UK Politics

Suspended Labour donor Michael Foster 'victim of purge'

Michael Foster Image copyright Reuters

A prominent Labour donor says his suspension from the party for likening Jeremy Corbyn's leadership to Nazi stormtroopers is part of a "purge".

Michael Foster made the comparison in a Mail on Sunday article last month after he lost a court battle to block Mr Corbyn from standing for re-election.

He denies he breached party rules.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the article had been "appalling", but the suspension "doesn't abide by process of natural justice".

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend, Mr Foster said Labour was using "badly drawn, widely written rules to purge from the party people that do not toe the hard left line".

He has stressed he did not use the word "Nazi" himself, but it had been added to the headline by the newspaper.

But Labour said the suspension - which stops Mr Foster from voting in the leadership election - was for allegedly breaching election rules which ban "abuse of any kind".

'Draw a line'

His article said Mr Corbyn and his team had "no respect for others and worse, no respect for the rule of law".

It said: "The courts decided that the rules as they stand allowed it. This decision advantaged Corbyn and his Sturm Abteilung (stormtroopers)..."

Mr Foster told the BBC he did not break any rules, and had been referencing the "methodology of national socialists".

He said he "could easily have referred to Mao and the Red Guard or Saddam Hussein and the Revolutionary Guard".

Pointing out that the stormtroopers were disbanded in 1934, he said the Labour leadership were using the election rules to "call for people to be banned or excluded".

"And that will go down the road all the way to ensuring... that all non-hard left Labour MPs are simply deselected," he added.

Mr MrDonnell told the BBC: "Of course, we need to ensure we treat each other in a comradely way - that's the Labour Party expression.

He said he did not think the rules "should be applied in the way they are being applied".

"We should draw a line and say from here on, this is unacceptable behaviour, and on that basis you will be aware that action could be taken against you," he added.

More on this story