12 NEC members protest at retrospective “justice”

JVL Introduction

Labour’s decision at the July NEC meeting to proscribe four groups has aroused deep concern, especially as the criteria being applied to “auto exclude” members bear scant relationship to those described in the relevant papers at the time the decision was taken.

Retrospective application of “auto exclusion” seems to be the norm, and members who did things that were perfectly “legal” at the time are now being hounded.

Twelve members of the NEC have now spoken out against the sheer injustice of decisions being implemented retrospectively.

Update, September 9th: LabourList understands that Ann Black, thought of as a ‘soft left’ NEC member and not one who was backed by Momentum as a candidate, has now also signed the joint letter. There are now 13 signatories.

This article was originally published by LabourList on Tue 7 Sep 2021. Read the original here.

Labour implementing ban on groups in “unfair” way, say 12 NEC members

12 members of Labour’s ruling body have written to David Evans and Margaret Beckett to say they “feel deeply uncomfortable” about the way the ban on certain groups is being implemented, LabourList can reveal.

The national executive committee (NEC) agreed in July to proscribe four groups – Socialist Appeal, Labour in Exile Network, Labour Against the Witchhunt and Resist. Their supporters can now be automatically expelled from Labour.

The papers presented to NEC members defined ‘support’ for each group. For example, supporting Socialist Appeal means selling the publication, writing for it, staffing its street stalls or describing oneself as a supporter.

But, in a letter to the general secretary and NEC chair, the group of 12 NEC members – all considered to be on the party’s left – have now raised concerns over retrospective action being taken and how ‘support’ is being defined.

They have highlighted reports of Labour members being given “notice of auto-exclusions applied retrospectively”, with evidence of their support for a group originating from before the ban was agreed.

The NEC members are also concerned that the definition of ‘support’ being used is not the same as the specific indicators of support that were set out in the NEC papers in July, which means the parameters are being set by staff.

“We don’t believe that how they are implementing the proscription is how it was represented in the NEC meeting,” one NEC source told LabourList. “It’s not fair, I don’t think, the way this has been applied.”

Labour sources have pointed out that banning support for a political organisation other than the Labour Party was already in the rulebook, and members of Socialist Appeal had been expelled from the party before the July NEC meeting.

It has also been said that the lists of ways in which members could be deemed to have demonstrated support for the banned groups were non-exhaustive, and other forms of support – such as social media activity – also count.

Not all Labour left NEC members voted against each of the proscriptions earlier this year. Nine voted against banning Resist, ten opposed the banning of LIEN and LATW, and 12 voted against the Socialist Appeal ban.

The latest letter to Beckett and Evans is signed by the larger left grouping on the NEC, which includes not only those who opposed any proscription on principle but also those who agreed to the banning of some groups.

The group of 12 NEC members has demanded the recall of the ruling body to discuss the issue, or for the matters raised to be added to the agenda of the next meeting, which will be held on September 17th.

Their letter is signed by local party representatives Laura Pidcock, Nadia Jama, Gemma Bolton, Yasmine Dar and Mish Rahman, youth rep Lara McNeill and disabled rep Ellen Morrison.

TSSA’s Andi Fox, FBU’s Ian Murray, ASLEF’s Mick Whelan, Unite’s Jayne Taylor and CWU’s Andy Kerr, all from the trade union section of Labour’s NEC, have also signed the letter.

The Labour Party was contacted for comment.

Below is the full text of the letter from a group of NEC members.

Dear Margaret Beckett and David Evans,

Members of the National Executive Committee feel deeply uncomfortable about the way in which the proscription of political organisations paper has been implemented subsequent to the decision of the meeting of the 20th July 2021. It is the view of those who have signed this letter that the true intent of the decision, as to how it would be applied to individuals, was concealed and/or misdescribed.

We have been made aware that members of the Labour Party, said to be supporters of proscribed groups, have had notice of auto-exclusions applied retrospectively, in so far as it is alleged support prior to the decision of the NEC and that is being used as justification for auto-expulsion.

At no point in the NEC discussion about proscription of political organisations, and nor within the officers papers, was it suggested or stated that members would be subject to suspensions or auto expulsions for past support given to any of the proscribed organisations. Such alleged support of an individual would of course have been given when the organisation in question was implicitly or expressly welcomed into Labour. The mere fact that Labour took no action to either proscribe the grouping or suspend an individual for giving alleged support to such grouping, is reflective of that fact that at that time neither the grouping in question, nor an individual’s support, was considered contrary to Labour values. This retrospective application is unfair, likely contrary to our rules and not something that the NEC should be taken to have agreed to without specific debate.

If this retrospective application is to be applied consistently then anyone who has ever been a member of another political party (proscribed by Labour) can never become a member of Labour. An MP can never cross the floor to Labour.

