STEVEN DOWNES reports on the latest, and predictable, move by the Labour leadership in what is being called ‘a witch hunt’ against the left
The suspension specifically bars White from attending any Labour Party meetings, including the policy-setting conference.
White is thought to be one of hundreds of delegates from the left of the party who have been subject to an eve-of-conference purge, thought to have been engineered by David Evans, the party’s controversial General Secretary whose appointment was due to be subject to a confirmation ballot at Brighton.
Some have accused the party’s leadership of embarking on a “witch hunt”.
John McDonnell, the shadow Chancellor when Jeremy Corbyn was Labour leader, today described the situation as “beyond farce”.
McDonnell tweeted, “Reports coming in of several constituency delegates to conference receiving last-minute notices from Labour HQ threatening disciplinary action and barring them attending Labour Party conference.
“It’s opening up the party bureaucracy to accusations of vote fixing. Beyond farce.”
And Andrew Fisher, from South Norwood, the former chief policy adviser to Corbyn responsible for Labour’s 2017 For “The Many, Not The Few” manifesto, described the moves by the current leadership as “a grubby attempt at a stitch-up which is distracting the focus from government failures.”
Labour has been in a tailspin of ineptitude since Sir Keir Starmer became leader in early 2020, haemorrhaging members, struggling financially and failing to get close in the opinion polls against the Conservatives, despite one of the worst Tory governments in history.
One of Starmer’s first acts as leader was the appointment of a new general secretary, handing the job to Evans, a one-time top adviser to Tony Blair and former councillor in Croydon whose close ties with the Labour leadership at the Town Hall – he is an ex-lover of Alison Butler, the former council deputy leader – saw his consultancy business awarded council contracts worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Also on the agenda for Labour conference next week is a proposal to remove individual members’ voting rights in future leadership elections, dropping the one-member-one-vote system as introduced under Ed Miliband’s tenure in charge which saw the election of Corbyn as leader.
Starmer and Evans want to replace OMOV with an electoral college system which would place greater power into the hands of the parliamentary party.
White is a former Labour councillor in Croydon who was also a member of the Greater London Council. Now the policy officer for Croydon Central Constituency Labour Party, the retired solicitor was supposed to be one of five delegates from his CLP attending the conference.
It was White’s work through the borough’s Local Campaign Forum and with the Corbyn-supporting Momentum group that played a significant part in the successful campaign to win the Croydon Central seat for Labour in 2017.
Sources within the Croydon Central CLP have told Inside Croydon that White’s suspension is based on a handful of tweets supportive of the Palestinian cause, in some cases going back seven years. There is a suggestion that White is being subjected to a form of “double jeopardy”, in being expected to answer charges that have already been considered and dismissed by the party.
White was previously suspended by Labour for 10 weeks in 2016 over allegations of antisemitism, which he strongly refuted. After a prolonged process, the charges against White were dropped.
The letters that have been pumped out this week from Labour’s “governance and legal unit” office in Victoria specifically mention David Evans’ part in the suspensions of members. It is suggested that few of those receiving the letters share the General Secretary’s Blairite outlook.
And to avoid the party’s conduct being subject to public scrutiny, suspendees are being warned not to share the details of Labour’s actions “with third parties or the media, including social media”, apparently in order to “ensure fairness to you and the complainant”.
White has told friends that he “half expected it when I heard lots of left-wing delegates to party conference were getting suspended” and that he intends to go public on the issue.
“I’m not going to play the Labour Party leadership’s game, which would involve my being suspended for months and then hoping to be allowed back in,” White told one party colleague.
Read more: Evans appointment to Labour top job ‘could tear party apart’
Read more: Starmer’s Labour is ‘losing members, losing funds, losing staff’
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