclusion of Lol Duffy. Only 57 votes had been cast for the ‘winning’ candidate, Angela Eagle. Under the party constitution the selection was null and void; but party officials glossed over this detail.
To add insult to injury, the NEC not only dismissed the complaints of party members but threatened to mount yet another ‘investigation’ of the constituency after the General Election.
Lol Duffy worked diligently for Angela Eagle during the General Election. And thanks to the years of hard work put in by himself and others in the constituency, the seat was taken from the Tories, and Eagle became the first Labour MP for Wallasey.
Given this record, it is hardly surprising that Angela Eagle has shown such contempt for the democratic decision made by party members last September, when they elected Jeremy Corbyn as leader with 59.5% of first-preference votes, and has joined his enemies in the parliamentary Labour party in a disgraceful attempt to overturn that decision.
She is firmly embedded in, and indeed owes her parliamentary career to, a political culture that accepts party democracy only when it produces the ‘right’ results.
Eagle’s Voting Record
Angela Eagle’s voting record since becoming a Labour MP makes very interesting reading. Most readers will be aware that she was one of the 66 Labour MPs, who last December, voted for bombing Syria, but thanks to the parliamentary website They Work For You her broader voting on key issues bares closer scrutiny.
Ms Eagle has:
- Generally voted for use of UK military forces in combat operations overseas
- Consistently voted FOR the Iraq war
- Consistently voted AGAINST an investigation into the Iraq war
- Generally voted for replacing Trident with a new nuclear weapons system
- Almost always voted for strengthening the Military Covenant
- Almost always voted against local councils keeping money raised from taxes on business premises in their areas
- Almost always voted for introducing ID cards
- Generally voted against a statutory register of lobbyists
Eagle’s Leadership Campaign
Ms Eagle only launched her leadership campaign a few days ago, but it is already marred by murky accusations, duplicity and crocodile tears.
She resigned from Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet on 27 June in the wake of the Euro Referendum result and the sacking of Hilary Benn as Shadow Foreign Secretary.
Her letter of resignation as Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, included these sentences:
“I was devastated by the result of the EU referendum. Too many of our supporters were taken in by right-wing arguments and I believe this happened, in part, because under your leadership the case to remain in the EU was made with half-hearted ambivalence rather than full-throated clarity.
“In such turbulent times, we need a Leader who can unite rather than divide the Labour Party. We need a Leader who can heal the deep divisions in our country, stand up for our communities, and ultimately to keep our United Kingdom together.”
But while heaping the blame for Brexit on Jeremy Corbyn, Ms Eagle failed to admit that just two weeks earlier she publicly said of Mr Corbyn campaigning for Remain:
“Jeremy is up and down the country, pursuing an itinerary that would make a 25-year-old tired, he has not stopped.”
But that was only the beginning.
Within days of her resignation, it was revealed that Ms Eagle’s leadership campaign website Angela4Leader was registered at 6pm on Saturday 25 June, hours before Hilary Benn was sacked and two whole days before she resigned.
The website was registered by Joe McCrea, a PR executive who served as a special adviser in Downing Street during Tony Blair’s tenure.
And there was more to come.
Earlier this week a window at the Wallasey Labour Party constituency office was smashed with a brick.
Ms Eagle was quick to blame the vandalism on supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, claiming that it was “bullying” against her that had “no place in politics in the UK and it needs to end”.
The hypocrisy of this outburst beggars belief, as there was no evidence of any kind that supporters of Mr Corbyn had actioned this vandalism. Indeed there has been suggestions that it may have been broken by supporters of Ms Eagle to frighten members of her own CLP who had called for her resignation.
One Labour Party member Mike Sivier wrote a hard-hitting open letter to Ms Eagle on the back of her claims. Part of that letter says: “As a Labour voter of many years’ standing, and a member of the party for the last six, I am writing to express my outrage at your comments following the vandalism of the Wallasey Party office.
