Labour bureaucracy protects acting general secretary more than party leader
Labour members in Sutton and Cheam have been barred by the party’s London regional office from holding a no-confidence vote in right-wing acting general secretary David Evans – but allowed to vote on a similar motion against Keir Starmer.
S&C voted on two motions last night. The first called on the party to accept the EHRC report’s protection of members’ right to free speech on its contents and on antisemitism in the party:
Sutton and Cheam CLP welcomes the statement by 7 out of 12 affiliated trade unions (Unite, CWU, TSSA, ASLEF, BFAWU, FBU, NUM) on 31st October 2020 over the issue of the EHRC report.
The unions say publication of the EHRC report ought to have marked a moment of reflection and repair for our party and they call on the Party to repair any damage done over it. They also fear that any bad outcome over it compromises the opportunity to unite our party behind the full implementation of the EHRC’s important recommendations so that they can be taken forward with the members’ full trust and confidence. They further state they are concerned that any bad outcome undermines our party’s democratic processes and, ultimately, our party unity. They conclude by calling on the Party to listen to their serious concerns and to work with them on a fairer, unifying way forward.
The Sutton and Cheam CLP furthermore welcomes similarly worded statements by John McDonnell, Diane Abbott and Len McCluskey after the publication of the report.
We therefore as a CLP call on the Party Leadership and NEC to listen to all those statements and act accordingly on them.
The EHRC report rightly makes it clear it recognises freedom of speech is important. Our CLP reaffirms our commitment to free speech and the right of Assembly under Article 10 and 11 of the Convention on Human Rights that the EHRC draws our attention to and asks us as a Party to reaffirm.
As a CLP we therefore note that:
a) the commitment to freedom of expression and assembly has been fundamental to the British Labour Movement and to the Labour Party in particular
b) there has been a long history of struggle in the British Labour Movement to win these rights
c) these rights have to be constantly affirmed and defended
d) failure to do so has led, in other countries to fascism and undemocratic authoritarianism
e) An attack on the human rights of any is an attack on the human rights of all
f) the right to free speech can only be limited under strictly defined conditions. An attempt to restrict freedom of expression and/or the defense of Human Rights by reference to an alleged ‘perceived offense’ must be disregarded unless there has been an illegality or other breach of rule
Therefore we call on the British Labour Party to uphold its most honourable traditions and courageously uphold the rule of law, the right to free speech and assembly as part of the ongoing struggle for Human Rights against oppressive regimes.
The right to debate, strike, speak out in support and to show solidarity to others goes to the very soul of the Labour Party. Freedom of speech and democracy are precious but both are increasingly at risk. We must not stand by in silence whilst these hard fought for fundamental rights are ripped away.
The second confirmed that members have no confidence in Starmer:
This CLP agrees that it has no confidence in Keir Starmer as Leader of the Labour Party for the following reasons:
1. Whipping the PLP to abstain on the “Licence to Kill Bill” and the “Spycops Bill”. The Labour Party should be making it clear by their actions (not just their words) that they oppose any illegal actions by British Armed Forces and likewise oppose the illegal actions of undercover police officers in the UK.
2. Disassociating himself and the party from the tradition of solidarity with the oppressed peoples and nations of the world. Labour and Starmer should have shown solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. It is not acceptable that there was silence in response to events in Bolivia.
3. Complete disregard of Labour Party democracy. The Green New Deal was ratified by the 2019 conference, published in the 2019 manifesto and is supported by 70% of the membership. Replacing it with the “Green Recovery Plan” is a wishy washy, half-hearted, sop to multinationals. The country and the world do not have time to take it easy!!
4. Lack of support for the teaching unions in their concerns over pupils and teachers being forced back to unprepared schools
Both motions passed by a ratio of around three to one.
However, while representatives of Labour’s Governance and Legal Unit (GLU) and London regional office present did not prevent the anti-Starmer motion, they did block a no-confidence vote in Evans, telling members they could face action if they proceeded. One member told SKWAWKBOX:
They refused to allow us to VONC Evans, but were apparently fine to no-confidence Keith [as Starmer is often called].
Why are they protecting Evans but allowing Keith to shoulder the resentment? Even people who voted for Starmer as leader are disgusted.
Three delegates spoke against the Starmer no-confidence motion, referring to the usual centrist call for ‘unity to fight the Tories’, but were “firmly but politely reminded of the partisan actions of the Leadership and reminded that there were serious failings and that whilst the VONC may not be the ideal vehicle to get the Leadership to listen to the members, we were left with very little choice of alternatives” – a reference to Labour’s attacks on members who discuss motions of solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn.
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