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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 August 2006, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
Heckler voted on to Labour's NEC
Walter Wolfgang

Walter Wolfgang, the heckler ejected from last year's Labour conference, has been elected to the party's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC).

The 83-year-old, from south-west London, was fourth in a poll of ordinary party members - which guarantees him a seat on the body.

He said his heavy-handed treatment in Brighton had "woken people up" to Labour's "control freakery".

And the NEC result was "partially a result of that", he added.

The veteran peace campaigner said he would use the platform to speak out against Tony Blair's policy in Lebanon and Iraq and against nuclear weapons.

He also called on the prime minister to quit immediately and said Chancellor Gordon Brown was not the right man to replace him.

Ceasefire call

He told the BBC News website he hoped his election to the NEC, which will give him the opportunity to speak from the platform at this year's conference, would make an impact.

"If this Lebanon war is still going on in October - and there needs to be a ceasefire before that - we need to do something about that and stop the fighting.

"The second thing is we have to get our troops out of Iraq. We have to get the Americans out too but getting our troops out will encourage that.

"I am also very much opposed to Britain having nuclear weapons and want to get discussion going on that."

He added: "I do think the NEC has to be more free than it has been to debate such things."

He said he wanted to boost democracy in the party and help give ordinary members more of a say in its policy-making.

Anti-terror laws

He said he had been asked to run for the NEC, on behalf of the left-wing Grassroots Alliance, after being manhandled from the conference hall in Brighton for shouting "nonsense" during a speech by the then foreign secretary Jack Straw.

"It was an unpleasant experience but it has woken people up to the problem of control freakery in the party and I do think this vote is partially a result of that," he said.

Mr Wolfgang was detained by police under anti-terrorism laws as he tried to re-enter the conference centre - for which they later apologised.

Mr Blair also publicly said he was sorry for the "over-zealous" treatment of Mr Wolfgang, which overshadowed the final stages of the annual event.

The NEC is the Labour Party's ruling body and is made up of representatives from each section of the party - government, MPs, MEPs, councillors, trade unions and local parties.

Labour members are allowed to elect six people to the committee, which oversees the party's policy objectives and its day-to-day running.

Mr Wolfgang, a German-born Jew whose family was forced to flee the Nazis, once stood as a Labour candidate in a general election and is the vice-chair of Labour CND and vice-president of CND.


SEE ALSO
Hero's return for Labour heckler
29 Sep 05 |  UK Politics
Wolfgang highlights deeper disquiet
29 Sep 05 |  UK Politics
Labour issues apology to heckler
28 Sep 05 |  UK Politics

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