Amnesty

As you may know, I am a supporter of Stop the Purge campaign as the rule under which these exclusions have been taken taken offends the principles of natural justice. After the election last year, the CLP Chair, in a speech to the General Committee observed that we had all worked well together during the election and wouldn’t it be great if this could continue. I agreed, and so I wrote the following motion as several people, that I know of, who joined the CLP have been excluded.

It calls for the lifting of all exclusion decisions taken under this Rule.

The motion was carried at my branch meeting last night.

All supporters of Labour Party welcome in Labour Party

This meeting notes

The Labour Party Rule Book 2017, Chapter 2 Membership rules, Clause I Conditions of membership, sub clause 4 Exclusions, (B) reads as follows:

‘A member of the Party who joins and/ or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Party, or supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate, or publicly declares their intent to stand against a Labour candidate, shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a Party member, subject to the provisions of Chapter 6.I.2 below of the disciplinary rules.’

This rule has been used to exclude LP members with no defence, no appeal and no public review of the evidence.

This meeting believes

  1. Labour’s membership should be open to all who share our values and support Labour’s election campaigns.
  2. In the spirit of post-election unity, this branch calls for the reinstatement of automatically excluded members.

This meeting calls/GC instructs on the CLP Secretary to write to the General Secretary and the NEC calling for the reinstatement of those auto-excluded under Rule 4.I.2.B

This meeting instructs the branch secretary to submit this motion to the CLP Secretary for consideration at the next GC .

So now it goes to the General Committee.

ooOOOoo

There were two points raised which are interesting and deserve reply.

The first is that if we delete the rule, how can we defend ourselves against electoral opponents, The answer to that is simple, there are plenty of other rules that define that offence, but even then such actions should be considered under a process that includes a defence, and right of appeal.

The motion is not a rule change, its an appeal for amnesty but I have written about what I’d like the rule to look like elsewhere on this blog. …

Labour Pains

Last night’s General Committee was due to catch up on the motions backlog and receive reports from our Conference delegates. The agenda was packed as usual with the addition of a guest speaker from Unite who spoke mainly about Racism in the SE London NHS.

The meeting got off to a bumpy start when one of the delegates asked Vicky if the Momentum meeting speaker MP, Chris Williamson had asked her permission to speak in the constituency and if she had a view on the fact that a man was supporting Kath Dunbar, the Left candidate for women’s officer at the November AGM. She seemed particularly upset that a man was getting involved in the Women’s Officer election.  My understanding is that Chris did speak to Vicky. Given the incumbent Women’s Officer was imposed by the Centre-Right majority in opposition to the women’s forum nominee at a vote that included the male delegates, this is the last place I’d start.

The delegation reported back, that they’d interpreted their mandate as a requirement to vote to include the Brexit topic in the priorities ballot and had done so, in some cases against their personal inclination. They reported on the rules debate, but not highlighting the Brighton Pavilion’s refusal to remit their motion. The spoke at length about the change in the disciplinary rules, which has been reported elsewhere; basically, acts of racist or discriminatory speech are now against the rules, and will be dealt with under Chapter 6 processes, previously there was an absolute free speech defence.

An important event at conference was the exercising of the procedural motion to refer back paragraphs of the National Policy Forum report, this was new tactic enabled by a rule change in 2016. Conference referred the policy on Welfare cuts because it didn’t promise to reverse the Tory cuts and referred back the section on Education because it was insufficiently strong on democratic control of schools. I missed this but would have particularly enjoyed it as we had proposed this as a central piece of our opposition to Grammar schools and been badly stitched up in the Composite meeting and our words removed.

Rebecca focused on Woman’s Conference; it was the first time that it had been a policy making conference and Rebecca revealed that new rules had been written to enable the delegate to Woman’s Conference to obtain a mandate from female members only. Neither she nor I know why we didn’t do this.

The three of them reported on the fringe events and policy forums; it’s much easier to speak at these. When Maisie Sanders reported that she, like several others in the CLP including me, had attended the Stop the Purge meeting, chaired by Mark Sandell, the excluded ex-Chair of Brighton District Labour Party, she was interrupted by Mel Ward, who accused her of supporting a proscribed organisation i.e. the AWL by attending the meeting and by selling the Clarion which she wrongly alleged was an AWL paper. After about 15 secs of this, Rebecca Lawrence walked from the back of the room, and interrupted Mel Ward’s attack and expressed her disgust at the speech and her determination to stand in solidarity with Maisie; she was joined by Anshu.

