LRC Statement against the Membership Purge
Originally issued September 1st 2016
The Labour Representation Committee (LRC) strongly opposes the current widespread suspension of Labour members and the disqualification of members and supporters from voting in the Party’s leadership contest. As Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP has noted, this smacks of a “rigged purge”.
The suspensions are disproportionately affecting known Corbyn supporters. So zealous are those working in Labour’s shadowy Compliance Unit that those suspended include leading labour movement figures such as Ronnie Draper, General Secretary of BFAWU – a Labour affiliate. Jeremy Corbyn has rightly called for “the strongest principles of natural justice” to be implemented. These are being systematically ignored at present.
The LRC demands that these basic principles be extended to Labour members and supporters:
• To be told in clear and specific terms why they are suspended, or why their voting rights have been withdrawn.
• Notification of the name of their accuser, unless there is a real risk to safety.
• Setting a strict time limit on all provisional suspensions; e.g. thirty days.
• Allowing appeals against suspensions, making the procedure clear and publicly available.
• Extending the right of appeal to registered supporters who have had their right to vote withdrawn.
• Setting a strict time limit on the retrospective consideration of ‘offences’; e.g. when specifying particular terms of so-called abuse , Labour members’ past actions should only be reviewed for a maximum of two years.
• Prompt and comprehensive filling of reports with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) where the Party’s internal disciplinary procedures are reported in the media without the approval of the member or supporter, and full co-operation with any investigation by the ICO. The Labour Party must take responsibility for any breaches of the Data Protection Act by its employees and act appropriately.
Suspensions are being carried out in the name of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), but this is a fiction. The NEC is in no position to investigate or even review the cases of potentially hundreds or thousands of suspended Labour members. It is not in continuous session and last met in July. We believe the unelected General Secretary, Iain McNicol, and the unelected Compliance Unit are responsible for the present outrages. On taking office, priorities for the newly-elected NEC must be to:
• Hold an inquiry into Iain McNicol’s role in relation to the suspensions of Labour members and supporters
• Propose rule changes to make the Labour Party’s General Secretary an elected post.
Disciplinary procedures within the Labour Party must be changed to allow due process and implementation of the principles of natural justice. Shami Chakrabarti was shocked at the arbitrary and unjust nature of the current process. The broad principles of her 2016 Report must be implemented:
• A legally qualified panel should be available to advise the Labour Party on the justice of disciplinary procedures.
• The National Constitutional Committee (NCC) should take over the handling of disciplinary procedures from the NEC. The NCC should be bound by strict rules.
• The power of interim suspensions should be removed from officials acting on the instructions of Labour’s General Secretary.
• No section of the Labour Party should be kept under special measures for more than six months without a review. Suspension must not be allowed to be repeatedly rolled over.