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Margaret Beckett elected as Labour’s National Executive Committee chair amid controversy

Dame Margaret Beckett (pictured above) has been elected the next chair of Labour's National Executive Committee - Credit: PA

Labour has elected Margaret Beckett as its next National Executive Committee (NEC) chair amid controversy over how the vote was conducted.

Members on the left of Labour’s ruling NEC have staged a walk-out in protest at the election of veteran MP Dame Beckett as chair.

The members believe Dame Margaret’s election to the role does not follow protocol.

NEC member Mish Rahman said the walkout was designed to “remind” Sir Keir Starmer the body would “not put up with petty and repeated attacks on trade unions and members”.

Howard Beckett, assistant general secretary of Unite, said Sir Keir “personally lobbied” to stop Ian Murray being elected chair of the NEC while Andi Fox, the NEC’s outgoing chair, said members on the left felt they had “no option” but to walk out.

The row came just hours after Jeremy Corbyn was effectively told by chief whip Nick Brown that he would not be allowed to return as a Labour MP until he gave a full apology for his remarks that anti-Semitism had been “overstated” for factional gain.

Starmer supporters said he was reinstating conventions torn up under Corbyn’s leadership that those with the longest service on the ruling body took the chair and vice-chair posts.

Beckett is one of the longest-serving members of the ruling NEC.

One NEC member told HuffPost UK that the protesters were guilty of “breathtaking hypocrisy” because Margaret Beckett was herself excluded from the NEC post under Corbyn for factional reasons.

One NEC member called the protest “extremely childish” while another said it showed the growing realisation among Starmer’s opponents that they now lacked the numbers to influence its decisions.