Another stitch in time

Another stitch in time

Duncan Shipley Dalton writes, at the end of an exposition on the impact of the Human Rights Act on the Labour Party’s rules and my proposal to incorporate the ECHR directly into the rule book,

McDonnell is now proposing the left need to have a proper manifesto for Party reform with a clear plan of restructuring and reforming the Party. Would have been nice if that had been done when those like Dave [,that’s me that is,] and CLPD were pointing out these things years ago! Assuming McDonnell means it and is not just trying to divert energy to stop the current boat rocking it is a worthwhile idea. In my view the whole Rule book should be re written. It is a mess. A top to bottom rewrite to democratise the whole thing. Take away the kind of NEC discretion that gets abused , Local Govt selection rules, PPC selections, officers, Regional Officers etc. It means though a movement of ‘real’ democratic power to members. Jeremy and others talked about it but were not very good at giving actual power to members. The current leadership seem to be graduates of the Mussolini/Kim Jong Un school of democracy, so it is hard to see them agreeing to relinquish any real power to members. It is the right thing to do but it is hard to see it happening in the currently circumstances.

@baronvonduncs
 …

Icy determination to control

Icy determination to control

I am struggling through Minkin’s “The Blair Supremacy”, and have come across Eric Shaw’s reviews, which I plan to skim through today, but on the first page, Shaw states,

Minkin locates the origins of Blairite managerial thinking in the formative historical experience of its central protagonists, the internal strife that tore the party apart in the early 1980s. Blair, Brown and their allies were resolved to end what they saw as the party’s ‘dangerous proclivity to public exhibitions of internal conflict’ (p.131). Obsessed by what they saw as the party’s ‘lurch into extremism’ ‘New Labour’ was driven, Minkin cites one minister as saying, by ‘an icy determination that it was not going to happen again’ (p.130). Hence the core New Labour principle of party management: an electable party was one that was tightly managed and regulated.

Eric Shaw – The Blair Supremacy: A study in the politics of Labour’s party management

Looking at the disgraceful shenanigans going on at the top of today’s Labour Party, it’s clear we’ve been here before, although the New Labour project persuaded the Party to turn off it’s democracy; it didn’t impose it. Is this another example of “History repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second as farce”?

You might look at New Labour and Party Management, on my wiki, where I host and comment on Emmanuelle Avril’s paper …

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.

Human Rights

The report talks about the Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the rights of members of the Labour Party; Article 10 is the right to freedom of speech and information. The Report says less i.e. nothing about Article 6 which is the right to a fair trial and includes the presumption of innocence and nothing about Article 11 which is the right to a freedom of association which applies to trade unions and political parties. Parliament’s joint committee on human rights has recently published a report on the role of human rights law, the EHRC and racism; its public summary includes the following,

The Commission needs adequate resources. And its enforcement powers must be strengthened to enable it to undertake investigations where it is suspected that an organisation has breached the Human Rights Act 1998 and provide legal assistance to individuals in Human Rights Act cases.

Joint Committee on Human RIGHTS

I.e. their capability, is weak on human right concerns and thus, the underemphasis on the Labour Party’s human rights commitments is not unexpected. It is wrong that the discovered failures in documentation and process, failures which include the decisions to administratively suspend and to announce these decisions and their remedies are not placed in the context of the right to a fair trial. The leaking is also, obviously, a breach of data protection law and the right to privacy, which is protected by Article 8, the right to a private life and such behaviour was criticised in the Chakrabarti report.

Another aspect of the report is that they argue that complaints should be tested through the lens of the Equalities Act harassment laws rather than as a hate crime, which would, as far as I can tell involve prosecution under other legislation (sections 28-32 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and sections 145 and 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003). Article 19, a campaigning organisation on free speech, produced a policy brief entitled, “Prohibiting incitement to discrimination, hostility & violence” in which they make recommendations on definitions and the desirable laws. Despite being a free speech campaigning body, they recognise that UN declaration and its derived international adoptions require states to prohibit the advocacy of violence, discrimination and hostility. This confusion as to which laws to seek to implement in our rules needs to be resolved as does the point at which the Labour Party forwards complaints to the Police as to fail to do so means that the Labour Party is covering up a crime and failing to meet its safeguarding responsibilities. Of course, one reason for emphasising Equalities law is that determining guilt prioritises the victim, as we can see with the current discussions around Priti Patel and the allegations of bullying in the Home Office, where Johnson has wrongly decided that intent is a factor. In the case of harassment and bullying, if the victim feels, their dignity violated or that they are the victim of intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive acts, then that is so. Human rights law and Article 10, the right to free speech, defends the right to offend.