We are further alarmed at the definition of ‘support’ for the organisations now being applied by GLU. It is a definition that is not only all encompassing but one that’s application is subjective. It is a paid member of staff, not the NEC, who now decides what actions amount to ‘support’ of a proscribed organisation and subject to auto-expulsion.

The examples given to the NEC of what amounted to support were clearly understood by the signatures to this correspondence, intended to be definitive. If the list of what constituted “support” was to be added to then this would be in consultation with the NEC. We accept the papers use the Latin “inter alia”, although the meaning of this Latin term was not explained to the NEC members, it does not mean that the authority for deciding the meaning of “support” would transfer from the NEC to paid staff. This is obviously of the utmost importance as members being accused of “support” are then being subject to auto expulsion and denied the opportunity to make their case to the NEC. This is against natural justice, contrary to the fairness principles that run through our Rule Book but also entirely contrary to the custom and practice of the application of the auto expulsion rule which until now has been precise as to the member’s conduct and not open to such a level of subjective analysis.

Based on the discussion at the NEC and information contained in the the papers, it is our opinion that the Labour Party administration is current acting outside of the authority granted by the NEC.

The officials must now recall the NEC to have a clear and transparent debate about whether the retrospective application is either fair or capable of consistent application. The recalled NEC must also clearly define what future actions will constitute “support” and confirm that it is for the NEC to consider any additions to the list of actions considered by the administration to be capable of constituting “support”. If the NEC is not recalled we wish to formally request to have this matter added to the agenda for our next meeting on 17th September.

If the integrity of the NEC decision making process is to be upheld then the recall must happen without delay and before any further auto expulsions occur.

Yours sincerely,

Laura Pidcock
Nadia Jama
Gemma Bolton
Lara McNeill
Andi Fox
Ian Murray
Yasmine Dar
Mish Rahman
Mick Whelan
Jayne Taylor
Andy Kerr
Ellen Morrison

Comments (20)

  • Joseph Hannigan says:

    Some or all,of these reasonable arguments were used when Stalin was boss in USSR. What happened to HIS purgees?

  • amanda sebestyen says:

    The ‘auto-exclusion’ process seems to be part of a much bigger tech-driven undertaking to limit participation by members. Without any discussion our CLP and branch have singed up for the LabourOrganise software which means that members are no longer informed about upcoming meetings and policy discussions. Instead they have to opt-in specifically to get that information, and register each time. This is an even more effective way of excluding people than outright expulsion. I’d like to hear from other CLPs and branches if this has also gone by the nod everywhere else.

  • Clare Holland says:

    Thank goodness for a modicum of goodsence and decency from the NEC.
    We have Jewish members being harassed by this misuse of power alongside other socialists.

  • Linda says:

    WOW, WHAT A LETTER!

    At last, out of control officials and their supporters are being held to account. Thank goodness!

  • Teresa Grover says:

    This whole campaign against politically left Labour thinkers is extremely suspect.
    This attitude smacks of discrimination, racism, antisemitism. Everything the extreme RIGHT of Labour accused Mr.Corbyn of, which I state he was falsely accused & still remains a fighter for justice & transparency!
    I will NEVER VOTE LABOUR NOW, Starmer & Evans & the extreme right who seem to protect Zionism with such power makes me realise this is ALL to do with what Israel demands & the BoD, Friends of Israel etc are hell bent on Destroying the Labour Party, which was founded BY politically Left thinkers from all the working classes, immigrants post war all religions, races & colours. The Jewish especially fought hard & long for justice, but now Zionism takes them over & silences & gags THEIR opinions.
    I am disgusted by this coup, this corrupt & facist thing the Labour Leader has created has desecrated a wonderful Party & even welcomed back the backstabbing Blairites…& change its precious moto
    To help the OPPRESSED AGAINST THEIR OPPRESSORS…
    STARMER IS NOT A LABOUR LEADER but he is a puppet of another country… guess who that is???

  • Paul Smith says:

    Ann Black has not signed.

  • Jack T says:

    The NEC is pathetic. It would appear that the concern is of retrospective auto exclusion not the auto exclusion of Socialist groups. If anyone should be excluded it should be right wing groups such as the JLM and LFoI.

  • Dave Postles says:

    Here we are combating the Conservative Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill, inter alia, to protect the right to protest, and the Labour Party is eliminating any discussion. Sad days. Labour is lost. Unions shd withdraw their funding and leave Starmer with his multi-millionaires and corporate sponsors.

  • Marc says:

    Note that Lara McNeill voted to proscribe three of the four groups (not Socialist Appeal). Rather naive not to see what was coming given what came before. Ann Black, not on the letter, also voted to proscribe these three and abstained on Socialist Appeal.

