By Martin Thomas
Keir Starmer, David Evans, and the Labour leadership seem set on what has become since 2015 a “traditional” Labour Party way of dealing with dissent: suspend people on vague or spurious charges, tell them that public complaint is a disciplinary offence, and sit on the case indefinitely, without due process.
An analysis by John Stewart in early February counted 91 CLPs as having passed motions which might have flouted the bans issued by General Secretary David Evans against discussion of Jeremy Corbyn’s and other suspensions. Of those 91, 29 had officers suspended, a total of 56 individuals. That may not be all. And there are probably hundreds of members suspended over the earlier months of 2020. We are told that the National Constitutional Committee is now processing cases faster, but there is no word of any of the recent suspensions getting an NCC date.
On 4 February the Skwawkbox blog reported that 50 of those suspended have been reinstated (though with a warning, or “reminder of conduct”, finding them guilty of “not following the guidance of the General Secretary”). We know that Alan Gibbons, secretary of Walton CLP, has had a reinstatement letter, and a Zoom meeting on 7 February was told that one other person had had one, but we don’t know for sure of a third letter, let alone of 50.
Skwawkbox claimed that the reinstatements were due to Labour Party HQ fearing that it would lose legal cases over the suspensions. That is plausible, but for the present, as far as we can tell, Labour is still sitting on the suspensions.
On 11 February, eleven members of Labour’s National Executive (NEC) wrote to Evans by 284 CLP officers from 194 CLPs, complaining about the suspensions. The five left CLP reps on the NEC were joined by four union reps and the Youth and Disabled Members’ reps, but by no-one from the “centre” of the NEC.
On 15 February, the Campaign for Labour Party Democrac (CLPD) called on Labour members to email Keir Starmer and NEC members about the withdrawal of the whip from Jeremy Corbyn, another issue apparently put into indefinite storage.
The news that the Forde Inquiry report into the 860-page Labour Party internal report on misdeeds in Labour HQ has been indefinitely delayed (on grounds of the Information Commissioner’s Office doing an inquiry into the leaking, not the substance, of the report) is strictly speaking entirely separate, but adds to the picture of activists being sidelined and fobbed off without due process, presumably in the hope that we will give up.
We have heard of no new suspensions recently. No action was taken against the 284 CLP officers who wrote to protest. Time for more protests!