Derek Hatton Withdraws Labour Party Application After Anti-Semitism Claims

Decision to grant provisional membership had sparked anger from MPs.
HuffPost

Derek Hatton has withdrawn his application to rejoin the Labour party, just weeks after he came under fire for allegedly anti-Semitic remarks on social media.

The former Militant firebrand, who was expelled by Neil Kinnock in the 1980s, had been granted provisional membership last month by a panel of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC).

But he was suspended just two days later, when it emerged he had tweeted in 2012 that “Jewish people with any sense of humanity need to start speaking out publicly against the ruthless murdering being carried out by Israel”.

HuffPost UK understands that the full NEC had been expected to confirm on Tuesday that Hatton’s membership should not be progressed. His withdrawal came just hours before the NEC had a chance to pass a verdict on his future.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “Derek Hatton has withdrawn his membership application and is therefore not a member of the Labour Party.”

Although he was not a member when he tweeted his remarks about Jews, the fact that he had a provisional membership meant that the process could be halted on the grounds that readmitting him would be incompatible with the wider aims and values of the party.

Now aged 71, Hatton faced heavy criticism in the 1980s for running an illegal budget when deputy leader of Liverpool council, demanding that Margaret Thatcher’s government made up the shortfall.

The council hired taxis to deliver redundancy notices to its own workers and Hatton’s expulsion became a cause celebre.

Hatton’s re-admission last month was greeted with heavy criticism by Labour MPs, and cited by some who defected to The Independent Group as proof that the party was run by the hard Left.

Shadow cabinet minister Barry Gardiner described the readmission as a “travesty” and lodged an immediate complaint with general secretary Jennie Formby.

“Many of us knew for some while that he had applied to re-join the party, but for the news of his readmission to come to public attention, on the very day when some members of our party were forced out, I think was appalling,” Gardiner said last month.

NEC members including deputy leader Tom Watson highlighted the case at the disputes sub-committee of the party last week, questioning the process that had been used in assessing his case.

Watson also raised questions about a PoliticsHome report that Formby had consulted Jeremy Corbyn’s office about Hatton’s case.

A party official last summer had warned that “the political cost of readmission would be quite high” and “my strong advice would be that you should reject this membership application”.

NEC and Unite member Jim Kennedy, who chaired the panel that reinstated the ex-Militant, defended the procedures that had been used.