MORE than 100 Labour party members in the North-East have signed an open letter in solidarity with former MP Hilary Armstrong.

It follows a vote by the North West Durham Constituency Labour Party (CLP) to expel Baroness Armstrong, who was last week one of 60 Labour peers to put her name to a newspaper advert claiming Jeremy Corbyn was "failing the test of leadership" over the party's handling of anti-Semitism allegations.

The Northern Echo:

Part of the letter, which started circulating on Saturday

The open letter, which began circulating on Saturday night, said: "We are Labour members in the North East and Cumbria who are proud of the political traditions of our region – traditions which have been led by a tolerant, broad-church Labour Party.

"Here, Labour has been and should be, a party where differences of opinion are accepted, and where diversity is a strength of our collective work to tackle injustice and serve our communities.

"We are dismayed that a narrow section of the party here now seeks to break that tradition by calling for the expulsion of respected Labour figures such as Hilary Armstrong who have served our party and region with distinction. We reject such calls and stand in solidarity with Hilary Armstrong and all others who want to see a broad-church, anti-racist Labour Party.

"We will not deliver the Labour government our region needs without allowing internal debate or tackling the real issues of antisemitism.

"In support of this we will organise and work together inside Labour to ensure our party is tolerant, open and capable of providing the future political leadership our region expects and deserves."

Labour member Lewis Atkinson, who represents the North-East and Cumbria on the party's national policy forum was one of the organisers of the letter.

He said: "Labour in the North-East has a proud tradition of being a tolerant, broad church party. I think it's fair to say nationally there has been increasing polarisation in discussions but the North-East has largely avoided that.

"There hasn't been a lot of factionalism. To that point it has been largely better than elsewhere. We have to guard against that creeping in which is why we thought it was important to make this stand."

The North West Durham CLP voted on the motion, which does not have any formal standing, on Friday

No-one from the North West Durham CLP has responded to requests from the Northern Echo to comment.