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Statement of Principles:

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Expulsions and Ongoing Suspensions

A Jewish Voice for Labour statement

JVL, along with all committed to democracy in the Labour Party, continues to be shocked by the unjust and unprofessional  way in which complaints and disciplinary actions are being handled in the Labour Party. It has been clear that there has been one approach to concerns raised about left-wing members of the Party, especially when they are strong advocates for the rights of Palestinians, and another approach to concerns raised about members on the right.

We deplore the fact that a review of disciplinary procedures has not been included in the Party’s Democracy Review. These opaque processes, which seem to give virtually unlimited discretion to unelected officials, would not be tolerated by any affiliated trade union; but they have been employed for over two years to attack supporters of Palestinian rights, critics of Israel and supporters of the policies for which Jeremy Corbyn stands. These processes were heavily criticised in the Chakrabarti Report, which recommended that they be replaced by arrangements which respect due process based on natural justice. This report was accepted by the NEC,  but after 20 months the recommendations on disciplinary procedures still remain on the shelf, whilst further suspensions and expulsions proceed.

The lack of due process in Tony Greenstein’s case has been appalling. Along with others, he had been suspended for an unconscionable length of time and now expelled, mainly on accusations relating to postings he has made after his suspension, and not for antisemitism. This shift in the charges against him was a belated recognition that such an accusation could never stack up against Tony, who has consistently campaigned against antisemitism, as well as against Zionism and the actions of the State of Israel.

Tony’s disciplinary panel stated that: “It [the NCC] must accept, and act upon, the findings of the Chakrabarti Report.” But his hearing was an abuse of the natural justice which Chakrabarti made the centre-piece of her recommendations. Against him stood a barrister, a solicitor and a full time national officer who oversees the disciplinary procedures, whilst he was only permitted representation if he could pay for a solicitor. He was not allowed to have any other advocate; his only support was to be accompanied by a silent friend.

In the current interregnum, and shortly with a new General Secretary in post, we trust that decisions already taken will be re-examined, with all outstanding proceedings being halted and then swiftly revisited should there be cases to answer using the basic principles outlined in the Chakrabarti Report.

 

5 comments to Expulsions and Ongoing Suspensions

  • Tony Booth

    This is entirely correct and the continuing situation is shaming. But I think it very important that we include Carl Sargeant in our considerations. He was the Welsh Assembly member who took his own life following a typically bungled disciplinary procedure in which he had no recourse to due process. Is it because the allegations against him were about sexual harassment that his case is not connected to the other cases? ts there some embarrassment about making the link? It is a fundamental of socialism that every life and every death is of equal value. It seemed that the NEC complaints section may have been implicated in Carl Sargeant’s death and yet this did not prompt recognition of the need for a major procedural overhaul. This should have included disciplinary action against the toxic individuals who have consistently sabotaged the implementation of the Chakrabarti recommendations.

  • Neil Cameron

    Clearly the disciplinary processes and procedures of the Labour Party are completely inadequate and dysfunctional. These intrinsic faults have allowed those responsible for the administration of Party disciplinary matters to act in a corrupt, partisan and completely unaccountable manner; accepting anonymous complaints which are devoid of evidence and made only to undermine the leadership, attack the grassroots left and those members who support human rights for the Palestinians – as has so eloquently been stated in this article.

    The disciplinary process has been cynically used by those in the Party who are unable to accept the results of democratically taken decisions at both grassroots and national level and have responded by flinging unsubstantiated accusations around like confetti. Invariably the accusations involve charges of ‘bullying’, ‘misogyny’ ‘homophobia’ and ‘antisemitism’.

    The, often anonymous and possibly serial complainants have been acting in concert with those persons responsible for administering Party discipline (certainly not justice) There needed to be no conspiracy as the complainants knew exactly what accusations to make to a Bureaucracy which had clearly ‘flagged up’ its’ intention to purge the left in the Party, as they had also ‘flagged up’ their disdain for evidence, impartiality, fairness and natural justice in their zeal to impose draconian punishments.

    After the Machover debacle, the prejudicial Disciplinary and Complaints body chose to bend the rules and procedures and no doubt invent new ones to deal with Tony Greenstein. They could not afford to be left looking inept, stupid and corrupt a second time. In this, they have failed with a party membership who have been provided with more, real, hard evidence which substantiates that whole system reeks of corruption and malpractice

    As to Carl Sargeant whose case, on his death, has been conveniently ‘closed’ by the NEC . IF his family want an inquiry into both the anonymous, unwritten allegation made against him AND also the alleged bullying perpetrated against Carl Sargeant AND the conduct of those involved in taking disciplinary action against him, that wish should be granted by conducting a comprehensive, independent investigation. I hope that they pursue the matter.

  • Jon Grunewald

    I don’t see how the case of Carl Sargeant can be considered in the context of unfair suspensions and expulsions. His suicide proves neither guilt nor innocence, and I’m in favour of suspensions of those who are accused (on credible evidence) of sexual harassment. As I understand it, Carl’s death means that the allegations against him will never be pursued, so unfortunately we’ll never know whether he was, or was not, treated unjustly.

    Tony Greenstein is one of many who have been suspended or expelled based on a very partisan interpretation of Labour’s rulebook. As with Livingstone and Jackie Walker, the inaccurate spin put upon what they have said should be rejected but is instead used as an excuse to suspend or expel.

  • Neil Cameron

    I don’t want to detract too much from the original article, Jon but
    Sargeant was suspended in the full glare of media publicity; he wasn’t informed what the accusations were; the leaks to the press were inaccurate – eg they stated that 3 different women had come forward to make complaints. It turned out there was one complainant not three and that the accusation was not made as a formal, written complaint.
    It has also been stated that Sargeant had been subjected to bullying for several years by someone close to the Welsh Leadership.

    Whether guilty or innocent – Sargeant was clearly a victim of a corrupt and factional complaints and disciplinary system

  • Stephen Bellamy

    In this context it is vital that Lansman doesn’t get Gen Sec job. He as much as anyone and more than most is respnsible for fuelling the purges. If he does get the job it will get worse, not better.

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