GLA member and councillor rapped by party for response to left-wing commentator
London Assembly member Tom Copley has been formally warned by the Labour Party after a complaint over a Twitter comment to left-wing commentator Aaron Bastani.
Copley responded to a comment on protests in Iran by the Anglo-Iranian Bastani with the words, “Labour Friends of the Ayatollah”:
A meeting of the ‘disputes panel’ of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) yesterday decided to issue Copley with a formal reprimand, in spite of attempts by right-wing NEC members to dismiss the comment as ‘political banter’ and downgrade the party’s response to a ‘warning over future conduct’.
Mr Copley responded to a SKWAWKBOX enquiry with a lengthy statement claiming the decision was factional and dismissing the complaint as ‘politically motivated’:
The NEC has not found me guilty of anything.
This is an entirely politically motivated complaint timed deliberately to obstruct my campaign to be re-selected as a Labour London Assembly candidate despite my campaigning for more social housing, against wasted expenditure on the Garden Bridge, and my work to protect renters. The fact that a complaint has been made about a tweet from over a year ago just as the Assembly re-selection process is about to start is clear evidence of that.
The tweet in question was a satirical expression of dismay at a series of tweets that I regard as being wilfully soft on the Iranian regime. Iran’s theocratic government bans trade unions, persecutes socialists and has an appalling human rights record. As a gay man I find this lack of solidarity with protesters against a regime that hangs gay men from cranes disappointing, particularly from someone who is supposedly on the left. My tweet was an expression of that disappointment.
I’m astonished by the speed at which this complaint was dealt with, given the number cases of actual racism that have been waiting years to be dealt with. Only one quarter of the NEC were present at a meeting of the Disputes Panel organised deliberately at the last minute. I have absolutely no confidence in the objectivity of the Labour Party’s disciplinary process, which is dominated by one faction of the party.
Aaron Bastani told the SKWAWKBOX:
I’m sure Tom had no ill intent and an apology was enough to settle the matter. As an anti-racist party, it’s vital that we don’t use double-standards when it comes to everyday prejudice.
The hypocrisy of the right was on display yesterday in the attempts by certain NEC members to minimise the significance of the comment.
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