Mere mention of actions by staff in motions is being categorised as ‘bullying’
The Labour party has been using an unpublished ‘code of conduct’ to suspend members who criticise its actions and the conduct of its staff.
In spite of its title “Bullying and Harassment. Policy statement and procedural guidelines for all members, volunteers and staff“, the document has never been published on the party’s website or circulated to members so they know by what criteria they are being judged – but it is being used by the party’s disciplinary ‘Dispute Panels’.
While some of the document is common sense in terms of assessing actual bullying and harassment, other parts are astonishingly woolly and vague – and look like they violate human rights laws on freedom of speech that state clearly that merely offending is not a criterion for censure.
For example, the document admits that:
There is not, and probably cannot be, a single simple definition [of harassment].
But it then goes on to classify even a single instance of causing ‘discomfort’ or offence as potentially a case of harassment, even if it is,
initially acceptable to some [it may be] harassment to others.
The document, after first saying there isn’t a ‘single’ definition of harassment, then claims that it is defined by causing offence:
The defining feature of harassment is that behaviour is offensive or intimidating
According to this ‘secret’ code of conduct, behaviour as nebulous and subjective as “unfair allocation of responsibilities” or “twisting something someone says or does” can be harassment; causing offence or discomfort are repeated as forms of bullying, as can “copying emails that are critical about someone to others”.
Members are being judged against these vague and subjective criteria without having ever known they were criteria – and they have been twisted by the party to suspend officers and members on the flimsiest of grounds.
A number of members have been suspended for putting forward motions to their constituency party that merely mention that a member of staff sent an email, on the grounds that this constitutes harassment – and in spite of the unpublished status of the ‘code’, some of its wording has appeared in letters informing members of their suspension.
In spite of the party’s actions against members for even mentioning staff in a motion – and the fact that suspended members are banned even from discussing their suspension – regional offices have frequently and widely circulating information about suspended members for discussion, breaching data protection laws as well as displaying shameless hypocrisy.
Denial ain’t just a river
In spite of this, when challenged over the abuse of this document, regional offices have denied that it even exists – going so far even as to dismiss it as made up.
But it does exist – and senior party officials have confirmed that it has frequently been used in disciplinary proceedings as a yardstick for judging members’ conduct, even though those members had never seen or even heard of it. One senior figure told the SKWAWKBOX:
It’s disgraceful that people are judged against criteria they haven’t seen.
Labour is keeping members in the dark about what it is using against them in its war on free speech and its Stalinist purge of the left – and denying it even exists if challenged.
Download the full document here.
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