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Many previously intending to vote Labour may think again

25 November, 2021

• AS an ordinary member of the Labour Party (I only joined in 1963) I read with amazement the first revelations about the writings originally misattributed to Professor Valentina Arena,(Lazzaro Pietragnoli resigns from council over ‘abusive’ social media account, November 22).

We now know this to have been a lie perpetrated by the actual culprit, Lazzaro Pietragnoli, then Labour chief whip on Camden Council.

Not a follower of social media, I had missed the “spiky tweets” of the Twitter campaign against Labour councillors or people in the Labour Party for whom the writer clearly has utter contempt.

The extracts in the CNJ articles are enough to convince me that social media are not for me.

I usually attend one or two Labour Party meetings per month. At the bottom of every agenda for the past five years there has been a clear message reminding members of the party’s code of conduct under which all agree to “act within the spirit and rules of the Labour Party in my conduct both on and offline, with members and non-members and… stand against all forms of abuse”.

Pietragnoli’s language clearly constitutes online abuse of members and non-members, placing him in breach of Labour Party rules, for which he must be subject to investigation by the party.

It is also clear that, because of his inside knowledge, he is in breach of Labour Party rules on confidentiality about privileged information about party members and Labour councillors. For this he must be referred to the Labour Party for separate investigation and disciplinary action.

I have no doubt that had similar views been expressed publicly, in person or online, about him by Labour Party members he identified and denigrated as left-wingers, such people would have faced instant suspension.

The alacrity with which Labour now reacts when someone is alleged to have said anything that might be construed as anti-Semitic is remarkable. As a party member I would expect nothing less in this case.

Immediate suspension pending investigation must be the first step even if he chooses to resign. Failure to suspend him risks bringing the Labour Party into further disrepute than he has already done. What action Camden Council and its standards committee take will also be closely scrutinised.

With council elections due next year I can only imagine the disgust with which Lazzaro Pietragnoli’s actions will be viewed by voters, including me, who are sick of such arrogant behaviour from the Tory government and expect better from Labour. Many previously intending to vote Labour may think again.

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