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Steph Booth and Janet Oosthuysen

From Dave Boardman

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Dear Editor

Over the last two or three years local, regional and national newspapers have used stories critical of Janet Oosthuysen, the local councillor who was originally selected to represent the Labour party in the coming general election. After the news stories ran the National Executive of the Labour Party decided she wasn’t a suitable candidate. Stephenie Booth, beaten in the original vote by Janet was then selected as the parliamentary candidate. There has been obvious suspicion that some Labour Party members had acted against Janet Oosthuysen by ‘feeding’ stories to the press and various websites.

As far as I can see no one from within the Labour Party was willing to admit to having been acting against her candidacy. Now, however there is evidence that at least one person was prompting a campaign against Janet. The recent industrial tribunal into Stephenie Booth’s dismissal from Cool UK heard an allegation that Ms Booth had pressurised a work colleague, David Sutcliffe, into blogging against Janet. The tribunal’s ruling agreed that Sutcliffe "did post the blog at the request of the Claimant (Steph Booth)".

Given that Ms Booth would like us to consider her a decent enough person to get our vote, perhaps she’d be decent enough to issue a public apology to Janet Oosthuysen for this action at least. If anyone else in the Labour Party would do the same maybe they could start building trust again.

From Ron Taylor

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

I doubt whether there will be an apology from Steph Booth but certainly the Labour Party at all levels should at least offer some kind of explanation for the mess it has got itself into in the Calder Valley.

From John Rhodes

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

There are several other people to whom Booth should apologise. The key thing about the Tribunal outcome is that it demonstrates that Booth lied to the Labour Party, to the local press and thus to local people. On 12 February 2009 the Hebden Bridge Times printed a letter from Margaret Boyle in which Margaret said that Booth had been involved in the dirty tricks campaign to de-select Janet Oosthuysen as Labour PPC.

On 12th March the Hebden Bridge Times carried a short article headed Mrs Stephanie Booth — an apology. This said; “The Hebden Bridge Times published a reader’s letter in its February 12th edition in which the writer, Margaret Boyle, suggested Stephanie Booth had endorsed a campaign to discredit rival Labour Party candidate, Janet Oosthuysen. Mrs Booth has made it clear to us that she has not at any time had any involvement in such a campaign and we unreservedly accept that this is the case. We are happy to clarify this and apologise for any distress caused to Mrs Booth.”

The effect of this was to publicly label Margaret a liar. Despite the fact that Margaret offered to share evidence with the newspaper they refused to budge because of the attentions of m'learned friends. The campaign to stop Janet's candidature was run from inside the Labour Party. Steph Booth always maintained that she had nothing to do with it. The effect of the Tribunal finding of fact is that she is exposed as a liar.

Secondly, when I wrote to the Labour Party’s Compliance Unit on 27 April 2009 in my capacity as a Labour Party member specifically asking them to investigate the allegations of bullying they couldn’t be bothered to respond. Subsequently Booth wrote to my employer UNISON demanding that I be dealt with. Her letter in part said, “John Rhodes is a paid employee of Unison. I understand he works for the north west region. He is also a member of Calder ward, the only branch in the constituency that chose not to nominate me. Certain members of that branch, including Rhodes, have conducted a deeply unpleasant campaign against my candidacy. This has included a very public campaign in the newspapers and, as in the case of Rhodes, letters to the NEC. Whilst I recognise Rhodes has written in a personal capacity, the unpleasant and hurtful allegations made against me are without foundation. As he is an employee of Unison and given Unison have chosen to back me as a candidate I cannot see it is appropriate for Rhodes to both undermine and put himself in direct conflict with the decisions and actions of the union. I hope the union will support me in this matter.”

Sharp eyed readers will have spotted the lie along with the deeply unpleasant attempt to get someone disciplined at work in respect of completely unrelated matters.

Who won what at the Tribunal is irrelevant. The important issue is that the Labour Party has foisted a candidate on the Calder Valley who is not capable of being supported. It isn’t too late for the Labour Party to have regard to findings of fact in a court of law and replace Booth with a Labour candidate we can work and vote for.

From Andy M

Friday, 26 March 2010

Craig Whittaker must be (insert appropriate verb) laughing.

From Christopher Reason

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

I've just heard on the BBC that Tony Blair plans to come to the Calder Valley during the forthcoming election to support his step-mother's candidacy. I hope others will join me in the sincere hope that Hebden Bridge will go out of its way to make him feel really welcome[!]

From Felicity Potter

Monday, 5 April 2010

Tim Powers covered the Calder Valley and other marginal constituencies in last week's Big Issue in the North but the second half was missing in the printed version. The full version is online at www.bigissueinthenorth.com

From Ron Taylor

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Thanks Felicity for the link to Tim Powers' "Into the Valley" in Big Issue.

Unfortunately, even though Tim mentions the tribunal and writes that the outcome "raised her (SB's) media profile even further - but not in a wholly good way", he fails to give details. Perhaps even Big Issue is scared of threats from solicitors.

No matter; comments in this thread cover the issue well enough.

But there are a couple of other points in the article which are quite puzzling.

Firstly, Tim writes that "househunting, they (SB and hubby) stumbled across Todmorden after a driver taking Tony to studios in Liverpool sang the valley's praises."

Now, I may be open to a charge of churlishness over this but I would have thought that anyone who lived in Hebden Bridge for a year or two in the late 1990s, as SB did, would have been aware of the charms of the valley and the existence of Todmorden - it has been there a long time.

Secondly, the article goes on to say that "they (SB and Tony) met in Manchester when she was a lecturer in politics at Salford." She may well have been a lecturer somewhere in Salford but it was not at Salford University. She was a PhD student there but did not complete it and she was not employed as a lecturer.

Who is SB trying to kid ?

From Graham Barker

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

I too thought the Big Issue article begged several questions, though in general Tim Powers did well to cover so much difficult ground. For me, one sentence stood out:

Booth’s recent employment tribunal case against Cool UK, a so-called charity, was only a partial win despite a Matrix barrister.

“So-called charity”? The implied slur definitely needed justification. And no explanation of the significance of “Matrix barrister”. Matrix Chambers is the legal practice that includes Cherie Booth QC.

See also:

Previous coverage of Steph Booth on HebWeb