  • Allan Howard says:

    If I remember correctly, I believe there are thirty-nine members of the NEC, so it would appear that twenty-seven of them don’t have a problem with members being auto-expelled retrospectively.

    That said, do the other twenty-seven NEC members even know that that is happening. Did Laura and Ian invite ALL committee members to sign the letter? If they did, then they must all know. If they didn’t, then……

    Obviously at no point in what I believe was a lengthy meeting of the NEC was it explicitly stated that ‘support’ for the four groups would be applied retrospectively, so it would be more than a little interesting to ascertain if any or all of the twenty seven members came away from the meeting believing that ‘support’ for one or more of the groups WOULD be applied retrospectively. Perhaps JVL could inquire, or if one of them happens to be your MP, you could contact them and ask them and then get back to JVL.

    Needless to say, it’s totally outrageous that the groups were proscribed anyway, and it is rather odd, to say the least, that Starmer and Co left it for fifteen months before doing so given that members of these groups had ‘poisonous beliefs’ and ‘warped world views’ according to a ‘Party source’.

    https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/1464128/labour-party-news-latest-keir-starmer-ban-corbynites-nec-meeting-antisemitism

    And here’s a link to the list of NEC members:

    https://labour.org.uk/about/how-we-work/national-executive-committee/whos-on-the-nec/

  • Allan Howard says:

    Jack, knowing you well from skwawkbox as I do, I know you are ALWAYS looking for ‘ways’ to discredit the left, and you have posted literally hundreds of posts to THAT effect, time and time again repeating the same slurs – ie the same falsehoods.

    As you will know from the above article, most of the twelve left-wing members voted AGAINST proscribing the groups. Just to remind you:

    ‘Nine voted against banning Resist, ten opposed the banning of LIEN and LATW, and 12 voted against the Socialist Appeal ban.’

    You begin by stating that the NEC is pathetic, but then immediately go on to criticise the left-wing members for only being concerned about the retrospective auto exclusion aspect (in their letter), and NOT the auto exclusion of the groups themselves. And you do so knowing that most of them voted AGAINST proscribing the groups on the one hand, and knowing full well that it would be completely pointless to write a letter complaining about the four groups having been proscribed when the NEC just voted by a large majority to do so.

    It must REALLY take a lot of working out to arrive at a way of not only fraudulently trying to discredit the left-wing members and blacken their character, BUT **also** try and dupe and deceive readers of this site!

  • Margaret West says:

    Well – good for those 12 at least .. but where are the rest?

    Not only that but we never heard even a small sample of the
    hard evidence which was supposed to justify the proscribing.
    Apparently – but this is not certain – it was supposed consist
    of incidents at CLP meetings – but I ask again:

    Where ?
    What ?
    Who ?
    When ?
    and most importantly
    WHY have we not heard a redacted version of these incidents?

    The whole “edifice” of justice rests on sand and is redolent of the
    show trials beloved of Stalin.

  • Harry Law says:

    Retrospective legislation is wrong, just as retrospective rule changes can never be defended and must be changed, however Anti Semitism as a recurring theme within the Labour party is something the party can never live down because it is inherent in the party, particularly members on the left and Jewish Voice for Peace in particular who seem to specialize in this form of hatred /S
    Let me explain, when I talk of hatred I of course mean criticism of Israeli Government polices, criticism which is immediately conflated with the views of ‘all Jewish people’ wherever they may live or think, therefore ‘all’ criticism of Israeli policies are ipso facto antisemitic, this is the viewpoint of groups like Jewish Labour Movement [JLM] and the Jewish Board of Deputies et al, it is also shared by the leadership of the Labour party including Keir [I am a Zionist without exception] Starmer and by Nandy.
    Who can forget the exchange between Robert Peston and RL Bailey at the leadership hustings…
    Peston…. “Is it anti-Semitic to describe Israel, its policies or the circumstances around its foundation as racist because of their discriminatory impact” on Palestinians.” R L Baily…”Yes”
    There you have it, RLB a lawyer not contradicted by another so called lawyer Starmer telling the world that to criticize Israeli Government policy is Anti Semitic.
    I have no doubt Israeli supporters in the county and the Israeli government in particular could not believe their luck at the foolishness of the Labour leadership it is the reason the party is in such a mess and the reason there are so many “Anti Semites” i.e Labour members against Israeli government policies including its well documented war crimes.

  • Betty Hales says:

    Auto-exclusion retrospectively is yet another ploy to frustrate and anger us and make those they don’t want to stay in the party leave voluntarily by unjustly excluding some high-profile members. They are very nearly succeeding with me. I just don’t know how long I can continue to be associated with such nonsense. Great about the stand that is being made in this letter, though.

