Labour anxious to avoid by-election over Joyce bust-up
Constituency holds emergency meeting on MP whose assault charges are only his latest disgrace
The Labour MP Eric Joyce faces being ditched by his local party tonight as members discuss his conduct during a turbulent week that has left him facing three counts of common assault.
Officials at the Falkirk Constituency Labour Party will meet at an emergency meeting to decide what to do with their controversial MP who was arrested on Wednesday after a disturbance in a House of Commons bar.
A number of activists are understood to be pressing to have the ex-soldier formally deselected as the party's candidate, amid claims from Mr Joyce's predecessor that he was "not a fit and proper person to be an MP". Mr Joyce has repeatedly survived agitation from his constituency party during almost 12 years as an MP – notably over his high expenses claims and a driving ban imposed after he failed to provide a breath test. A number of Scottish Labour MPs have suggested that he should resign voluntarily in the light of the charges against him.
But despite widespread dismay over the allegations facing their MP, the local party is expected to limit its sanction to rubber-stamping the decision of Labour's leader, Ed Miliband, to suspend Mr Joyce pending the result of any court proceedings. The move would strip the former army major of local administrative support – in effect, leaving him operating alone as an independent MP – but it would spare Labour the potential danger of a by-election defeat at the hands of the Scottish National Party.
"Eric doesn't have many people speaking up for him here at the moment," one Labour source in the constituency said yesterday. "We have supported him through thick and thin, and it has been very difficult at times. Deselection might be very tempting, but it could open up a can of worms for the local party."
Mr Joyce, 51, faces charges after allegedly headbutting or punching at least four MPs, including a Labour whip, during a disturbance in the Strangers Bar. Police were called to the bar after the Conservative MP Stuart Andrew was allegedly punched and headbutted.
Mr Joyce was charged with three counts of common assault after spending 24 hours in a cell at Belgravia police station.
Mr Joyce had faced calls to stand down before the last election after it emerged that he had consistently claimed more expenses than any other MP. He was also the first to claim more than £1m cumulatively.
Some Labour colleagues had expressed concern over his behaviour in recent years, after he experienced problems with his marriage. He was forced to resign from the shadow ministerial team in late 2010 after he failed to provide a drink-drive breath test.
Mr Joyce's predecessor, Dennis Canavan, who left the Labour Party to stand as an independent, said: "If he is found guilty of serious assault, then I hope the parliamentary authorities take action against him to suspend him from the House of Commons.
"In any event, I really do think the people of Falkirk deserve better representation than this. The sooner he goes, the better."
Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery rumours: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...