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Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt: Labour Party's former South Thanet MP candidate appeals for funding in fight to be reinstated

By Matt Leclere

An aspiring Labour MP kicked out as one of the party’s parliamentary candidates in Kent is appealing for money in her fight to be reinstated.

Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt's bid to fight the seat in South Thanet was rejected last month over tweets she posted defending a fellow South Thanet member during antisemitism allegations.

She launched a public campaign this week to raise £3,800 to fund a legal case against her expulsion by Labour’s National Execuitve Committee (NEC) - reaching her target in less than 48 hours.

Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt (6459248)
Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt (6459248)

The committee ruled she had brought the party into disrepute and decided not to endorse her nomination as Labour’s candidate - but she remains a Labour member.

Members of the South Thanet branch of the Labour Party have backed her to be reinstated with the constituency’s own executive committee rejecting the NEC decision.

The funding campaign launched on Saturday (January 12) and had passed its target by Sunday evening.

It passed £4,000 on Monday with donations coming in from more than 130 people from Thanet and across the country.

One group called Jewish Voice for Labour gave £100 and the largest donation was £200, while the majority of donations were between £10 and £50.

The support for Dr Gordon-Nesbitt's appeal comes after a petition to the NEC backing her to be reinstated attracted more than 1,700 signatures.

She joined Labour in 2015 and was selected to stand for MP last April. She is still a party member after the NEC hearing but says she needs to raise money to build a legal challenge as there is not a formal appeals process.

Dr Gordon-Nesbitt said: "I'm having to contemplate legal action in a bid to overturn the NEC panel's decision.

The fundraising page set up by former Labour candidate in South Thanet, Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, as she prepares to fight her expulsion over claims she had defended antisemitic views before she was selected to stand (6477992)
The fundraising page set up by former Labour candidate in South Thanet, Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, as she prepares to fight her expulsion over claims she had defended antisemitic views before she was selected to stand (6477992)

"Such a legal case case would be vital to Labour Party democracy, representing justice for the many not the few."

Michael Mansfield QC, who has represented Hillsborough disaster victims' families and Stephen Lawrence's parents and is currently working with Grenfell Tower victims during the inquiry, has joined Dr Gordon-Nesbitt's team.

"We're seeking to raise funds in stages, as and when we need them for any potential legal case," Dr Gordon-Nesbitt added.

"If the case goes to court, we’ll need to cover court costs and basic expenses. If the case is unsuccessful, we’ll have to cover the Labour Party’s legal costs.

"If the case is successful, any surplus money we raise will go into the campaign to win South Thanet for Labour."

The decision from the NEC was based on three tweets which were posted from the Centre for Cultural Change’s Twitter account in September 2017 - a think-tank Dr Gordon-Nesbitt contributed before being selected as a candidate.

Dr Gordon-Nesbitt is trying to raise £3.600 to challenge the Labour Party's decision to pull her as the parliamentary candidate for South Thanet (6459251)
Dr Gordon-Nesbitt is trying to raise £3.600 to challenge the Labour Party's decision to pull her as the parliamentary candidate for South Thanet (6459251)

The tweets emerged two weeks after her selection and appeared to defend Jackie Walker, a fellow former South Thanet Labour member and ex vice-chairman, who was accused of antisemitism.

One of the tweets said: “Accusations of antisemitism levelled at Jackie Walker are politically motivated”, while another read: “Anti-semitism has been weaponised by those who seek to silence anti-Zionist voices. See The Lynching, endorsed by Ken Loach, for elucidation.”

Dr Gordon-Nesbitt insisted they were “in no way intended to imply that antisemitism doesn’t exist in the Labour party” and issued an apology and the Twitter account was deleted.

She blamed Westminster blog Guido Fawkes for taking the comments "out of context" leading the "right-wing hate blog to imply that I was antisemitic".

The Labour Party has been approached for comment by KentOnline.

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