JULY'S DULWICH AND WEST NORWOOD GC invited Ann Black to discuss the recent mass suspensions and exclusions from the Labour Party. She explained that this was largely a thing of the past, perhaps involving“three or four thousand” members, most of whom had now been reinstated. It had been partly a result, she said, of“taking Jeremy too literally when he demanded zero-tolerance of personal abuse of any kind”.
This explanation did not go down well with Corbyn supporters who knew very well that the purge had nothing to do with Jeremy and everything to do with the party apparatus attempting to eliminate Corbyn supporters and voters atthe grassroots of the Party. We also knew of many members, in Brighton and London, who were still suspended and of others expelled.
For example, the secretary of our Lambeth Unite Community branch has been suspended from the Party since February because a Facebook trawl turned up a picture of him on a Left Unity(LU) stall almost a year before he applied to join the Party, having previously resigned from LU. This is despite the Information Commissioner’s ruling that party headquarters cannot a use member’s social media accounts for disciplinary purposes.
Ironically only a fortnight after Ann Black’s visit I found myself subject to a similar purge. I rejoined the Party in May, having resigned from LU in July 2016. I have been working in the local Momentum group with Labour Party members for over two years and actively campaigned as a party member in the general election. But in early August, after three months in the Party, an emergency EC was called to revoke my membership, by a majority vote, on the basis that I had been a member of LU over a year before.
A little known procedure was quoted that allows an EC to revoke a membership if you have done something in the previous two years, that, had you been a Labour member, would have led to your auto-exclusion.This catch all ‘rule’, never put in the rule book, is used by small groups on ECs to bar people without reference to GCs. Further no appeal is allowed despite the fact the rule book clearly says there is such a right!
The context of these exclusions is the determination of the Progress controlled CLPs in Lambeth-Streatham, Vauxhall and Dulwich and West Norwood - to prevent Corbyn supporters from democratically taking over the CLPs and Lambeth Campaign Forum (LCF). Last year the LCF excluded all the Corbyn supporting members from the approved list of councillors, ensuring the continuation of an increasingly unpopular Progress controlled Labour council for the May elections.
Labour members should be aware that the purge of Corbyn supporters is far from over and will only be ended when the apparatus itself is put under the control of the members.