Summer 2016 saw the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn to the position of leader of the Labour Party.
It also saw many lose their democratic right to vote for various reasons and by various methods. Some because emails were not received, some told they couldn`t be found on the electoral role (when an easy search established they were) and other examples where the administration fell short. Thousands were `purged` by use of immediate admin suspensions that is a facility that should only be used for exceptional circumstances – and most of these have now been unsuspended but lost their vote. Then we have the extraordinary 6 month freeze date; and also the increase from £3 to £25 fee to vote and only 2 days to use that option.
In the warm after-glow of Jeremy Corbyn’s win (with an increased mandate) there seems to be a rash of letters lifting suspensions but with the proviso that a warning stays on file.
A warning issued without an investigation ever taking place. This must be like appearing in court and being found guilty without the police ever conducting an investigation. No one would ever accept that and an appeal would obviously follow.
But it appears that people simply don’t want to talk about this. Some appear to be blissfully unaware of the dirty tricks employed to disenfranchise thousands of members. Is this because it doesn’t affect them directly or because the Labour Party has not been open about it, keeping things behind closed doors and trying to find a rug big enough to sweep this under?
Our party was founded on the principles of standing up for those that can’t do so themselves, giving a voice to those that are too fearful to speak for themselves.
Where have those values gone? I recently tabled a motion at my CLP calling for suspensions to be lifted and a proper process of investigation put in place. As I looked around the room I saw many blank faces, faces that suggested that they didn’t have a clue what had been going on.
Some struggled to find a defence for the actions of the NEC or to come up with facts to counter those presented to them. The motion was passed with only one vote against. The conversations in the pub afterwards also pointed to a lack of knowledge of the situation and a true desire to find out more and ask questions of those responsible.
People seem scared within their own party. Scared (or simply not aware) to support fellow members in what has been a massively difficult time for those “purged”. A lot of people have felt very alone, filled with self doubt and unsure who to turn to for support as they were banned from attending their own CLPs and some report that they were even removed from Facebook groups and forums. Mud sticks. Right? No smoke without fire? This has come about through lack of knowledge, poor communication and a desire by some to ignore it because “it’ll all sort itself out”. Well it won’t sort itself out on its own and it won’t go away either.
Why haven’t the NEC issued a statement? Why are they trying to keep us in the dark? Do they not realise that this is causing great division and mistrust within the party? Why does there appear to be no due process and an obvious lack of natural justice? Even the Torys have a default position of natural justice in their disciplinary process.
Members seem to be fearful of showing support for the suspended/expelled in case their membership is at risk. Some appear to be in complete denial that their beloved party would ever do such a thing to its membership.
This is a membership that will turn out in all weather to campaign.
The same membership that will canvas for and promote parliamentary candidates, exactly the same as the purged members have done in the past. We need to talk about the elephant in the room (or the large lump under the carpet).
We need to stand shoulder to shoulder with our fellow members and tell the NEC that things need to change quickly Obviously anyone who is found to have breached rules must have some level of sanction against them There is a strong desire for unity within the party but I fear that we will never achieve this until the truth comes out in a public way. How can we expect to govern the country when our party appears to be so underhanded with its membership? I’m sure more will be suspended but that will only make our voice stronger.
If you hurt one of us you hurt us all.