“We can agree that the damage to the window – like any crime – is unacceptable. However: How dare you claim that it was carried out by a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, “in his name”? Do you have any evidence? Do the police already know who did it? I think not.
“Mr Corbyn has made it abundantly clear – many times over the past few weeks, that he finds such behaviour abhorrent and wants members of the party to discuss their differences in a cordial manner.
“How dare you try to pontificate to the rest of the party about “bullying”, after the behaviour you have forced Mr Corbyn to endure, together with the other 170+ PLP rebels?
“Look at the behaviour that has occurred in YOUR name:
- Months of secret plotting against Mr Corbyn after he won the Labour leadership last year.
- The intention to mislead the public into thinking the Labour ‘coup’ was prompted by Mr Corbyn’s performance in the EU referendum when it had been pre-planned over many months.
- The co-ordinated, on-the-hour resignations of shadow cabinet members throughout June 26 in an effort to BULLY Mr Corbyn out of the Labour leadership.
- The hasty and unconstitutional calling and passing of a vote of ‘no confidence’ in Mr Corbyn in another attempt to BULLY him out of office.
- The attempted BULLYING of Mr Corbyn himself at a Parliamentary Labour Party meeting.
- The fabricated smear stories intended to undermine Mr Corbyn’s support among members and, again, BULLY him into resigning – including your claim about this broken office window.
“If you are serious in your claim that bullying “has absolutely no place in politics in the UK and it needs to end”, then perhaps the best way to start would be by ending your own challenge to Mr Corbyn’s leadership, submitting yourself to the mercy of your constituents who are holding a ‘no confidence’ vote on your conduct later this month, and considering your own future in politics.”
Then yesterday the latest instalment of dirty tricks was opened amid claims that Ms Eagle (an open Lesbian) has been subjected to “homophobic slurs” from members of the Wallasey CLP.
But she did not count on local activist and fellow lesbian Emma Runswick who immediately hit back with another open letter exposing the duplicity of the Eagle campaign.
Part of Ms Runswick’s letter says: “I am a queer woman. My mother Kathy is the Chair of Wallasey constituency Labour party, and a Momentum supporter. An attempt has been made to paint Wallasey CLP and Momentum supporters as homophobic and violent, so I’d like to share some personal stories of my family.
“The allegations started when Baroness Tessa Jowell, a Labour peer, said on Daily Politics about the Wallasey CLP AGM: “I spoke to Angela about that meeting, she faced homophobic abuse at that meeting”.
“But Angela Eagle wasn’t at the meeting, and nor was any complaint of homophobia raised in her absence. Since then, accusations have been made, but I struggle to comprehend the abusive language alleged going unchallenged.
“I came out to my family aged 13. Throughout the abuse and ignorance from others, my parents were behind me. When my school banned me and my girlfriend from each other’s form rooms in response to a parent complaint, and I couldn’t face the fight, I had to stop them going in all guns blazing in my defence.
“When I wanted to support a transgender student, they helped me navigate the bullying report system, and held me when I cried in frustration.
“As trade union reps, my parents explained all the legislation, we talked about the Equality Act and the protection it gave me and other LGBTQ people.
“There is zero tolerance of homophobia in Wallasey CLP. My mother would come down on it like a tonne of bricks. My dad, a branch delegate, would do the same.
“Kathy Miller, the Secretary and proud mother of a gay man, would do the same. Other Wallasey CLP members are LGBTQ themselves and would do the same.
“I don’t believe anybody in Wallasey CLP, Corbyn supporters or otherwise, would allow homophobic abuse or gesture to go unchallenged in any meeting.”
Now Ms Eagle is facing a no confidence vote from own Constituency Labour Party.
But even now, more dirty tricks are at work as Labour’s NEC yesterday announced that ALL Labour Party constituency and branch meetings have been suspended until the completion of the leadership election in September.
Time and the party members will wait for you Ms Eagle.
As Kahlil Gibran once wrote: “A truth can walk naked… but a lie always needs to be dressed.”