Wednesday, February 17, 2010

North West Leicestershire Lib Dems suspended

From today's Leicester Mercury:
The Liberal Democrats have suspended a local party branch in a key election battleground – just weeks before the General Election.
The party's London headquarters stepped in and shut down the North West Leicestershire branch – which has 60 members – after allegations of in-fighting and rule-breaking.
It followed a bid to revoke the membership of county and district councillor Michael Wyatt.
More gossip when I get it. For the time being, let's just note that this move strongly suggests Cowley Street is not expecting a by-election in this constituency before the general election.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The North West Leicestershire LibDems passed a motion to suspend the membership of Councillor Wyatt - after a long period of disruption and non-cooperation with the Local Party. This was not due to in-fighting, but was one-sided and provoked by this particular councillor, who was particularly nasty to the PPC Paul Reynolds from the start, as Cllr Wyatt had not not bothered to put himself through PPC selection when he could have, he was given time to go through the process when the constituency needed to advertise for a PPC, but didn't, so Paul Reynolds who was already on the approved list, stepped in.
There was an attempt at a takeover with Councillor Wyatt recruiting lots of people who had previously stood for district council as new members for 2009 - none of these new members ever, despite encouragement to do so ever got involved with or took any interest in local branch activities, until late in 2009, when the executive and the officer posts of Chair, Treasurer and Secretary were up for were up for re-election. Also others put themselves up for election onto the local committee as executive members.
This precipitated an election - Cllr Wyatt put himself forward for the position of Chair against Sue Morrell - Sue was elected. Cllr Wyatt challenged the validity of the election, which was independently run by the returning officer, because of some endorsement literature put out by the outgoing Chair, which was approved by the returning officer as being within party rules - more spoiling tactics.
New additional members were elected on the executive, which was thought to be a positive step and were invited to come to a meeting close to their homes - all of the Cllr Wyatt recruits made excuse after excuse not to come, some of them via Cllr Wyatt's email address.
This is just a small part of the story of disruption, there are other instances that would take too long to go into here, but suffice to say, there were people on the executive that had had enough, after trying to be friendly and getting that thrown back time and again and knowing who was behind the disruption, decided to take action in January, as they were under a serious amount of stress because of this disruption. The national party took exception to the wording in the title of the motion to suspend Cllr Wyatt's membership without looking at the content of the motion, the content of which clearly said to suspend, so summarily instructed the Regional Party to suspend the local branch until after the General Election.
Luckily, the excellent PPC had already appointed an Agent - however it seems the Regional Party is now tying his hands by failing to approve his budget and GE plan, so he will be appealing to the Electoral Commission for guidance. The Regional Party has close personal ties with Cllr Wyatt, which is why the local party asked the English National Party to take the complaint against Cllr Wyatt as they honestly felt the Regional Party would not be impartial in the matter.
Someone leaked the story to the press (chief suspect is the Cllr himself), to try to make the local party look bad. The truth is the liberal democrat party is not good at mediation in local disputes, there is very little recourse it seems for local parties and local councillors appear to be believed over local party officers and even the PPC - I'm sure that Cowley Street hust hoped we'd all go away because it is election year - but why should we when we know we did the right thing against someone who was thrown out of the Labour Party until we (nice people that we are), took this guy in. How we get repaid for our kindness!
It is a very sad tale of one person's vendetta