Another attempt to explain the basics to David Evans…

JVL Introduction

On 8th December we published a letter from one “Fred Wall” a generic local Labour Party officer commenting on the latest David Evans diktat.

Having had a reply from Evans  (not personally, you understand, but in the form of another generic iron-fist-in-velvet-glove e-missive), Wall returns to the fray with a further deconstruction of the latest instruction.

We repeat our apologies to all Labour Party officers wherever they may be who happen to share the name Fred Wall. You may find yourself under investigation…

Dear David

Thank you for your second letter: which will compound the damage you are doing to the Party. Your letter is in black, my comments in plum italics.

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.

The Party does indeed rely on the voluntary commitment of members and officers. It will not have escaped your notice how many of these have now been suspended for allowing or facilitating discussion of matters of concern to the members, nor how many have signed open letters in their support. This is obviously demotivating for all concerned and I have heard of candidates for councils attracting no volunteers to phone banks in recent weeks. That is one way the culture of the Party appears to be changing. The star chart for phone bankers currently being circulated looks like a fairly desperate attempt to use extrinsic motivation to make up for a loss of intrinsic passion for the course the “new leadership” is on. I can’t see that working for you. Put bluntly, you can’t thwack the members across the knees with a hockey stick, then expect them to jog out with a pile of leaflets.

The suspension letters that you send out sustain the flaws in the disciplinary procedures of the Party that the EHRC identified. There are no specific charges. Accusers are not identified. The accused are instructed not to talk to anyone, but referred to the Samaritans if the accusation causes distress. Just to be clear, I presume that you are aware that the role of the Samaritans is to try to talk people out of killing themselves. I wonder how much this bothers you; or how compatible it is with any duty of care you think you have? It also sits oddly with your assertion that the intention of all these suspensions is to make the Party a “welcoming space for all”. The word “all” there possibly being interpreted in what might be called a limited and specific way.

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.

You put an enormous weight on the two instances in which the EHRC found the Party in breach of the law in its view – a rather tendentious interpretation of “harassment” apparently in contradiction with Article 10 of the Human Rights Act which has not been tested in court – written by an Equalities Commissioner who has sympathy with the views of Roger Scruton. But even if it were as clear and incontestable as you make out: they cite two instances. Not thousands. Not hundreds. Not even dozens. Two. The French phrase “the mountain laboured and brought forth a mouse” comes to mind. And for this our rights must be suspended – along with so many of our members? I note that your sentence admits that your stance on this question is “contentious and controversial.” Quite so. And a Party that does not discuss such issues is being lobotomised.

You will also be well aware that the number of Jewish comrades suspended or being investigated as part of this process – supposedly designed to make the Party a “safe space” for Jewish members – has now grown to 35 – so far. This means that the “safe space” you are creating is for SOME Jewish members at the expense of other Jewish members. The distinction between those made to feel welcome and those being suspended cannot therefore be ethnic or cultural identification – a protected characteristic under equalities legislation -it can only be political view – which is not, cannot and should not be protected under equalities legislation.  This is about who has a right to a story and who does not. Who can speak and who must be silenced. We both know this; but it is clarifying to have it in the open. Labour is a big broad Party and differences of view are inevitable. No one can learn anything if these are not debated and argued out and we develop a culture in which we argue in a robust and respectful way that generates more light than heat. That is the culture that needs to be nurtured. Closing down any such discussion to avoid “unnecessary confrontation”, thereby imposing administrative unity, will create, at best, a sort of Stepford Party wreathed with the fake smiles of doorstep evangelists, but dead from the neck up. 

I can only assume that the “Jewish stakeholders” that will be consulted about the Party’s disciplinary process will be similarly one sided and not take account of the full diversity of views among Jewish members: which is what would be required to make the Party a “safe and welcoming space” for all of them. I note again in passing that Lord Mandelson has still not been suspended for criticising this aspect of the EHRC recommendations. This is not because I think he should be. Quite the reverse. But the leeway extended to him to state his view, and the immediate suspension of others for stating theirs, underlines your inconsistency and – dare I say it – factionalism. 

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.

The bottom line here is that you have suspended many members and intimidated others into silence on this issue: but in so doing have stripped illusions and positive feeling about the leadership from many more. And be in no doubt that that will find its way out from here on in all sorts of unpredictable ways.

In anger and in sorrow,

Fred Wall






Comments (21)

  • Janet Crosley says:

    What a well thought out letter, not that I would expect anything else.
    Thank you, and I look forward to any reply you might receive.

  • Excellent reply to this dastardly email. the “Democrat”isation continues. Seeking to become another electable party by subscribing to free market economics is a success story as much as it is a disaster of compromising. What’s worse it does nothing to progress humanity.

  • Rich64 says:

    Well said the Leadership is now at odds with the whole membership not just the left Starmer’s capitulation on Brexit has infuriated the right as well so much for unity unless he intended to unify the membership against the leadership.

  • Sabine Ebert-Forbes says:

    Brilliant letter. I wonder what the reply might be like if you get one. It shows up the hypocrisy of both Mr Starmer and Mr Evans so clearly. Some self-reflection on both their parts is called for. Members deserve to be treated with respect.

  • Martin Price says:

    Following receipt of the article I would ask that Starmer and Evans and their ilk take a good look in their shaving mirrors. Who are guilty of not upholding Labour Party conference motions and Party rules.?

  • Graeme Kennedy says:

    We now have a dalek for a leader. Thanks for this.
    We have to keep battling even if for the moment the labour party is lost and horrific. Again!