I have thought for a long time that compliance with the ECHR should become part of Labour’s rules., thus guaranteeing rights to a fair trial together with freedom of speech and the right to be treated with dignity.

Justice for all

The EHRC restricted itself to reviewing Labour’s behaviour with respect to the handling of antisemitism complaints. There is no evidence that the Labour Party’s policies and procedures are any better for other types of complaints, other than complaints about sexual harassment, where the Report states,

… sexual harassment complaints, which includes a clear policy and procedure, guidance to complainants about what sexual harassment is, access to an independent specialist advice service and a dedicated portal[1] for making a complaint.

Investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party

Since neither the EHRC nor it seems the Labour Party monitor such complaints, it is not possible to know if these reforms limited to sexual harassment have had the effect of meeting the Party’s performance goals, which I assume to be, of being a place of safety from sexual harassment. My informal enquiries lead me to conclude that while the policies are in place, the lack of monitoring makes them less effective than hoped.

The Labour Party in an attempt to improve the antisemitism complaints handling process has  changed its rules three times (Conference 2017, 2018 & 2019), the 2017 amendment removed the free speech defence, the 2018 amendment made breach of codes of conduct disciplinary offences and gave the GS powers to delegate their authority to people other than staff, and 2019 introduced ‘fast track’ process where the NEC and not the NCC heard cases related to discrimination without hearings. These developments show that the Labour Party took the problem seriously but focused on end stages i.e. the determinations of the process and in doing so, ignored the investigation and decision to prosecute which the EHRC has excoriated. The Party also in making these changes created a special class of complaint, that of discriminatory behaviour, which is treated differently to bullying, slander, thuggery and breaches of the rules for factional advantage. It is also treated differently to offences against the electoral unity rules where a more summary form of justice is exercised.

The failings identified of not having written policies, standards and sanctions and not measuring the system’s performance against these policies and procedures is basic and all complaints need to be treated under a rigorous, fair and proportionate system conforming to the principles of natural justice meeting the human right’s need for a fair trial.

Day of shame

While it’s a day of shame, much of the shame is just how basic some of the recommendations are and for how long these issues have been inadequately dealt with, despite the two inquires by the Labour Party, the House of Commons Home Affairs sub committee inquiry into antisemitism and three rule changes.

A fair process, offering certainty

In the executive summary on pages 7-10, the EHRC report lists a series of failings which I summarise as a failure to have a policy on complaints handling, investigations, sanctions and administrative suspension, a failure to have a policy on information sharing, breach of good practice[2] on information sharing, no policy on record keeping and significant failures to keep adequate records related to the investigation and determination stages, together with poor records of decisions on sanctions & acquittals. They also identify a failure to adequately advise members of the NEC and NCC with independent legal advice, where such advice was only made available to the NCC in cases with a high reputational risk to the Labour Party. It notes that the complaints and investigations staff were not adequately trained, a failing left over from the Chakrabarti Inquiry.

The purpose of instigating effective processes must be to ensure a fair trial that embeds a presumption of innocence and to allow the Party to prove that this is the case. I repeat that a fair process is required for all complaints, not just those involving antisemitism.

On the question of education and training, the JVL have posted an article, “Saving Education from the EHRC report”, in which they argue that, the aim of education in antisemitism is to reduce it, not to be seen to be taking a tough line to enhance one’s image or to garner votes, and that the Labour Party must develop an approach that is about education and prevention rather than detection and punishment. It is crucial that Labour’s complaints investigation and determination processes are staffed by trained, skilled and knowledgeable people, and education must not become a sanction. The Chakrabarti report identifies, “nervousness that one strand or another in the Party’s thinking should be given a privileged position in relation to describing and disseminating the boundaries of acceptable attitudes and behaviour” and also that complaint handling staff should be appropriately trained. The EHRC report chapter on Training recommends that the Party commission & deliver education and training for all involved in antisemitism complaints handling, that training be undertaken by all those found guilty of antisemitic behaviour, and latterly of all staff, officials and members with positions of responsibility. The EHRC argues in its recommendations that these education and training programmes[3] are developed in conjunction with Jewish stake holders; provided that Chakrabarti’s fears are taken into account, there can be no problem with this. However, if we are to mandate training on antisemitism, we must also do so for all racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, other religious discrimination and disability discrimination.  

