Labour council leader demands party launches probe into 'bullying and intimidation'
A senior Labour council leader has demanded an investigation into "bullying and intimidation" in the party.
Philip Davies, who leads Labour-run Wirral Council, said the party was "once more at war with itself because of the concerted efforts of a small group of hard-line extremists".
He spoke out following Birkenhead MP Frank Field's decision to resign the Labour whip citing anti-Semitism and bullying within its ranks.
In a statement, Councillor Davies - who has led Wirral Council since 2012 - said he had written to Labour general secretary Jennie Formby asking her to launch a probe into the behaviour of some party activists.
He said: "Many in the Labour party today will have sympathy and empathy with the stance Frank Field has taken. Frank resigning the whip has brought the issue of bullying and intimidation in the Labour party back into the spotlight.
"We find ourselves back in a place where we never thought we would return – a Labour Party once more at war with itself because of the concerted efforts of a small group of hard-line extremists who want to undermine the democratic mandate of Labour councillors in pursuit of a narrow ideological agenda.
"Over the last couple of years Wirral has become embroiled in disputes and disagreements which have gone from simmering tension to boiling over into the ‘nastiness, intimidation and bullying’ Frank Field referred to in his resignation letter."
Councillor Davies claimed the behaviour of some party members in Merseyside were "a repeat of the tactics used by hard left extremists in the 80s".
He added: "I have today written to Jennie Formby, general secretary of the Labour party, demanding an urgent investigation into the widespread allegations of bullying and intimidation in the Labour party in Wirral.
"Many party members and councillors are fearful that this behaviour currently being orchestrated will undermine the electoral hopes of the Labour party at a time when residents are relying on us to challenge and push back on the Tories' damaging austerity agenda.
"We need the national party to investigate these allegations urgently so that members, councillors and residents can have confidence restored in the Labour party."
Meanwhile, Frank Field has said he will take legal action against Labour over the party's claims he has automatically resigned his membership by quitting the whip.
He told PoliticsHome: "I have two weeks before I’m expelled. I will appeal the expulsion with the best lawyers possible.
"In that appeal I will point out that members of the House of Lords can be members of the party and not take the whip."