The real enemies within the Parliamentary Labour Party

Memory, ecstasy, tyranny, hypocrisy

Betrayed by a kiss on a cool night of bliss

In the valley of the missing link

And you have no time to think


TEN days have passed since I was expelled from the Labour Party as part of Iain McNicol’s “rigged purge” of Jeremy Corbyn supporters.

I was expelled for publishing a blog piece entitled Hanging from Traitors’ Gate – Progress: Labour’s right wing Militant  some 10 weeks earlier. In my piece, in which I use the proscribed word “Traitor” I listed the MPs who displayed treachery to Jeremy Corbyn, and to us the membership of the Labour Party.

You can read my appeal against the expulsion here.

Yesterday a close lawyer friend of some 24 years standing, described my appeal thus:

“You’ve done exactly the right thing from a legal point of view and you should carry on to the bitter end to exhaust your remedies and keep all your options open.

“And, as you’re well aware yourself of course, you’ve done exactly the right thing from an activist’s point of view by standing up for yourself so eloquently and movingly and by sharing what you’ve done to encourage and strengthen the resolve of others.

“I have no doubt there will be legal action here, and you may well be a good candidate for one of the test cases.”

Anyway, on with the show…

There is some personal irony that just 24 hours after I emailed my appeal letter to Iain McNicol, a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign team leaked a list singling out 14 Labour MPs, including deputy leader Tom Watson, who it claims have abused the leader and his allies.

In the release, Owen Smith, the challenger for the Labour leadership, was accused of being the “real disunity candidate”, who has failed to tackle abuse meted out by his own supporters.

The list, obtained by Press Association, highlighted the behaviour of a number of Labour MPs, including Jess Phillips for telling Corbyn’s ally Diane Abbott to “fuck off”, John Woodcock for dismissing the party leader as a “fucking disaster” and Tristram Hunt for describing Labour as “in the shit”.

Watson was highlighted for calling the grassroots Corbyn campaign Momentum a “rabble”.

The list emerged just hours before the final Labour leadership hustings between Mr Smith and Mr Corbyn, who is the overwhelming favourite to win the contest.

At the Sky News debate, Smith branded it a “deselection list” that would be used by some activists to target MPs considered hostile to Corbyn.

Mr Corbyn responded by defending the accuracy of the release and urging Smith to focus on policies.

“There was information put out there, which is statements made by colleagues on the record and is all out there in the public domain,” the leader said.

He went on to say he would rather Watson had not referred to activists from the Momentum group of Corbyn supporters as a “rabble”.

The others identified on the list were Ian Austin, Neil Coyle, Ben Bradshaw, Frank Field, Anna Turley, Jamie Reed, Karl Turner, Stephen Kinnock and Tom Blenkinsop.

Coyle, the MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, who was among those criticised, said he was “fuming”, while long time vocal critic of Mr Corbyn, Woodcock was similarly angry.

Now the list of names – and offences – is out in the public domain, all the claims can be checked and verified and appropriate action taken.

One wonders, as the information was in the public domain already, why the Labour Party’s Compliance Unit had not taken the requisite steps on its own initiative.

It is welcome to see Owen Smith criticised – after all the times Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of allowing abuse to continue – of failing to tackle his own supporters’ inappropriate behaviour.

As for those who were named – the MPs who have already complained haven’t got a leg to stand on and I’m surprised the list isn’t much, much longer. I would certainly add Luke Akehurst and John McTernan to that list.


Neil Coyle, for example, abused Jeremy Corbyn by claiming he had presided over the “Farage-ification” of the Labour Party. Now he is complaining about “trial by troll”. Forget it, Mr Coyle. It isn’t trolling if you did what is claimed.

John Woodcock tweeted that Jeremy Corbyn was a “fucking disaster at PMQs” back in March and quickly deleted the message – but it was caught by the mainstream media nonetheless and members of his own electorate launched a petition calling for his deselection – months before that became an issue in the leadership election.

Now he’s saying a list pointing out this abusive behaviour is “shabby” and is complaining that it “targets colleagues for more abuse”.

Isn’t that exactly what he was doing when he wrote about Mr Corbyn, all those months ago – inviting others to abuse the Labour leader alongside him?

As for the claim that the MPs mentioned are on a “deselection list”: Their future is not a matter for Mr Corbyn or his team. It is for Labour Party members in each constituency to decide whether their sitting MP is representing them in a sufficiently courteous manner.

In Mr Woodcock’s case, alas, considering his constituents are already petitioning for his removal, an apology may be too little, too late.

Of course it is not the first time a list of disloyal and potentially treacherous Labour MPs has been released.

Back in January my blog The Enemy Within – the 28 Labour MPs who Oppose Mr Corbyn listed those MPs who were most likely ready to oust their democratically elected leader.

And of course on 23 March there was the now infamous list of the 36 MPs “most hostile to Mr Corbyn”.

