Analysis comment Exclusive

Exclusive: Labour reinstates 50 suspended CLP officers after backing down under legal pressure – but slips cowardly ‘reminder of conduct’ into letters

Party was set to lose legal action by wronged officers – but reinstated them at the 11th hour, with a ruse to cover climbdown

Labour’s cowardly letter

The Labour party has today reinstated some fifty elected local party officers, under legal pressure from the wronged officials and the Unite union.

The officers were suspended for allowing debate and votes on motions of solidarity with former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, in a clear breach of human rights laws governing freedom of speech and the party was expected to lose the case brought by those wrongfully suspended.

Instead, just before the judgment was handed down, the party emailed letters to those affected to tell them that they had been reinstated. However, a sense of the party’s haste could be discerned in the letters’ admission that an NEC meeting had been convened that morning, only hours before the reinstatement notifications were sent:

Members of the Disputes Panel of the National Executive Committee (NEC) met on 05 February 2021 and considered your case.

However, in a transparent attempt to disguise the party’s climbdown the letters then concluded with a weasel-worded ‘reminder of conduct’ – and a warning that daring to defy acting general secretary David Evans again would lead to more punishment:

The NEC has considered your representations, including the points you have made about the importance of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The Labour Party agrees that Article 10 of the ECHR has a fundamental importance in the UK. It is one of the cornerstones of democratic society. The NEC does not seek to police the free speech of members where such speech does not infringe the Labour Party’s own rights to Freedom of Association under Article 11 ECHR.

The Labour Party is an association, the aim and purpose of which is to maintain in Parliament and in the country, a political Labour Party. The NEC is the administrative body that governs the pursuit of that aim. It has the power to issue guidance and instructions to subordinate Labour Party units, including CLPs and local branches, in various circumstances, including via the General Secretary, to whom its powers of day-to-day management are delegated. It is important that such instruction and guidance is followed by local Labour Party units; the Labour Party relies on its elected officials to do so. If locally elected officials were not obliged to follow the guidance and direction of the NEC, the Labour Party would become ungovernable. That is why we expect such high standards of elected officials: they have a responsibility to implement the decisions of the NEC and to follow the guidance of the General Secretary.

The NEC considers that your conduct has failed to meet those standards on this occasion. You have not merely failed to follow the guidance of the General Secretary; you have deliberately contravened it. That is a flagrant breach of your responsibilities as an elected official.

The NEC considers that your conduct has breached Chapter 2, I.8 of the Labour Party Rule Book. It is grossly detrimental to the Labour Party for elected officials deliberately to act in opposition to the direction and guidance of the General Secretary and to do so in their capacity as elected officials of the Labour Party. If elected officials wish to contravene such direction and guidance and campaign against it, they should not do so while they remain in the position of an elected Labour Party official.

The NEC notes that you have not previously contravened the rules of the Labour Party. It has taken that fact into account as a mitigating factor. On this occasion, therefore, the NEC has decided to issue you with a Reminder of Conduct only…

This Reminder of Conduct will remain on your Labour Party membership record for 12 Months. It will be deleted at the end of that period. If you commit any further breach of Labour Party rules during that period, this Reminder of Conduct and the behaviour that led to it will be taken into account in dealing with that breach. The NEC Disputes Panel may refer disciplinary charges to the National Constitutional Committee, which has the power to impose a lengthy period of suspension of your Labour Party membership or to expel you from the Labour Party.

Emphases added

The party was expected – and according to Labour insiders, expected itself – to lose the case if it had proceeded far enough for a judge to rule. So instead of apologising and acknowledging its fault, it backed down but then used cowardly letters to give the impression that it was in the right.

And in doing so, it made clear that to the Labour right, Labour values and the party’s ‘repute’ are equivalent to kowtowing to the dictates of the (acting) general secretary – and not in the movement’s fundamental values of solidarity, integrity and democracy.

Congratulations to those reinstated – and shame and a pox on the spineless, self-serving party hierarchy.

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46 comments

  1. Great news. I hope Sqwawkbox will also report that not all those suspended because of breaching David Evans edicts have been reinstated.

  2. As soon as Jeremy was scapegoated to make Starmer look good in the press (always a temporary benefit) you could see Party HQ starting to fray as their diktat was questioned. This was totally predictable and it will get worse for the Starmer regime. He will be gone by Christmas.

  3. I’m afraid that if I had received a letter such as that my riposte would have been unprintable on here. The Party belongs to the members, NOT the General Secretary, and not the LINO.

