Thousands of Labour members have received letters over the past few days, all sent at the same time, informing them that their suspension from the Labour party is being lifted and they are now ‘free to resume active membership’.
Here is one such letter, reproduced (anonymised) by the kind permission of its recipient. This blog is aware of many more:
Note that there is no trace of apology in the letter and that a ‘formal NEC warning’ is issued – in this instance, nonsensically. The tweet in question put a caption on an image of a senior Tory MP, showing the MP in question calling a homeless person ‘scum’ who is homeless because they deserve it – in other words, it was attacking Tory attitudes, had no bearing on any Labour member and was certainly not in any way ‘detrimental to the Party’.
If it had, in fact, been the person receiving the letter who had called a homeless person ‘scum’, they would have no place in the Labour party. But they didn’t. To issue a formal warning in those circumstances is both ridiculous and confirms that no proper investigation was undertaken.
To add insult to injury, the letter hasn’t even been proof-read before sending the same thing out to thousands of members who, almost to an individual, consider themselves to have been spuriously suspended:
the NEC may individual warnings to any individual member
certainly has, at the very least, a word missing – and is probably meant to say ‘issue formal warnings’, rather than the tautological ‘individual warnings to any individual’.
Just as risible is the language used in the letter about ‘offence’:
Language which may cause offence… will not be tolerated in our party. Language that may be perceived as provocative, insensitive or offensive falls short of the standard expected
‘May’?! Any language may cause offence or ‘be perceived’ as, well, as anything. Any of us can control the intent behind our language. None of us can exclude the possibility that someone may be offended – especially if someone is determined to be.
Standards of language and behaviour that could never be considered offensive by anyone would mean ‘Stepford’-level, anodyne blandness.
The letters (this image is taken from a different one) end with a threat:
Those suspended – even for the most flimsy of reasons – have a sword hanging over them. The letter will remain on file – no time limit is given – and any future infringement (for example pointing out the arrogance of Tories to the homeless) could, as the preceding page makes clear, result in the end of ‘continued membership of the Party’.
The fact that these letters are being sent out in huge batches – and the fact that the real, obvious point of some of the supposedly-offensive messages has so obviously been missed – shows that no proper investigation took place. The fact that so many suspensions could be imposed and then just be lifted at the same time, suggests forcefully that the reasons for them were never the point and are now being lifted because they’ve served their real purpose.
And with a threat hanging over members who are overwhelmingly pro-Corbyn, just for good measure.
This behaviour on the part of a section of the party bureaucracy reflects extremely poorly on the party. It’s their behaviour that brings the party into disrepute – and which needs sanction.
This blog understands that the letters will continue to roll out until 17 Nov, so if you’ve been suspended and haven’t received within a few days of that, your suspension may not be removed and you should take action.
But in the opinion of this writer, those members receiving these letters should take action anyway to overturn the original judgment and to remove the threat hanging over them that – in the vast majority of cases – appears to have no justification.