The meeting had been advertised as an attempt to catch up on our backlog of Motions; it wasn’t to be. We had two emergency motions both on planning issues. I moved my motion on Tidemill Gardens development. For those following this, you’ll know that the New Cross councillors were split with Cllr Joe Dromey being given the unusual privilege of addressing the Planning Committee where he spoke in favour of the planning application; Councillor Dacres supported the objections. As I moved the motion, Cllr Dromey heckled me twice to the extent where I asked him to stop by pointing out that shouting at people while speaking wasn’t how we did things in the Labour Party; it would seem not everyone agrees as it is the second time he’s done this, although not to me.

A motion opposing the Silver St. development was also moved. In this case, the central reason for opposition is the height of the building and the light pollution i.e. shadows on current resident’s gardens.

It interests me that after Labour Conference, it would seem that support for private sector led regeneration by Labour’s members is on the wane. Councils are going to have to catch up.

ooOOOoo

Anshu’s report has been posted on face book and is mirrored here. …

Godalming Three

I have now spoken to one of the Guildford Three. They were expelled for organising a public meeting to explore a common/shared candidate. The General Committee had voted to explore the possibility of a “Progressive Alliance” candidate. A public meeting was organised, the three Labour organisers were expelled. A candidate was imposed. In response, the General Committee voted a zero budget for the SW Surrey Campaign and donated what they would have spent to their nearest marginal, Ealing Central. Most of SW Surrey CLP’s leadership travelled to support Labour candidates in other seats.

Steve Williams, after his expulsion, nominated Louise Irving, the NHAP candidate. As he says, once expelled the rules have no power.

The three people expelled are all Corbyn supporters, of course, and leading activists in the CLP.

On one hand, you can see how a beleaguered head office, gearing up for an election they expected to be smashed in, would have had little time to deal with this in a sensitive fashion, but they are so used to getting away with it, that they roll out the old rule 4.I.2.B again. …

History

I picked up this morning’s Yellow Pages and spied an article by Hassan Ahmed, the original Vice Chair of Labour’s Black Sections, an unofficial organisation which was a precursor to Labour’s BAME organisations. Hassan was suspended and then expelled for organising a BAME section; he was at the time a city Councillor in Nottingham. Fortunately, although in his words reluctantly, he took the Labour Party to court and won. They had to pay £100,000 in court fee and that was in 1994. He finishes the article,

… Those were the bad old days. Under Jeremy’s enlightened leadership the mistakes of the past will not be repeated.

Let’s hope he’s right! …

Stop the Purge

Stop the Purge

I dropped into the “Stop the Purge” meeting earlier tonight, in time to hear Graham Hadfield from Brighton and Alan Runswick from Wallasey tell their stories. Their stories can be found elsewhere on the web. Both CLPs were suspended, and Brighton broken up. Individuals have been suspended or expelled. The expulsions have been under Rule 4.I.2.B. Pam Fitzpatrick from Harrow spoke about the witch-hunt of her son, a supporter of Socialist Appeal, who was suspended, reinstated, then expelled. He actually went to court to get a restraining injunction and that failed; he has been unable to raise the  money to take it further through the courts. Tony Greenstein, still suspended and claiming to be the longest suspended member spoke of the anti-antisemitism campaign and the consequent suspensions. I also spoke.  …

Officer Class

Some comrades, mainly it would seem from Brighton, where suspensions and expulsions are still in place protested about McNicol’s continued employment calling on him to resign.

mcnicol must go

Joanna Baxter, an ex member of the NEC, raised a point of order complaining that it was abusing staff.


http://twitter.com/JohannaBaxter/status/911908728789766145

He isn’t staff, he is an Officer of the Party and holds office “at the satisfaction of the NEC and Conference”. This is an important distinction. There’s no recall, no means of subjecting him to the rules and there’s no term limit. …

Expulsions

I went to visit some Labour Party friends in North London last night; several of them have been “auto-excluded” from membership. This has to stop. I have developed a rule change motion [ Download here … ] or http://bit.ly/2sFM6t8.

Rule changes are submitted with a supporting text justifying themselves; The text is posted below, but in summary

The problem with the rule is in three words, automatically, support and organisation. Automatically denies the accused natural justice, support has no threshold of proof, ( tweets i.e. 128 character phrases have been taken as sufficient) and organisation can be anything, there’s no qualification of opposition or unacceptability.

If you agree, it would be good to get this on the Conference Agenda, it needs to be passed at an appropriate CLP meeting and submitted to LP HQ by July 7th.