    I trust the letter was festooned with union jacks, just to show that the hierarchy is patriotic.

    1. Reading that letter they put out just brings it back that democracy in the LP is dead. So volunteers are the enactors of an acting up general admin worker/ secretary? And the expectation is that we do as told?????? One outcome might well be that roles will be more than difficult to fill, and many more might become vacant. I think also that if you look at the timing, some of it has to do with their fear of having to do the campaigning themselves as they suspended all the activists.DDo they think we are that forgetful?? ?
      RRant oover, time for a cup of coffee.

      1. DDDoo yyou rreallllly think yyou need that nnext ccuuup???

  4. In reading this paragraph of the ridiculous letter which would not hold court in law I was wondering about this comment,

    The NEC considers that your conduct has breached Chapter 2, I.8 of the Labour Party Rule Book. It is grossly detrimental to the Labour Party for elected officials deliberately to act in opposition to the direction and guidance of the General Secretary and to do so in their capacity as elected officials of the Labour Party. If elected officials wish to contravene such direction and guidance and campaign against it, they should not do so while they remain in the position of an elected Labour Party official.

    Surely this means someone who is not an official of the party is free to make comment and call for a vote on anything they like in future. You are only under this edict if you are an officer.?

  5. It means little. The PLP is only doing this because it had to save face. Future threats are implicit.

  6. “The Labour Party is an association, the aim and purpose of which is to maintain in Parliament and in the country, a political Labour Party…”
    In other words “We’re here because we’re here because we’re here.”

    As to the letters themselves the arrogance of the NEC is almost beyond belief. The idea that the Party would be ungovernable if it failed to do as it was told is not just Stalinism but a reminder that the criticism of Stalinism is that it is just another form of ruling class authoritarianism.
    It is clear that these people have no idea of what democracy means. And it was that, contempt for the people, which led to the disasters of the Blair and Brown governments. What possible motive could anyone have for working for a Labour government which announces in advance its right to tell the members of the Party as well as the working class what they must do; knowing from previous experience that it will consist of following the course prescribed by the wealthy and the US government?

  7. That letter is a disgrace ! All 50 should continue legal action to clear their good names and expose Evans for the gung ho idiot he is.

    I would be furious if I’d received that letter and done nothing wrong. Having a black mark over my head for 12 months, knowing at any time the tinpot GS could use it to make yet another move against me to get me out of the party.

    Evans has for to be held to account for his actions or he will keep doing it over and over again.

  8. trusting a party which has done even a tenth of this is truly a triumph of hope over experience

    1. Joseph, money is no problem… not the least problem, NO problem. Neither members. We needed a few in the machine to vote etc but alas too many in, are STILL trying to appease the Right. I kid u not. It’s a culture. There are few like you who are willing to drop the broad church infantile pathetic fantasy🛑🛑🛑

      1. ps for clarity – “few like you” and i, who see that “broad church” as pursued by the “Left” is pathetic folly. When the Right call for unity etc it is obvious they don’t mean it. If they did, Jeremy, Springer, Abbott, Chris Williamson et al would have been offered positions. Ken Livingstone and George Galloway would not have been treated so appallingly. Only Tony Benn had a Cabinet position in the distant past. If any newbie can research the history and see the pattern, then how is it that people who LIVED in the pattern, learn NOTHING from it⁉️⁉️⁉️

  9. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-nhs-new-law-simon-stevens-tory-ministers-a9324761.html
    Boris Johnson to seize control over NHS with new law
    Ministers want new powers to instruct health bosses to force pace of change, amid fears that private-sector involvement could be expanded across health service

    The Independent
    Boris Johnson is planning to use new health legislation to impose ministerial control over the NHS.
    A bill to be introduced this year will contain new powers for ministers, including Mr Johnson, to issue instructions to NHS England’s chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens.
    The move, which is understood to have been developed over the past year by the health secretary, Matt Hancock, is likely to raise concerns that Conservative ministers could seek to use new powers to extend private-sector involvement in the NHS.
    Under the current terms, Sir Simon’s position is operationally independent, but the prime minister is said to be concerned that this arrangement makes it difficult for Downing Street to force through changes to the system……..

    1. In what universe is that link pertinent to what is under discussion here, SteveH? You can’t seriously be arguing that Labour can only fight that legislation if Starmer and Evans keep using unjustified suspensions and expulsions to kill internal party democracy. Labour doesn’t have to be a debate-free zone to beat the Tories. y’know.

