Jeremy Corbyn has been accused by a tearful member of Labour’s National Executive Committe (NEC) of failing in his duty to protect colleagues from bullying and intimidation.
The accusation comes in the wake of a fraught five-hour meeting at which Mr Corbyn survived what his aides saw as an attempt by the party machine to oust him from the leadership.
Johanna Baxter, one of six representatives of local constituency parties on Labour’s 32 member executive, said that she had received threats before the meeting, and had her personal contact details posted online by “certain groups within the party.”
After a fierce argument, conducted against a threat of legal action, the executive decided that Mr Corbyn had an automatic right to stand for re-election as Labour leader without having to collect nominations from 50 fellow MPs or MEPs, a hurdle any challenger will have to cross.
Before the main vote, the executive had a highly charged argument over whether there should be a secret ballot or a show of hands. One woman member, who has recently had a stalker sectioned, was “in tears” as she “begged the leader for a secret ballot,” Ms Baxter told the BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme. Other members had complained about “intimidating and bullying behaviour,” she said.
But Mr Corbyn voted with the minority who opposed to a secret ballot.
Ms Baxter, who was close to tears, added: “The most upsetting thing for me as a member of the NEC – I know that Jeremy has constantly spoken against bullying behaviour and I applaud him for that and I respect that – but when it came to the vote to protect colleagues taking an extremely difficult decision that would determine the future of our party he voted against the single thing that he could have done to protect colleagues.”
Her obvious distress did not protect Ms Baxter from caustic Twitter attacks by Corbyn supporters. One wrote: “Who is that boo-hooing Labour Scotswoman boo-hooing…her voice trembling? No more women in politics. Return to the kitchen!”
Another wrote: “A histrionic Johanna Baxter displaying lamentable lack of vertebrae. Self pity amid the NEC banning new members’ voting rights.”
Ms Baxter retorted: “I speak out against bullying and get this.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies