Why is Labour STILL trying to sideline anger against Iain McNicol over the ‘purge’?

[Image: Oli Scarff/Getty Images].

[Image: Oli Scarff/Getty Images].

Labour Party headquarters is storing up serious problems if it continues trying to protect general secretary Iain McNicol.

This Writer faced vocal opposition at the all-member meeting of Brecon and Radnorshire Constituency Labour Party on Saturday, just for mentioning his name.

I had tried to put forward a motion of ‘no confidence’ in Mr McNicol with regard to the purge of party members prior to the leadership election. The motion had been proposed by members of my Labour branch.

It pointed out that, as general secretary, Mr McNicol has legal responsibility for the Labour Party and must ensure that everything done by the party is legal – and he has not done so.

At the meeting, I pointed out that Mr McNicol had failed in his legal responsibility because the party has broken the Data Protection Act by using people’s social media messages without consent.

NEC member Ann Black, who was present, demanded to know what part of the DPA demanded this, and I was able to inform her it was Schedule 2.

Our secretary, who will go unnamed here, had previously emailed me to say he had sought guidance from Welsh Labour which stated that motions of ‘no confidence in staffing should not be discussed by CLPs.

The communication, published in the secretary’s report, read: “Staff are employed by the NEC and have the protection of a contract as any member of staff working for an organisation would. Staff don’t get the right to defend themselves and act to carry out the decisions of the NEC or through powers delegated to them by the NEC. I can of course understand that members would want to debate the validation process during the leadership election but would suggest that the debate could be had without reference to an individual member of staff. If people are unhappy with the process for dealing with complaints etc then this should be directed to the NEC as an organisational matter and not attack a member of staff, even if that person is the General Secretary.”

Any member reading that would have understood it to refer to Mr McNicol but when I spoke to point out that he had failed in his duty to ensure legal and constitutional propriety (which is a condition of his employment), and that he seemed perfectly capable of defending other employees in his speech at the party conference last month (so he was also capable of defending himself) the secretary tried to shout me down, repeating the claim that we should not be discussing a named staff member even though his own report clearly identified Mr McNicol.

Of course, CLP secretaries don’t have any power to stifle debate. While ours could advise us not to discuss Mr McNicol as he is a paid member of staff, he cannot overrule us if we wish to do so.

Mr McNicol has very clearly failed in his duties and is in breach of his contract. Is the Labour Party supposed to let that pass?

This gentleman is employed by the party – not by the NEC – and as such, members are entitled to demand action over his behaviour during the summer; behaviour such as the treatment of this party member:

And of course there’s the fact that Glynis Millward is taking Mr McNicol to court over her own suspension, and he is claiming to be acting on behalf of all party members in defending against her action. You can register your desire for him not to represent you on this site.

General secretary Iain McNicol still refuses to reveal how many people were unfairly robbed of their right to vote, on top of the 130,000-odd members disenfranchised just for joining after the retroactive January freeze date.

In August, the party admitted that 1 per cent of the eligible membership had already been purged and that this number was likely to rise, but some estimates put the final count at 5 or even 10 per cent — democratic decimation.

Shadow minister for diverse communities Dawn Butler told McNicol two weeks ago she was “increasingly concerned over reports that black and minority ethnic members of the Labour Party are being purged for dubious reasons,” demanding a breakdown of the numbers.

So far, she’s had no response — and neither has new national executive member Claudia Webbe, who has called for a “detailed inquiry into the Labour Party’s handling of suspensions, expulsions, special measures, etc and the perception that the rules applied are not consistent, fair, proportional or reasonable.”

Webbe warns McNicol of the “growing resentment of what some regard as mistreatment and abuse,” adding that long-standing members “feel particularly hurt, isolated and confused by the exclusion” and “fear the party has turned its back on them.”

This is certainly true from what I’ve seen online. Facebook groups are full of furious purgees wondering what to do, frustrated by the stonewalling they’ve received from the party bureaucracy and lack of public support from the leadership.

Bravely taking the initiative is Glynis Millward, a civil servant who was suspended in September for alleged “involvement in activity in breach of Labour’s rules regarding recruitment.”

Millward denies any such thing and in the absence of credible evidence is suing McNicol in Nottingham County Court for lost membership fees and “tangible recognition of the distress caused at being unable to vote in the leadership election.”

The distress in question goes far beyond disenfranchisement, though. In her official report, Shami Chakrabarti describes the “inevitable shame and opprobrium” that comes with suspension — and purged members are further punished by being firmly locked out of local party democracy for the foreseeable future.

Labour Against the Witch Hunts, which was set up over the summer by a wide spectrum of anti-purge party activists and has now morphed into the Campaign for Natural Justice, points out that Chakrabarti calls for a “moratorium on the retrospective trawling of members’ social media accounts and past comments” — the method by which most evidence was gathered.

The purge was dreamed up as a desperate dirty trick to steal the leadership election but the consequences of culling up to 10 per cent of the party — the most militant 10th in all likelihood — will be felt for a long time.

