Labour’s ruling body has banned four far-left factions that were noisy supporters of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) voted on Tuesday to proscribe Resist and Labour Against the Witchhunt – a group which argues antisemitism allegations against the Corbyn-led party were politically motivated – and Labour in Exile Network, which welcomed suspended members.
Socialist Appeal, a group which describes itself as a Marxist voice within Labour, will also be banned. Anyone found to be a member of any of the four groups will be automatically expelled from the Labour Party.
The NEC also voted to overhaul the party’s complaints process, backing a new system which will ensure grievances related to protected characteristics will be independently verified.
In a move to address frustration about the party’s handling of antisemitism allegations – which Keir Starmer pledged to address – a new review panel of independent lawyers will make decisions on complaints, and an independent board will hear appeals against decisions.
Anneliese Dodds, Labour party chair, said: “We are acting decisively to put our house in order and show that Labour is – and always will be – the party of equality.
“We are getting on with the job of making sure the Labour party is a safe and welcoming space for the benefit of all our members.
“This will be the fairest, most robust process of any political party that we know of.
“We will continue to consult groups and individuals, especially those who have been subject to harassment, abuse and discrimination, as we finalise these proposals ahead of our conference.”
Another motion accepted by the NEC will see all prospective candidates receive training on dealing with antisemitism from the Jewish Labour Movement.
A Labour spokesperson told the Guardian that the NEC had moved to ban the four organisations because “these organisations are not compatible with Labour’s rules or our aims and values.”
“Labour is a broad, welcoming and democratic party and we are committed to ensuring it stays that way,” she added.
‘Politically motivated attack’
But the move angered some leftwing members of the party, who believe Starmer is seeking to carry out a purge of the party membership. Several groups took part in a picket of the meeting at Labour headquarters in London on Tuesday night.
Rob Sewell, editor of Socialist Appeal, said: “This is a blatant, politically motivated attack on the left by the Labour right wing.
“It is clear that Starmer and the right wing are determined to expunge socialism from the Labour party. Their aim is to return the party to Blairism, and make Labour a safe pair of hands for capitalism.”
It comes as Labour considers large-scale staff redundancies, which could see it shedding as many as 90 jobs, as Starmer seeks to address the party’s battered finances.
A string of costly legal cases, three general elections in six years and the lack of a post-starter leadership bounce have hit the party’s finances hard.
Suggestions of lay-offs were attacked by Labour’s biggest donor, the Unite trade union.
“While working-class communities are continuing to bear the brunt of the sickness and employment worries made much worse by Conservative mishandling of the pandemic, Labour is abandoning the field of battle against this government to turn its fire on its members instead,” it said.