Labour MPs blast 'disgraceful' bid to expel former chief whip Hilary Armstrong from party
Labour MPs have hit out at a "disgraceful" move by a local party branch to expel a former Chief Whip from for criticisng Jeremy Corbyn.
Hilary Armstrong was one of 60 Labour peers who put their names to an advert in The Guardian condemning Mr Corbyn's response to the party's anti-semitism crisis.
At the annual general meeting of the North West Durham constituency Labour party on Friday night - the seat Baroness Armstrong represented as an MP from 1987 until 2010 - members passed a motion to boot her out.
It is understood that Laura Pidcock, the seat's current MP, abstained in the vote.
Baroness Armstrong, who was a frontbencher in Tony Blair's government, said: "I'm very sad to hear this.
"North West Durham Constituency Labour Party always used to be a place where differing opinions were respected.
"This sadly shows how far the party has departed from its roots.
"I'm not going to shy away from demanding that the party leadership take real and decisive action to rid anti-semitism from the Labour party."
A number of Labour MPs rallied to her defence, including deputy party leader Tom Watson.
He said: “This misdirected mob justice degrades our great party. These attempts to silence dissent will fail. This is not the party I know.”
Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott tweeted: “This is astonishing - Hilary Armstrong has done more for the Labour Party than anyone I know , supported women to become active & get elected - she is Labour to her core has true Labour values I am proud to call her a friend- words fail me.”
Redcar MP Anna Turley added: “If this is true it is disgraceful.
“Hilary has served the Labour party with commitment & distinction for decades, as a former social worker, particularly for the vulnerable.
“She is Labour to her marrow and if there is no place for her in it, it is done.”
A Labour party spokeperson said: “The vote has no formal standing, only the party’s national constitutional committee has the power to expel.”
They added that Ms Pidcock was not involved in the motion and had abstained.
The row comes after Labour shadow minister Gloria De Piero’s announced she will not stand at the next general election, and hitting out at the party’s “lack of tolerance for different viewpoints”.