Jeremy Corbyn’s policy chief has been readmitted to the Labour party after he was suspended for urging his Twitter followers to vote for the anarchist Class War party instead of the Labour candidate in Croydon South during May’s general election.
Andrew Fisher, who was appointed to Corbyn’s team immediately after Corbyn’s victory in the leadership race, was suspended when a series of tweets emerged – posted before he took the job – that were highly critical of the previous Labour leadership.
The Labour MPs Caroline Flint and Siobhain McDonagh, who both complained about Fisher’s conduct, said they were disappointed that the party had decided to only give him a “slap on the wrist”. They claimed that the chair of the investigation had been put under pressure.
The party’s rulebook states anyone who supports a rival to a Labour candidate “shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a party member”.
In August last year, Fisher tweeted: “FFS if you live in Croydon South, vote with dignity, vote @campaignbeard.” @campaignbeard referred to the Croydon South Class War candidate Jon Bigger.
On the morning after the general election, Fisher tweeted that it was “fitting that the architect of Labour’s miserable austerity-lite economic policies should lose #Balls”. In September last year, Fisher described the Labour frontbench as “the most abject collection of complete shite”.
Fisher also tweeted that the policies of the former shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper were worse than those of the British National party. In May this year, Fisher wrote: “BNP policy = no benefits to people who haven’t paid in. Cooper = no benefits even if paid in for 3yrs+”
A Labour party spokesperson said: “Andrew Fisher has been issued with an NEC [national executive committee] warning and his suspension has been lifted with immediate effect.”
Fisher said he was pleased with the party’s decision. “I’ve been a Labour party member for 20 years and all I’ve ever wanted is for Labour to be strong and effective, whether in government or opposition,” he said.
“With families still facing cuts to their living standards and billions of pounds cut from local services by the Tories in this week’s autumn statement, I will continue to support Jeremy, who was elected in a landslide victory just two months ago, and help Labour build towards 2020.”
Flint and McDonagh said in a statement: “We are disappointed that the Labour party has decided not to proceed with a full disciplinary inquiry by the [national constitutional committee] into Andrew Fisher, and instead issue a slap on the wrist.
“The chair of this investigation has been subjected to huge pressure, and this has compromised the independence and integrity of Labour’s disciplinary process. It is unacceptable for members to support other parties, delight in Labour MPs losing their seats or to engage in cyber-bullying.
“Others have been excluded from our party for less than the activities of Mr Fisher. It would appear that there is one rule for members and one rule for those who work for the party leader.”
Fisher was forced to apologise when complaints were first made, writing in a letter to Iain McNicol, the party’s general secretary, that he did not intend to support Class War in any way and was committed to securing the election of a Labour government.
“I accept that the tweet has been misinterpreted and has caused embarrassment and understandable upset among party members, which I regret,” he wrote. “I wish to completely and unreservedly apologise for this tweet. I have now closed my social media accounts and assure you there will be no repetition of such activity in the future.”
This article was written by Frances Perraudin, for theguardian.com on Friday 27th November 2015 17.19 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010