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Labour tells members they have to give up rights to avoid the risk of upsetting anyone, as it reinforces ban on party democracy

Latest message to CLP officers tells them ‘precedence’ must be given to feelings of those who might be upset by anything

David Evans

Labour’s acting general secretary (unless and until he is confirmed by a Labour conference in accordance with Labour rules) David Evans has sent a bizarre email to elected officers and representatives of the party, which members have described as ‘gaslighting’ and ‘chilling’.

The message begins by thanking local officers who toed Evans’s line banning free speech on even simple motions of solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn – a ban that breaches the EHRC report’s affirmation of free speech as a human right – and pays lip service to the ‘hard work of volunteer officers’, many of whom have been suspended by the party for respecting members’ right to speak and vote on issues of concern to them.

It then goes on to say that the party cannot be ‘trusted to run our own affairs until we satisfy the EHRC’ – even though the free-speech ban is one of several Labour actions contrary to the report – and then says the party must ‘double down’ on ‘anything‘ that may cause members to feel unwelcome or unsafe.

Evans continues his ‘chilling’ message by telling members that their rights are subordinate to the feelings of anyone who might take exception to them:

FAO: CLP & Branch Secretaries and Chairs, MPs, MSs and MSPs

I wanted to put on record my thanks to the Branch and CLP officers who have been implementing the guidance around motions that I circulated recently. The Labour Party is dependent on the hard work of its volunteer officers, and only with your support will we succeed in changing the culture of the Party and making sure our meetings are a welcome space for all.

I can understand the desire of people to discuss contentious and controversial issues that they feel deeply about. But to be clear, the Labour Party was found guilty of breaking the law on anti-Semitism. We are now not trusted to run our own affairs until we satisfy the EHRC that we have fully addressed the issues that meant our Party is not a safe space for Jewish members. Just as we should have zero tolerance for all forms of racism, homophobia, sexual harassment and other prejudicial behaviour, our responsibility to double down on anything that may cause members to continue to feel unwelcome and unsafe must take precedence over our rights at this time.

I also wanted to confirm that the effect of my guidance was to rule motions on the topics mentioned out of order. This means they should not appear on the agenda or any other meeting papers, and that there is no requirement for Chairs of meetings to make rulings (nor should there be any resulting challenges to such rulings). I hope this clarification will help avoid any further unnecessary confrontation.

Kind regards,

David Evans
General Secretary

Emphases added

Rights are now officially subordinate to feelings in the Starmer-Evans party – more than that, they are subordinate to a ‘responsibility’ to avoid anything that even might make anyone subjectively feel unwelcome.

By contrast, the EHRC report was clear in its affirmation of the human right to free speech, even if it offends – and especially if it is part of a debate on a matter of public interest:

• Speech does not lose the protection of Article 10 just because it is offensive, provocative or would be regarded by some as insulting.
• Statements made by elected politicians have enhanced protection under Article 10.
• Relevant factors will include whether speech is intended to inform rather than offend, whether it forms part of an ongoing debate of public interest and whether it consists of alleged statements of fact, or of value judgment.

The report says that free speech cannot be used to harass – but makes clear that debate on matters of interest is unlikely to qualify as harassment, especially if offending is not its purpose.

The report also makes very clear that Labour members have a legallyprotected right to discuss such matters as the extent of antisemitism within the party – an issue that bears directly on the suspension and later withdrawl of the ‘whip’ from Jeremy Corbyn:

Article 10 will protect Labour Party members who, for exampleexpress their opinions on internal Party matters, such as the scale of antisemitism within the Party, based on their own experience and within the law. It does not protect criticism of Israel that is antisemitic.

Yet Labour has chosen to disregard these protections – and is now telling members they must subordinate their rights to Evans’s diktats and the possible feelings of some who might be offended or feel unwelcome if members discussed something they have a legally-protected right to discuss, or if they disagreed with ‘political interference‘ that threw a former party leader out of the party for exercising that same right.

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12 comments

  1. I noticed that Evans says “The party is dependent on volonteer officers”. And there you are fatty arbucle has kindly supplied you with the answer.The power is in your hands,.Resort to leaning towards cooperation with your Secretary and Chairperson and vice chair and lean heavily,suspended your funding throw the rule book through the window,and do not campaign for the tory tribute band..Remember follow their example and hit them hard.USE your constituency offices and shops many in the town centre for the vulnerable amongst us.Help the homeless outside in the cold.,and let them know who owns the Labour party.Fight or flight your choice…mine was flight but you might be smarter and younger.

    1. That email was his worst by far. It turned my stomach. On top of it he sprouts a lot of crap.

  2. The Labour Party has never been found guilty of anti semitism, surely that requires the judgement of a court of law? This never happened because Starmers Labour apologised before any hearing, which Corbyns Labour was told they could win, Starmer pre empted that by paying out hundreds of thousands of pounds of members money to people who would have lost the case according to advice. Is the General Secretary, as yet only acting, lying to CLPs?

