abour is facing criticism after it was accused of moving to potentially suspend a prominent member over a two-year-old tweet that appeared to endorse the benefits of cross-party cooperation.
Neal Lawson, the chief executive of the Compass think tank, hit out at the party on Friday and claimed that he faced expulsion from Labour after 44 years of membership.
Writing in The Guardian, he said: “Last Friday an email from the Labour party – of which I’ve been a member for 44 years – broke my political heart.
“They wrote coldly to tell me that back in May 2021, I’d committed a crime: retweeting a Lib Dem MP’s call for some voters to back Green candidates in local elections, accompanied by my suggestion that such cross-party cooperation represented ‘grownup progressive politics’.”
Mr Lawson, whose centre-left group describes itself as being “founded on the belief that no single issue, organisation or political party can make a Good Society a reality by themselves”, rejected the suggestion he had done anything wrong.
In an open letter issued by the Compass board on Friday, the group said: “The accusation is based around a retweeted quote from Neal from May 2021 relating to a local council deal between the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party in Oxford.
“Neal’s tweet did not advocate support for any party but simply stated that cross party working was ‘proper grown up progressive politics’.
“The Board are shocked and dismayed by this action. The Labour Party seem to be arguing that even the advocacy of cross-party working is at odds with Labour Party membership.”
The statement said that such an idea was “simply ludicrous”.
A Labour spokesperson said it was “entirely false” that Mr Lawson had been expelled.
They added: “Mr Lawson hasn’t been expelled. He was served with a notice of allegation seven days ago, putting claims to him that he expressed support for candidates from other parties. He has 14 days to respond. He is yet to do so.”
It is understood that after the 14 days have passed, the matter will be considered by a panel before a decision is taken.
Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell criticised the Labour leadership over the issue.
“If the extent of intolerance has reached the shores of Compass, there really is no limit to the ambitions of those controlling the party mechanisms to eliminate any display of independent thought,” he tweeted.
It is the latest factionalism row to hit Labour, with recent months seeing Sir Keir Starmer and the party leadership accused of trying to squeeze out left-wing voices and figures.