Labour’s ‘compliance unit’ has been one of the least satisfactory elements of the party for a long time. Its opacity and apparent lack of accountability don’t help, but its part in the ‘purges’ of left-wing members and the arbitrary nature of its judgments are major concerns to those looking forward to the democratisation of Labour’s internal processes.
Members have been suspended for reasons as silly as a retweet of a tweet by a Green MP or swearing about a rock band, while:
- one former leadership candidate attended a LibDem conference as a speaker
- so-called ‘moderate’ MPs and members routinely use abusive language about the left
- undermining the leadership in right-wing rags clearly brings the party into disrepute in the eyes of most members – yet appears to be absolutely fine in the eyes of those who kick out members for a tweet
- former front-bencher Peter Mandelson can say with impunity that he works daily to undermine the party’s leader
The sheer murkiness of disciplinary procedures contributes to the dissatisfaction: some matters are dealt with by compliance, but the NEC’s fluidly-composed ‘disputes panel‘ plays a role, some matters are dealt with by Labour’s regional offices and some even by the ‘exec’ of local CLPs.
So it will be a matter of considerable disappointment for many members that the issue of compliance does not form part of Jeremy Corbyn’s widely-hailed ‘democracy review’.
Senior Labour insiders have told the SKWAWKBOX that the twelve months of the democracy review will prioritise policy and member engagement, while it was felt that the issues around compliance involve staffing issues and will require NEC decisions.
However, the word is that once the initial review is completed, there will almost certainly be a ‘democracy review part 2’ – taking as long as a year, if required, to address the remaining issues.
However, the matter is not simply being left to ferment in the interim. Labour sources say that the leader’s office now has two staff members dealing with member issues and holding compliance to account.
This will be a relief – if a muted one – to Labour members who see moves already underway that they consider to be preparations for a future purge when right-wingers consider it expedient, such as the reorganisation of data protection procedures by the party’s right-leaning Southside HQ that it thinks will allow it to continue to use social media comments to suspend or expel members. The SKWAWKBOX has already exposed Labour’s HQ’s highly questionable ‘data scraping‘ – a standard feature of the Nationbuilder platform used by Labour to manage member information – to gather information on members’ social media comments, even via anonymous accounts not linked to their membership.
The two LOTO staff are likely to be busy until the ‘compliance unit’ and related issues are properly sorted out in phase two of the democracy review.
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