John Pienaar has revealed that a mutiny took place during last night’s weekly meeting of the PLP: Here is his report from Five Live: I will bring you any more details I pick up later in the day.
The decision to suspend and disown expelled MP Phil Woolas, found guilty of lying by a special election court, has provoked what Labour MPs and former ministers are describing as a “mutiny” against the Labour leadership at Westminster.
Today, Mr Woolas is engaged in raising cash for a legal challenge to the court ruling whoich led to his sacking. He told me he had already received pledges of support from “dozens of colleagues” – many of whom had promised to begin fund raising efforts of their own.
Deputy Labour leader, Harriet Harman, faced a backbench revolt at last night’s private meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
According to one MP present, Ms Harman was described to her face by one colleague as “a disgrace”. Another suggested she should “consider her position” – political code for resignation.
A former Cabinet minister, speaking privately, said, “I have never seen anything like it. Harriet was attacked from every direction.” Mr Woolas’s supporters include MPs from every level of the party – including some of Labour’s most senior figures from the last Cabinet.
I’m told there was “real anger” at the event, with a lot of “shouting” from enraged MPs. According to PoliticsHome nine members spoke out. (UPDATE at 3.45pm They included George Howarth, Steve McCabe and Dave Watts, I’m told)
Among those to have spoken out in support of Woolas was John Mann, a close friend of his. (UPDATE: Although I should make clear that he was in Canada at the time and has been backing Woolas via telephone calls with a journalist at the Guardian).
Having spoken to several MPs, however, there is a question mark over the claim that Harman was asked to “consider her position”. They could be lying, of course, but they are adamant that they did not hear this.