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Sunday, February 18, 2018

'Disgraceful scenes' raise questions about Labour bullying

By all accounts the controversy at Labour's National Policy Forum yesterday, massively eclipsed that at the rather more predictable extraordinary general meeting of UKIP, which was happening at the same time.

Videos have appeared on-line that purport to show female Labour figures being bullied into submission over the election of a key policy position that was subsequently postponed. Some Labour MPs have gone on the record to express their disquiet at what happened.

As the Telegraph reports, witnesses have hit out at what they believe was the inappropriate behaviour of National Executive Committee (NEC) chairman Andy Kerr. They quote Labour MP Luciana Berger as saying that she was "ashamed" to witness the "disgraceful treatment" of acting NPF chairwoman Katrina Murray at the event. Whilst fellow Labour MP Lucy Powell said the move to delay the vote "smacks of old-school control freakery":

A source at the behind-closed-doors event in Leeds said: "This morning symbolised the old-school male union bullying that is determined to keep Jeremy Corbyn's people in control no matter how bad it looks to the outside world."

There was speculation that veteran activist Ann Black had been on course to defeat Andi Fox in the vote.

Footage apparently shot inside the event showed Ms Powell debating with NEC chairman Mr Kerr, who insisted that the vote should not go ahead.

A source said: "Women delegates were coming up to Lucy Powell to thank her for trying to stand up to Andy Kerr, but in the end the burly ex-union guy took the female chair of the policy forum into a room and kept her there until he got his way.

"This hideous spectacle has underlined that the new Momentum tendency may have the muscle to dominate but they risk destroying any hope we have of convincing the public we are a credible alternative to the Tories."

But another source said: "That's absurd. The NEC is responsible for the rules and was merely making sure they were followed."

The Corbyn-supporting Momentum group denied it had pushed for the delay or endorsed any candidate.

Whether the vote was constitutionally valid or not can be debated within the Labour Party itself of course. The issue is whether the behaviour exhibited could be classed as bullying and if this now represents the culture within Corbyn's Labour Party. It certainly did not look good on the videos I have seen.
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