Independence

In terms of rebuilding confidence in our complaint handling process, the EHRC recommend in their executive summary on page 13,

In line with its commitment, and as soon as rule changes allow, commission an independent process to handle and determine antisemitism complaints. This should last until trust and confidence in the process is fully restored and should ensure that independent oversight and auditing are permanently embedded in the new process.

Acknowledge, through its leadership, the effect that political interference has had on the handling of antisemitism complaints, and implement clear rules and guidance that prohibit and sanction political interference in the complaints process.

Investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party

They make further recommendations related to policy and procedure which I have covered above and believe to be basic.

The issue of independence recommended by the the EHRC engages Labour’s members human rights under Article 11, the freedom of assembly and association, which says,

Article 11 – Freedom of assembly and association

  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
  2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State.

This right has been reinforced by courts around the world. Human Rights are universal and designed to protect people against the actions of the State. Political Parties are an expression of this right and their abolition or malicious regulation is the second things that dictatorships do on their road to tyranny. Freedom of association can only be defined collectively by the members of that association and the final sanctions of expulsion must be taken by the association i.e. by Labour’s members. Any other organisational relationship means the Party ceases to be a free association as that association’s boundaries are regulated by someone else.

The NCC or something like it must be retained[4] and keep its powers, or have them restored, as the sole decision maker on expulsions. They should receive independent legal advice, independent of the leadership, and the complaints department.

The rights to freedom of association means that the Labour Party can and should define the advice from both the House of Commons Home Affairs committee and the Board of Deputies as external to our association and thus ignore the advice should we choose as further infringements on the membership’s freedom to associate. Human Rights protect people against the State and there is no doubt that House of Commons is an arm of the State. I recognise that the EHRC must consider the law if not Govt. policy as its guiding principles but as a free association we have the right to choose to reject advice not backed by legislation.

To handle and determine antisemitism complaints

Throughout the report they talk of the NCC, yet nothing in the report suggests that EHRC think the NCC itself should be abolished or handed over to an independent body; a fair process embedding the principles of a fair trial and a presumption of innocence can be determined by the NCC. We might want to consider if the ‘fast track’ meets this test[5] since there is no right to a hearing i.e. the defence case is not seen to be put by the accused. But basically, I argue that Party members’ rights to organise and associate mean that final determination of all cases of expulsion must be taken by a Labour Party entity, which under today’s rules means the NCC & NEC. The EHRC report has identified that the NCC only rarely receives independent legal advice. It is axiomatic that the NCC should receive independent legal advice, independent of both the Leadership, the GS & NEC and the presumably new investigatory unit[6]. I note that Article 6 guarantees the accused a choice of representative and that the state should pay for it if the accused cannot afford it; Labour’s current rules do not meet these rights.

We should note that throughout the EHRC report,  that the key criminal failings are identified as ‘political interference’. They are referring to political interference by the Leadership and their determination does not take motive into account. Any new process must insulate itself from the Leadership and the General Secretary and this should have started from day one.

Factionalism

The Labour Party needs a disciplinary process that is complete, fair and conforms to the rules of natural justice covering all complaints including those of discrimination but also bullying, slander, thuggery and breaches of the rules for factional advantage.

The Party’s bureaucracy and membership is riven with factionalism and the leaked, proposed evidence to the EHRC shows there is a case to answer that improper behaviour including the destruction of records has been commonplace.

I believe that the Nolan Principles need to be written into the rules, although this is not enough, those guilty of improper behaviour need to be investigated, and if there is a case to answer, given the chance to defend themselves and if guilty disciplined and sanctioned. It would be better to have a leadership that wanted to do the right thing because it was right, but if we can’t have that they should fear the consequences of improper behaviour; it’s clear they don’t.

Dave Levy

It may be that the Labour Party needs a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate the issues of factionalism and improper behaviour and if there are any guilty sanction them, which would include referring suspected malefactors to the police. The Labour Party is fortunate that as it is not incorporated and thus it cannot be prosecuted for covering up corruption. (This would seem to be a massive loop hole, politicians failing to make a crime of things they might be guilty of themselves.)

