Exclusive: Angry Labour activists sign letter on MPs expenses


8:31 pm - May 17th 2009

by Chris Barnyard    


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A broad swathe of Labour Party activists and parliamentary candidates are tonight circulating a letter to express concern over the way party leaders have failed to take charge over the MPs expenses scandal.

The letter, addressed to the National Executive Committee chair, says they were writing to register their protest at, “the conduct of many Labour MPs, ministers and cabinet ministers in allowance and expense claims funded by hard working British taxpayers during the tenure of this Parliament”.

It asks the NEC chair to organise a thorough review of suspected excessive and abusive claims regardless of whether they were signed off by the Fees Office.

The signatories also support the immediate removal of the whip from individual MPs who, “have brought the party into disrepute over this issue”, and wants CLPs to be allowed to trigger reselection ballots against those MPs.

The letter was initially drafted by three Labour activists and candidates: Cllr. Richard Bingley (Former Labour Party Press Officer), Fred Grindrod (National Policy Forum and Former Parliamentary Candidate) and Tom Flynn (Labour Parliamentary Candidate).

In an email seen by Liberal Conspiracy, they say:

We are now trying to get this letter signed by as many people as possible, so that the NEC will take notice of it.

We do want to assure people that the purpose of this letter is simply for activists to collectively voice their deep concern about what has happened in the last week. We are asking for a change in attitude from the leadership of the Party that reflects this concern, demonstrated in the two “asks” we have put in the letter.

The Labour Party remains a fantastic and inspiring organisation, full of hard working activists, staff and MPs. This letter is written in a spirit of solidarity and we urge you to forward to your colleagues to sign.

It has since last night been signed by another 32 party activists and is now being circulated across the party.

The originators of the letter say they hope it will not only spur the party to take decisive action against MPs who have broken the spirit of the Parliamentary Expenses system, but also drive out the worst abusers and restore some morale within the party.

The letter particularly singles out the Labour Party leadership for:

• The continued reference by Labour spokespeople to the ‘system’ being wrong and ‘needing reform’. Undoubtedly this is the case. But the ‘system’ does not force Labour Ministers and MPs to make specific claims that abuse public trust and in some cases are an abuse of public money. Making an expense claim is a matter of individual responsibility. Our Party has been left looking incredibly insensitive and out of touch with hard-working and fair minded citizens.

• The Prime Minister, and the collective leadership of the Labour Party, have been negligent in protecting the reputation of the party by failing to speedily apologise for our MPs, by failing to take immediate and clear disciplinary action, and by regularly appearing to side with Ministers and MPs who have made excessive and exaggerated claims in the face of justifiable public anger.

• Many of the claims are for things that, in all conscience, 99% of Labour Party members outside of Parliament would never be able to bring themselves to claim, even if a ‘system’ allowed them to.

The Labour National Executive meets on Tuesday 19 May. It will then consider any action on MPs expenses.

Read the full letter (pdf)
(signatures can be sent to: necletter@hotmail.co.uk)

Update: More signatures and a response by the NEC vice-chair at LabourList.

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About the author
Chris is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He is an aspiring journalist and reports stories for LC.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Labour party ,Our democracy ,Westminster

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Reader comments


They just got another signatory.

Fantastic gesture. I am a little unsure what a strongly worded letter will achieve without the necessary work following. i.e. deselecting MPs, lobbying members who aren’t scum etc.

Best of luck to the activists.

I too think this is a good move, and hope they manage to shift internal debate within the party and force the govt to move much further on reform. Let’s see whether it will happen though – the leadership remains without any vision or plan of action.

4. anonymous HQ party worker

Thank goodness for the moral courage of these brave individuals for promoting the conscience of the Labour Party. I am proud to be a Labour Party worker again. Working with incompetent Cabinet politicians on a daily basis in par for the course nowadays in Labour HQ, and we are all resigned to it, but it is truly shocking how leading politicians, but what we can’t understand is the PM shielding ministerial colleagues who have abused the system. I only wish I could sign the letter. From me and so many colleagues at HQ…Good luck…and ‘yes we can’!!

Great gesture – but, as cynical as I am:

the leadership remains without any vision or plan of action.

That will happen – the leadership will not lead.

Worthy, but way too snitty Chris. I suggest this instead.

7. Stuart Madewell

I too agree that this is the right move.

I don’t agree that it should be left to CLP’s to decide if their MP shoiuld be deselected. You could have a situation that an MP who has abused the system is stil able to rely on their CLP because they have organised his or her supporters to control the CLP executive.

The NEC nust act on behalf of the party as a whole

I like Chris Paul’s letter better. I think it should be up to local parties to decide who their candidate is but with a strong steer from the NEC if either a) the MP in question has acted in an exemplary fashion, or b) the MP in question has clearly and seriously abused the system for personal gain. Anything inbetween should be entirely up to local members.

I don’t agree with every word, but now is not the time to be prissy. The intent is there. So I have signed.

Left outside @2: If the NEC authorises CLPs to do what they need to, the activists in CLPs will act and act well, I’m pretty confident of that. Tomorrow is the big test, though I fear there will be a fudge around MPs only being open to CLP investigation if the Parliamentary Commissioner has found against. This of course will entirely miss the point. I don’t know where the NEC will go with it, but I think the vote may be close on a radical option vs. watered down option.

On the plus side anyway, about 800% more members than usual will look carefully at the next lot of NEC ballot papers….


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    New post: Exclusive: Labour activists sign letter to express anger on MPs expenses http://bit.ly/fDVfg

  2. sunny hundal

    Exclusive: Angry Labour activists sign letter on MPs expenses – http://bit.ly/ejSaI

  3. Jessica Asato

    More on the NEC expenses letter on LibConspiracy here: http://tinyurl.com/ojjq6a and LL here: http://tinyurl.com/pozv6x

  4. Don McCobb

    Liberal Conspiracy » Exclusive: Angry Labour activists sign letter … http://bit.ly/o1SHa

  5. REAL SHEIK

    Liberal Conspiracy » Exclusive: Angry Labour activists sign letter … http://bit.ly/ga6SF

  6. Liberal Conspiracy

    New post: Exclusive: Labour activists sign letter to express anger on MPs expenses http://bit.ly/fDVfg

  7. sunny hundal

    Exclusive: Angry Labour activists sign letter on MPs expenses – http://bit.ly/ejSaI

  8. Jessica Asato

    More on the NEC expenses letter on LibConspiracy here: http://tinyurl.com/ojjq6a and LL here: http://tinyurl.com/pozv6x

  9. Don McCobb

    Liberal Conspiracy » Exclusive: Angry Labour activists sign letter … http://bit.ly/o1SHa

  10. REAL SHEIK

    Liberal Conspiracy » Exclusive: Angry Labour activists sign letter … http://bit.ly/ga6SF

  11. REAL SHEIK

    Liberal Conspiracy » Exclusive: Angry Labour activists sign letter … http://bit.ly/ga6SF

  12. Tweet4Labour

    ATTN:Labour members NEC is debating expenses on Tues.Some members have written a letter which i’ve also signed Sign up via http://is.gd/AZxy

  13. Reconnecting « A blog from the back room.

    […] articles (and the round robin letter signed by many activists earlier in the week) shows that the anger about expenses goes well beyond that expressed by either the leadership or […]

  14. Labourhome » Blog Archive » Activists letter to the NEC

    […] If you are a Labour activist, particularly if you have some kind of position in the party, you may wish to sign (by email) the activists letter to the NEC about the expenses scandal being orchestrated over at Liberal Conspiracy. […]





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