Former Labour parliamentary hopeful plans court action against own party in deselection row

Labour's Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt

Labour’s Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt is planning to take her case to the High Court after being deselected as South Thanet’s parliamentary candidate by the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).

Dr Gordon-Nesbitt was selected by party members in April but in December the NEC  refused to endorse the former art curator saying she could potentially have brought the party into disrepute based on tweets made from a Centre for Cultural Change Twitter account.

Accusations were made by ‘political’ blog Guido Fawkes that tweets from the account, used by Dr Gordon-Nesbitt as well as other academics, were anti-Semitic.

Dr Gordon-Nesbitt says she occasionally contributed to the account, which was closed after the accusations last year, but had endorsements to say neither she or the tweets were antisemitic.

Yesterday (January 22) the Organisation Committee of the NEC refused to revisit the decision, saying it is final.

The decision has caused disruption in the party with members in South Thanet and East Kent demanding the NEC review the case.

The decision not to do so could now mean the Thanet member taking court action against a section of her own political party.

Dr Gordon-Nesbitt said: “I was all set to walk away before Christmas, but I’ve been amazed and inspired by the response of Labour Party members and supporters in South Thanet and beyond. After eight months of great teamwork, the verdict of the local party seems to be that they still want me as their candidate.”

“This seems to be an example of the party’s executive ignoring the will of the members and denying one of its democratically elected parliamentary candidates the right to a fair hearing.”

The case may now be taken to a High Court with lawyer Michael Mansfield QC representing the South Thanet hopeful.

Mr Mansfield was previously involved in the cases for the Birmingham Six, Bloody Sunday, Hillsborough, McLibel and Grenfell.

Dr Gordon Nesbitt: “The last thing I want to do is go to court, but we have to make the Labour Party more accountable to its members and this seems to be the only way of doing it.”

She added that the action is not an attack on the Party’s leadership.

A funding campaign to cover the cost of preparing the legal case beat its target of £3,800 and now stands at £4,299.

The appeal will now be extended.

7 Comments

  1. Good luck Rebecca, you are an excellent candidate, the NEC have got this wrong. It is a real shame legal action is required to force Labour to do the right thing and back the candidate that local members selected back in April, last year.

  2. I fear that the Labour Party is so afraid of accusations of anti-semitism that its National Executive Committee will crack down on perfectly good candidates even when there is scant evidence of wrong-doing. Have we returned to the days of Tony Blair when even the leader of the Labour Party was , effectively, chosen by the Right Wing newspapers because anyone other than Tony Blair was smeared so badly the Party dared not select them. The election of Jeremy Corbyn seemed to show that the Party’s members had finally begun to assert themselves and to use their democratic powers. But the NEC still seems willing to bow down before Right Wing smears.

  3. Rebecca has worked hard with Save Our NHS in Kent to stop closures of vital services such as the stroke unit and A&E at QEQM. Good luck to you Rebecca, they’ve made a mistake and they need to correct it.

  4. Rebecca has been an excellent candidate and has been working hard in all the campaigns to try to save services at our hospital. This is a terrible mistake that needs correcting soon! Good luck Rebecca and thanks for all the help you gave me at a time of crisis!

  5. I am not a member of any political party, but would certainly vote for Rebecca in South Thanet where I live, and no other candidate can come close to her to my mind! I am descended from a minority ethnic group, and had Hitler succeeded in invading Britain, myself, and my family on my mothers side would have ended up in the gas ovens! I have seen these comments by Rebecca, and can see nothing that can be construed as anti-Semitic, or offensive. This is a witch hunt by people who are terrified of the right wing press, and their smear campaigns against the Labour Party, unless they are led by neo-conservatives like Blair, who toaded up to them, and did little or nothing for working people, except betray them!

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