New rules governing the conduct of Labour party members in South Tyneside have been branded as “laughable” by political opponents.
Members of South Shields Constituency Labour Party have received a letter warning them that conduct like “eye rolling” and “dismissive body language” during meetings could see them facing suspension.
Read the list of rules here
The letters, from Labour North, landed on the doormats of homes of constituency party members last week.
It told them dismissive body language such as eye rolling, head shaking or tutting whilst people are speaking in meetings would not be tolerated.
The move follows the recent suspension of the party, which is based at Ede House, Westoe Road, from the natioal organisation.
The move follows an investigation by the national party’s compliance unit found “a genuine problem” in the relationships between some members.
The whole thing seems very childish. It’s like being back at school.Coun Lee Hughes
The constituency party is now being run by Labour North until the suspension comes to an end in January next year.
In the meantime, the regional party is letting it be known just how it expects members to behave at meetings.
Letters, signed by Regional Director Fiona Stanton, warn members they could face written warnings, suspensions and their future as councillors thrown into doubt if caught taking part in any of the banned behaviour.
The letter has been branded as “laughable” and “childish” by opposition members.
Independent South Tyneside councillor Lee Hughes said: “The whole thing seems very childish. It’s like being back at school.
“Head shaking and eye rolling are just things that happen in politics. It’s just one of those things.
“What happens when you are supposed to be debating something. Are you supposed to put your hand up?”
He added: “How to conduct yourself in public office is already in your code of conduct. They shouldn’t have to be reminded. These are grown men and women.
Conservative councillor Jeff Milburn said: “It’s childish. There’s not really much more you can say on the matter as it’s just beyond comprehension.
“Sometimes you have to raise your voice to be heard as people speak over the top of you. Some of the things that are mentioned are just instant reactions, if there’s something you don’t agree with sometimes you do roll your eyes. The whole thing is absolutely ridiculous.”
A spokesman for Labour North said they would not be making any further comment in relation to the suspension of South Shields CLP.