The SKWAWKBOX has published a number of letters from Weaver Vale CLP (Constituency Labour Party) in Cheshire to Labour’s NEC (National Executive Committee) and its General Secretary, Iain McNicol – and the weak, evasive replies they eventually received.
Those letters concerned the array of right-wing groups infesting the Labour party and working against the interests of its members and the direction of the party under it’s massively-mandated leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
The CLP has sent me the latest reply from McNicol, which continues to dodges the issue – and the CLP’s brilliantly ascerbic response. Highlighting is by the SKWAWKBOX:
From : firstname.lastname@example.org
Date : 13/02/2017 – 14:58 (GMTST)
To : XXXXXXX
Subject : Letter from Weaver Vale CLP re Status of Groups in the Labour party
Thank you for your email.
I am sorry to hear that you considered our previous correspondence to be less than adequate. I would like to assure you that our staff review all the correspondence we receive before sending considered responses.
As our Head of Internal Governance advised you, independent groups are not required to conform with Labour Party rules on affiliations and none of the organisations you describe (Progress, Saving Labour or Labour Friends of Israel) are affiliated to the Labour Party. However, all individual members of the Labour Party are obliged to comply with Labour Party rules. These organisations are their own legal entities with their own funds, membership and rules. If they wish to affiliate to the Labour Party they must demonstrate that they support Labour’s aims and values and provide the Party with audited accounts and their rule book to ensure that these do not conflict with Labour’s own rules and values.
As previously advised, the Labour Party should be the home of lively debate, of new ideas and of campaigns to change society. For a fair debate to take place, people must be able to air their views. This includes for all members and groups the right to make clear their opposition to a party’s policy position or leadership, and the right to campaign for a position or direction they believe the Party should follow. We are a democratic organisation and through our Conference we settle our direction through the will of all sections of the Party. But we do not seek to censor those who disagree.
In your correspondence below, you refer to Chapter 2, Clause 1 section 4. B. However, you have only quoted half of the relevant sentence. The full clause copied below specifically relates to joining or supporting a political organisation that stands or publically [sic] declares and intention to stand a candidate against an official Labour candidate. None of the organisations you describe have stood or have declared an intent to stand a candidate against an official Labour candidate.
Conditions of membership
B. A member of the Party who joins and/ or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Party, or supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate, or publicly declares their intent to stand against a Labour candidate, shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a Party member, subject to the provisions of Chapter 6.I.2 below of the disciplinary rules.
In terms of Progress being registered with the Electoral Commission, they are registered as a regulated doner [sic], not as a political party. Any questions you have about their registration is a matter for Progress and not the Labour Party. Likewise questions for Labour Friends of Israel should be directed to them.
The Labour Party,Southside,
8th Floor, 105 Victoria Street,
London SW1E 6QT
So, a Corbyn supporter can be suspended or even expelled for the most spurious reasons, if they’re lucky reinstated with a threat to behave of be expelled – but right-wingers can join any ‘plotting circle’ they wish and post idiocy like this without fear of consequences:
And now Weaver Vale’s brilliant response. Again, highlights are added by this blog:
Date : 17/02/2017 – 14:21 (GMTST)
To : email@example.com
Subject : Re: Letter from Weaver Vale CLP re Status of Groups in the Labour party
Thank you for the reply, but I would still like to take issue on a number of points:
I understand the difference between affiliated and non-affiliated bodies, and understand that non-affiliated bodies have a right to have their say, and to disagree with policy etc. I also understand that, as they are independent, the party has no jurisdiction over them.
The point I was making is that this gives these “independent” groups the ability to undermine the party. While debate is healthy and can be constructive, some, but not all of these organisations are destructive. They do not add to policy debate, and seem hell bent on undermining party policy and leadership. Yet, you imply that the party has no way of taking action against them.
The party position as it stands means any member can set up an “independent” group, raise funds that the party has no claim on and do whatever it considers the right thing for the party, no matter how destructive this is to the chances of Labour winning elections.
In a purportedly democratic party, is this really an issue the NEC and yourself can ignore? Do we have to wait until we have lost another election?
We know that if this happens these groups will claim it was the fault of the leadership as if their actions have had no bearing on the way the party is perceived by the public.
Similarly on individual members, at what point does genuine criticism become corrosive and destructive? I would suggest that examples of the statements I gave in my reply and which I’ve noted below pass the threshold of what is acceptable, only serves to bring the party into disrepute and help to destroy our credibility with the public. At what point does the party intend to discipline anybody who attempts to destroy the party with statements like these? [SKWAWKBOX comment: or Dugher’s nauseating tweet above]
- “The first victim of the bullying that surrounds the Jeremy Corbyn leadership personality cult“
- “You are expected to leave your brain at the door to serve Corbyn“
- “Corbynites haven’t come to terms with fact they are the bad guys who through stupidity or malice will help Tories“, a statement which he (Luke Akehurst) recognised as insulting but being insulting was justified because “I don’t respect people making Labour unelectable“.
- “It turns out all the stuff about olive branches and party unity at conference was nonsense. This is a guy that wants to lead on his own terms, and given that he is completely disinterested in conventional electoral politics – who cares about winning MPs or councillors when you can build a social movement? -, is completely relaxed about the potential electoral destruction of the party“.
In your reply you say I only quoted part of a rule, yes I agree, but that does not invalidate the statement I made. The rule you quote is “A member of the Party who joins and or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Party, OR supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate, OR publicly declares their intent to stand against a Labour candidate, shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a Party member, subject to the provisions of Chapter 6.I.2 below of the disciplinary rules”.
This rule has separators for each sub-clause, the separator is OR, that means each sub-clause stands on its own and does not need qualifying by any other sub-clause. Therefore to say “A member of the Party who joins and or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Party shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a Party member, subject to the provisions of Chapter 6.I.2 below of the disciplinary rules” is perfectly acceptable, and does not require the remainder of the rule.
Once again you have tried to avoid addressing the issues raised. As an attempt to deflect attention from the issues raised, this falls far short of the mark and ill befits the senior, paid official of the party.
I fully agree that open debate is necessary to the health of the party. However, the party must have an agreed, fair, and objectively applied disciplinary policy which should be applied to all members.
Where debate and criticism of the leadership or abuse of fellow members from the within the party becomes unacceptable then the party has a duty to step in and ensure fair play.
At the moment it seems that the party has an Orwellian Newspeak approach when judging members behaviour. The sometimes vague wording of the party rules means that you and the NEC can make the rules mean what you and they want them to mean. Some individual members are being suspended or expelled for comments they make particularly on social media.
Others hiding behind ‘independent’ organisations are able to get away with statements and actions, no matter how detrimental to the party or disparaging about other members without sanctions being taken against them. To carry this Orwellian analogy further, to many members it looks like “all members are equal, but some are more equal than others”.
The intention of our original letter was to ask the party to look at these organisations (all of them from which ever strand of the party) and investigate whether they (and /or the individuals in these groups) are acting in a detrimental manner resulting in damage to the party. The party has set a precedent on this, so we know it can be done.
Twice you have failed to recognise and address the points raised and have tried to deflect the issue on to something else.
Once again in the spirit of party unity, I would ask for the concerns raised above to be taken seriously.
Bravo to the CLP’s executive and members for once again highlighting the gravity of the problem of the groups draining Labour’s vitality, the utter hypocrisy and duplicity of those at the head of the party’s formal structure – and the complete unfitness for his position of Iain McNicol.
Whatever it takes, this impediment to Labour’s voice and electability needs to be removed.
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