So let’s look more closely at a few of the names on the most recent list of Labour MPs who have gone beyond the call of duty in their hostility.

  • Ian Austin – On my original list of MPs who oppose Jeremy Corbyn. Also on the 23 March list of 36 most hostile MPs. Originally a Brownite. Among a hard core of 14 right wing Labour MPs that refused to vote against the Tories on austerity, voted TO BOMB Syria AND for the renewal of Trident.
  • Ben Bradshaw – Member of Progress. On my original list of MPs who oppose Jeremy Corbyn. A Blairite and vocal right winger. Among a hard core of 14 right wing Labour MPs that refused to vote against the Tories on austerity, voted TO BOMB Syria AND for the renewal of Trident.
  • Frank Field – Member of Progress. On my original list of MPs who oppose Jeremy Corbyn. A Blairite and among a hard core of 14 right wing Labour MPs that refused to vote against the Tories on austerity, voted TO BOMB Syria AND for the renewal of Trident. A long-time vocal critic of Mr Corbyn.
  • Tristram Hunt – Member of Progress. On my original list of MPs who oppose Jeremy Corbyn. Also on the 23 March list of 36 most hostile MPs. Blairite. Former chair of the Progress group. Among a hard core of 14 right wing Labour MPs that refused to vote against the Tories on austerity, voted TO BOMB Syria AND for the renewal of Trident. Has previously openly mocked Mr Corbyn. He is infamous for tweeting that Labour under Mr Corbyn was “in the shit”.
  • Stephen Kinnock – Member of Progress. Two months ago Kinnock was talking openly about a right wing breakaway from the Labour Party – working title: Continuity Labour if Jeremy Corbyn is re-elected as leader.
  • Jess Phillips – Backed by Progress. Mouthy MP who is infamous for telling Diane Abbott to “fuck off”. She also threatened to “knife” Mr Corbyn in the front and suggested she would leave the Labour Party if he was re-elected leader.
  • Jamie Reed – On my original list of MPs who oppose Jeremy Corbyn. Also on the 23 March list of 36 most hostile MPs. Blairite. Among a hard core of 14 right wing Labour MPs that refused to vote against the Tories on austerity, voted TO BOMB Syria AND for the renewal of Trident.
  • Tom Watson – Originally viewed as a mediator until engineering a motion at the forthcoming party conference to replace the current one member one vote system with an electoral college to elect the leader and for MPs to choose the shadow cabinet. Has been highlighted for calling Momentum a “rabble”. He had previously called shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry a “traitor” in the House of Commons voting lobby.
  • John Woodcock – Member of Progress. On my original list of MPs who oppose Jeremy Corbyn. Also on the 23 March list of 36 most hostile MPs. Blairite. Former chair of the Progress group. Voted for bombing Syria. Resigned from the shadow cabinet in January in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s so called ‘purge’ of right wing MPs from his front bench team. Has previously openly mocked Mr Corbyn and is infamous for dismissing the party leader as a “fucking disaster”.

These are some of the most treacherous… it is now make your mind up time.



The one thing bringing the Labour Party into disrepute is this one-sided political purge

And it’s time for Iain McNicol to resign


By Stuart King

Iain McNicol, the Labour Party General Secretary put out some figures last week (8 September) of Labour members excluded/suspended around the leadership election.

A spokesperson for the party declared, “The speculation that huge numbers of applicants have been denied a vote has been wildly exaggerated.” They went on to claim that less than 0.5% of the electorate had been denied a vote.

This statement came after growing uproar from those arbitrarily excluded and the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s remark that there was a “rigged purge going on”.

It is worth drilling down into the figures released by Labour’s Compliance Unit. The 0.5% claim refers to the entire Labour Party electorate of 650,000, not to new members where the purge has been targeted.

After the failed parliamentary coup in June there was another wave of tens of thousands of people joining the party to defend Jeremy Corbyn. This produced the decision by the July NEC to deprive these members of a vote in the leadership election by setting the deadline at January 12th. Despite this around 180,000 members and supporters paid £25 to be able to vote. It this group that the purge has been primarily aimed at.

Who is being excluded?

So far, of this group, 21,000 were excluded because “they did not provide details that matched the electoral roll”. This has been interpreted extremely tightly; a slight variation in the person’s name as it appears on the electoral roll, a Flat 1 down as Flat A etc.

Many of these people will never know why they did not receive a ballot paper and will not chase it up and appeal. Another 3,107 have been ruled ineligible on grounds of party rules and a further 1,616 cases are awaiting a decision – that is 4,720 excluded up to 1 September. Another 3,791 people apparently failed to make the necessary £25 payment – maybe because the website process wasn’t that easy. Were they chased up – no chance!

So just taking the first two groups, nearly 26,000 people have been excluded from voting out of 180,000 who applied, that is 14.4% not 0.5%. And this figure is only up to September 1st, the purge is continuing apace up to conference.

The Compliance Unit now seem to have turned their attention to Labour conference delegates with one Labour blogger learning of five Corbyn mandated delegates excluded in 24 hours!

