Excl: penalty for malicious false accusations added to NEC agenda

code plus

The SKWAWKBOX has detailed a number of options available to Labour’s NEC (National Executive Committee) to strengthen the party’s Code of Conduct when – as appears certain – the NEC votes to incorporate the remaining examples of possible antisemitic behaviour from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) ‘working definition’ of antisemitism into the Code.

Background

The examples were previously described in outline – and clarified – by the original Code of Conduct to protect free speech and Palestinian rights from examples that have been abused to inhibit free speech and the ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ campaign against illegal Israeli settlements.

The IHRA introduction to its examples, which states clearly that the examples might constitute antisemitic behaviour, but only depending on context, has also been routinely ignored by media and by pro-Israel activists to apply the examples as absolutes against their opponents.

Contention

The most contentious of the options put forward – and certainly the one which has most worried right-wingers hoping for a purge of their opponents – has been a possible amendment to Labour’s disciplinary protocol: the inclusion of penalties for malicious false accusations.

But this is manufactured outrage aimed at gaining a political advantage. A false criminal or civil accusation can carry penalties in law and natural justice suggests that the complaints process cannot be consequence-free if abused.

Any penalty included in Labour’s rules would, of course, apply to malicious accusations in any category – although, deeply unsurprisingly, it has been misrepresented by the ‘MSM’:

times penalise.png

The manufactured outrage at the idea has been sufficient that mainstream media and pundits have pressed Labour for a statement on the issue and the party – accurately at the time – stated that such a provision was not on the agenda for the next NEC meeting. This has been picked up by the likes of Robert Peston – and Peston, at least, has noted the likelihood of other protections being agreed by the NEC:

peston addenda.png

The resolution

But the SKWAWKBOX can reveal that this is no longer the case – as the resolution below has been submitted by an NEC member for inclusion on next week’s agenda and while it references the current antisemitism issue for context, it applies to all categories of complaint, as it should:

This NEC:

– Notes that an unfortunate side-effect of the party’s renewed determination to root out antisemitism has been that, in a small number of cases, false accusations have been made about Labour party members, officers and elected representatives.

– Believes that maliciously-made accusations are damaging, hurtful and cannot be accepted in a democratic party.

– Resolves that:

(1) Labour must be tough on vexatious claims made about its members and must never accept such behaviour becoming the norm.

(2) To be taken seriously, formal complaints about alleged wrongdoing by party members must therefore be precise and based on facts and must take into account the context within which the alleged behaviour took place.

(3) Complaints that do not meet these standards may be considered vexatious, in which case they may result in disciplinary charges being pursued against the complainant.

The resolution will, as usual, be subject to debate and possible amendment according to the democratic view of the NEC. However, a number of member and union representatives on the committee have expressed support in principle and insiders think it has a good chance of passing in some form.

Comment:

This resolution is good news for everyone genuinely concerned to implement authentic protections for this nation’s Jewish citizens. Preventing antisemitism is in no way at odds with the protection of free speech, the rights of Palestinians and the rights of Labour members to support the Palestinian cause if they see fit.

However, an increased volume of faux-outrage can be expected between now and next Tuesday’s NEC meeting from those who want to use the issue cynically as cover for a purge of political opponents amid a deluge of politically-motivated complaints in an environment with no repercussions for those making them.

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7 responses to “Excl: penalty for malicious false accusations added to NEC agenda

  1. If this rule about vexatious claims had existed a couple of years ago I can think of dozens of Labour members, including plenty of MPs, who would have been disciplined. Think of all the blatantly dishonest smears that might have been discouraged.
    But after the party chickened out of disciplining Margaret Hodge, I fear that internal party politics might still stop justice being done even if the rules are changed.

  2. Pingback: A good day’s work: Lying and libellous plots to attack Jeremy Corbyn seem set to fail | Vox Political·

  3. If all the Examples are adopted and criticism of Israel ist verboten, I’ll cancel my Membership. Again. Just like I did re Tony Blair/Iraq/Academies/StudentLoans/PFI etc.; no difference. George Galloway has said, and I’m in full agreement with him, that Corbyn should have come out fighting from the get-go. He didn’t and here we are. My heart breaks for Palestinians. It really does. Capitulation and Appeasement won’t work; has it ever in the last 3 years? NO. The right wing is emboldened; they smell victory. We’re all losers if it’s voted through, not just Palestinians. Our country is going through a very dark period, maybe its darkest, and if the NEC kowtows to the Israeli Lobby, it’s going to get a lot darker for millions of us. We should and could have made a stand. I notice Members won’t get a say or a vote; says everything. NEC knows they’d lose if they asked us what we thought. We’ve got more balls than they have. And much less protection.

  4. There seems to be confusion here.

    First, we need to distinguish between accusations made on the internet and elsewhere and FORMAL complaints. Here, we are only talking about FORMAL complaints TO THE PARTY – NOT about the welter of accusations made online or in newspapers or on TV. So I am doubtful about the idea that dozens of MPs would have been disciplined had this stance been adopted earlier.

    Secondly, a precondition for identifying a vexatious complainant is that the complaint is dismissed by the Party. So it does not cover (say) the Marc Wadsworth type scenario, where the Party decides to ‘convict’ for conduct prejudicial to the Party, but the conviction/sanction is unjust.

    All of which makes me wonder: is this a decoy?

    • It should apply to all accusations, formal or informal. I don’t see why smearing someone should be OK if it’s done informally.
      Hodge, Eagle, Watson, Mann, Streeting, Phillips, Leslie, Austin, Bryant, Berger, Bradshaw and many others would all be in trouble if they were held to account for making false smears.

  5. Skwawkbox. There is no measure that the NEC can adopt to deal with malicious claims of anti-Semitism that is better than a courageous and organised membership deselecting MPs who have made smears with malicious intent in a hyperbolic venomous way aimed at toppling Corbyn. That said, dutifully, without expecting anything, I wrote to Ann Black of the NEC asking her to support a clause penalties for vexatious and malicious complaints. Got a reply just now and good on her for writing back so quickly. She does not elaborate or engage with points I made about the interference by Netanyahu and others in a bid to topple Corbyn. But then, given her track record, why would she. She says: “There are already ways of dealing with vexatious or malicious complaints. I agree with you that it’s absolutely tragic to see an entire summer wasted, and that this should have been spent building on the popular and socialist 2017 manifesto. However Jeremy himself says that it cannot all be dismissed as got up by people plotting to undermine his leadership, and for that reason alone it has to be taken seriously.” What do others think?

  6. I would expect JC to try and remain sensitive to a wider constituency … try … I still struggle to understand why there are almost no formal complaints about the malice, and the intention to bring the LP into “disrepute” displayed by those who are so self evidently the plotters; I mean the list (plus a few more) that Dave G refers to.

    Well, actually, I probably do understand, but this might be how I would respond to Ann Black.

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