Mr Hain's defeat, by 37 to 34 in a show-of-hands vote, in a challenge from Janet Anderson, the MP for Rossendale & Darwen, is largely owing to his co-authorship of a pamphlet attacking front-bench economic policy. His supporters insisted he was engaging in legitimate debate which the high command was seeking to stifle.
Clare Short, a front-bench spokeswoman, said: 'If a pamphlet that dissents from front-bench opinion isn't permitted in a left- wing group, that is unfortunate.'
Meanwhile, Labour's ruling National Executive Committee is taking urgent action to halt a ballot by the party's northern region over whether it should declare itself independent.
The crisis follows the national party's decision to merge the region with Yorkshire, which provoked outrage among northern members. They believe they are the mainstay of the Labour movement and that their identity will be lost.
The NEC also spelt out its resolve to quash a Scottish party decision to impose all-female shortlists of candidates in all winnable and marginal parliamentary seats, in contravention of a conference resolution that all-female lists should only apply in half the seats.
The committee will also put pressure on the affiliated Black and Asian Socialist Society not to rename itself the Black Society, risking alienation of Asian members.Reuse content