Explosive: Labour’s OWN legal case says must expel Progress, Labour First etc

The SKWAWKBOX has been covering a series of emails between Weaver Vale CLP (constituency Labour party) and Labour’s General Secretary, Iain McNicol, on the subject of damaging right-wing groups like Progress, Labour First, Saving Labour and others – and why their members are not expelled from the party.

mcnicol dishonour

In the most recent, dated the 13th of last month, McNicol attempted to avoid responsibility for taking action against those groups, who have relentlessly undermined the party and its leader, by claiming that the fact that they do not stand candidates against Labour, they were not in breach of the party’s rules.

The patent nonsense of that argument was pointed out brilliantly by Weaver Vale. But now new information has emerged that shows not only that McNicol’s argument is nonsense – but that at the same time, Labour was using the exact opposite argument in a court of law to expel a Labour member.

The case in question was heard in the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court on 20 Feb – only one week after McNicol’s letter to Weaver Vale. The case reference was Jack Halinski-Fitzpatrick v Iain McNicol in the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, Claim No HQ17X00488.

Mr Halinski had been notified of his expulsion from the Labour Party because of his membership of the group ‘Socialist Appeal’ and took the Party to court to try to overturn the decision.

The Labour Party’s evidence to the court was presented by Labour Investigations Officer Benjamin Westerman, who made it clear to the court that he was speaking on behalf of the Party and not as an individual:


Mr Westerman then goes on to state the Labour Party’s case for the expulsion and to attack his grounds for claim. He begins by quoting the same rule that Weaver Vale CLP and McNicol had discussed. Remember that McNicol had insisted that the rule meant no action could be taken against Progress et al because they did not stand candidates against Labour, while Weaver Value pointed out the the ‘or’ between the clauses meant any of those conditions were grounds for expulsion, not that all of them were required:


Mr Westerman, speaking with the authorisation of the Labour Party, then states:


Westerman could not be more emphatic:

  • support for any political organisation other than Labour or an ‘official unit’ (e.g. an affiliated organisation such as the Socialist Health Association) renders the member automatically ineligible to remain a member
  • this rule has been in place and is well understood to mean what it means
  • it does not matter whether an organisation is ‘proscribed’ (banned) – ‘that is to misread the rule‘ – support for it is enough to ‘warrant expulsion

Just in case that last point is not quite clear, Westerman repeats it later in his evidence:


Westerman rounds off his evidence by emphasising the significance of the rules and how they free the Labour Party to act:


Labour, in other words – according to its own rules, which have the force of law – is free, on the basis of the rule concerning support for another political organisation, to expel members. and it is free, if the case is clear, to do that without formal disciplinary procedures.

In other words, McNicol’s attempt to wash his hands of responsibility for dealing with the right-wing groups who are damaging the Labour Party is hogwash not only according to Weaver Vale CLP = but according to the Labour Party’s own rules that it relied on in court.

Labour won its case and the expulsion of Mr Halinski stands.

The significance of this case was noticed by a member of the same CLP as Mr Halinski when he heard about the Weaver Vale correspondence. This Labour member wrote yesterday to Iain McNicol, pointing out the significance of the legal precedent that Labour’s own court statement had set for the Party properly dealing with Progress, Labour First and similar groups.

The full letter to McNicol – along with the complete court statement by Benjamin Westerman – is available as a PDF at the end of this article. But he points out emphatically that Labour’s own legal statement agrees not with Iain McNicol but with Weaver Vale:

harrow west.png

then accuses McNicol of falsehood and asks him to take the action that Labour’s own legal action has demonstrated must be taken:

harrow west 2.png

Iain McNicol tried to be clever in his response to Weaver Vale CLP. He attempted to exploit and twist the rules – a classic right-wing tactic – to let right-wing ‘cuckoo in the nest’ groups off the hook.

He tried. He failed. And in the attempt he demonstrated that he is incompetent and unprincipled.

Not only must Labour members now demand that the requisite action under the rules be taken immediately against the groups that are trying to take Labour back to obsolete and bankrupt Blairism – they must also demand the immediate resignation or dismissal of a General Secretary who, in this issue and many others, has shown himself to be completely unfit for the position.

And if their demands are not answered, they have a clear basis for legal action.

PDF documents:
jhf v labour
harrow west

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  1. The rules don’t say when the NEC *has* to suspend or expel members. They say when they can, if they want to. And it’s clear they have no intention of being even handed or accountable.

    1. Not true. ‘Shall be automatically excluded’. Not a matter of choice. They can dodge it, but it will be subject to legal challenge.

  2. Reblogged this on Sid's Blog and commented:

    It’s a Titanic decision for “Progress”, “Labour First”, “Saving Labour” and “others”

  3. Will McNichol manage to dodge this legal precedent. He is like a cat with nine lives but hopefully he has run out now and we will finally see the back of him …… hopefully Tom Watson too and the rest who are determined to destroy the LP leadership

  4. But if you follow this logic surely you should also be demanding the expulsion of Momentum members too? You can’t have it both ways can you.

