But the way the Labour Party has organised the thousands of suspensions that were handed down in the run-up to the leader election on September 24 is a disgrace that wronged far too many people and shamed the party as a whole.
Here’s a fairly typical reaction:
Lab members suspended, have no appeal hearing, suspension lifted but then issued with indefinite warning. Basic fairness has been abandoned
— Pamela Fitzpatrick (@CllrFitzpatrick) November 4, 2016
Restitution is required – for several reasons.
Firstly, the mass lifting of these suspensions indicates that they were only imposed to prevent people from voting in the election, in an attempt by the party’s main organising committee to influence the result.
Secondly, in support of the first reason, the grounds on which many of these suspensions were made had no substance to them.
Finally, although the suspensions have been lifted, they are to lie on each affected member’s file, and may be used against them in the future. This is unacceptable. It suggests guilt where none has been proved.
This Blog urges Labour Party members, whose membership had been suspended but who have had their suspension lifted under these unacceptable conditions, to unite and challenge this unjust, prejudicial and discriminatory treatment.
Constituency Labour Parties should be preparing motions to the NEC, demanding the reversal of the actions details in the letters and a full apology for members who have been assumed guilty even though no evidence has been tested in any disciplinary hearing.
Here’s a copy of one letter, used as an example by the Skwawkbox blog:
The blog states:
Note that there is no trace of apology in the letter and that a ‘formal NEC warning’ is issued – in this instance, nonsensically. The tweet in question put a caption on an image of a senior Tory MP, showing the MP in question calling a homeless person ‘scum’ who is homeless because they deserve it – in other words, it was attacking Tory attitudes, had no bearing on any Labour member and was certainly not in any way ‘detrimental to the Party’.
If it had, in fact, been the person receiving the letter who had called a homeless person ‘scum’, they would have no place in the Labour party. But they didn’t. To issue a formal warning in those circumstances is both ridiculous and confirms that no proper investigation was undertaken.
Those suspended – even for the most flimsy of reasons – have a sword hanging over them. The letter will remain on file – no time limit is given – and any future infringement (for example pointing out the arrogance of Tories to the homeless) could, as the preceding page makes clear, result in the end of ‘continued membership of the Party’.
The fact that these letters are being sent out in huge batches – and the fact that the real, obvious point of some of the supposedly-offensive messages has so obviously been missed – shows that no proper investigation took place. The fact that so many suspensions could be imposed and then just be lifted at the same time, suggests forcefully that the reasons for them were never the point and are now being lifted because they’ve served their real purpose.
And with a threat hanging over members who are overwhelmingly pro-Corbyn, just for good measure.
This behaviour on the part of a section of the party bureaucracy reflects extremely poorly on the party. It’s their behaviour that brings the party into disrepute – and which needs sanction.
Apparently the letters will continue to be issued until November 17. Anybody who has been suspended but has not heard anything within several days of that date will need to take action to find out what is happening with their case.
While Iain McNicol’s name is on each letter, some have argued that he is only carrying out the will of the NEC as general secretary. He cannot be absolved of all responsibility, however, as he has a responsibility to ensure that everything Labour does is legal and the suspensions weren’t – a recent court case showed that combining publicly-known information (such as that from Twitter or other social media) with confidential information held by the Labour Party (such as membership details) breaches the Data Protection Act.
This Blog therefore recommends pursuit of both Mr McNicol for carrying out the NEC’s orders without checking their legality, and those members of the NEC who voted in favour of this heavy-handed election-rigging in the first place.
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