Labour general secretary urged to suspend West Ham constituency party over ‘homophobic bullying’

Labour general secretary urged to suspend West Ham constituency party over ‘homophobic bullying’

Labour’s general secretary has been asked to immediately suspend its West Ham constituency organisation in order to investigate complaints of antisemitism, other racism, membership irregularities and “homophobic harassment and bullying”.

In a letter signed by nine Labour London regional board members, led by its LGBT officer Lucio Buffone and also including Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy and London Assembly Labour Group leader Len Duvall, Jennie Formby is told that disquiet among many West Ham members stems from their local party “being taken over by some who’s membership is not compatible with the values of the Labour Party” rather than any left-right factional split.

Last week, the elected position of LGBT officer for the West Ham Constituency Labour Party (CLP) was lost by Rohit Dasgupta (pictured, third from left), a gay man who had been in post for the previous two years. Dasgupta said after the outcome that he had been defeated by a straight white man whose candidate statement “did not have one sentence about LGBT campaigning” and who was clapped by members he said had “shared homophobic content”, prompting a “mass walkout”.

Dasgupta, who is a councillor for Canning Town ward, has told Pink News that he and gay peers had been made to feel “unsafe and intimidated” by a new influx of members from faith groups who have expressed opposition to LGBT relationship education, including through social media, and created an “unbearable” climate.

On London has been told that local Muslim activists are principally involved and have backing from some members of Momentum, the activist group that supports Jeremy Corbyn. Labour’s London region has been dominated by fellow Corbyn supporters since elections held earlier this year.

The then CLP chair, Josephine Grahl, resigned in protest the day after the annual general meeting which saw Dasgupta replaced, writing on Facebook that “a set of increasingly hostile meetings has taken a personal toll” and that she had “no intention of continuing to preside over a battleground in which defeating ones’s internal opponents takes precedence over advancing the cause of socialism”. CLP fundraising officer Daniel Blaney, another councillor, and others also resigned.

The letter to Formby tells her that new members of the West Ham executive committee have “close links with those with those seeking to exploit divisions in our community over RSE education” and that some local members have produced “publicity which compares LGBT people to paedophiles”.

It also says there has been no black executive officer on the CLP’s general committee for over two years. Another local councillor, James Beckles, told Pink News that “black candidates who are not within a faction or sectarian grouping” have been on the end of “exclusionary tactics”. Beckles also mentioned “allegations of antisemitism”. Another complaint is that men have stood outside meetings of the West Ham women’s forum, a local Labour affiliated organisation, seeking to control who has influence on it.

West Ham MP Lyn Brown will face re-selection later this year.

The full list of signatories to the letter is: Lucio Buffone; Taranjit Chana; Chris Clark; Stella Creasy MP; Sonya Davies; Len Duvall AM; Dean Gilligan; Michelle Gordon; Alex Sanderson. It has been copied to other Labour regional board members.

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