Ian McNicol has claimed all these suspensions/barrings have “been approved by the NEC” but of course the NEC has not met since July. They are in fact approved by an NEC sub-committee run by the right – the NEC Oversight Panel – the new left leaning NEC does not come into being till after conference.

How members are treated

It is worth giving some examples of the decisions being made to get a flavour of the members being excluded.

One group involves people who, in one way or another, were sympathetic to the Green Party when the LP was lurching rightwards and who now are attracted back to Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Surely a group the LP should really be chasing if we want to win a majority over the Tories?

Take the case of Kristina Veasey, a Paralympian and a disability rights campaigner, which was reported prominently in the Huffington Post. She recounted what happened. “I am a community activist, an artist, a mother, an equalities consultant and until a few days ago I was a Labour Party member.” Two years ago she retweeted something that the Labour Party’s Compliance Unit found unacceptable.

Not an abusive message, but an anti-fracking one by Green MP Caroline Lucas. “For those investigating me this was enough to expel me on the grounds that ‘you supported comments made on Twitter that evidenced your support for the Green Party’.

The expulsion was carried out under Appendix 2.1.B.x of the Labour Party rules – an automatic exclusion clause which prevents her from reapplying for membership for two years unless there are exceptional circumstances.

In another case, Sophie McKeand was sent a letter from the General Secretary saying “You were asked to confirm ‘I support the aims and values of the LP and I am not a supporter of any organisation opposed to it”. A panel of the NEC has considered your application and has decided to reject it on the grounds that you tweeted in support of the Green Party on 8 May 2015”.

Clearly this rule, involving supporting another party within two years of applying to join, was designed for people who stood against Labour in elections or their agents, not against people who tweeted something.

It is a scandalous abuse of the rules aimed at weeding out Corbyn supporters. Of course this rule has never been used against Tory or Lib Dem members who have applied to join Labour because they have generally strengthened the right

Then there are the trade union members who are known to support Corbyn.

Steve Hedley, Senior Assistant General Secretary of the RMT, said recently that many RMT members had been excluded in the current purge.

This included a 38 year long member of the Labour Party who put a “like” against a TUSC candidate on Facebook who was a friend of his. Even the Bakers’ Union General Secretary, Ronnie Draper was excluded on the grounds of past comments made on social media, but with no details provided about the precise nature of the offence. He appealed and was later re-instated, probably because he was so prominent a figure in the labour movement, others have not been so lucky.

An 82-year-old pensioner and lifelong Labour voter and member has been expelled by the party for supporting media democracy. A year ago on social media, she retweeted a post calling for the Green Party leaders to be included in TV debates.

For the Compliance Unit that single retweet justified expelling her and barring her for five years, because it supposedly signified support for the Greens. She tweeted in reply: “Well this housebound carer/pensioner expelled today. Mr McNicol’s way of thanking me for 50 years of votes?? Stunned!”

Then there is the just plain ludricrous examples from this purge. The Labour member who was suspended for saying on Facebook that she ‘f*cking loves the Foo Fighters.’ One assumes this was probably a software error but who knows! The Foo Fighters later commented on social media that they’re surprised to be on the Labour Party Compliance Unit blacklist.

Bringing the Labour Party into disrepute

If anything is bringing the Labour Party into disrepute it is this one sided political purge, using the most ridiculous of pretexts to exclude members/supporters and damage the Labour’s image across a range of social media.

Of course the established press, the BBC, Channel 4 etc ignores these cases because they counter the media narrative that it is the Labour Left and Momentum that are the bullying, bad guys.

Why is the right-wing, ensconced in Labour’s apparatus, going to all this trouble when it looks like Jeremy Corbyn is the favourite to win?

One reason is to reduce his majority, to be able to say “there you are, he is losing support even among the members after a year in office”. Another is to save face, both for Owen Smith and the Labour right in the PLP who forced another election so soon.

A more sinister reason is to try and rig the Labour Party conference by excluding left wing delegates and pushing through Tom Watson’s electoral college idea, a structure that would restore the parliamentary and trade union dominance over the individual members of the party by depriving them of their votes.

These are the dying efforts of a right wing in retreat at all levels in the party; an attempt to fight to the last by gerrymandering elections.

The lesson that Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters must learn from this is to make no compromises when it comes to taking control of the key NEC sub-committees, the full-time apparatus of the party and to deal with the coup mongers in the PLP itself.

The current General Secretary must resign.

The Compliance Unit must be abolished and replaced by something that welcomes new members and holds all members to collective discipline – left or right.

To do this we cannot rely on the PLP left alone, nor even the currently active Labour members. We need a sustained effort to involve the new members into an outwardly focused party, campaigning against austerity and against the Tories.

If we do this, the right-wing will realize they have no future if they continue to obstruct the efforts to radically change the party. Things can and will change.

(Stuart King is a member of Lambeth Momentum)