Debate has raged over at the LabourHome blog over the demand by Chris Gale, Chair of Chippenham CLP, that maverick Labour MP Kate Hoey be disciplined for her involvement in the Countryside Alliance.
Having apparently lost patience with the party’s democratic processes, he has now launched a campaign to deselect Hoey (“Hoey Must Go”) in the pages of The Independent.
Quite apart from his apparent total ignorance of reselection procedures (the CLP votes on whether or not to re-select the MP, there is no chance to put up another candidate against Hoey) and the fact that Hoey was unanimously reselected last time, this may land him in some hot water of his own.
A campaign to discipline a Labour MP for criticising colleagues in public which, erm, criticises a Labour MP in public, may look more than a tad hypocritical. There are also rules about that kind of behaviour – the Labour Party’s code of conduct expressly forbidding disparaging other candidates in a selection process. If Gale himself is on Labour’s parliamentary panel – and perhaps he had his own name in mind as the mystery opponent to Hoey – he has just flagrantly broken his own signed agreement to follow the code.
Gale himself is an “interesting” character. A cursory examination of his blog displays what must rank as one of the most skewed senses of priorities in UK politics, as evidenced by his outrage that the Royal Navy are not evacuating British pets from Lebanon. Never mind that there is a massive humanitarian crisis and hundreds of deaths – we must save Tiddles!
The Daily wouldn’t like to speculate that he is a strange obssessive who whiles away his empty days sat in a darkened basement hunched over a computer, madly scanning the net for any mention of the targets of his obssession. But he has managed to find time out of his busy social life over the past couple of months to post screeds of venomous rantings and green ink letters to newspapers about Kate Hoey – just a few examples here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here (before we got bored) plus the occasional anonymous comment on any Labour blog he can find.
Every now and again he drags his gaze away from fluffy animals to pen paeons of praise for Tony Blair.
Given this prodigious output it is perhaps surprising that Gale not only failed to present any evidence whatsoever of Hoey being involved in any anti-Labour campaigning, but continually refused to answer any of the counter-arguments against his motion at LabourHome, resorting instead to increasingly hysterical ranting at anyone who did not agree.
His claim that the Countryside Alliance had stitched up the Conservative leadership election to ensure that a fox-hunter was leader of the opposition also suggests that a shade of paranoia may be kicking in.
No doubt he will blame the global fox-hunting conspiracy should he find that an exasperated Vauxhall CLP lose patience with him interfering in their selection and undermining their Labour MP in the national press and begins to take an interest in disciplinary action of its own. Others horrified by his totalitarian views on internal democracy may also be watching.
Perhaps he should just heed his own advice: “If we fight internal battles, rather than campaign on our record, the only winners will be the Tories”.