Last night, Labour MP Joan Ryan, who represents Enfield North, narrowly lost a no confidence vote called by her local CLP. As she is chair of Labour Friends of Israel, those in the media establishment with agendas to pursue and without the patience of nous to bother doing a little research were quick to ascribe this to anti-Semitism. It was not. This was an MP who has been skating on thin ice for some time.
Joan Ryan ... now facing deselection
Ms Ryan made matters worse by resorting to abuse as soon as she knew she had lost: “So lost 92 to 94 votes hardly decisive victory and it never occurred to me that Trots Stalinists Communists and assorted hard left would gave confidence in me. I have none in them”. Did she bother communicating with any of them? If not, how does she know what particular “ism” they subscribe to? But her pals in the press had got the message.
The Sun’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn proclaimed “Joan Ryan is chair of Labour Friends of Israel. Tonight local party radicals passed a vote of no confidence in her, 1st stage of deselection. Tough to think of a worse look for a political party that aspires to govern”. Why is it assumed to be about LFI? What makes those who voted against Ms Ryan “radicals”? Why can’t journalists bother to do a little journalism?
It got worse as Newton Dunn, sticking to the script handed down from the 13th floor, whined plaintively “Another moderate and Corbyn critic @gavinshuker has also just lost a confidence vote tonight. That’s 4 Labour MPs in total now, after Hoey and Field. The purge has begun”. Why is a membership exercising its democratic right a “purge”?
Whatever, the agenda had been set and talking points flagged up. So it was no surprise to see Desperate Dan Hodges blunder into the discussion: “Going to be overshadowed by Boris issues. But if reports of Joan Ryan no-confidence vote are true, this represents the defining moment for Labour moderates. If they stand back and let her get driven out because of her support for the Jewish community Labour dies. It’s over”.
Equating “Israel” with “all Jews”, or even a subset of “all Jews”, is nailed-on anti-Semitism. It is not the first time Hodges has thus stumbled. But the reality of Ms Ryan’s fall from grace was far more straightforward, and had nothing to do with LFI, or purges.
As Koos Couvée pointed out, “As reporter for an Enfield local paper in 2013 I covered a campaign of Labour members who were determined to stop her being selected to run again in 2015. Way before Corbynism was a thing. I think it was called ‘Labour renewal in Enfield’”. Ms Ryan lost to Tory Nick de Bois in 2010, remember. There was more.
“Among the concerns were her style, attitude towards local activists - and many felt that she should not run again because the revelations surrounding her during the expenses scandal”. It later transpired that the Wikipedia reference to her part in the MPs’ expenses scandal had been edited out by someone within the Palace of Westminster.
Couvée gave a flavour of what Ms Ryan had been up to: “Ryan - whose Enfield North seat is a 40-minute drive from the Commons - claimed expenses for £4,500 of repairs at her constituency home before ‘flipping’ her second home to another south London property.” South London? She represents the most northerly London constituency.
And there was yet more. “She very narrowly got selected but was deeply unpopular among the local membership even before she lost her seat in 2010. That's five years before the Corbyn surge. This has been a long time coming”. What you will not read in the Sun, or indeed in the next issue of the Mail on Sunday. And there is more still.
In the run-up to last year’s General Election, Joan Ryan tried to dissociate herself from the Labour leadership, telling her constituents “I know from speaking to people around here that many who have previously voted Labour are thinking hard this time because, they tell me, they have more confidence in Theresa May as Prime Minister than they would have in Jeremy Corbyn”. And that was only a sighting shot.
She went on “The polls are all saying that the Conservative Party will win a large majority, possibly with more MPs than they have ever had before … Realistically no one thinks Theresa May will not be Prime Minister, or that she will not have the majority she needs”. She told voters she was “independent-minded”, that they should vote for her “whatever your misgivings about the Labour leadership”, and that “she would continue to work for a Labour party that ‘once again can deserve your confidence’”.
Joan Ryan was appallingly disloyal to Jeremy Corbyn. She didn’t bother herself finding out why she lost a no confidence vote, instead resorting to abuse. Even after Jezza’s leadership helped her turn a majority barely over 1,000 into one of more than 10,000 last year, she was unable to find it in her to apologise for her disloyal address to voters.
The days of the Labour Party foisting candidates on local parties, who then have to like it or lump it, and of MPs having a job for as long as they can continue to get re-elected at successive General Elections and stuff the view of local members, are clearly over. This is called democracy. It is not a difficult concept to grasp, except for those within the media establishment who made their minds up without bothering with things like facts.
The time of Joan Ryan MP was for a time, but not for all time. Deal with it.
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