  3. Even if they succeed in making Labour so uncomfortable for the left that they all quit and it becomes “united in centrism” (I almost didn’t notice “untittied” – jeezus) then we’ll definitely build a real socialist party.
    They then have to distance themselves from the Tories and from us – but the Tories also claim the centre so Labour will struggle to differentiate itself from them – and will split the right wing vote.
    Bring it on Starmer, you fucking imbecile.

  4. I can understand that Sir Keir Starmer wants to provide his wife & children with a ‘safe space’ but does that have to include any criticism of Ephraim Mirvis? Basic Human Rights can never be suspended nor ignored as the ends will seldom justify the means. God’s chosen people must have special protection to ‘feel’ welcome? Echoes of the McPherson Report.
    May I suggest that when a religion conflates itself with a state & embarks on a genocidal mission from God to ethnically cleanse a ‘homeland’ of the people to whom that land belongs, they have a right to ‘feel’ uncomfortable & anyone who advocates such actions, not welcome.

  5. ”they have a right to ‘feel’ uncomfortable & anyone who advocates such actions, not welcome.” No, they have A DUTY to feel uncomfortable and support comrades who are equally outraged. If not, they are endorsing racism and actually, since Palestinians really are a ”semitic” people, antisemitism of the worst sort. These people want protection from being discomforted – the people in situ are facing this:
    https://muslimnews.co.uk/news/palestine/palestine-israel-demolishes-palestinian-homes-west-bank/

  6. Well, there you have it, the Right of the Party as a whole , never mind a handful of totally uncritical fans of the Right Wing Israeli government’s every action, will never ‘feel comfortable’ in Labour branch or CLP meetings with ANYTHING vaguely , even mildly, ‘Left Wing’ , or even. perish the thought, outright socialist, being spouted by those self-deluding remaining Left Wingers ! Naughty Lefties who think their , deeply upsetting, disturbing, stuff about things like fighting the Tories, fighting Austerity, wanting to abolish nukes, not being 100% for anything NATO and our US imperialist hegemon does, taxing the superrich, closing tax havens, solidarising with the Palestinians, etc, etc , is acceptable talk in a respectable centrist political party ! The ghastly Blairite marketing man, David Evans, is surely correct – the now fully restored neo-Blairite NuLabour 2 Party , under its robotic creature of the Trilateral Commission, Keir Starmer, is not a Party for socialists any more.

    But this won’t stop the craven, accommodating, Socialist Campaign Group of pseudo socialist MPs from knuckling under to the ever-more ludicrously authoritarian demands of the triumphant Right – to ditch any radicalism at all and accept that NuLabour2 is a fully pro neoliberal capitalism, pro nukes, pro NAO, Party, and once more , to quote Mandelson, ” Very relaxed about people being rich”. And that ‘passive punchbag for the Right’, Jeremy Corbyn, will continue with his pathetic legal battle in the bourgeois courts to allow him back, on his knees if necessary, having ditched all his self-respect and politics, into this corrupt, now fully neoliberal, Westminster careerist politicians club ! Wake up Lefties, the Labour Party is politically bankrupt, electorally kaput, and heading for the same dustbin of history as the French Socialist Party, PASOK, and pretty much every other European old social democratic party . Time to try to build a new radical Left Party OUTSIDE of the stinking zombie corpse of NuLabour 2.

    And , sorry, Skwawkbox, but a relative handful of , entirely impotent, resistance-expressing, motions from a few rebel CLPs , out of the 600 total, just ain’t going to turn round the utter defeat of the 4 year craven experiment of ‘Corbynism’ and Labour-Party-based Left Reformism. In particular, Momentum (even under its new supposedly ‘more radical’ leadership) has NO intention of fighting the Right – or abandoning the middle class , Left Liberal, politics and policies that , in alliance with the pro EU Right, destroyed Labour’s voting base in our old Heartlands. Face it – We lost, and the deeply entrenched, totally ruthless, utterly corrupt, Right , won. Time to move on from dead-end Labour Party swamp politics.

  7. jpenney, we constantly hear from you what’s wrong with Labour – all of us on the left aren’t left enough for you, and neither is Corbyn – the man who, despite raising the profile of the left more than anyone since the war, failed ….. SINGLEHANDEDLY ….. to overcome the massed forces of the Tories, the MSM, 80% of the PLP, Israel, the BoD, JLM, FoI, the US and global neoliberalism.
    Question 1: Who COULD have won that fight?
    Question 2: We’ve heard your complaints – and if I’ve misdescribed them I apologise – but now let’s PLEASE – FOR ONCE – hear your SOLUTIONS.
    In other words – WHO shall we follow, Lord, and HOW shall we smite our enemies?

  8. When it comes to hurting feelings, what about our Jewish friends that are called “the wrong type of Jew”. what action does he take over those that express that kind of racism?

  9. “Latest message to CLP officers tells them ‘precedence’ must be given to feelings of those who might be upset by anything”

    Somehow I don’t think the Cons will be so considerate…

    I think the cretin does not understand the words ‘rights’ or ‘guidance’ – and I hope I have upset his feelings in saying so. He should be taken to court so that members’ legal rights are protected.

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