Labour heckler tipped for place on ruling body

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Walter Wolfgang, the veteran Labour anti-war campaigner thrown out of Labour's annual conference for heckling, is poised to strike back at the Blairite leadership by winning a seat on Labour's ruling national executive committee.

Grassroots campaigners are backing the 82-year-old for the NEC post against two Blairite candidates, the former MPs Helen Jackson and Lorna Fitzsimons. Activists said last night as the ballot forms went out to party members that he stood a strong chance of winning.

Mr Wolfgang, who calls for the immediate withdrawal of British troops from Iraq in his election address, has been nominated by 74 constituencies. A senior member of the party who is backing him said: "The fact that he has been nominated by so many constituencies shows a pretty broad slice of support across the party for him. People identify Walter with standing against control freakery by Blair."

The election of Mr Wolfgang, the vice-president of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, would be a blow to the authority of Mr Blair. The prospect of Mr Blair having to sit down with Mr Wolfgang at every meeting of the NEC would also cause him deep embarrassment.

Mr Wolfgang, who escaped from Nazi Germany, was ejected from the Labour conference after shouting "nonsense" during a speech by Jack Straw on the war in Iraq. When he tried to re-enter the secure zone, he was stopped by a police officer citing the Terrorism Act.