A new disciplinary process (for Labour)

A new disciplinary process (for Labour)

This is the speech I would have made on the rule changes implementing an independent disciplinary system.

The EHRC said we needed an independent disciplinary process, independent of the Leader & NEC. As a Party we should expect that we would develop a process conformant with the standards of natural justice and Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

People are entitled to “a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal”, article 6 also enumerates criteria of fairness, inc. innocent until proven guilty and the right to present a defence and chose an advocate. It also guarantees a free defence for those that can’t afford it.

Such a scheme would require that the investigation and decision to prosecute should be under the direction of lawyers with an ethical commitment to their peers i.e. other lawyers, and that guilt and sanctions if required, is determined by a jury of our peers, advised by legal advice independent of that of the ‘prosecution’. Let us note that the EHRC also called out Labour for not offering the NCC independent legal advice.

These proposals are the wrong way round and will not protect the party from allegations of a factional use of its disciplinary system, not least because of the central role of the General Secretary, who does not and has not previously held a professional qualification guaranteeing a commitment to a standard of ethics. This is not to say that I consider the current incumbent to be unethical, but the fact is he is a paid officer of the party accountable to the NEC and is thus not independent of it.

We have also been told we have to pass these rules, that not to do so would be crime against the EHRC’s remediation plan and our compliance agreement. This is not so. The NEC could and should have proposed a truly independent disciplinary process; this isn’t. We can do better.

To finish, I am pleased to hear the assertions and promises that these rules will prove we’ve turned a corner, and that this shame will end.

There’s some comments overleaf ….

Labour and antisemitism, some thoughts

Labour and antisemitism, some thoughts

I have now read the EHRC Report, Investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party, and this is what I think needs to be done. I have published some thoughts already and I believe that it is necessary that the Labour rectify its rules and culture to make it a place where discrimination is both absent and shunned, where perpetrators have the opportunity for contrition and that suspensions and expulsions are a last resort applied only after a fair trial. I am particularly incensed to find there has been no policy nor procedures to guide the investigation nor the determination of discrimination complaints because it’s so basic. However, before I look at the specific recommendations, I want to look at some context. The first is Human Rights law, and the second is that the failings are so basic that anyone of good faith will insist that any remedy is applied to all complaints and disciplinary processes and affairs because the failings are systemic, not specific to handling antisemitism complaints. The article then looks at what a fair and independent process might look like and asks that it take account of the ECHR’s Article 6 and 11, the right to a fair trial and freedom of association. It calls for the retention of the NCC and the provision of legal advice to ensure its independence from the Leader and the NEC. It recognises that the Party must be considered institutionally racist and that attempts to fix the problems have been dogged by factionalism. It calls for the adoption of the Nolan Principles. It recognises that things were worse under McNicol until Formby was appointed. It reaffirms that Labour’s policy and rules are made by Conference and not announcements by the Leadership. These issues are explored in greater detail overleaf …

On the EHRC report

The EHRC have  issued their report into Antisemitism in the Labour Party, they say that Labour needs to rebuild trust & confidence in the antisemitism complaints handling process, reform and provide education & training, most importantly to complaints handling staff, and monitor and evaluate the changes. Everyone has committed to doing this and the proposals are not controversial. They also found that unlawful acts under the Equalities Act had occurred and therefore served an unlawful act notice on the Party. The Labour Party is now legally obliged to draft an action plan by Thursday 10 December 2020 to tackle the unlawful act findings that were made in the report. The action plan should be based on the EHRC recommendations to avoid such acts from happening again. With good will, this should be possible, but with the remaining actions taken that day, we have to question if the Labour Party actually wants to move on. The rest of this blog article looks at the report and selects some quotes, it concludes, with the statenebt that, “The Labour Party will not fix the problem of anti-semitism or other appalling behaviour whether it be based on a protected characteristic or just straight forward bullying and cheating, until it recognises the corruption of the disciplinary process caused by factionalism. This diversion i.e. the suspension of Corbyn will make the task of making the Party a welcoming place for all who wish to join much harder. I have signed the petition that he should be reinstated, and the CLPD have published a solidarity motion to put to CLPs and Union Branches.”