Kate Hoey MP has spoken out against the purging of Labour party members and supporters in Lambeth ahead of the national leadership election.
The comments from the MP for Vauxhall come after it has emerged that Joan Twelves, a former Labour Leader of Lambeth Council, has been vetted and is now unable to vote in the leadership election.
As author of this piece I have to also declare that I have been purged by the Progress group that controls Lambeth Labour. My local Progress Councillor, Alex Bigham of Stockwell ward, has admitted filing a “dossier” on me and handing it to Labour’s head office.
Hoey has said:
“Joan Twelves, a former Labour Leader of Lambeth Council has been rejected even though for many years she has not been involved with another Party. Indeed she did some delivery of leaflets for me in the General Election.
Am I just being too suspicious that it seems anyone who is suspected of not being a Progress supported Liz Kendall fan is subject to instant rejection if they are known to leading Councillors?”
Twelves told Brixton Buzz:
“I was Leader of Lambeth Council from 1989-91 when I was suspended by the Labour Party for opposing the Poll Tax and the Gulf War. I was suspended rather than expelled and stood as an official Labour Party candidate in 1994.
Due to ill-health I drifted out of political activity and left the Party in 2000. After what I refer to as my 20 year rest, I am currently Chair of Kennington Park Estate TRA.
Despite having received a membership card, meeting invites, etc, etc, on Wednesday evening I got the rejection letter. As I’m a full member I’m appealing.”
The process for having a party membership or supporter status withdrawn is relatively simple. A list of new sign ups is handed around each week to Lambeth Cllr’s and party officers. If they don’t like the look of your name, then the party HQ is tipped off.
There is no right of appeal for supporters and no detailed investigation from the national party about any suspicions that Lambeth Labour Cllr’s and officials may hold.
Addressing my own situation, Hoey commented:
“A good example is Jason Cobb a local community blogger who used to be a member but left during the Blair era. He is completely innocent of being in any other Party and without a doubt shares the values of the Labour Party.
His ‘crime’ is that he has drawn attention to some Lambeth Council decisions which do not have community support such as the demolition of the Cressingham Estate. But his blogs are always perfectly reasonable and indeed I usually agree with them.
One or two local Councillors really resent his views and I have no doubt that it was one of these Progress supporting individuals who has flagged his name.”
Hoey states that she has seen around 200 new names applying to either join or support the local Labour party since the General Election in May:
“Most of the names I know from community campaigns or writing to me about issues. They share Labour values but have never got round to joining, Now the election has stirred them into membership and I welcome them wholeheartedly.”
Last month all Constituency Labour Parties that fall within the Brixton patch agreed to endorse the Progress candidate Liz Kendall to be the next Leader of the Labour party.
Vauxhall, Streatham and the Dulwich and West Norwood CLP’s were part of the 18 local branches that came out in favour of the Blairite candidate.
Front runner Jeremy Corbyn received 152 endorsements, Andy Burnham managed 111 and Yvette Cooper had 109 local parties supporting her candidacy.
The ballot for the Labour Leadership closes on 10 September. The result will be announced at a special conference on 12 September.