Labour Party suspends political group

A long-running battle between the national Labour Party and its activists in Northampton has led to an entire political group being suspended.

The national Labour Party yesterday suspended the Northampton South Constituency Labour Party.

It is believed the move was made after former Labour rebel, Tony Clarke, who is now an independent member of Northampton Borough Council, was featured on local Labour literature given out during a by-election in January this year.

A spokeswoman from the party's regional headquarters in Nottingham said it would run all Labour's activities in the Northampton South area until the matter was resolved.

She said: "An investigation into the running of Northampton South Constituency Labour Party (CLP) is being carried out.

"To ensure party members in Northampton can continue to meet to discuss policy and for campaigning while this is ongoing, the East Midlands Labour Party will temporarily assume responsibility for the running of the constituency party."

She also confirmed the investigation would not affect the party's current general election hopeful for Northampton South, Clyde Loakes, adding: "The CLP, led by Clyde, will continue to campaign to win the next general election."

Mr Loakes also confirmed to the Chronicle & Echo last night that he would continue to campaign in Northampton, adding: "The national party has decided to undertake this action and what follows will follow. I'm just concentrating on knocking on doors in Northampton at the moment, I'm not going to get involved in administrative matters."

The January election leaflet featured an endorsement of Labour candidate Geoff Howes from Councillor Clarke.

Councillor Clarke had a major fall-out with the party in 2007 and was eventually "sacked" by text message after a faction of the party opposed his return to politics following his defeat in the 2005 general election.

Last night he described the continuing row as "madness", adding: "Why the Labour Party is continuing to tear itself to pieces is beyond me.

"It's crazy, and I think people can now see why I left the party."

Chairman of the Northampton South group was former borough councillor Anjona Roy. She would not be drawn on the row but said: "I'm sure Northampton South's Labour activists will be active supporting the core values of the party."