Institutional racism

Institutional racism is that which, covertly or overtly, resides in the policies, procedures, operations and culture of public or private institutions – reinforcing individual prejudices and being reinforced by them in turn.

Institute of race relations

Well! Just because the EHRC didn’t say so, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. What they said is that we have no policies and procedures and that what we did was criminal and permitted acts of harassment against Jews.

Getting better

It is clear from the report that things improved when Jenny Formby became GS, but the EHRC looked back to 2011. The EHRC states several times that the failure to act on the Royall & Chakrabarti Inquiries is a failing and evidence of Labour’s complicity in the inadequacy of its processes. Much of the failure needs to be placed at the door of the then incumbent General Secretary, Iain McNicol and the NEC members that allowed him to act with impunity. It should be noted that over 10,000 complaints were lodged over the summer of 2015, leading to over 5,000 investigations, all of them conducted with no policy.

Understanding the Party

The EHRC Report clearly does not understand how the Party works. It’s persistent quoting of leader’s statements as policy or management goals reflects this. Conference has never committed to ‘zero tolerance’ despite the EHRC referencing speeches by Watson, Corbyn and Starmer, and now we will find some quoting back the goal of zero-tolerance as approved by the EHRC; it is not. It is caveated by statements including the word ‘if’ or the “new leadership’s” goals. There are numerous quotes ascribed to the new leader, which they admire but they are not Labour’s policy, we are unclear if they are new policies, and some of his goals will require rule changes which is in the sole power of Conference.

They repeat the misunderstanding that the NCC can only hear ‘fast track’ appeals on procedural grounds. They can hear an appeal on the grounds that the evidence  …

Things improved under Formby

Things improved under Formby

It is clear from reading the EHRC report, Investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party that things improved when Jenny Formby became General Secretary in 2018, but the EHRC’s sample data looked back to 2011. The EHRC report states several times that the failure to act on the Royall & Chakrabarti Inquiries is a failing and evidence of Labour’s complicity in the inadequacy of its processes. Much of the failure needs to be placed at the door of the then incumbent General Secretary, Iain McNicol, Formby’s predecessor, and the NEC members that allowed him to act with impunity. Additionally it should be noted, to give an idea of the scale of McNicol and Harman’s ambitions, that over 10,000 complaints were lodged over the summer of 2015, leading to over 5,000 suspension and nearly 4000 investigations, all of them with no policy to guide the investigators and the NEC members making judgement. To expedite the process the NEC set up a wonderfully named Procedures Committee to supervise this purge/examination of eligibility, it consisted of Harriet Harman MP, Margaret Beckett MP, the then general secretary Iain McNicol, Jon Ashworth MP, Keith Birch (Unison), Paddy Lillis (USDAW), Jim Kennedy (Unite), Diana Holland (Unite) and Ann Black (CLP). It’s interesting how some of the names are still around and even more powerful today; the Guardian story exposes how the committee rejected legal advice on using the canvassing records as reasons for exclusion. Canvassing records should only be used for the purpose for which Labour holds them, electoral campaigning, anything else is a likely breach of the electoral secrecy laws. I was advised that I must not use the canvassing records as a source of information when recommending people to be rejected as members or registered supporters during this period.

timeline rules leaders and general secretaries

The Labour Party in an attempt to improve the antisemitism complaints handling process has  changed its rules three times (Conference 2017, 2018 & 2019), the 2017 amendment removed/weakened the free speech defence, the 2018 amendment made breach of codes of conduct disciplinary offences and gave the General Secretary powers to delegate their authority to people other than staff, and 2019 introduced ‘fast track’ process where the NEC and not the NCC heard cases related to discrimination without hearings. These developments show that the Labour Party took the problem seriously but focused on end stages of the process and in doing so, ignored the investigation stage and decision to prosecute which the EHRC has excoriated. The Party also in making these changes created a special class of complaint, that of discriminatory behaviour, which is treated differently to bullying, slander, thuggery and breaches of the rules for factional advantage.

