Labour chaos as Lewisham East chair suspended after conflicting announcements
Labour was in chaos this morning as a controversial local party chair was suspended from the party after a string of conflicting announcements.
Ian McKenzie was finally confirmed suspended by party sources after an initial announcement that his membership had been put on hold was retracted.
The Lewisham East chair is now under investigation over past tweets he posted about Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry and Isis.
Mr McKenzie, who was a former aide to Tony Blair, has also been forced to stand down from his new job as an aide to Rokhsana Fiaz, the newly-elected Labour mayor of Newham.
It comes after he masterminded a successful campaign in Lewisham East to win Janet Daby the Labour nomination for the forthcoming by-election in the seat.
She managed to defeat Sakina Sheikh, who had the support of Momentum, and the Unite-backed Claudia Webbe, to win the coveted candidacy.
In the wake of the result, supporters of Jeremy Corbyn shared a number of tweets Mr McKenzie made in the past.
In one, from 2016, he said: “Emily Thornberry is too old for Isis. They won't make a sex slave of her. They'll behead her and dump her in a mass grave.”
And in another he said: “Maybe she'd agree sex slavery to one man only, provided he didn't sell her on or insist on gang rape.
It is understood the tweets were posted in the wake of comments Ms Thornberry had made about being prepared to negotiate with Isis.
A Labour source initially told PoliticsHome Mr McKenzie was suspended last night pending an investigation by the party.
But less than three hours later the same source said he was still a member and the party was looking into the tweets.
Shortly after the confirmation came through that he had in fact been suspended by the party.
Mr McKenzie said on Twitter: “A lobby source tells me that one spokesperson in @UKLabour says I’m suspended and another one says I’m not.”
He has long been a hate figure for left-wing activists in Lewisham after organising to keep pro-Corbyn group Momentum out of the constituency party structures.
A Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of abuse and discrimination extremely seriously.
“Any complaints are fully investigated and any appropriate disciplinary action taken in line with our rules and procedures”