Monday 24 October 2016

Revealed: Labour Party leadership contest likened to Vladimir Putin’s Russia in secret Facebook page

Philip Ryan and Niall O’Connor

Published 17/05/2016 | 18:40

Brendan Howlin and Alan Kelly
Brendan Howlin and Alan Kelly

The Labour Party leadership contest has been likened to Vladimir Putin’s Russia in a secret Facebook page, can reveal.

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A Facebook group was set up by disgruntled Labour members who are demanding that the party holds a leadership contest rather than appoint a new leader without an election.

The move follows reports that former Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin is seeking to block Labour deputy leader Alan Kelly from seeking a nomination.

A description of the Facebook page states that there must be a “democratic contest” to select the next leader in order to “understand and respond to the defeat” the party suffered in the general election.

“There must be a debate; there must be informed reflection and everyone must be involved. We cannot entertain the notion that a Party Leader can be imposed over the heads of the members of the Labour Party. This is not the time for a stitch-up, this is the time for a vote,” it adds. understand some members have written on the private page threatening to leave the Labour Party and join the Social Democrats if a leadership contest is not held.

One member is understood to have said: “If a small group of people deny a membership vote where there is more than one candidate putting themselves forward, this is in my opinion is a serious breach of the spirit of the Labour Party constitution.”

Another member added: “We cannot have an al a carte constitution. That is for the likes of Vladimir Putin. We are surely better than that.”

A letter signed by 19 members was also posted on the page this afternoon which is being sent to the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) chairman Willie Penrose insisting any TD who wishes to contest the election should be facilitated by the party.

The letter, which has been seen by the, says appointing a leader without a ballot is “the wrong course of action”.

“We are firmly of the opinion that any TD who wishes to contest the leadership election should be facilitated with a nomination by his/her colleagues in the PLP and that a vote of members should then take place,” it said

“This is the most equitable way of ensuring that the membership has a full voice in who is to become the next leader of our party, especially after what was a bruising election,” it added.

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