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Labour branch in left-right split over alleged disruption to memorial for Tessa Jowell

PUBLISHED: 12:38 30 May 2018 | UPDATED: 12:59 30 May 2018

Former Council leader launches Camden Labour's 2014 election manifesto alongside the late-Dame Tessa Jowell. Picture: Polly Hancock

Former Council leader launches Camden Labour's 2014 election manifesto alongside the late-Dame Tessa Jowell. Picture: Polly Hancock

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A left-right rift has opened up in the Hampstead and Kilburn Labour branch over reports that a minute’s silence for ex-councillor Tessa Jowell was disrupted.

Former Labour council leader Sarah Hayward has called for meetings of the branch to be suspended. But members on the left of the party say they are being “victimised”.

Sarah tweeted on Tuesday that she believes there’s a case for suspending the local party.

She said: “This type of hateful behaviour should be utterly unacceptable.

“Tessa’s contribution to Camden was immense and her legacy lives on in the borough.”

Her call is not widely supported within the current Labour council group. One cabinet member was reluctant to back it, as they didn’t believe it would deal with the problems within the branch.

But a member of the Hampstead and Kilburn party, who was at the meeting on Tuesday, denied the silence was disrupted.

“There were a few people who chose not to take part in the minute’s silence because of her vote in the Iraq War.

“They didn’t heckle, they just didn’t stand up. It may be in poor taste, and I didn’t agree with them, but it’s their democratic right.”

While the member, who asked not to be named, admitted there is a “toxic” atmosphere in meetings, they alleged the left of the CLP had been the target of intimidation: “If people want to take on hate and abuse in the party, I’ve seen people on the left who have been physically intimidated by the right of the party, and a woman called a ‘f*****g stupid cow’ because of what she’s said.”

Baroness Jowell died on May 11 after a battle with brain cancer.

After the minute’s silence, some members called for another period of reflection for recent casualties in Gaza.

When some people didn’t vote in favour of it taking place, it has been alleged that they were asked to identify themselves.

Former councillor Phil Rosenberg has previously raised concerns about antisemitism in the branch.

He said he was concerned some members were trying to cover it up: “It’s unacceptable behaviour. There are people who would rather that this isn’t reported, and the problems aren’t challenged.”

A Labour spokeswoman refused to say whether or not complaints about the CLP had been received, but added: “Uncomradely and insensitive behaviour is unacceptable. Any complaints will be taken seriously.”

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