Momentum director expected to get control of key Labour disciplinary committee, says party insiders

Exclusive: Christine Shawcroft said to be being lined up to replace long-standing chair of 'neutral' committee

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 16 January 2018 13:59 GMT
Allies of Jeremy Corbyn are likely to oust the long-standing chair of Labour's Disputes Panel
Allies of Jeremy Corbyn are likely to oust the long-standing chair of Labour's Disputes Panel (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

A director of Jeremy Corbyn-backing campaign group Momentum is being lined up to replace the long-standing chair of a key quasi-judicial Labour disciplinary panel, The Independent understands, giving allies of the Labour leader much greater control of internal party investigations.

Party sources said Christine Shawcroft has emerged as the preferred candidate of the Momentum-backed bloc on the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and is the favourite to be elected to lead the Disputes Panel, which plays a key role in disciplinary issues, including those relating to antisemitism and sexual harassment.

Elections will be held at a meeting this afternoon and insiders say the incumbent, Ann Black, is likely to be removed.

Ms Shawcroft is a staunch ally of Mr Corbyn, and according to Companies House records, a registered director fo the Momentum group.

Hours before the meeting, screenshots obtained by The Independent show key figures on the Labour left discussing the “imperative” need to remove Ms Black from her position.

In a closed Facebook group called “Labour Against the Witchhunt”, prominent left-wingers Tony Greenstein and Jacqueline Walker argue about whether they should publicly name Ms Black as a target. Both have previously been suspended by the Labour Party over alleged antisemitism.

Members of left-wing groups used a closed Facebook group to discussing removing Ann Black

Mr Greenstein wrote: “She has to go and we have to call for her to go.

“It’s absolutely imperative that Ann Black is targeted by name regardless of what they say.

“It’s exactly the same with [Labour’s General Secretary] Iain McNicol. We have to disillusion people in her.”

However, Ms Walker warned: “You name her it will become a diversion – we will be accused of victimising.”

Neither Mr Greenstein nor Ms Walker hold positions on the NEC, but their hostility towards Ms Black is understood to be shared by some Momentum-backed committee members.

Although she comes from the left of the party, Ms Black has fallen out with the left-wing bloc by voting against them on several occasions.

The Disputes Panel has also been heavily criticised by supporters of Jeremy Corbyn over the handling of a number of investigations into alleged antisemitism, including one involving Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London.

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