In the LRB review of Jones’ “This Land” and Pogrund & McGuire’s “Left Out”, the James Butler, says, that

His [Jones’s] account is an improvement on the defensive response that the public’s perception of the problem with antisemitism in Labour was distorted, or that positive changes were made to disciplinary procedures after they were taken out of the hands of anti-Corbyn party staff.

James Butler – LRB

This article is not an attempt to say that Labour solved its disciplinary problems under Formby, it clearly didn’t but she inherited a system far distant from what was needed. Its crap etherealness and its then and current inability to address corruption within the bureaucracy are further reasons why the EHRC recommendations should be pursued.  …

On Corbyn’s whip

On Corbyn’s whip

On Jeremy Corbyn’s whip, which Starmer has withdrawn, somehow, certainly in breach of the standing orders of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Momentum have drafted a letter to Starmer, Angela Rayner and the CLP Reps calling for the whip to be restored which you can send too. I have sent it although I amended the letter to make it clear that I believe it, and the original suspension to be in breach of the party’s rules, in breach of the EHRC recommendations and in breach human rights law, and the whip withdrawl is an act of double jeopardy. I also pointed out that in my experience, some of his supporters are now leaving as they consider the act unfair and unreasonable.

I consider it to be at least one of capricious, perverse, irrational and/or arbitrary.  …

Political Interference

I have now finished reading the EHRC Report into Anti-semitism in the Labour Party, and while doing this, Corbyn has been suspended, reinstated and then had the whip withdrawn, by it seems a small coterie of staff, in the Leader’s Office and General Secretary’s office, specifically the Leader and GS themselves. In looking at my blog article to remind me what I said, and what remains unsaid, I came across this quote, which is a recommendation; some work to do, I think.

Acknowledge, through its leadership, the effect that political interference has had on the handling of antisemitism complaints, and implement clear rules and guidance that prohibit and sanction political interference in the complaints process.

EHRC – Antisemitism in the Labour Party (P13)
 …

How to fix the Labour Party

How to fix the Labour Party

I am considering getting involved in a so-called debate about Lavery, Tricket and Smith’s recent revision of their No Holding Back report, which has been seized with alacrity by the usual suspects, possibly unfairly; it seems more nuanced than its authors and fans suggest but I may not be reading it sufficiently well. I am reminded of the Data Praxis report, Tory Landslide, Progressives Split, which shows how it might have been worse and blames our FPTP electoral system. I precis them by saying,

“Labour lost because, Leavers in Labour seats, switched to the Tories, but more Labour Remainers from 2017 switched; Corbyn (& the manifesto) were now unpopular and thus too many Tory Remainers stayed with the Tories.

Dave Levy

We should also note that Lavery, Tricket and Smith do not mention Scotland; it’s not their expertise but there’s no answer without the Scots.

While looking at what to say, and for help in understanding the problem, I was concerned to be truthful at the state of the red wall parties’ health, but it seems hard to get the local contact rates, which will all be poor nor to get the member/voter ratio. I looked at Labour Together’s report, again to see if they said anything useful about local Party organisation/structure and campaigning. This is difficult to be honest about because of the back office chicanery in Labour HQ on 2017 & 2019 and the myths and maybe truths about how Momentum’s volunteer organisation saved us in 2017 get in the way. They i.e. Labour Together don’t say anything useful or concrete about CLP organisation. We should also note that the Democracy Review did nothing to improve local campaigning effectiveness either. Perhaps we should be listening to Crispin Flintoff on his campaign to fund CLPs properly.

About the Labour Together report, I found this, at Immigration News, which pulls no punches. I say, using their words,

[the] New Labour Together Report investigates Labour’s 2019 Election Defeat with crushing honesty – but glosses over senior saboteurs behind the Labour Leaks dossier. A 150-page report published this week by research group Labour Together serves up some stone-cold truths and analysis in what may have led to Labour’s downfall in the 2019 General Election. “

Olivia Bridge – Immigration news JUne 2020

I have written about “What happened?”, and created a reading list tagged “ge2019” on my diigo feed, and to remind me and others of what wise people said, I also reproduce the Electoral Calculus chart on where votes came and went.

I have made a sankey chart from this, it would seem that this chart is for England & Wales only, but for other source notes, you’ll need to check out the original article.

