Stop political expulsions!
LAST SUMMER’S EXPULSIONS OF LEFT WINGERS from the Labour Party were a failed attempt by the Labour right to sink Corbyn’s leadership campaign. Ever since then, certain members of the Party have carried on a rearguard battle to undermine Corbyn’s leadership.
The latest skirmish in this conflict comes in the form of a number of expulsions of loyal Labour Party members, carried through by the Party’s unelected disciplinary body, the Compliance Unit. These comrades are being expelled on the grounds that they are involved with organisations that are apparently incompatible with Labour Party membership. These have included the Marxist Student Federation, Socialist Appeal and, in one case, the Leeds University Marxist Society.
The stated reasons for these expulsions are entirely spurious. No evidence has been produced by the Compliance Unit to prove the accusation that being a member of a Marxist student club puts an individual ‘clearly incontrovertibly in breach of the Party’s rules’.
To find the real reason for the Compliance Unit’s actions we need look no further than the political differences between the left and right of the Party.
Owen Walsh of Leeds Central CLP passed a motion in his ward calling for his local MP, Hilary Benn, and others in the Shadow Cabinet who voted for the bombing of Syria to step down from the Labour front bench. Shortly after this motion was presented to the CLP meeting, Owen found himself expelled from the Party for being a member of the Leeds University Marxist Society.
Emily Cosentino of West Ham CLP has been working to organise left wing Labour members and supporters in her constituency. Not long after the Young Labour National Conference this year, to which she was elected as a delegate, Emily also received notice that she had been expelled from the Party.
Tomasz Pierscionek of Kingston and Surbiton CLP and Joe Attard and Sam Ashton of Camberwell and Peckham CLP have all found themselves in a similar situation.
All of these comrades are young, left wing, pro-Corbyn activists in the Labour Party. This is why they have been expelled – the way they are being treated is a political attack against the left of the Party.
I was also expelled from the Party last August for being a Socialist Appeal/Marxist Student Federation activist. I objected to the decision, and was granted an appeal which was heard by three members of the London Regional Board. These elected representatives of London Labour Party members overturned the decision of the unelected Compliance Unit, finding that there was no contradiction between supporting Socialist Appeal or the Marxist Student Federation and membership of the Labour Party. Scandalously this precedent is being ignored by the Compliance Unit, which is now refusing to grant appeals to the expelled comrades.
By their actions the Compliance Unit is trampling over the principles of natural justice that the Labour Party is supposed to uphold. They are also seizing a role reserved for the NEC and Party conference - that of deciding which organisations are or are not compatible with membership of the Labour Party.
Pete Willsman of the NEC has confirmed that these expulsions have never been discussed on the NEC, nor has the question of proscribing Socialist Appeal or the Marxist Student Federation.
In the face of such blatant contempt for due process in the Party, Momentum has decided to launch a national campaign to demand that these comrades be reinstated. Corbyn has confirmed that the cases will be discussed at a meeting of the disputes panel of the NEC on 5 July, which will be a watershed moment in setting a precedent for the position of Marxist activists in the Party.
It is essential that all of our comrades on the left come together to support these expelled members and to oppose political expulsions. Corbyn’s own CLP, Islington North, has passed a resolution calling for a ‘review to include consideration of the role and procedures of the Compliance Unit’ in the light of exclusions with an apparent lack of due process. Wards and CLPs all over the country should take up the issue. If these expulsions are allowed to stand then it will only be a matter of time before the rest of the organised Labour left faces the same attacks.