Another day, another Labour outrage…

Alan Gibbons, secretary of Liverpool Walton CLP and member of Momentum’s National Coordinating Group

JVL Introduction

It’s hard to keep  up as South Side lashes out at another good socialist, suspended for no known reason.

You begin to think it is simply for being a socialist in the Labour Party…

Here is Skwawkbox’s report.

[17 December: We have appended Alan Gibbons’s reponse, published in Tribune yesteday]

This article was originally published by Skwawkbox on Tue 15 Dec 2020. Read the original here.

Momentum NCG member and Liverpool Walton Sec Alan Gibbons suspended by Labour – without explanation

No reasons given in generic suspension letter


Alan Gibbons, the secretary of Liverpool Walton Labour party (CLP) and elected member of Momentum’s National Coordinating Group (NCG) has been suspended by the Labour party today – and the party did not even deign to provide reasons.

Gibbons, also a well-known anti-racism and anti-fascist campaigner, received an emailed letter from Labour’s HQ informing him of the suspension. However, it provided no details of the supposed grounds.

Walton CLP recently voted in support of Jeremy Corbyn, one of hundreds of CLPs to do so. Officers of other CLPs have been suspended for respecting the democracy and free speech of their members, but if this is the reason for Gibbons’s suspension it seems the party isn’t even bothering to say so.

Yet more shoddy, shady and Stalinist conduct by the national Labour party – one of several breaches its commitment to implement in full the recommendations of the recent EHRC report.

‘You Will Not Drive Socialists out of the Labour Party – We’re Here to Stay’

Alan Gibbons, Tribune, 16 December 2020

Yesterday, Liverpool Walton CLP secretary Alan Gibbons was the latest target of Labour’s mass suspension of socialists. Today he has a message: members make the party, not bureaucrats – and they will fight for their rights.

Sometimes you really can’t make it up. I found out that the Labour party had ‘administratively suspended’ me yesterday on walking through the door after volunteering for a few hours at the Walton Vale community hub. The food co-op provides local people in our ward of Warbreck, north Liverpool, with £15 worth of shopping for their £3.50 membership.It felt like a punch in the guts. Was this the way a democratic socialist party treated its grassroots members in Labour’s safest seat of Liverpool Walton? I’ve voted Labour my whole life, but like hundreds of thousands of socialists, I finally joined the party when Jeremy Corbyn became leader.

For the first time in decades, a political party was offering a genuine alternative to a status quo that has left so many in poverty, without a steady job or secure housing. We had a leadership that stood on picket lines with NHS and transport workers, a leader whose first visit was to the refugee camp in Calais. Instead of trying to play safe in the pursuit of some unspecified middle ground that seemed to be forever shifting, the party was standing on a socially transformative platform.

I’d campaigned on issues such as food poverty, poor housing, trade union rights, libraries and solidarity with refugees for years, working closely with campaigners and trade unions to fight those battles that only working-class communities have to fight. And I’ve been lucky to continue this work alongside hundreds of my fellow Labour Party members in Walton – some of the finest, most resilient people I have ever known.

We have fought to keep fire stations open, we have supported public sector workers resisting cuts, and we’ve mobilised to chase fascists out of our city. We have distributed thousands of leaflets outside our football grounds opposing the evil of racism. We have worked in food banks and street teams supporting homeless people. We even recognised our socialist traditions by holding a 600-strong march to the grave of socialist writer Robert Tressell, as well as hosting annual Eric Heffer memorial lectures.

We may be in the safest Labour seat in the country, but we are not complacent. We organise in our wards and we fan out across the North West at election time in marginal seats. We don’t just hold meetings or hand out leaflets. We get stuck in and campaign on the issues that matter most to our community. We do this off our own backs, with very little support from party staff, because we care, and because we believe this country needs to change.

I think this is the Labour Party at its best. It’s socialism in action and if we worked this way everywhere maybe the ‘Red Wall’ would not have turned blue. But right now, too many members are experiencing the Labour Party at its worst. Across the country, ordinary members and socialists are being unjustly suspended by Labour Party staff simply for standing up for the democratic rights of local parties to organise and debate freely, or for expressing a view over former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s shabby treatment at the hands of the new leadership.

