Labour veteran John Mowles fears return of extremists
The former Ipswich Labour agent who oversaw the expulsion of members of the Militant Tendency from the party in the 1980s has spoken of his concern that some extremists are trying to get back to vote in next month’s leadership election.
John Mowles was at the centre of a long battle to get rid of a group of left-wing extremists, which ended with the expulsion of several members in 1986.
He said: “I have concerns about some of the names who are registering to take part in the leadership election. It is a bit of a worry that some of those who were thrown out at that time could be coming back.”
However, he did not want to say any more out of loyalty to the party. Current party agent John Cook said that 118 people had joined the party or become registered supporters in early August in the run-up to the leadership election.
In total 401 new applications had been made in the Ipswich constituency since Ed Miliband stood down as party leader.
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Four applications had been rejected because they were from people who had stood against the party in May’s elections – or were well-known supporters of other political parties.
Mr Cook said that before applications were rejected, an attempt was made to check whether the applicant had had a genuine change of heart – but it had not always been possible to contact them.
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The most prominent activists expelled in 1986 were teachers Roger and Teresa Mackay.
Mrs Mackay is still a leading figure in the trade union movement in the town, but said she had no intention of seeking to rejoin Labour.
She said: “I am a member of the Socialist Party. I don’t think Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign [for the Labour leadership] is about people like me – he seems to be attracting young people who have previously not been interested in politics but like his refreshing message that they see as new.
“I don’t think there would be much point in my applying. I think they’d recognise my name!”