Email to CLP secretaries from new general secretary David Evans bans discussions and votes on issues and on IHRA ‘definition’
Labour has banned constituency parties (CLPs) from discussing or voting on motions about either Keir Starmer’s craven decision to pay around £600,000 to former staff who accused the party of antisemitism, or the party’s adoption of the ‘IHRA’ ‘definition’ of antisemitism.
An email sent by new general secretary David Evans, who has previously said that democracy ‘should as far as possible be abolished in the party’, has sent the following threatening message to CLP secretaries:
The Labour Party recently agreed a settlement with seven former members of staff who appeared on an edition of the BBC’s Panorama programme, as well as with the journalist who hosted that programme. Those settlements included an unreserved apology and a withdrawal of the allegations previously made by the Party about those individuals. The withdrawal and apology are binding on the Party and any motions which seek to undermine or contradict them will create a risk of further legal proceedings for both the national party and local parties. As such, motions relating to these settlements and the circumstances behind them are not competent business for discussion by local parties.
CLP officers have an important responsibility to ensure that they and other members conduct themselves in a respectful and comradely manner. We therefore take this opportunity to reiterate to local Labour Parties and officers that they should be aware of the potential liabilities to them should the allegations that have now been withdrawn by the national Party be repeated.
Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report
On Monday 13 July 2020 the Party announced that it had received the EHRC’s draft report into allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party. This draft report has been provided to the Party by the EHRC on a confidential basis as part of its investigation.
When we are able to provide more information about the EHRC’s report we will do so. Until that time speculation as to the contents of the report is not helpful. It is therefore not competent business for CLPs to discuss.
IHRA definition of antisemitism
We are aware that some CLPs and branches have had motions tabled to “repudiate” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. The IHRA definition of antisemitism and its examples was properly adopted by the Labour Party in September 2018. CLPs and branches have no powers to overturn this decision. Furthermore, such motions undermine the Labour Party’s ability to tackle racism. Any such motions are therefore not competent business for CLPs or branches.
It’s not quite clear how ‘comradely and respectful’ conduct in a local party meeting intrinsically conflicts with discussion of a decision at the top of the party, let alone open the party to legal action, since members are members and not drones, employees or agents.
The ‘IHRA definition’, additionally, has been widely criticised for its lack of precision and does not even describe itself as a ‘definition’ but as a ‘non-legally binding’ ‘working definition’.
But Labour members are unlikely to look kindly on attempts to curb their free speech to accommodate the weakness and agenda of the national leadership. They may not have the power on their own to change what is happening, but nobody should be telling them not to express an opinion about it.
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