Another NEC by-election candidate suspended as Jo Bird returns to party

Another candidate in Labour’s national executive committee by-elections – Graham Durham – has been suspended from the party, LabourList can confirm.

The news of a fresh suspension related to alleged antisemitism follows confirmed reports that Jo Bird has been reinstated as a member. She was also suspended whilst running for Labour’s NEC.

Durham – a resident of Brent Central, who gained 13 local party nominations from across the country after declaring his candidacy on January 30th – is currently ineligible to stand for the ruling body.

LabourList understands that his suspension is related to comments made at a meeting and reported by the Jewish Chronicle in mid-January.

According to the JC, Durham criticised Rebecca Long-Bailey, saying: “She has been cuddling up to the Jewish Labour Movement and the Chief Rabbi, a well-known Tory. We should not be allowing that.”

On Sunday, Durham tweeted: “I am not to my knowledge suspended but, whilst anti-racist to my core, I did call the Chief Rabbi a Tory ..are facts illegal now”.

When contacted by LabourList today, Durham described the JC report as “inaccurate”, adding that “luckily there were 150 people present, most of whom applauded the points I made in critical support of Rebecca Long-Bailey”.

Birkenhead councillor Jo Bird was one of two candidates suspended earlier in the race, but she has now been un-suspended and all of her CLP nominations are considered valid.

Mohammed Azam, also removed as a party member earlier in the NEC contest, is understood to still be suspended and therefore not eligible to run as a candidate in the by-elections.

The NEC by-elections, which are taking place alongside Labour’s leadership and deputy leadership contests, will see two CLP representative posts filled and one for BAME Labour.

The three NEC spots were vacated by Navendu Mishra and Claudia Webbe in the CLP section, as both were elected as Labour MPs in the general election, and by former MP Keith Vaz.

To secure a place on the ballot paper, those seeking to become CLP representatives on the NEC must first be nominated by five CLPs.

Bird has secured a place on the ballot paper with over 110 nominations, while Azam and Durham also surpassed the threshold but will not be included on the ballot if still suspended from the party.

Corbynsceptic groups Labour First and Progress are endorsing Johanna Baxter and Gurinder Singh Josan for the CLP rep places.

The Labour left is split, with the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) backing Lauren Townsend and Cecile Wright, while Momentum is supporting Townsend and Leigh Drennan.

The Labour Left Alliance has Jo Bird and Mohammed Azam on its slate, and the Labour Representation Committee is recommending Bird and Deborah Hobson.

The all-member ballot is expected to open on February 24th, when voting also starts in the two leadership contests.

More from LabourList