Labour members with links to a banned pro-Corbyn group are being urged to lie to prevent being automatically kicked out of the party on Friday.
Members believed to have links to the banned ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’ group (LAW) have been sent ‘Notification of Possible Automatic Exclusion’ letters by Labour’s Governance and Legal Unit.
LAW, which was set up in 2017 to campaign against what it claims are politically motivated allegations of antisemitism within the party, was officially proscribed by Labour’s ruling NEC last month.
It is now urging supporters to deny any association with them to avoid a fresh wave of expulsions by Labour’s Friday deadline for responses and to continue the “fight” from within the party.
On its website, LAW suggests lying would not be seen as “betrayal of the comrades’ support for our organisation”. It adds: “Comrades should not feel under any moral obligation to tell the truth to the witch-hunters, who have lied, sabotaged and smeared thousands of us. Much better comrades are able to continue the fight against the right wing inside the Labour Party – if they can stomach it.”
The move follows the high-profile expulsion of film director Ken Loach. Labour has refused to comment on the move but it was understood to be because of his association with LAW.
The Labour Party Rule Book states any member who “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Party” will be expelled automatically. “Support” includes membership of the organisation, writing for or campaigning for LAW, taking part in its Facebook group or repeatedly liking or sharing its content on social media.
It is not known how many supporters of LAW have been sent the notification letters but on its website the group questioned how Labour members could provide evidence that they did not support the organisation. It said: “Proving a negative is, of course, logically and practically impossible and reminds us of the way alleged witches were supposed to prove their innocence: by drowning.”
Some veteran Labour members facing expulsion have published their responses to Labour online. Graham Bash, chairman of the South Thanet Labour Party, claimed the purge was “endangering the very existence” of the party.
A Labour member for more than 50 years and a political officer for Jewish Voice for Labour, Mr Bash condemned the expulsion of Mr Loach as a “hugely destructive and foolish act by the Labour leadership which they will come to regret”.