Momentum’s Christine Shawcroft Elected Chair Of Labour’s NEC Disputes Panel

Jeremy Corbyn supporters have used their new majority on Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) to take control of the party’s crucial disciplinary committee, HuffPost has learned.

Momentum-backed members of the NEC voted by 22 to 15 to oust Ann Black, the longstanding chair of the Disputes Panel, and replace her with veteran leftwinger Christine Shawcroft.

The unprecedented move means that the Left now have control of the body that decides whether to investigate sexist, racist, homophobic and anti-semitic abuse and other disciplinary cases.

Momentum’s founder Jon Lansman (pictured above) was one of three new local party reps elected to the NEC on Monday, after an election in which the left-wing organisation swept the board against ‘centrist’ candidates.

Seen as something of an institution for her regular reports on NEC meetings, and attracting some of the biggest votes in NEC elections, Black’s removal is seen by insiders as a significant shift in the balance of power towards Momentum.

Usually, chairs of NEC sub-committees are re-elected unopposed and Black was seen by many colleagues an impartial expert on the party’s rulebook.

The Disputes Panel has a quasi-judicial role in deciding cases and its chair and vice-chair are usually chosen to balance different wings of the party.

But despite spending many years on the ‘slate’ of the leftwing Grassroots Alliance, Black fell out of favour with some activists after complaints that the party had been heavy handed in suspending some members and local parties.

In 2016, the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) pressure group criticised her for her part in ‘disenfranchisement’ of members in the Corbyn’s second leadership election, and in the suspension of Brighton and Hove constituency Labour party.

HuffPost understands that several NEC members felt they were reflecting the views of members ‘frustrated’ with Black’s conduct in recent years.

They claim that she was under the spotlight because she voted in 2016 at an NEC meeting to freeze retrospectively the date which allowed members to vote in the leadership contest.  Some 130,000 new members were affected, they add.

One NEC source told HuffPost that “everyone was very positive about Ann”, while others said that it was clear trade union reps had decided to side with the Momentum local party reps in the meeting.

Shawcroft has been heavily criticised by moderate activists after she was suspended by the party for supporting independent Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman in 2015.

Black wrote in November about the importance of deciding some of the disciplinary cases, particularly anti-Semitic abuse.

“Anyone who thinks these cases are trivial should read the obscene, racist, misogynistic, homophobic and anti-semitic sewage which we have to wade through,” she said.

She added there were still excessive delays in hearing membership appeals, preparing National Constitutional Committee cases and arranging hearings.

Stephanie Lloyd, deputy director of moderate group Progress, said: “Targeting Ann Black shows the contempt the Momentum-Left have for party democracy when things do no go their way.

“Inevitably the hard-left turn in on themselves and it is pretty unedifying to watch.”

After her ‘administrative suspension’ as a Labour party member in 2015, Shawcroft said the move was “a travesty, an injustice and miscarriage of justice.”

Rahman, who was also supported publicly by Ken Livingstone, was dismissed as mayor of Tower Hamlets after an elections court found him guilty of electoral fraud and bribery in 2014.