      1. Ken burch ,Steve H likes to use deflection politics,.He hasn’t learned that you can only deflect so often till hes lost all respect and credibility(if he ever had it) and now the end is nigh for the knight and his misfits.They should know that any business needs cash flow and when you throw membership money around like confetti and feed the legal bottom feeders then you eventually end up “the creek without a paddle” or in plain English The Labour party commited electoral and financial suicide.

    2. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ministers-to-seize-control-of-the-nhs-in-the-biggest-health-reform-for-a-decade-738ctprjf
      The reforms will also scrap forced privatisation and competition within the NHS. Dozens of new management bodies will be given control over billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money. The move is a reversal of 2012 reforms by Lord Lansley, then the health secretary.

      Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary who chairs the health select committee, said that the proposed changes could be a “positive” step towards more “joined-up care”.
      He added: “The structures need to be improved to make that possible and I think that’s what these reforms are intended to do, so I think they could be very positive.”

      NHS chiefs say that changes to allow GPs, hospitals and social care to work together will improve patient care. The government is facing questions, however, about why it is embarking on a big reorganisation during a pandemic. A white paper will be published this month with plans to push the reforms through by April next year, in a drive that is alarming some on the NHS front line.

      Government sources argue that they are responding to calls from Sir Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England, for changes to make it easier for hospitals, GPs and others to plan care locally, insisting that the revisions are “evolution rather than a big bang”.

      Ministers will use the bill to regain much of the day-to-day control they gave to NHS England in 2012 after repeated frustration at Stevens’s independence. He has control over £120 billion of public money and is accountable to a board separate from the Department of Health, which cannot directly sack him. They will be able to pass him orders and change their instructions on NHS priorities more often. At present the government’s powers are limited to setting an annual strategy.
      .
      The health secretary will also gain powers to block closures of hospitals, A&Es and maternity units, which must formally be referred to him by councils.

      At the heart of the bill will be the scrapping of the clinical commissioning groups, which control £85 billion of spending.

  10. And today we also got yet another begging letter….. Maybe some of the greedy mps who habe claimed extortionate expenses ought to make substantial donations…….

  11. Is the Labour Party supposed to be governable, or is it supposed to be a passionate movement for change?

  12. I can’t decide what’s more pathetic – demanding loyalty on pain of banishment to pretend a non-existent unity to the outside world – making reckless, ill-founded and in the end empty threats – dragging court action out to the last minute hoping the injured party will blink first – before ignominiously caving in yourself while pretending you’re doing it in a spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation ffs – but being unable to resist one last wheedling attempt to exert the last vestige of the ‘authority’ you just pissed away – praying that your innocent victims will accept an undeserved admonishment to allow you to save your own face – instead of doing the honourable thing and resigning to save the face of the party you’ve shamed.

    What a lousy poker player that Evans fucktard must be – bluff bluff bluff bluff bluff bluff bluff – and spunked every single hand.
    Repeated failures have an exponential not a linear effect.
    In a real job more than a couple of fuckups and you’re out.
    Dumb fuck hasn’t put a foot right yet that I can see.

  13. Starmer had to apologise to Johnson this week because he forgot positions Labour had taken and statements he’d made on the European Medicines Agency in 2017.
    Or he just “misheard” Johnson if you believe that.
    Corbyn was criticised for not being on top of his brief in the early days despite lacking ministerial experience.
    Starmer before becoming leader had had front bench experience.

    One big advantage of being a socialist is – if you have beliefs and you always stick to them and speak from them you don’t need to remember what lies you’ve told and to whom you’ve told them – like the Johnsons and Starmers do.

    Principled people don’t change policies or opinions for political expedience – rare changes of mind or policy are well-remembered for the long deliberation that goes into them.

    Not so with politicians of expedience – they change mind, principle and policy at the drop of a bung or a promised directorship – so they have to rely totally on rote memory for every dirty detail, every time.

  14. if you remain in Labour you’re tacitly saying I’m ok with this kind of thing nothing a little CLP canvassing strike won’t sort out, theres one way to play the Labour right, hardball

  15. Worse than making a complaint abut the lod.

    They too fail to investigate any complaint, and instead tell the complainants they ought ot watch their step in future. In essence telling the complainants THEY are to blame for some fascistic woodentop copper(s) kicking their teeth in for the heinous crime of questioning their authority and not showing them the respect they think they can coerce from their employers – Joe Public..

    Well bollocks to stammer and the other ponce, and anyone who thinks that should be the end of the matter.

    Defy, defy, defy.

