Socialist Worker

Labour right step up the purge

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2519

Jeremy Corbyn has huge support. But many of his supporters are being purged from the Labour Party

Jeremy Corbyn has huge support. But many of his supporters are being purged from the Labour Party (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Thousands of Labour members have had their party membership suspended as part of a bid by the right to steal the leadership election.

Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell said party officials were carrying out a “rigged purge of Jeremy Corbyn supporters”.

His comments came after several Labour Party members complained about receiving letters telling them that they had been suspended.

Many have been singled out for comments made on Twitter or for previously supporting other parties.

One member was told their application was rejected because “you declared your support for the Green Party on social media in June 2015”.

Surely the Labour Party ought to welcome those who have previously backed another party but now want to back Corbyn?

Another member was told they had made “inappropriate comments on Twitter on 13 January 2013”.

Labour has even suspended Ronnie Draper, general secretary of the Labour-affiliated Bfawu union.

Draper, who has been in the party for 40 years, was suspended last Thursday due to comments he made on Twitter. He said he planned to “challenge my suspension robustly”.

Imposed

He added, “I am extremely concerned that suspensions and bans are being imposed in a politically motivated way.

“The only explanation I have been given is that this is something to do with an unidentified tweet I have posted. I am now blocked from attending Labour Party meetings, annual conference and voting in the leadership election.”

Other suspended members include Theresa Rollinson, who helped lead the 90-day Care UK strike in 2014. Former miner John Dunn, who is part of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, has also been suspended.

McDonnell described Draper’s suspension “by Labour Party officials” as “shocking”.

Corbyn has written to the party’s general secretary Iain McNicol to raise “concerns about whether members are being treated in a consistent and proportionate manner”.

The Labour right hope the clean-out of members will narrow the gap between Corbyn and his challenger Owen Smith.

Some Labour MPs last week released figures from their own private polling, which they claim shows Smith is catching up.

But Corbyn’s election campaign rolled on with large rallies last week.

They included places such as traditionally Tory-supporting Chelmsford, and Dundee where Labour lost support to the Scottish National Party after the independence referendum in 2014.

The Labour right are fearful of the party’s membership, which still backs Corbyn.

Their solution is to carve their own members out of the party.


Owen Smith loves the EU—just not EU migrants

Owen Smith went on the attack over the EU

Owen Smith went on the attack over the EU (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith attacked left wing leader Jeremy Corbyn over the result of the European Union (EU) referendum at a leadership hustings last week.

He claimed that Corbyn was “happy” about the result of the referendum and suggested he may have secretly voted Leave.

Corbyn had been a long-standing opponent of the EU—and a large part of the Leave vote represented a desire to give the establishment a kicking.

Yet Corbyn officially campaigned to Remain in the EU in a bid to compromise with the Labour right.

Many of his supporters see the EU as a defender of migrants’ and workers’ rights. Smith has tried to undercut Corbyn by pitching left in a bid to sap away some of his supporters. His attack over the EU referendum was part of that.

But Smith also has to prove to the Labour right that he can be a “credible” leader—which means “listening” to people’s “concerns” over immigration.

He used a TV interview last week to claim that schools in his area were under pressure from “significant numbers into South Wales of people fleeing the Middle East”.

Yet figures show that the idea that migrants are putting pressure on schools in Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) is nonsense.

There were more than 700 surplus places in RCT secondary schools and more than 400 in primaries.

Just two percent of people living in RCT were born outside Britain—a figure which is falling.


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