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Labour NEC to review Chris Williamson suspension

Labours ruling national executive committee will review the decision to lift the suspension of Chris Williamson at its next meeting, the party has announced.

In a letter to NEC members this evening, Jennie Formby, Labours general secretary, said the decision taken and subsequently disavowed by a three-person sub-panel of the ruling bodys disputes committee on Wednesday would be on the agenda at its next full meeting, scheduled for 9 July.

Given the deep and widespread unpopularity of the decision to readmit the Derby North MP in all quarters of the party, tonights move is clearly intended as a signal that the outcome desired by everyone from Jon Lansman to Tom Watson – the escalation of the case to Labours highest disciplinary body, the National Constitutional Committee – is on its way.

From the moment news of Williamsons readmission broke, Labour sources have done everything to stress that this was in no way the leaderships preferred outcome. They pointed to the deciding vote cast by Keith Vaz in the original disciplinary meeting and stress that Jeremy Corbyn had neither an input into its decision, nor any recourse to change it unilaterally.

But Vazs demand that the ruling be revisited – made after it became clear that a critical mass of opinion within the party was in fact opposed to the lifting of Williamsons suspension – has given the leadership the cover it needed to do the closest thing possible to the intervention demanded not only by Vaz, but by more than 70 of his Commons colleagues: making clear its preference for the decision to be overturned by giving the NEC the specific opportunity to do so.

That a final verdict has been deferred to the next NEC meeting also means that the immediate risk of a scrap within the parliamentary Labour party – who were likely to take unilateral action to ensure Williamson was not readmitted to its ranks next week – has been averted. Williamson will remain suspended from the Labour whip until a final decision is reached.

It is increasingly clear that the final decision is likely to be the one demanded by Labour MPs in public statements yesterday, and, indeed, in private by many of those who felt they could not put their name to demands for Williamsons head for fear of antagonising Corbyns office. But that isnt to say the anger and anxieties of the PLP will evaporate if and when the case is referred to the NCC and Williamsons continued suspension is secured.

Regardless of the final decision, the case has only served to reinforce the deep misgivings Labour MPs have about their partys disciplinary processes and the role of Corbyns allies in their operation – especially when it comes to anti-Semitism. Even though the PLP will get what it wants, it wont give the leadership any credit for a decision taken only after considerable external pressure was brought to bear. And should most of them survive the selection process set in train earlier this week, their sRead More – Source

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