Local Labour parties will be left to deal with the fallout — the national executive is said to be sending out lists later today.

Claudia Webbe’s letter is worth reading. Here it is:

161017-claudia-webb-letter-1

161017-claudia-webb-letter-2

As the Morning Star article states, it seems CLPs are being asked to hold “hearings” in which officers will demand that members/applicants defend themselves against the allegations made by Mr McNicol’s sinister ‘compliance unit’.

A group of Labour supporters has organised a ‘McKenzie Friend’ system to provide people who are well versed in understanding the system, and who will be able to accompany suspended/excluded/expelled members to any investigation and ensure their case is fairly handled. The scheme requires donations to cover transport costs. You can read more about it, and take the opportunity to donate, at this website.

Source: Morning Star :: Corbyn smear machine grinds back into action | The Peoples Daily

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20 thoughts on “Why is Labour STILL trying to sideline anger against Iain McNicol over the ‘purge’?

  1. Lin Wren

    This has to be dealt with asap. Not doing so will have an adverse effect on Labours future. He took their money them barred them illegally. Get your priorities right FGS!

  2. Steve

    Mike,

    The answer to your question, in my opinion, is a simple one. The Labour malcontents are not yet finished in their plotting and planning to remove Jeremy in any way they can.

    The sooner the wider party gets to grips with this behaviour the better.

  3. aunty1960

    I AM ALL FOR YOU TAKING ON THE LABOUR PARTY, NEC, PLP CLPs AND THE REST

    I HAVE BEN RIPPED OFF AND RUN OVER AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN

    and this is on top of them thieving my own two pensions – Post Office and NHS and my fathers os GMB then saying working class were not what they wanted and we needed to go elsewhere and form another party for us.

    At The World Transformed at the English Problem seminar it was decided by our worthies that the white working class were nothing, of no account nobody and can be ignored as they/we are insignificant, This by a leading historian socialist, feminist writer of the I left North East and went to University kind.

    So it was again decided by Momentum and Labour that white working class were not what they wanted.

    FINE. STOP ASKING US FOR THE NUMBERS AND MONEY THEN!

    I would like a mass protest of all those who lost or have membership or vote removed to be en mass outside Labour HQ in London.

    I would also like all to cut Labour off by the jugular and get unions and members to cut their subs and contributions in action and protests.

    WE ARE NOTHING!

    THEY ARE ABOUT POWER. NOT US,

    Corbyn is just helping them with this has his popularity is sweeping the board in increased numbers and money, which they then promptly spend on removing our voice, vote and rights

    I am not going to fight for the right to be a member of Labour Party or beg, they are not worth it, and as working class one thing we hate being asked to do, is go cap-in-hand, with eyes down on floor shuffling our feet, uttering apologies to a board of highups who dont give a shit but hold everything and our lives, homes, families, children, jobs and wellbeing in their hands.

    They can go f**k themselves. I wont bow.

    FIGHT THEM FOR OUR RIGHTS

    IT IS NOT JUST MCNICOL – HE IS JUST A TOOL. ITS THE WHOLE RAGBAG B*****D LOT OF THEM.

    We are nothing to them, it is just about power, numbers and money.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      If you want your comments to appear on This Blog in future, moderate your language. I’ve edited out your swearing this time – next time I’ll edit out YOU.
      It’s a house rule.

  4. Jeanette Fletcher

    If Iain McNicol thinks he can push his dirty work onto CLPs to clear up, he has another think coming. Any lists of purged members should be returned with a recommendation that the members named should be immediately reinstated. I will be pushing for our CLP to do this. We have already written to the NEC asking for a full and independent inquiry into the purges and for procedures to be put in place to stop it happening again.

  5. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl)

    Why did Iain McNicol wait until just before the vote for the re-election of the Leader to suspend members when he could have done so weeks earlier if he so had wished?

    How many of those suspended, including myself, had voted for Jeremy Corbyn, and how many had voted against? I suspect that there were none who had voted against. The whole matter leaves the Labour Party in disarray and has damaged its image badly and is playing into the hands of the Conservatives. The only reason I remain a subscribing member of the Party is due to my loyalty to Jeremy Corbyn and the fact that we need as many people on board in case a GE is called at short notice.

    Without Jeremy Corbyn I would not consider it worth-while remaining a member as the nasty comments being made by those who oppose him lead me to consider them more Right Wing than genuine Labour.

  6. casalealex

    Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. Reinhold Niebuhr

    There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. Elie Wiesel

  7. Ann Black

    Paul says 10% of the membership were “culled” That would be more than 50, 000. In fact fewer than 2,000 were excluded. But don’t let facts get in the way of an argument…

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Where does it mention ‘Paul’ or mention 50,000 people being ‘culled’ in this article?
      I thought Labour released information saying more than 3,000 were excluded but the problem is that many people don’t believe that figure.
      Remember that 130,000 were excluded by the NEC.

