KEIR Starmer’s Labour party has fallen under the control of a “right-wing, illiberal” faction undertaking a “witch hunt” against the left and others, a senior MP has said.

In a staggering intervention, MP for Dagenham and Rainham Jon Cruddas, said that moves to discipline and possibly expel Neal Lawson are a “disgrace”.

Lawson, a former speechwriter for Gordon Brown who now heads the pressure group Compass, claimed in the Guardian last week that he was facing expulsion after sharing a post from a LibDem MP to back Green candidates during the local elections.

READ MORE: The picture-­perfect Scottish island image hides harsh realities

The Observer reports that Lawson has support from two of Starmer’s shadow cabinet ministers who are allegedly outraged at his treatment.

Lawson received an email from Labour last week suggesting that he had expressed support for the Greens during the local elections, and told him that he had 14 days to respond before his case will be considered by a panel, which has the power to expel him.

Labour party members, who have expressed support for other parties on social media for tactical reasons, have been removed in this way previously.

And now, Cruddas (pictured below) told the Observer that the purging of critics within the party was an attempt to stifle internal debate and would come back to haunt it.

The National:

“This is unprecedented in Labour history – the most rightwing, illiberal faction in the party has been handed control to decide who is and is not a member.

“They are settling scores and are clearly embarked on a witch-hunt – not just of the Corbynite left but of mainstream democrats within the party such as Neal.

“This would never have happened under New Labour, who accepted the democratic, plural character of the party and whose first term saw significant constitutional and political change - the Human Rights Act, voting reform, devolution, the Freedom of Information Act - and who worked with the Lib Dems to maximise the anti-Tory vote.

“From its inception, Labour was created as an alliance of interests and traditions to oppose the Tories - Keir Hardie was elected in West Ham in 1892 with Liberal support.

READ MORE: St Giles coronation costs to be paid by Scottish Government

“Labour is now kicking out people like Neal for upholding the democratic, pluralist traditions that created the party and lie deep within its history. It is a disgrace.

!I have known Neal for over 30 years. He has been a member for 44 years – and throughout he has sought to confront factionalism and nurture respect and toleration across the party.

“Keir Starmer pledged to rebuild pluralism within the party - Neal is being thrown out for it.

“It is also stupid, counterproductive and reveals a lack of self-confidence. To endure in government Labour will need to build alliances and coalitions - and reach out beyond the stale undemocratic faction that now runs the party.

The National: Labour party insiders have claimed Keir Starmer is planning to appoint dozens of peers if he wins

"Kicking out Neal and anyone who is prepared to think independently of the most hard-line rightwing faction in the party does not bode well.”

It is understood that Lawson has appointed lawyers to handle his case, and that he is confident he will be able to prove he did not break party rules.

However, a spokesperson for Labour said that it was longstanding party policy that supporting or voting for another party is not compatible with membership.

“I’ve fought all my life to make Labour a vehicle capable of transforming our country. If people like me and the pluralist tradition I represent have no place in Labour, then the future of the party and country feel very bleak," Lawson said.