Stop The Labour Purge

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Stop The Labour Purge (STLP) was set up during the first Corbyn leadership election in 2015 to stop the purging of "left-wing" members and supporters of the Labour Party.

Since then STLP has campaigned for the reinstatement of those expelled or suspended unjustly, including those excluded for belonging to a particular Labour-supporting socialist group or for supporting another left party before they joined Labour. STLP campaigns for a democratic, pluralist Labour Party with proper disciplinary procedures.[1]

Expulsions and suspensions

The vast majority of the many expulsions and suspensions since 2015 have been politically unjustified/unjust and violated natural justice. They have prevented and discouraged new members with valuable skills and talents from getting involved, created a culture of intimidation in parts of the party, and wasted valuable resources on such persecution – all weakening our ability to take on the Tories and campaign to change society.

Therefore the STLP propose:

  • The Chakrabarti report’s recommendations should be implemented.
  • The first part of rule 2.I.4.b, auto-exclusion for any member who “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Party” should be scrapped – as per the rule change already going to conference this year. All Labour-supporters should be welcome in Labour: membership of particular Labour-supporting organisations or previous left-wing activity should be irrelevant.
  • The practice of auto-exclusion should be abolished. Everyone should be regarded as innocent until proven guilty and get a proper procedure including advance notice of charges, the right to evidence submitted against them and the identity of the accuser/s, consultation with their CLP and branch, a full hearing, and the right to an appeal. Membership rights should not be removed until procedures are completed. This should apply retroactively to those denied these rights.
  • Responsibility for these issues should be transferred from the “Governance and Legal Unit” (previously "Compliance Unit") to elected bodies and officials.[2]

Rule 2.I.4.b

There is an increasingly widespread and vocal demand in the movement to abolish part of Labour Party rule Chapter 2 Clause I Section 4 Exclusions b, which has been used to expel numerous left-wing activists from the party. Rule 2.I.4.b states:

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.

STLP's proposed Amendment

The part about candidates is not controversial; it is the first part, in italics, which should be abolished. For an explanation of what is wrong with it and details of a rule change going to the 2018 Labour conference to delete it, see the STLP website.

STLP's proposed Amendment is:

Delete: ‘joins and/ or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Party, or’

Supporting argument

The Labour Party is a broad church, that should be seeking to recruit as widely as possible from amongst its electoral support. Given the necessity of political breadth, it is inevitably that Labour will be an organisation in which there is a constant and healthy discussion and contest of ideas and policies.

Many Party members, at all levels of the Party, currently organise together to advance their particular policies and views. Different political currents amongst Labour MPs, Councillors and other Party members, organise in formal groups and also in informal ways.

The right to organise, within Labour’s rules, should be upheld across the entire Party, from its right-wing through the centre and on to the Party’s left-wing. The principal condition of Party membership should be that of supporting the Labour Party and its candidates in elections. If that condition is fulfilled, then it should be the case that a Party member can support Tribune, Progress, Labour First, Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD), Open Labour, a left-wing newspaper, or Compass etc. A Labour supporter, who abides by Labour’s rules, should not be excluded because they also support, associate with, or organise with one of these many political currents/groups.

During the 2015 and 2016 Labour Party leadership elections, and since, there have been a number of “automatic exclusions” under Chapter 2 Clause I Section 4 b, sometimes just citing the “a political organisation other than an official Labour group” clause without further detail, sometimes specifically claiming that the member supports a left-wing newspaper. Such exclusions are overwhelmingly imposed on Labour Party supporters on the left.

We know there were 618 “auto-exclusions” during the 2016 leadership campaign alone. This level of exclusions is high compared to any previous period of the Party’s history, including under right-wing leaderships. A number of those excluded were active Labour Party members, expressing their left-wing ideas, under Blair and Brown, and yet were not excluded then.

Those “auto-excluded” receive no notice of charges, no hearing, and no right of appeal, but only a letter from the "Compliance Unit" saying that they are out.

The current procedures allow for the exclusion without notice of charges, hearing, or right of appeal of anyone whom the Labour head office authorities do not like, and thus threaten all independent-minded members of the Party.

The purpose of this rule change is to end the exclusion of left-wing Labour Party supporters, so that all Labour supporters that abide by Labour’s rules, are entitled to join the Party.[3]

Advice to Momentum

Momentum members should vote “No” to question 4 of 15 on Momentum’s online consultation on what to submit to Labour’s Democracy Review (“Membership of other organisations”), because it will very likely make it easier to purge far left activists from the Labour Party, not harder. There is no problem of organisations present in the Labour Purge which need to be driven out. The relevant part of Rule 2.I.4.b, which has been used to expel so many socialists, should be scrapped, not amended, let alone strengthened![4]


References