Lewisham East Chair, Labour First tactical trainer and die-hard right-winger Ian McKenzie was suspended last month after the revelation of misogynist social media posts that included tweets about the gang-rape and beheading of Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry. He also resigned from a position as political adviser to Newham’s mayor:
The complaints those messages engendered are among a number now under investigation by Labour General Secretary Jennie Formby’s team. If they recommend that further action is warranted, the final decision on whether McKenzie remains in the party as his right-wing defenders want, or is expelled from it, will rest with a three-person panel of the NCC, Labour’s National Constitutional Committee.
The NCC is the party’s most senior disciplinary body, deciding cases the NEC (National Executive Committee) ‘disputes panel’ refers to it after investigation. Its adjudications frequently result in expulsion from the party.
There is no appeal against its decisions within Labour Party processes.
Although some member-representatives are elected to the NCC – most recently left-wingers Anna Dyer and Emine Ibrahim – others are appointed to it to represent unions affiliated to the party.
One such is Douglas Fairbairn, who represents the small, right-wing union Community union (not to be confused with Unite’s ‘Community’ section). Fairbairn is said to be a close ally of Maggie Cosin, the Labour First-backed NCC chair whom Momentum founder and NEC member Jon Lansman has described as a ‘witchfinder general’.
Little more is known about Fairbairn, who goes by the handle @Community100 on social media but has locked down his account, but he has shown himself to be an opponent of the party’s leader:
Fairbairn, as a member of the NCC, can sit on panels to decide the fate of Labour members accused of some wrongdoing, Left-wing members have expressed concerns that a 3-person NCC panel consisting of two right-winger and another NCC member may result in automatic expulsions for left-wing members.
But a disturbing, pre-lockdown social media history has emerged that makes Fairbairn’s presence on any Labour body extremely problematic.
Fairbairn has posted a number of tweets about women, at least some of which might be expected to result in serious sanction if tweeted by an ordinary Labour member:
Fairbairn’s unpleasant Twitter contributions have not been not exclusively toward women, however:
The SKWAWKBOX has been unable to reach Mr Fairbairn to ask about his social media traffic or his fitness to sit on the NCC.
Right-winger Ian McKenzie has been suspended for misogynist tweets.
Right-wing figures have felt no compunction about defending McKenzie, so there can be little doubt that if his case is referred to the NCC, right-wingers on the committee will be looking to get onto the three-person panel to decide his fate.
Based on recent precedent, one of those will be NCC Chair, the right-winger Maggie Cosin – and alongside her is likely to be her close ally Douglas Fairbairn.
Can there be there any justification for someone with Fairbairn’s social media history sitting on Labour’s most senior disciplinary body – let alone the sub-group that will potentially decide whether to expel McKenzie or others found to have exhibited similar behaviour?
Or for that matter to be holding any position of influence at all?
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