Council leader ‘sabotaged’ Corbyn rallies
Meeting to support Labour leader cancelled
A BLAIRITE council leader was accused yesterday of intimidating campaigners and “bullying them off the town hall steps” before cancelling a meeting next week that was to host Jeremy Corbyn.
Raj Gill, chairman of the Ealing branch of grassroots campaign Momentum, told the Star that Ealing Council leader Julian Bell and his assistant Joseph “Seph” Brown made a “political move” to sabotage pro-Corbyn rallies.
Mr Bell is a vocal critic of Mr Corbyn — his preferred candidate Liz Kendall came last in the leadership race last year — and speaks at events held by New Labour pressure group Progress.
His assistant Mr Brown, a former researcher for Birmingham Erdington MP Jack Dromey, filmed Momentum campaigners with his phone during the town hall event last Wednesday just two days into his new job, according to Mr Gill.
More than 60 people attended the rally at the town hall in west London and there were no issues with health and safety, he added.
A similar event last year — in which Mr Corbyn made an appearance one month before being elected leader of the party — attracted crowds of around 600 inside Ealing town hall and 200 outside it.
But a rally in support of Mr Corbyn planned for next Tuesday — in the face of attempts by Angela Eagle to mount a leadership challenge — has since been axed by the council.
Mr Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell were due to make speeches at the event.
A senior town hall events manager told Mr Gill that the event would not be accommodated on “health and safety” grounds and that no contract stands because there had not been an exchange of money.
The manager took issue with the amount of people planning to attend and claimed that the town hall did not have enough staff to cover the event.
Mr Gill emailed the council leader on Monday to tell him that he believes the cancellation is politically motivated and that safety fears were “hogwash to fool people” and were “never reasons in the first place.”
Mr Bell had not responded to this email by yesterday evening.
An Ealing Council spokeswoman said: “Public demonstrations are regularly allowed to take place on the town hall steps as long as they are peaceful.
“If any council employee filmed the gathering, which was outside office hours, they did not do so in any official capacity.”