The Labour Together report is strong on the need to get the strategy right; I think we may need to end the factionalism first and recognise the members must have the first and last word but we also need to resolve the fault lines in our coalition, because much of the pro-Brexit positions came from Labour politicians on the right of the party whose heritage is the “Control Immigration” mug and future road is that of Blue Labour, “work, family, community”. Adopting this sort of rubbish and its racist sub-text will jeopardise Labour’s city heartlands, apart from just being wrong. …

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 report makes clear that the Labour Party’s responsibility/duty to not be antisemitic is broad and certainly covers all persons who could be deemed to speak on its behalf, thus including MPs, NEC members, councillors and other role holders. It also makes clear that the European Convention’s free speech protections (A10) applies to all members. The report states that,

Article 10 will protect Labour Party members who, for example, make legitimate criticisms of the Israeli government, or express their opinions on internal Party matters, such as the scale of antisemitism within the Party, based on their own experience and within the law. It does not protect criticism of Israel that is antisemitic.

EHRC – Antisemitism in the Labour Party (P27)

The Commission  was critical of a lack of policy regulating the complaints handling and investigation processes and record keeping in the conduct of investigations into anti-semitism and that there was illegal political interference. These failings taken together are the key facts that have damaged confidence in the complaints process and contributed to their finding that the Labour Party had broken the law.

On record keeping and policy they say it is required to,

Publish a comprehensive policy and procedure, setting out how antisemitism complaints will be handled and how decisions on them will be made. This should include published criteria on what conduct will be subject to investigation and suspension, and what will be considered an appropriate sanction for different types of proven antisemitic conduct.

EHRC – Antisemitism in the Labour Party (P13)

On political interferance, they say,

We found that this political interference was not part of the Labour Party’s formal complaints process, so it was not a legitimate approach to determining complaints. We concluded that this was indirectly discriminatory and unlawful, and that the Labour Party was legally responsible for it.

EHRC – Antisemitism in the Labour Party (P9)

Their proposed remedy is to,

Acknowledge, through its leadership, the effect that political interference has had on the handling of antisemitism complaints, and implement clear rules and guidance that prohibit and sanction political interference in the complaints process.

EHRC – Antisemitism in the Labour Party (P13)

However, the latter recommendation seems to be honoured in the breach; the morning of the report Jeremy Corbyn posted his response on Facebook, where among other things welcoming the report, he said,

One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media. That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated.

Jeremey Corbyn, on facebook

This preceded the publication of Keir Starmer’s response, reported here in the Guardian, which included the following

“But I’ve said a moment ago, and I’ll say it again: those who deny there is a problem are part of the problem. Those who pretend it is exaggerated or factional are part of the problem.”

Keir Starmer

Hours later Corbyn is administratively suspended; it is unclear how since the decision to administratively suspend belongs to the NEC not the Leader, nor the GS, although some claim it is a delegated power and has been so delegated, while others argue they can’t delegate this power to the GS.

Chakrabarti’s Report, which is quoted approvingly several times by the EHRC, was clear on the subject of administrative suspension,

Once you understand these basic natural justice principles, you realise that administrative suspension from the Labour Party need not be employed every (or nearly every) time a complaint (however credible) is made against a member.

The Chakrabarti Inquiry (P18)

And Corbyn’s comments are protected, his offence would seem, from the outside, to be embarrassing the Leader.

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.

The EHRC report, whose recommendations I support is an opportunity, it must not be missed and compliance is a legal duty, but then so much of our rules is a legal duty anyway and they haven’t helped.  …

A new Labour Left

A new Labour Left

I have been ill over the summer; I wish I had written this earlier as the wheel tracks of the political debate in the Labour Party are probably too deep for these thoughts to take hold, or maybe not, some of the articles bookmarked here suggest some deeper thinking is going on. This blog article examines the inter left dialogue and what might be done to promote a greater left unity. It notes the number of people who voted for Starmer and Corbyn, it’s a lot, and suggests that these people are key to the future platform pursued by the Labour Party. We need a majority that will build a fair and principled discipline system and a democratic policy development process that allows out membership to lead the party.

Inside the Labour Party, Corbyn’s coalition is broken and is not going to be put back together. The political strategy, vision for Labour and culture of that part of the old left majority now coalescing around #starmerout, and articulating, still, that Starmer lost the election due to his part in pushing the Remainer position, their pandering on the issue of immigration and their disgusting organisational practices creates a pretty insurmountable barrier. It’s a rose-tinted view of the last four years which is neutralised by the facts and arguments in this article, Starmerscepticism: An Unsentimental Approach.