      1. Ann Black

        Sorry Mike not Paul. You said 5% or even 10% If many people won’t believe party figures, little point in telling you what they are.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        No indeed. Far better to CLEAN UP THE PARTY so its figures can be trusted.
        Labour’s NEC created this fiasco and ruined its reputation in the process.
        Let’s see some positive action to restore the faith of the members.

      3. Zippi

        “some estimates put the final count at 5 or even 10 per cent…” We don’t know what the truth is. Mike is right; the Party needs to restore our confidence in it. After all, the Party is supposed to be the members.

  8. mohandeer

    Is Iain McNicol in paid employment as NEC General Secretary and if so, who pays his salary? Do the Labour Party have funding beyond the members subscriptions and donations that preclude any membership monies paying Mr. McNicol’s salary, because if they don’t. then every member who pays a subscription, has a right to demand an answer from him where he has failed to conduct himself in accordance with his employment contract or dereliction of duty from funds they provided. He gets paid and screws Labour members over, while Labour members pay to get screwed over. That hardly seems appropriate.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Yes he is; the Labour Party pays him.
      I would agree that, as his employers, we have a right to answers – and if the NEC won’t ask the questions, they we must order its members to do so.

  9. mohandeer

    What’s with the “guilty until you can prove your innocence” aspect of this purge? If someone has paid money into a fund for certain rights and then is denied those rights but is given no proof of any wrong doing, then the fund holders are guilty of defrauding the fund donor. If the Labour Party had defrauded me I would write to Jermey Corbyn and accuse him of fraud and request that all monies donated by me were returned forthwith, unless he could prove that I had broken some rule and could legitimately hold on to my funds. If no proof or evidence was produced I would request the CPS prosecute the fraud. Why would I bother addressing Iain McNicol if it is the Labour Party, as a governing institution, that has broken the law?
    Ann Black needs to get her calculator out and do her sums on how many people, who joined after January and denied a vote in the leadership because they were purged, would be entitled to all the monies they paid in and that is to include all those who pay into the political fund as Union members, also denied a vote. Perhaps she knows a rich donor who would foot the bill?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Mr McNicol’s name appeared on all the letters. Personally, I think it would have been better if it had been made clear that he was acting on behalf of the National Executive Committee, which was chaired by Paddy Lillis at the time.
      From what you are saying, it would have been more appropriate for you to address your complaint to Mr Lillis, rather than Mr Corbyn – who did not approve of the purge.

  10. Tim

    Reading the comments on this blog it seems to me that many people seem to believe that Labour failed to get elected in 2015 and 2010 because it wasn’t left wing enough. Many seem to be convinced that Labour led by an ineffectual lefty surrounded by a group of undistinguished similar non-entities with a much more left wing agenda, plus many more left wing activists going out and knocking on doors, is all that is required to get a Labour government.

    In reality the opposite is true.

    Although Labour failed in the last two general elections replacing the policies of Brown and Miliband with something EVEN LESS PALATABLE to the general public under Corbyn will absolutely and certainly not help matters or improve Labour’s chances. I really hate to point this out but it really is 100% factual and people need to wake up to the status quo and prepare themselves for the worst.

    Jeremy Corbyn will NEVER EVER be elected Prime Minister and although we keep hearing about swelling Labour membership rolls Corbyn’s worshippers are actually few and far between in terms of the population. Let’s be very generous and imagine Corbyn has 500,000 adoring Labour party members and affiliates: in a country of 64 million this group of people represent an almost negligible 0.08% of said population rounding up. Labour simply cannot win based on its membership and the general population absolutely are not persuaded to support the party in anywhere near large enough numbers to get Labour back into power.

    As sure as eggs are eggs Labour IS destined to lose badly under Corbyn.

    Like patently untalented people on talent shows, self-convinced that wanting to be successful is all it takes to become a star and that the ability to do so is a secondary possibly even unnecessary requirement, Corbynistas press onward toward 2020 under the delusion that by working very hard and passionately on the stump they will be succeed in persuading the dilatory and the dithering to support Labour and carry the party to victory by means of the grass roots.

    What a tragic fantasy.

    Wagner had a better chance of winning the X Factor than this occurring.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Which policies are less palatable to the general public?
      Re-nationalising the railways? According to the polls you love so much, 60 per cent of the public want them re-nationalised, while only 21 per cent want them left in private hands.
      Returning the NHS into full public control? 74 per cent of the public support that, with only 18 per cent supporting private involvement.
      Re-nationalising the utility companies? 58 per cent of the public support that, with 17 per cent opposed.
      Increasing the minimum wage to £10/hour? 61 per cent support; 19 per cent oppose.
      There is a lot of public support for these policies you say the public don’t find palatable.
      As for Mr Corbyn’s support among the population – you make the common mistake of assuming only people who have joined the Labour Party support him. On what is this based? It is based on nothing more than your imagination. Nobody is saying Labour can win an election if only its members vote for the party. If only the Conservatives voted for them, they would consistently come at the bottom of every poll!
      Have I provided enough information to change your mind yet? Will you at least stop bombarding this blog with drivel?

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