UK Politics

Corbyn-critic Labour MP describes 'brutal' meeting

Thangam Debbonaire

A Labour MP has described as "brutal" a local party meeting where 300 people turned up, reportedly heckling those opposed to Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.

Thangam Debbonaire, MP for Bristol West, told the BBC she had not felt intimidated, but other Labour members had told her they felt "scared".

One local party member has blogged about how she was left in tears.

Momentum member Annie Thomas said there was "excitement" and tension but she did not hear "insults or abuse".

Mr Corbyn has faced dozens of resignations from Labour's front bench, as the vast majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party have called on him to quit. But he remains leader, backed by many party members who have held rallies in his defence. He wrote in the Guardian that the party's membership had swelled in recent weeks by 100,000, since the EU Referendum.

'Trying to dominate'

Labour Party member Ruth Davies blogged about the Bristol West constituency Labour Party's AGM on Thursday evening, at which Ms Debbonaire talked about the EU Referendum and her resignation as shadow minister for arts and culture.

Ms Debbonaire quit in June, telling Jeremy Corbyn "it is with sadness that I have concluded that you are not the right person to lead us".

Asked about Thursday's two-hour meeting, she told BBC Points West it had been "challenging" as more than 300 people had turned up and they had only been expecting 100 - so there was not enough room.

"I did my best to hear as many voices as I could. Many people have contacted me saying despite that, unfortunately, they felt there were some people in the room who were making a lot of noise and were trying to dominate the meeting."

'Heckling from both sides'

"It was brutal, I think some people found it very difficult. I didn't feel intimidated but then I'm not easily intimidated but other people have said they were scared. People in the back of the room in particular said there was a lot of aggression and they were uncomfortable."

Ms Davies told the BBC she had been called a "traitor" and a "conspirator" when she called for "respectful calm discussion".

"As soon as Thangam started to speak about Corbyn, there was a vocal group of people who were shouting her down and heckling throughout," she said.

"There seems to be a mentality that if you don't uncritically support Corbyn then you must be the enemy."

But Annie Thomas, a local Momentum member, said the room the meeting was held in was not big enough, a large amount of people had turned up and it had been hot, "so you could feel the tension building" and she said there was some "heckling from both sides".

She said she did not see or hear any insults or abuse and did not recognise all the people who had turned up, so could not say whether they were Momentum members.

She said the annual meeting had involved contested elections to the local party executive: "Clearly the events of the last few weeks in Parliament have actually coloured those elections because many people have felt very cross."

"However, Momentum does condemn all abusive behaviour, I didn't see any abuse, I saw a lot of excited people who wanted to have their say."

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