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Parliamentary reporter @TrinderMatt
SIR KEIR STARMER is preparing to purge 1,000 Labour leftwingers from four “poisonous” campaign groups as the party clamps down on supporters of the leader’s predecessor Jeremy Corbyn.
Tomorrow the party’s national executive committee (NEC) will be asked to proscribe the grassroots groups, which are said to “promote communism, insist anti-semitism allegations against members are overblown, and demand Mr Corbyn’s reinstatement as a Labour MP.”
Membership of Resist, Labour Against the Witchhunt, Labour in Exile Network (LIEN), and Socialist Appeal is set to become forbidden, meaning any members will be automatically expelled from Labour, the Mirror newspaper reported on Saturday.
Reacting to the reports, former shadow chancellor John McDonnell tweeted: “Standard Blairite fare to try show how strong a leader you are by taking on your own party — but bizarre to do it by expelling people most of whom have left already. Looks desperate.”
LIEN co-founder Norman Thomas told the Morning Star the move was just the latest step in Sir Keir’s “ongoing attempt to purge the party of any members who believe in socialism.
“[He] is pretty pathetic at fighting the Tories, but he goes into overdrive when it comes to attacking his own members.
“We refuse to accept being proscribed. If [Sir Keir] outlaws us, we will call on the party’s members to outlaw him.”
A Labour spokesman said: “From time to time, there are groups the NEC will proscribe. The NEC will be asked to consider whether these four organisations are compatible with Labour’s rules or our aims and values.”
Mr Corbyn was suspended by officials in October for claiming that the scale of anti-semitism in the party had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons.”
Despite an NEC panel’s decision to readmit him, Sir Keir removed the party whip, forcing the Islington North MP to sit as an independent.
Hundreds of suspended party members from across the country are set to picket Labour’s London headquarters tomorrow, alleging unfair expulsions, attacks on free speech and rigged internal elections.
The demonstration — partly organised by Mr Thomas, who was chairman of Labour’s South Thanet branch until he was suspended in December — will hear a statement from legendary film director Ken Loach decrying the “death of democracy” in the party.
Anger was further stoked by this month’s High Court verdict against eight people who sued Labour’s “unjust” disciplinary processes. The party is now pursuing the group for £110,000 in legal costs.
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