The Labour Party has suspended another CLP, this time in Bolton North East, a key marginal seat, following a dispute over who should represent the party at the next general election.
All Bolton North East officials have been relieved of their positions and duties this evening, after a letter was sent to all members.
In February, nine leading local members quit, accusing a “London clique” of taking over the selection process.
The decision to suspend the branch was made by Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), who said “all Constituency Labour Party (CLP) meetings will cease until further notice”.
In a letter to local party members, Labour’s regional director Liam Didsbury said: “I am writing to inform you that the NEC have taken the decision to suspend Bolton North East following concerns about the operation of the Constituency Labour Party.
“The NEC has a duty to safeguard the integrity of CLPs, to ensure that they are properly run in line with the party’s rules and procedures and can operate fully, inclusively and democratically.”
“A structure will be put in place to ensure the smooth running of the general election campaign,” Didsbury added. “The Labour Party is fully focused and committed to winning the general election and the Bolton North East constituency.”
In February, a statement from the nine members – including chair Tony Shepherd, said: “Following the announcement of the long-list for Bolton North East, we now lack confidence in the integrity of the Labour Party’s selection process and have collectively resigned from the selection committee and the executive position we hold.
“Yet again, it appears that the Labour Party is seeking to promote the views and attitudes of a clique in London, rather than local members in the North.
“This goes against the attitude necessary to win back the ‘Red Wall’, which is desperately needed to deliver a Labour government.”
A Labour Party spokesperson said a “significant number of complaints regarding the conduct of Labour Party members” had been received.
The news follows the suspension of Leicester East CLP.
Last week, senior sources stated that the party’s headquarters are looking into the Leicester East constituency Labour Party (CLP), which has been represented by disgraced politicians Keith Vaz and Claudia Webbe.
Local party officials in the area were anticipated to select their next parliamentary party candidate over the coming months, but reports indicated that Labour headquarters is now planning to enforce a condensed candidate list.
It is believed that the party suspended the CLP in response to allegations that gatherings had been improperly planned to favour a certain group, most notably those who support Keith Vaz and/or Claudia Webbe.
The suspension was confirmed to the Guardian by a labour source who stated that the NEC has a responsibility to protect the integrity of CLPs, to make sure they are properly run in accordance with the party’s rules and procedures and may work completely, inclusively, and democratically.
It comes amid allegations from high-ranking individuals in Leicester that Vaz, the former minister for Europe who resigned as a candidate in 2019 after being exposed in a tabloid sting proposing to buy cocaine for sex workers, still has influence over the CLP.
Allegations about Vaz were published by the Sunday Mirror in early September 2016, along with embarrassing video footage and imagery. It was reported that he had engaged in unprotected sexual activity with male prostitutes and had told them he would pay for cocaine, attempting to conceal his identity by telling them his name was Jim and that he was an industrial washing machine salesman.
In September 2021, Vaz was again embroiled in scandal after he was found by an independent panel to have subjected a female parliamentary staff member to “sustained and unpleasant bullying”.
It included likening her to a “prostitute”, and the panel has ruled that Mr Vaz should never again be allowed to hold a parliamentary pass.
The panel said Mr Vaz had failed to engage with its investigation due to claims of ill health, despite regularly presenting a radio programme and writing columns for a newspaper.
Read the full story about the suspension of Leicester East here.