A disturbing new approach from the Disputes Dept has come to light. We had such high hopes that the promised overhaul of the compliance unit would result in a default position of respect for due process and natural justice.
Instead, we are seeing a lack of due care from the LP establishment giving consideration to the implications of any course they decide and a continued lack of consideration for the effect it has on the individuals. We continue to have a situation where the implication is guilty and actions taken and questions asked by the party are rooted in that mindset. It is this that must stop. The party `s approach to any complaints should be an investigation carried out from a neutral standpoint, and not dictated by assumption of guilt.
The Disputes dept have started sending out what amounts to Warning letters to members without any right to respond. In effect the party are using the social media code of conduct as if it were a set of rules. It is not. It has never been discussed or agreed at conference and there is much about it that causes problems.
Reading through the Social Media Code of Conduct it sounds on the face of it reasonable – BUT I would say that 70% of posts/comments made on social media could be said to break this code – context and intention MUST be considered, and a person must have the right to respond. If not then it is open to being used with any complaint. The thing is, it isn`t just brought to someone`s attention – it results in a warning letter.
The irony here is mind numbing – the party itself is not respecting its own rules.
Our legal position as set out by Duncan Shipley Dalton is:
The power to issue warning letters is in Chapter 6.Clause I. 1.(C):
“Where in the opinion of the NEC there are circumstances which might warrant the use of its powers under sub-clauses A above and B above, the NEC may issue written warnings to any individual member of the Party drawing attention to the conduct which in the opinion of the NEC is either incompatible with continued membership of the Party or may be in, or may lead to, a breach of the constitution, rules or standing orders of the Party.”
The powers in A and B relate to:
“any alleged breach of the constitution, rules or standing orders of the Party by an individual member or members of the Party,”
So under the rules in Chapter 6 for the NEC to have the authority to issue a warning letter there must be an alleged breach of the constitution, rules or standing orders of the Party.
The Social media guidelines are not part of the constitution, they are not rules, nor standing orders. They have the legal status merely of guidance notes issued under the NEC authority to issue “guidance” in Chapter 1, Clause VIII. 3.(M).
They are nothing more than non binding guidance. The only way in which they impact on disciplinary decisions is that under 2.I.8 when prejudice or disrepute is being considered the NEC and NCC must take the guidelines into account.
So it is not legally possible to have breached the rules by virtue of breaching the social media code of conduct and the letters being sent have zero legal authority in my opinion.
I would challenge anybody to direct me to a specific rule that gives the NEC authority to issue binding contractual rules in relation to the disciplinary process because I have read the rules backwards and forwards multiple times and never found one…
It is time for the party to start listening to, consulting people who have experience of how the misapplication of rules, and how the lack of respect has affected and continues to affect, members wellbeing both physically and mentally. We offered this last year and were dismissed because we are not affiliated. That struck as then as a mere convenience, as members we do not need to be affiliated to be worthy of being listened to. That offer remains open.
Are you listening HQ?