      1. Thanks for that. Saves me wasting any more time on “leader of what ffs?”

  16. This seems to be ‘Sorry, not sorry’. It also looks like they’ve misunderstood the grounds for the complaint and so the admonishment is also out of order for the same reason as the original complaint?
    Maybe I’ve missed something

  17. Anyone who has spent any time in the company of the labour right, akehurst especially, will recognize the distain dripping from every word.

    That is what they are, that is who they are, and they really do see the left as more of an enemy than the tories, and in some cases, further right than that.

    And don’t forget, people with that thinking DOMINATE local labour in large parts of the country, they run regionals and have control of most of the levers of change, and always did even with Corbyn as leader.

    They are not serious about winning any election, just maintaining personal fiefdoms.

    1. The Pantomime Dame conundrum
      No politician should have more rights than an employee and be sacked on the spot
      Each party should be allowed to remove them and replace them
      If they feel that strongly they can go through ACAS a Tribunal or stand as an independent or more likely for another party
      The public do not like politicians who think they are above us
      Either we are all in it together or not

  18. And a pox on all those spineless ‘lefts’ who decided that keeping quiet was the way to protect their positions.

  19. Two lessons that I learned as a shop steward:
    1. Don’t back off ,.,… Once you’ve started running you will never stop.
    2. Now that the other side are clearly fracturing, call their bluff and press home the advantage.
    Rejoin and vote is one option.
    Stay and fight is a better one.
    The Labour Party is ours.
    Our day will come !!

  20. I take it Jeremy, members of JVL and others haven’t been reinstated.
    Reading through the letter sent to suspended members nothing has changed freedom of speech is still banned. Perhaps once it has sunk in the recipients of this diktat will decide to proceed with the case.
    For some mad reason all I can see is the hateful Akehurst fuming over this climb down and spontaneously combusting in the process.

  21. ‘Difficulty filling roles’ are you kidding? The Right will be queuing round the block. So given the very definite threat spelled out in the sneaky letter will the 50 reinstated continue to hold meetings supporting Corbyn and damning Starmer and Evans or lick their wounds. That will prove which side won. Fact is Corbyn’s exile and Evans’ abuse of power remain unchanged.

  22. The definition of the relationship between the members and the GS contained in the letter would be perfectly acceptable in an authoritarian, neo-fascist Party: we have to get elected so you will do what we say. That is nothing like democracy. It rests on the narrow conception that the Party exists to secure representation in parliament and councils, but it leaves out of account the important matter: representation for what? The letter would be compatible with the election of a bunch of corporate sycophants who would spend their time looking after the rich. Labour exists to be a crusade on behalf of the poor, the powerless and in favour of equal rights for all. If the Party isn’t egalitarian and democratic nor will be the society it rules over. As ever, the Right want to strip Labour of its raison d’etre. Sickening. Long live the peace and justice movement.

  23. “The officers were suspended for allowing debate and votes on motions of solidarity with former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, in a clear breach of human rights laws governing freedom of speech and the party was expected to lose the case brought by those wrongfully suspended”.
    This is a disgraceful letter and should be met with further motions from CLP’s supporting Corbyn, for the good reason that Evans cannot determine the Content’ of a meeting only the ‘CONDUCT’ as explained by Duncan Shipley Dalton.
    Here is an opinion from him, a left wing Barrister.
    The NEC and therefore the GS has no authority in the rules to dictate what is ‘competent business’ for a CLP to discuss. The only authority is in Chap 1, VIII, 3.E-“The NEC shall from time to time, issue guidance and instructions on the conduct of meetings…” CONDUCT not CONTENT Conduct is a noun meaning ‘the manner in which an activity is managed or directed.’ That is not the same as the content or subject the meeting deals with. The NEC can issue guidance on how a meeting can be run/organised but not dictate what motions are competent business.
    Secondly, the idea discussing the IHRA will “…undermine Labour’s ability to campaign against any form of racism…” is so absurd as to be in the realms of irrationality. As previously stated the NEC/GS has no authority in the rules to dictate this. If what is being threatened.
    is disciplinary punishment for breaching the code of conduct in Appendix 9, this is incorrect. The codes are not part of the rules, they are not directly enforceable.
    https://twitter.com/baronvonduncs/status/1293651998886199296?s=21

  24. So use the abuse to further strengthen the case against the party, it proves they do not accept their breach
    Two points to be made
    We desperately need a case to go through and nail the bastards once and for all
    Financially the more pressure we put on the party the sooner they will desert the ship

  25. A suspended CLP Secretary (Birkenhead) has told me he only knows of one, Alan Gibbons of Walton, who’s actually been reinstated.

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