With a matter of days to go until voting closes in the latest phase of the never-ending Labour leadership contest, and the purge of Corbyn supporters within the Croydon Labour Party continues, with members suspended and told that their votes will not count.
Most prominent among the latest round of suspendees is Genevieve Murray-Dinsmore, who until yesterday, when she received her notice of suspension, was Croydon North Constituency Labour Party’s women’s officer.
Murray-Dinsmore said whe was “devastated” by the decision, which she regards as unfair and her suspension without good cause.
There are strong grounds for suspicion that Murray-Dinsmore has been singled out because last month she dared to speak to Inside Croydon in support of a young woman member of her local party who had been subjected to a visit from the police, which was both traumatising for her elderly relatives and regarded as a deliberate act of intimidation. The visit came after Steve Reed OBE, the Progress MP for the constituency, had by-passed normal police complaints procedures and used his position to write to the Borough Commander to say that he was threatened by the party member.
Murray-Dinsmore is not alone among Corbyn supporters in Croydon to have been suspended with the leadership election so close.
In just one ward of Croydon North, three other Corbyn supporters are known to have also received letters from Iain McNicol, the party’s general secretary, to inform them that they cannot take part in this week’s party conference and that any votes they may have cast in the leadership election will not count. This latter point seems odd, given that voting is meant to be done anonymously.
It was Stalin who is supposed to have said, “It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”
One senior member of Croydon Labour, who asked not to be identified because they want their vote still to be counted, said: “I wonder how the Electoral Reform Society, who are running the election, are reacting to this?”
And other members of the Croydon branch of Momentum, the party-within-a-party set up to support Corbyn, are understood also to have been subject to the purge by Labour’s Blairite Tendency.
“This purge is getting very serious,” David White, the secretary of Croydon Central CLP, said yesterday. “I’ve contacted Genevieve Murray-Dinsmore to offer support.”
White himself was suspended earlier this year, over a single tweet, despite a lifetime of activism for Labour. It took White nearly three months to be re-instated. He has never received an apology, and party officials have since refused to provide him with his personal file and they have not identified his accuser.
In Croydon, union officials have been barred from joining Labour, comedian Mark Steel, who was a member of the Socialist Workers’ Party a decade ago, has been refused membership, and after complaints from another local party member, Andrew Fisher – an adviser working in Corbyn’s office – was also suspended only to be reinstated later.
The indiscriminatory nature of the purge was summed up today when a former Labour Party employee from the Blairite era declared, “I want Trots, Tories, Greens and abusers kept out.”
In charge of the arbitrary exclusions is McNicol, who in the letter to Murray-Dinsmore wrote of his using delegated powers to impose the suspension.
Murray-Dinsmore’s suspension letter says that she “may” have broken party procedural rules about being abusive, and that her offence occurred in social media posts on August 12. In common with White’s case, she is denied the simple justice of being given an opportunity to defend herself before the summary suspension, and her accuser remains anonymous.
“This is looking vindictive and intimidatory,” one Labour member said. “It would be called bullying if done in a primary school playground.”
Efforts to rig the leadership election on behalf of Owen “Who?” Smith appear to be in vain. Corbyn is expected to win with a greater volume of support than he enjoyed 12 months ago. Whether that democratic outcome will be enough for Steve Reed, the Parliamentary Labour Party and the Blairites appears unlikely, though.
- Still Croydon’s only independent news source, and based in the heart of the borough: 1.97 million page views 2013-2015
- Inside Croydon: Named among best regional media campaigns, 2014
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event to publicise, please email us with full details at firstname.lastname@example.org