So, when I found out that I had been suspended by the Labour Party, with no evidence, it didn’t demoralise me. It stiffened my resolve. I am determined to see members suspended for showing solidarity returned to the party. It’s not pleasant to feel like you’re being driven out of a party you have given so much to. And it’s easy to want to give up. But I will not give up and I urge every suspended member and everyone who supports them to stay, organise and fight.

There’s too much at stake to leave this fight behind and let the Tories off the hook. I am organising with other wrongly suspended members, and with the thousands of socialists who oppose the crackdown on principled, socialist Labour Party members. And I want to say, firmly and politely: Mr. David Evans, you will not drive socialists out of the Labour Party. We’re here to stay.

Comments (6)

  • Doug says:

    So what are we going to do about it
    The motion posted by CLP Chairs and Secretaries is good, keep going on that
    Various legal challenges need support
    My hope is there are talks being held behind the scenes with unions on party funding
    Last resort is mass resignations and volunteer strikes but not yet

  • Kuhnberg says:

    Those who choose to stay and fight risk indefinite suspension for undeclared reasons and the consequent implication that their actions or words have been in some way antisemitic. Starmer’s ‘zero tolerance of antisemitism’ is the necessary corollary to his declaration that he is a zionist without qualification. It is now impossible in Labour circles to express support for Corbyn, since doing so tacitly amounts to antisemitism. How long before support for Corbyn’s Project for Peace and Justice also becomes a toxic offence in Starmer’s Labour?

    This purge of the Corbyn-supporting left has been planned for some time. It began, unbelievably, when Corbyn became leader, though he seems not to have recognized it for what it was. The charge that he was an antisemite blindsided Corbyn; being a person given to introspection he internalized the charge, and stood aside while many loyal socialists who also happened to be critics of Israel were expelled from the party on trumped-up charges and without due process. The names of those ex-members have now been rendered toxic; they have been un-personed.

    The same thing will happen to many more of us before this charade of ‘zero tolerance’ is done. To combat it we must learn tactics of fighting back — of challenging the narrative foisted on us by the traditional media. We must learn, for example, to combat the charge of antisemitism with the response that those who apologize for apartheid are themselves racist, whether they realize it or not.

    A new tactic of smearing the left has now appeared on Twitter: the antisemitists gang up to complain that someone who regularly posts in support of Corbyn is disseminating racist propaganda. When such complaints reach a certain number it triggers off a temporary Twitter suspension while the complaints are being investigated. The antisemitists then jubilantly claim that their victim has been removed from Twitter for antisemitism. We must learn to anticipate these attacks and prepare a unified response. Solidarity remains a potent weapon in the unending fight against those who want to see socialists and their messages disgraced and defamed.

    The similarity of Starmer’s purge to what took place during the French Revolution and the purges conducted under the regimes of authoritarians like Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Trump is hardly coincidental. No-one familiar with Orwell’s Animal Farm or 1984 can fail to recognize the process for what it is and what it is designed to achieve.

  • Seems “the leadership” do not even need reasons now. Mass resignations are tempting but that would save them the bother!

  • rc says:

    Doug, your heart seems to be in the right place, but what does your head say when one asks – how are you going to organize politically when you resign en masse? What are your volunteers going to do – and how – on or off the ‘picket line’?
    Don’t mourn…..ssaid Joe Hill…

  • “Allan Gibbons, suspended by The Party, who did not even deign to give reasons.”
    Some of us will be aware of Franz Kafka`s book “The Trial” published in thirties Europe. Kafka tells how his character “K” is suddenly arrested but “K” is not told what he has been arrested for. He is finally executed but it is never revealed what “K” has initially been accused of!
    Sound familiar? He would have been astonished that his basic story line was to be enacted in a British Labour Party in 2020.

  • Rob Gardiner says:

    What to say? First the disgust and the anger, at the sight of us devouring our own. Second, the wish to extend my support and understanding to Alan, for being the victim of an unprovoked act of malice in the first degree. Third, what to do next? However, this is not Kafkaesque, because we can all understand its motivations. It is a calculated effort to purge the party of the Left, or a version of the Left, those who aligned themselves with the Corbyn project. Never mind the pain this causes for individuals, or the stress, or the mental health problems these measures will create.

Comments are now closed.