Blair puts the boot in

Last Thursday, Ken Coates and Hugh Kerr were informed by Tom Sawyer, the Labour Party’s general secretary, that they “had made themselves ineligible to be party members” and were therefore no longer entitled to hold office or act as representatives.

The shabby and sordid nature of the expulsion was typical of New Labour. Both Coates and Kerr attended a meeting of the European Socialist Group in Brussels, only to find their names already removed from the attendance register and from their normal seats - ‘non-persons’ indeed. Neither was allowed to speak, so therefore left within a few minutes of arriving at the meeting.

Afterwards, a Labour Party spokesperson said: “We asked them to do the honourable thing and resign. They clearly have no intention of doing so. We have therefore acted promptly in line with the party rules. It was inevitable that their behaviour would lead to this”.

There were attempts to link the names of Coates and Kerr to the Green Party. At one point, the mainstream press confidently informed us that the two had defected.  This was so much Labour Party black propaganda. Even though this assertion was pure invention, an LP fax sent to Ken Coates said punishment - ie, expulsion - was necessary because of his “application to join the Green Party group” - Hugh Kerr also never had any intention of joining the Green Party group. Perhaps this Goebbels-like fax to Coates is an example of New Labour doing the “honourable thing”.

In fact, Ken Coates has now applied to join the European United Left Group, which is composed of individuals from groups like Communist Refoundation of Italy and the Communist Party of France. He will be sitting as an Independent Labour MEP, as will Hugh Kerr.

In a joint statement, Coates and Kerr stated: “We are appalled at the method of expulsion. We have been denied the right to speak, but they cannot stop us speaking to the millions of Labour voters who are distressed and angry at the Tory policies being pursued by the Blair government.”

Significantly, Ken Coates has ruled out joining the Socialist Labour Party because of its national socialist ‘let’s pull out’ position on the European Union. Unlike the leadership of the SLP, Coates wants to unite workers across national frontiers.

With the Blairites determined to push Labour even further to the right, now talking of “affluence testing” - ie, means testing - all state benefits, we should not be surprised to see more defections from the Labour Party, whether they be based in Brussels/Strasbourg or London.

Paul Greenaway