    1. There are reasons why Momentum is a different case, follow-up article to come. But in any case, even if Momentum were affected similarly, the legal precedent is set and the letter’s in McNicol’s hands, so it would be too late to change it.

  5. The evidence is now such that there really is no other option than a vote of no confidence in Iian . His leadership has zero creditability in being trusted to deal honestly and fairly with individuals in the membership and with other powerful elitist grps as mentioned in the article.

  6. Hear hear! But you know it ain’t gonna happen. Sent from my Vodafone Smart

  7. This should have happened as soon as they went against the democratically elected leader for democracy sake there is no democracy left in the labour party. It’s criminal to take new members funds and not give them the right to vote

  8. And Momentum then? What’s next Fabians, co-operative MP’s?
    Nothing like a good old internal, navel gazing argument. Personally the Labour Party is a broad church, and all these ‘groups’ have their own views, I’m sure when Blair, Brown & Miliband where leaders groups across the party had opposing views. If had my way, none of the groups from my view need to exist.

  9. Unfortunately that would include Momentum in that definition. Oops? But I think MM should affiliate anyway.

  10. Its about time We had Some Organisation. The Same Rules applied in a Legal Fashon To All.
    Let the Legal Body Commence Operations and We will all Have To ‘RESIDE.. Within’ …..the confines of The Judgement Passed …Infighting Banished to History.

  11. If the position given to the Court is the interpretation of the rules then if correctly and fairly administered all members of these groups, other than those officillay affiliated to labour have to be expelled. Personally I think that would be a silly move. But the current position which is to enforce that interpretation only on what appears to be biased consideration is clearly wrong. Particularly given a recent judgement that confirmed political belief is a protected characteristic under the Equalities Act, the party needs to review the position.
    The NEC who are charged with the administration of the party should put in place the actions needed to secure a rule change if necessary that resolves this. No doubt there will be those who will want the changes to only give protection to their own area of the left political stratum, but that would be completely unfair.
    MPs, Councillors etc have crossed the floor into the welcoming arms of labour but it seems young people who are motivated, active and exploring the world of politics are not.

  12. It shows up nice and clearly the double standards being operated. The question is, are all these groups ‘political organisations’ or not? If they are then ‘support’ for them should all be ‘forbidden’ according to the rules. Of course that is not the intention of the rule, the intention is to stop people being members of or supporters of other political parties. But things are much more complex than that (splitters!). When does a group of people meeting on a facebook group become a ‘political organisation’?

  13. Reblogged this on Kazsta_1_0 Talks and commented:
    About time, labour back to what I thought Labour was about when I was young – I assumed they were a party for labourers – normal people. But by the time I could start to have a say it was “new labour”, Tony grinning Blair who I couldn’t stand, he was not someone I could vote for.

  14. But it is not a question of applying the rules but a partisan and biased attack on anyone to the left of, say, Chuka Umunna. So don’t hold your breath waiting for any justice or fairness.

  15. He needs to go and soon. He daily damages our party and our elected leader, however he is not the only one there are a number of MPs who also do damage when we should be attact the tories and supporting our members and others that the tories see as easy game. Jeremy Corbyn can win the mext election with support from his team.

  16. What about membership of the Labour Representation Committee – LRC nationally chaired by the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, please? Hopefully that is an official part of the Labour party, as it promotes and has promoted since reformed in 2004, socialist policies in the Labour party. I was hopeful of joining. Not least because they believe in decent state pensions. Pension Credit 60 Now

  17. Silly thing is, Socialist Appeal members have been in the Labour Party for years, often as elected CLP officers. The easiest way out of this for McNichol would be to reinstate the small number of members expelled for being members of Socialist Appeal. This would stop the precedent for expelling Progress and Labour first members and would save him a lot of grief.

  18. Why can’t we all vote to get Jeremy’s detractors out. They are either socialists or not and it seems to me they are Tories in disguise like Blair.

  19. If you use rules and bureaucracy to make a point, instead of a political argument then you may come unstuck. This, amidst other expulsions and suspensions, is as a result of the minority not accepting their position.
    It’s quite simple, and hopefully becoming more apparent, that those in power won’t relinquish it easily. Democracy means nothing to them. This is proven by the leaked document; they’d sooner have the Tories in power, impoverishing millions of people, rather than a Labour Govt with socialist policies taking power.
    We should take heed. My understanding of fascism is that it’s the opposite of democracy, not necessarily racist, per Mussolini and Franco, but the crushing of the democratic right to oppose an opinion on which we disagree.
    We’re in the midst of a witch hunt. Good cmds are being expelled and suspended under the most spurious guises, and for the most ridiculous reasons. Wavertree clp being a prime example, and I’d like to see the letter published here on Sqwarkbox that was deemed so offensive by some, to enable fair minded people to judge for themselves.

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