Keir Starmer, like Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader because the membership thought he was the most left wing candidate that could win. Looking at the results of the Leadership election, we can see that the Left lost over 175,000 votes since 2016. This means that 10,000s of people voted for Corbyn in 2015/6 and for Starmer in 2020. Another metric showing the Left’s loss of grip is that only five MP’s lost their reselection battles, and some won them handsomely. Corbyn’s internal voters were no longer following Momentum nor its sectarian and careerist passengers nor the Unite leadership.

A new left majority is not going to be reconstructed without talking and listening to those who voted for Starmer. Many of them will have done so because of his 10 pledges, which promises a significant policy continuity with the Corbyn leadership.

Telling people they’re idiots or just even wrong is not a good start point for convincing them but then there are those who are not interested in building a new majority; it’s the being right that counts for them.

Dave Levy i.e. me

Building a new majority with power has been made harder by the decision to use STV as the electoral system for the CLP division of the NEC. The sectarian nature of this decision is shown by the fact that it is the only division to which this is applied; most egregiously it has not been applied to the Councillor division. It has been done to weaken the power of the Momentum led left, in the hope that Progress/Labour First will benefit from this manoeuvre; they are running a slate under the banner of “Labour to Win” which includes a couple of re-treads who have a poor record in defending member’s rights, unless in the case of Johanna Baxter, that member is Iain McNicol.

What do we do next? Support and/or motivate the CLPD in returning to its primary cause, campaigning for Party democracy and support the Grassroots Voice 6, which is the only broad slate. After the election, we’ll see just how powerful the groups are and how attractive an independent appeal can be made, particularly by Crispin Flintoff.

 While I find much to be attracted to in the Open Labour platform, their political practice, by their divorcing of accountability to the platform by choosing their candidates by all member’s ballots, reinforced by those they chose or confirming support for powerful incumbents in the case of Alice Perry makes building coalitions through supporting their slate difficult. Ann Black & Alice Perry should be unacceptable to those on the left and those who want a Party built on respect for the membership. Ann Black, in particular, has a long track record of voting to exclude and discipline members of the most trivial of reasons and her period as Chair of the Disputes Committee culminated in the 2015/2016 purges. Black also voted for all of McNicol’s gerrymandering proposals for the 2016 Leadership election including the exclusion of 125,000 members. She was joined in both these activities by Johanna Baxter. (I am unclear of Perry’s voting record on these issues but she has voted to sanction or refer to the NCC over 1000 members.)

GV6-slate

I shall thus vote for the Grass Roots Voice slate of six candidates, which remains an alliance and is supported by a broad range of Left caucuses, including Momentum, CLPD, Grass Roots Black Left , Don’t Leave Organise, Jewish Voice for Labour, LRC and Red Labour.

I shall be looking for ways to talk to members of Open Labour who support the 2019 manifesto, want to stand up for human rights and want a disciplinary system complaint with the principles of natural justice applied to all members irrespective of their faction and/or alleged offence. We can only build a united party if we turn our backs on political victimisation, and the tactics of bullying, slander and corruption and implement a member led party where all members are valued and their rights respected.

ooOOOoo

It’s important to express your preference as accurately and completely as possible, i.e to state as many preferences as possible, although your vote will count for very little after a couple of transfers. The last person to be elected, the 9th, is interesting, but if you have voted for a complete six candidate slate (that is winning seats), it is highly likely that two of those slates will be contending for the 9th seat and so your vote will not transfer to another slate/candidate. Despite this, I will pick up Crispin Flintoff, who organises “Stand Up for Labour” and is campaigning for fairer CLP funding and Mark Macdonald who is a lawyer and wrote the opinion/advice that Corbyn had to be on the 2016 leadership ballot paper.

I do not have votes in the Disabled or Youth divisions.

This has taken too long to write and post; arguments about the nature of the post-Corbyn left as been reignited by Newsnight last night where among other things, Dianne Abbott points out the remarkable silence of Starmer on Brexit since he was elected. Much of the conversation about this is not healthy for the Labour Party but those who voted for Starmer need to begin to ask if he is as committed to the 10 Pledges as they want. …