Since Keir Starmer was elected leader we have faced an escalating attack on party democracy:
- removal of the whip from Corbyn
- suspension of party officers for simply allowing discussion and on spurious charges of racism
- unelected party officials running and fixing CLP AGMs, especially in the South West
- rigging of Council and parliamentary selections
- the usurping of London region conference
- the weaponisation of antisemitism in order to attack Corbyn and the left, which has led to the ‘wrong’ sort of Jews being five times as likely to fall foul of the witch-hunt as non-Jews.
In further attacks on the membership, the NEC has decided to introduce bans and proscriptions, meaning that anyone associated in any way with certain organisations, either as members or supporters, can be ‘auto-excluded’ from the party with no right to a hearing at all. First in the firing line are Socialist Appeal, Labour Against the Witchhunt and Labour in Exile Network, but the NEC has also decided to set up a panel to investigate other organisations with the intention of giving them the same treatment.
This was opposed at the NEC by many of the CLP and trade union representatives. Five CLP representatives (Gemma Bolton, Yasmine Dar, Nadia Jama, Laura Pidcock and Mish Rahman) and five trade union representatives (Andy Kerr – CWU, Ian Murray – FBU, Andi Fox – TSSA and Jayne Taylor and Amy Jackson – Unite) gave notice in advance of their opposition.
As so often, there are those on the left – individuals and organisations – who think that by keeping their heads down (“keeping our powder dry”), they will not be targeted.
However, this has backfired. Rather than beating back the earlier attacks, it has emboldened our opponents to come back for more. They have made clear their intention to attack other organisations. Hostile Labour MPs have already suggested that Jewish Voice for Labour, Momentum and the Labour Representation Committee should be next in line for proscription. Already there is a call for MPs who have publicly stated their solidarity with Ken Loach to have the whip withdrawn.
We need to resist these bans and proscriptions, not only out of solidarity with those already banned, but also because the more Starmer gets away with, the weaker we all are, and the easier it is for the right to succeed in moving the Party further and further away from the radical policies of the last few years. Without resistance, more members will be intimidated into self-censorship or resigning in despair.
Solidarity does not mean agreeing with the policies of any proscribed organisation, but defending the right of members to organise together for common aims. The right do so with impunity, but the left is being threatened.
We urge you to take up this issue in your branch, CLP, local left or Momentum group and your trade union. Without a strong left in the CLPs, the unions will not win – let alone see implemented – policies which benefit working class people – such as a reversal of privatisation in the NHS and other public services. Please sign the petition, pass a model resolution, lobby your union and CLP delegates to conference, and do let us know how you get on. We need to show the strongest possible opposition to this latest attack! We also urge — and would ask you to urge — all those who consider themselves in leading roles on the left of the party to speak out publicly against these bans and proscriptions and do all in their power to oppose them.
The Defend the Left website http://www.defendtheleft.co.uk/ contains the petition, model resolutions and other material which you may find useful.
Defend the Left
What you can do now:
- Sign the petition opposing bans and proscriptions here (almost 5,000 have already done so)
- Get your union /CLP to support Defend the Left by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org – the list of supporting organisations is here
- Bring a motion in your branch/CLP – model motions here
- Arrange a showing of a Ken Loach film – contact sixteen films to arrange
- Lobby your delegates to vote against the ratification of David Evans as general secretary at Labour Party conference
- If you are going to be in or can get to Brighton, join our lobby as conference starts (more details to follow)