“The Labour Party campaigns in and with communities and their organisations. It also works with other political parties although currently only the Co-op Party. Not all relationships of supporting & joining organisations other than official Labour organisations are prohibited by the rules.

Unity in electoral campaigns and compliance with the rules should be the required level of commitment. Registered supporters are asked to agree with the aims of the party and not belong to an organisation opposed to it. This should be the standard for membership.

Prohibition of support of organisations other than affiliates creates a chilling effect for joining and support of such organisations. It means working with organisations such as Hope not Hate, Liberty, Green Peace or Amnesty International may render members liable to automatic expulsion.

Automatic ineligibility is currently interpreted as allowing expulsion by administrative action. The accused is processed in secret, unable to challenge evidence, present a defence or request an appeal.  These are all breaches of the rights to natural justice. This is unacceptable in a democratic party.

This has been used in a factional manner where long-term members and Green Party converts have been expelled. Disciplinary action taken varies; members of other parties who hold public office wishing to join are usually accepted.

The purpose of this rule change is to end the arbitrary, partisan and secret exclusion of Labour Party members, so that all members that abide by Labour’s rules, are entitled to join and remain members of the Party.” …

Labour’s Expulsions

Labour’s Expulsions

This has been written over a period of months, and it has never seemed the right moment to publish it as winning the case for justice and then the leadership campaign seemed more important but the issues raised by Jill Mountford’s expulsion just do not go away. In our local party, we have been discussing it since it happened, continuously voting, when permitted for an explanation, an appeal hearing and latterly in support of the Chakrabarti Inquiry recommendations establishing the principles of natural justice, due process and proportionality, all missing from Jill’s exclusion and the subsequent actions. During the leadership election the issues come to the fore as Tom Watson, the Courts and then Owen Smith turn up the heat. The temperature is now raised again by the Despatches programme and its trailers in the Murdoch press. This article talks about why she should be welcomed, as an individual and in principle, the rules of natural justice and the rules of the Labour Party. Jill Mountford was expelled through administrative action for allegedly supporting the AWL. Jill had rejoined the Labour Party in the aftermath of the 2015 General Election …

Purges

A shortish, note about the Labour Party selectorate purges. Firstly, about whether we should be criticising the Party’s staff and Officers, secondly about the influence of Smith’s campaign’s backers and thirdly examining one or two cases of the 2nd stage exclusions of members but presumably mainly registered supporters.

The General Secretary is an Officer, appointed by the NEC and Conference and holds office at the satisfaction of those two bodies. Discussing the issue of “satisfaction” is legitimate discourse within the Party.

It’s clear that Labour First are encouraging their supporters to make complaints about people and while they will claim this is to stop cheating and Entryism, the NEC have decided that candidates for Registered Supporter must have no support for other “political organisations” for the previous two years, which will include time in which they may have been members of different parties.  NB We do not place this waiting period on MPs or Councillors “crossing the floor”. This is wrong in so many ways; the most upbeat point to make is that we should be welcoming people who have changed their minds about the best way to build a better society, not placing a two year pre-entry probationary period on them. The anonymous accusations are also worrying.

The charge of trotsyist entryism is designed to justify the inspections and exclusions (and the 6 month freeze date) but the resultant exclusions seem to have mainly hit ex-greens, including some who joined last year and long term members whose 8 week provisional membership period is well over.

One of the most egregious exclusions has been that of the Catherine Starr, whom it would seem has been excluded for expressing her extreme support of the Foo Fighters. (I believe that they are a popular beat combo.)  The Canary cover these purges well in this article, “Another Labour purge…”, and highlight the case of Dr Gemma Angel who was previously a Green Party supporter, joined Labour and has been excluded due to her previous public support of the Greens, the evidence being one tweet! An interesting aspect of this is the notice letter,

where McNicol makes it clear that he has taken advice from the NEC, which in my book may not be legal since the NEC is his supervisory body and these duties are his or his delegates alone. This takes us to the issues of segregation of duties within the disciplinary process required for the purposes of natural justice and anti-corruption control. The letter also documents their two year silence rule.

The third case of interest is that of Cllr Pamela Fitzpatrick, where it would seem vexatious and false allegations of abusive behaviour have been made about a Labour Councillor with many years of membership, leading to her suspension, loss of vote in the Leadership election and loss of whip on the Council meaning she can’t pursue her leadership role in fighting domestic violence.

This isn’t right!

ooOOOoo

I’d hoped this would have been shorter. …