Black activist Marc Wadsworth, who played a key role in supporting the family of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, was expelled from the Labour Party after a public argument with MP Ruth Smeeth. This was not, as was widely reported, for antisemitism but on disrepute charges.
Since then, Wadsworth has been conducting a roadshow to raise support for legal action against the party and others to clear his name – and a number of CLPs (constituency Labour parties) have passed motions backing his campaign.
Rossendale and Darwen CLP in the north-west of England has a similar motion on its agenda for its monthly meeting this evening. Last night at 8.23pm, less than twenty-four hours before the meeting, the CLP’s executive sent out an email to members pointing them to a new ‘Code of Conduct‘ for members that will apply to the meeting:
The Code of Conduct appears to ban debate on all motions, instead putting them to a vote as soon as they have been moved and seconded:
Local members are outraged at what appears to be a ham-fisted attempt to shut down debate on all motions, just before an extremely contentious one is scheduled to be discussed.
The Code of Conduct appears to lie outside Labour’s rules on various issues, not least that the party’s rulebook (Chapter 7 clause XI) specifically includes debate and discussion in the purpose of the meeting:
2. The General Meeting shall be responsible for establishing objectives for this CLP in the constituency through political debate and policy discussion
The Code of Conduct also contains a number of other issues, including an incorrect description of Labour as a ‘social democratic’ party, instead of the correct ‘democratic socialist’ party – the difference is significant.
Members do not know who has drawn up the Code of Conduct, but there appears to have been no discussion with them about its content.
It may be, of course, that the Code has simply been incompetently drawn up, but any changes to local standing orders or codes must be approved by CLP members/delegates before having any formal standing – and the timing of its issue has raised suspicions that are likely to be raised at the meeting if it is not dropped beforehand.
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