  • Margaret West says:

    Concerning Damascene events –
    I was pleased to read that some at least of those who signed the
    letter had originally voted for the proscriptions. A late conversion
    is fine by me – even if it really indicates regret at their original decision(s).

    Am not at all clear either as to how these voting decision(s)
    was arrived at. From what I can gather (news items in Labour List)
    there was a star chamber first which produced a report and
    then the NEC ratified – or not – the result(s). However from the
    following account of the NEC meeting reports were oral so how
    could serious evidence possibly have been presented to the
    meeting?

    See
    https://labourlist.org/2021/07/forde-finances-members-complaints-proscriptions-labour-nec-report/

    As can be seen the whole meeting ran for 9 hours and it
    seems that the item concerning proscriptions came near
    the end. How come then that so serious a matter was ratified
    in a meeting so packed with items ? (Well – silly question I think!)
    It is perfectly possible that people regretted their voting afterwards
    and seized on this device to oppose.

  • Allan Howard says:

    I just did a search re >labour party members being expelled retrospectively for supporting banned groups< so as to try and ascertain if any of the MSM are covering the issue and, as I expected, there was nothing. Not even the Guardian or the Independent or, for that matter, the Mirror. In other words the general public are deliberately being kept in the dark about the matter.

    When the WHOLE of the MSM conspire – one way or the other – in a black op against the left, as they have for the past six years, then we are, in effect, living in a fascist state, but one in which the vast majority of people are oblivious to the fact 'thanks' to the MSM.

    And as I've said before, but for Jeremy acquiring enough nominations to stand for the leadership and then being elected leader, and hundreds of thousands of socialist-minded people joining the party as a consequence, then none of what's been happening during the past six years – and what's presently happening – would have happened, or BE happening. How very fortuitous for the dark fascist forces that run the show!

    It's as if the Psychopaths thought it would be SOooo much fun to 'transform' the Empaths into the very opposite of what they are, and paint them as Jew-hating anti-semites and thugs and bullies and homophobes etc, etc, and they had NO problem whatsoever (in respect of smearing Jeremy and the left as anti-semites) in causing concern and consternation amongst many Jews in their quest to crush the left. And who but people completely devoid of a conscience could do such things!

    PS Please omit the last paragraph if you would rather

  • Martin Read says:

    Just imagine what the currently silent BBC would be making of this if Corbyn had even hinted at behaving in such a manner. Good ol’ BBC!

  • Iain says:

    Margaret West – You are so right
    “Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done.”

  • Doug says:

    Methinks
    Temporary Embarrassment and his oily rag are the opposite of everything the Labour party stands for
    Keep it simple Red Tories are in the wrong party and off they must go

  • Allan Howard says:

    Needless to say Martin it wouldn’t have been just the BBC, and the whole of the MSM et al would have piled in to condemn and vilify and demonise him.

    Anyway, I was just checking something out in relation to ‘anti-semitism’ in the Green Party and, as such, came across the following on the alleged Campaign Against Antisemitism website, in which JVL get a mention:

    On 10th October 2018, Dr Ali shared an article on Twitter, relating to a definition of anti-Palestinian racism promoted by Jewish Voice for Labour, a group whose purpose is to provide an ostensibly Jewish voice in support of the most extreme elements on the Labour left, which camouflage themselves as ‘anti-Zionists’, partly in order to deflect accusations of antisemitism in the Labour Party.

    https://antisemitism.org/politics/greens/shahrar-ali/

    I also came across the following ‘article’, posted on their website a week ago:

    https://antisemitism.org/caa-deeply-troubled-by-policies-of-scottish-greens-now-in-scottish-government-who-believe-zionism-is-a-racist-ideology-oppose-aliyah-and-want-hamas-taken-off-lis/

    The second thing the CAA posted on its website at the beginning of 2015 – four days after the FIRST thing – was their Annual Antisemitism Barometer (they omitted to mention that it was the first one!), and this is what they said about it:

    The Annual Antisemitism Barometer is the largest study of its kind. It reveals both the scale of antisemitic sentiment in Britain, and its effect on the increasingly-threatened British Jewish population.

    Yes, the largest study of its kind ever concocted and contrived on the back of a fag packet!

    https://antisemitism.org/annual-antisemitism-barometer-published/

    NB And it is rather strange that despite the Paris attacks (Charlie Hebdo and the Kosher supermarket) happening just three days before they posted their FIRST article, they say nothing whatsoever about it – ie didn’t post an article about it. But perish the thought that ‘they’ quickly got a website together in the wake of the Paris attacks so that they could exploit them – ie exploit the fear and consternation the attacks would have generated amongst Britain’s Jewish population.

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