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Labour evicts pensioner

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2005-09-29

Walter Wolfgang

Walter Wolfgang

The Labour Party has apologised after an 82-year-old Jewish pensioner was thrown out of its annual conference for heckling Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary.

Walter Wolfgang, a Labour member for 57 years who fled Nazi Germany in 1937 shouted "nonsense" during a speech by Mr Straw and then found himself being bundled out of the conference to the shock of other delegates as well as TV viewers who were watching it live.

The irony that some saw was at the time Mr Straw was speaking about Germany after the war during his speech about Iraq post Saddam.

"It was over the top, it was tactless and unnecessary," said Linda Riordan, Labour MP for Halifax.

John Austin, MP for Erith and Thamesmead said rejecting people for a bit of heckling was wrong and previous Labour leaders would not have had a no heckle policy. "Wilson and Callaghan would have relished being heckled," he added.

Mr Wolfgang is a member of the Stop The War Coalition and is a former vice-chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. During the 1960s, he was an organiser of the Aldermaston marches

"These two toughies came round and wanted to manhandle me out," said Mr Wolfgang. "I said: 'Do you want me to leave? I will leave, you don't need to manhandle me.' Physically, I am not too well, so I said I would follow them."

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "I am really sorry about it, it shouldn't have happened."