Labour analyses damage after activist's ejection
Saturday 01 October 2005
Members of Labour's National Executive Committee are furious at the manhandling of the 82-year-old activist and have called for a review of conference security arrangements.
The heavy-handed ejection of the pensioner, who was pulled from his seat by conference stewards - one of whom is reported to be a professional bodyguard and bouncer - will be discussed next month, along with the party's decision to confiscate boiled sweets from delegates on the grounds they could be used as missiles.
At an away-day for the party's most senior figures, including Mr Blair, Mr Brown and John Prescott, members of the NEC will criticise Mr Wolfgang's eviction and detainment under anti-terror laws.
Ian McCartney, the Labour Party chairman, will insist the issue is high on the agenda when the NEC reviews the conference went.
Yesterday the Cabinet Minister's spokesman said security, following the eviction of the elderly activist, would be reviewed urgently.
"We have a review of what went right and what went wrong. There will be a report to the NEC and a full appraisal of the whole conference and this is one of the bigger things that be addressed," he said.
MPs and senior Labour figures expressed sympathy for Mr Wolfgang who they say is a well-known figure in the Labour party.
Ann Black, a member of the NEC, criticised the heavy-handed security at conference which saw boiled sweets confiscated by security guards.
Ms Black was chairing the conference when Mr Wolfgang was finally allowed back into the conference on Thursday, and applauded him when he entered. She said the treatment of activists disagreeing with the leadership, and allegations of interference in the election of delegates to party committees, needed to be addressed.
"This was a PR débâcle. We have had two whole days taken up by this. People were not allowed to bring in sweets because they could be mused as missiles but they were allowed to keep pound coins which could also be used as missiles. Last year we had a man who said he was sitting down for peace during conference. His pass was taken away. There's a question of where you draw the line here. This issue will be on the agenda at the next NEC meeting in November. It is an away day when we will be taking stock."
Diane Hayter, a member of the NEC, who chaired a number of Brighton conference sessions said the eviction of Mr Wolfgang was "a disaster". "I have seen this man for the last 30 years at every Labour conference. It was a mistake and was wrong," she said.
Clive Soley MP, former chairman of the Parliamentary Labour party, said he knew Mr Wolfgang. He said he was a "nice man" and his manhandling by stewards was a mistake.
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