  • Tony Troughton-Smith says:

    I agree with Sabine’s comment – a brilliant reply from “Fred Wall”. I would be extremely surprised if a genuine reply was forthcoming, partly because Fred’s logic seems unassailable. Thank you.

  • Terry Ryan says:

    Fred Wall speaks for the many to the few. His letter will end up in David Evans pending tray along with with ‘the leaked report’.

  • I have been a labour party member for 45 years and I have never been so angry with the leadership as I am now. David Evans and Kier Starmer are turning our party into something unrecognisable as a democratic party and more into a tool of a dictatorship. There cheers to Fred wall a brilliant and correct ripost to a stasi tactic.

  • Paul Leach says:

    “….This means that the “safe space” you are creating is for SOME Jewish members at the expense of other Jewish members…”
    I’m reminded of a remark made to me last year: One Jewish member of my CLP said of another Jewish member “HE shouldn’t even be IN the Labour Party!”

  • Paul Leach says:

    “……The star chart for phone bankers currently being circulated looks like a fairly desperate attempt to use extrinsic motivation to make up for a loss of intrinsic passion for the course the “new leadership” is on……”

    As Willie Whitelaw once said in a different context- “You’re going around the country stirring up apathy!”

  • Phil Whitney says:

    An excellent response. Please keep up the good work. Early in the EHRC report, they state that they have taken evidence from (amongst others) JLM and JVL. After that there are several references to “evidence” provided by JLM but, unless I missed it, there is no reference to their having.considered any evidence provided by JVL, hardly a balanced position and one that has to be discussed by party members before the report can be endorsed or rejected.

  • Jackie Heslin says:

    As a Labour Party member, I feel saddened and rather intimidated; although I have commented little on the recent events. The enthusiasm of the Corbyn/McDonnell ideology and passion is being drained from me and no doubt many others. I hope Starmer & co find enough volunteers to knock on doors in the rain because I for one lack the motivation now.

  • Paul Crimmins says:

    Fred wall sounds like a real smart cookie.Wish he was GS

  • Joseph Howard says:

    Great reply democracy wil win over dictatorship you have got my full support

  • Peter Johnson says:

    A righteous letter of truth to Mr Evans. The pyschological effect of the Great Silencing being, of course, compounded by Covid – as if ‘the Samaritans’ were not already busy on ‘that distressing side of the road’.

  • Lorna Richardson says:

    That I am ashamed of the curious road taken by the Labour Party is an understatement. I will not be volunteering for the phone bank (as I have in the past). I will not be supporting an apartheid in the party, where a member standing up for human rights is slandered, where Labour Party values are abandoned.

  • John Bernard says:

    What a good letter. It seems to me to be analogous to an adult pleading with a recalcitrant child who has locked them out of the house, to open the door or at least not damage the furniture. Personally I think it’s too late, the furniture is in shreds. I don’t see any way back from what Starmer & Evans have done, not least that some have been whacked around the head with a hockey stick never mind across the knees. As Fred points out 35 Jewish members have been suspended or expelled and he refers to factionalism, but let’s call a spade a spade shall we? At bottom this is about opposition to Zionist racism, and Starmer’s craven obeisance to the Israel lobby, and I can see no realistic broad church resolution to such a nakedly hostile and partisan attack (without precedent of scope in Labour Party history), on members opposed to Zionism, as it manifests in latter day Israel – it’s no longer about Jewish self-determination if indeed it ever was. I just cannot see even given initiatives like the Bindman’s legal action how Labour can ever become whole again, and even if there were some sort of rapprochement what on earth do you do with JLM, monsters like Margaret Hodge, and the assorted careerist zombies around Starmer who are really left wing Tories, or would be more at home in the Lib Dems – you see if Starmer doesn’t go for a merger. The Labour Party has been comprehensively traduced by cuckoos it has allowed into the nest, and the only logical response is not to seek compromise (because these people want none) but to derail and destroy. In that context it is gratifying to learn that there are not enough phone bankers and Starmer’s Labour is also apparently even having difficulty finding enough candidates to stand in May’s local elections – good!! Starmer and Evans of course crave the implied endorsement of a good showing in those elections and this must be denied them. In
    my view achieving that trump’s all other considerations – hard choices will have to be made, but this is an unparalleled situation. Would it not be the height of absurdity if not somewhat sado-masochistic for members opposed to Starmer’s agenda to knock on doors and deliver leaflets or do anything to facilitate success in May? This is, in particular, against the background of the sabotage of the 2017 election by the likes of Starmer, Watson, Thornberry and co, and just to consolidate such a political boycott people should also be voting independent or Green in Mays elections. This is a war, and no war was ever won by taking the view that your enemy was amenable to reason or would give up their objective.

  • rose challands says:

    brilliant …..thank you thank you thank you

  • Harry Law says:

    The Evans diktats ruling out subjects which some Jewish members might find uncomfortable is a denial of democracy, it rules out all politics on the Middle East, Iran, Iraq and the JCPOA including Chinese economic and military investments [450 billion] in same through the belt and road initiative. Russian bases and investments in Syria and Iraq, in short the stirrings of WW3 in the region are considered out of bounds by the Labour leadership, only members not interested in debating such details are now welcome in the Labour party, or as I prefer to call it, the Likud party, Southside, London. They deserve to crash in flames.

  • Andy Whiteman says:

    What a great response to the acting Gen Secretary of the Labour Party. I sincerely hope that Labour suffers in the next local elections.
    I will never vote for the Labour Party whilst these charlatans are “in charge”. Starmer is an imposter, an Establishment shill. As for Evans lets just say he’s not fit for purpose and should be kicked out ASAP.

Comments are now closed.