Don’t leave, organise!

JVL Introduction

More and more people are leaving the Labour Party.

We appreciate the arguments in this letter from a number of disaffected members of the Great Yarmouth Labour Party who make their case well.

But we’re not convinced, and continue to urge members to remain and organise.

As of 7th December 80 CLPs had expressed opposition at the direction and organisational regime installed by David Evans and Keir Starmer.

Stay in and join them and us in the fightback!

 

This article was originally published by Medium on Tue 8 Dec 2020. Read the original here.

Dear Great Yarmouth CLP Secretary

 

We are writing to you as a collective of, soon-to-be ex, Labour Party members of Great Yarmouth CLP. As proud socialists and committed anti-racists, it is with a heavy heart but deep conviction that we are terminating our Labour Party memberships. We do so due to grave concerns in relation to democracy and due process within the party, which has been highlighted by the suspension of MP Jeremy Corbyn.

The suspension of Jeremy Corbyn and the subsequent decision not to reinstate the whip after readmission to the Party demonstrates overt political interference into party investigations. Guidance issued to local labour parties by the General Secretary David Evans – stating that discussion or motions in relation to any aspect of the suspension or the suspension of the whip will be ruled ‘out of order’ –undermines local party democracy and CLPs’ right to political debate. While members have been denied their democratic right to discuss and take a view on key issues facing the Party, the Labour Leader has openly spoken about the report and suspension to the media. The suspension of CLP Chairs and members who have taken part in discussion or passed motions on these issues demonstrates the lack of any democratic means for members’ to raise legitimate concerns in relation to the suspension, due process and Party democracy.

We wholeheartedly support – a fit for purpose antisemitism complaints procedure and a cultural shift within the Labour Party in relation to antisemitism – to ensure incidents of antisemitism are dealt with promptly, appropriately and consistently. We agree with Corbyn’s statements that “anyone claiming there is no antisemitism in the Labour Party is wrong” and “one antisemite is one too many”. Yet, we also recognise that ‘there is no finding of institutional antisemitism in the EHRC ‘Investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party’ report nor does it provide any evidence of widespread antisemitism’ (Jewish Voice for Labour). We oppose, as does the EHRC report, Party investigations or sanctions being influenced by ‘political reasons’. Corbyn’s statement that “the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons” has since been determined by legal advisors to the NEC as not constituting valid grounds for suspension. In fact, the EHCR report itself refers to the impact of factionalism and ‘external pressures’ on the Party’s response to antisemitism. Corbyn’s treatment and the curtailing of democracy within the Party are clearly decisions made to influence media perception of the Labour Party.

We raise particular concerns in relation to the curtailing of free speech and as a result democracy within the Labour Party. We oppose Labour’s adoption of the IHRA’s ‘Working Definition of Antisemitism’ where this equates anti-zionism with antisemitism, undermining Labour Party members’ protections under EHRC Article 10. The EHRC report itself recognises the limitations of the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism, noting, in line with the Home Affairs Select Committee, that ‘it is not antisemitic to … criticise the Israeli government, or to take particular interest in the Israeli government’s policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent’. The report references the importance of EHCR Article 10 in providing protection for Labour Party members who ‘make legitimate criticisms of the Israeli government’ which are not antisemitic. Whilst we acknowledge that anti-zionist critique can and does sometimes stray into anti-Semitism (particularly the use of tropes e.g. by Councillor Pam Bromley outlined in the EHCR report); we strongly oppose the equation of anti-zionism and anti-semitism. We support Party member’s right to ‘express their opinions on internal Party matters, such as the scale of antisemitism within the Party’; a protection granted to members under EHRC Article 10 as explicitly outlined in the EHRC report.

At its most perverse, this curtailment of free speech has resulted in Jewish Labour members being accused of antisemitism for either expressing their views on antisemitism within the Labour Party or for legitimate anti-zionist critique of the Israeli government (e.g. Jo Bird, Moshe Machover & Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi). More broadly, this has acted to silence critique of Israeli government and military practises, within the Party. We therefore urge the Party to adopt the EHRC’s approach in recognising both the limitations of the IHRA definition and the importance of Article 10. It is essential that members are provided with free speech in relation to the Israeli government’s occupation and its systemic human rights abuses of Palestinians. We recognise that the anti-racist fight is a unified one where we must speak up for all those oppressed and against all forms of racism.

We recognise Corbyn’s suspension, refusal to reinstate the whip and the guidance issued to undermine local party democracy as acts of factionalism; an attempt to discredit and silence the left of the Party. Yet this attack on the left of the Party has broad reaching repercussions far beyond members of the Labour Party. First and foremost, using an antisemitism allegation to further political motives is abhorrent and we acknowledge the harm this causes Jewish people and the anti-racist movement as a whole.

We stand in solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn recognising the great contribution he has and, if allowed, will continue to make to the socialist and Labour Party movement. He has strengthened the party greatly, inspiring tens of thousands of young people to actively engage in politics and bolstering Party membership at unprecedented rates. Jeremy has been on the right side of history his entire career; from protesting apartheid South Africa to consistently voting for equality for the LGBT+ community. Keir Starmer claimed he would be a leader to unite the Party but instead of fighting the Tories, he is intent on dividing the party, preventing any credible opposition or an electable alternative. Divided Parties don’t win elections.

We are angry, frustrated and quite frankly embarrassed to be associated with a leadership that uses false allegations of antisemitism which cannot be upheld for its own factional political gains. Keir Starmer has made it evidently clear that the left can no longer be heard through democratic mechanisms within the Labour Party. He has attempted to silence us but we will not be silenced. Today we leave the Party to ensure that we can continue to speak out against all forms of oppression, racism and injustice.

Regards,

Charlotte Godden
Tegan Hill CLP Women’s Officer
Marcus Godden
Sarah Bilyard Executive member
Lorna Godbolt
Mrs Lauren Bleach Gorleston and District Branch Chair, Great Yarmouth CLP Disabilities Officer
Trevor John Wright
Della Anverali
Joan Donohoe
Jill Liversidge
Simon Donohoe
Chris Collins
John Collins
Josh Rafé Coles

Comments (13)

  • Harry Law says:

    Because the Labour party is not a public body a member has no redress under section 10 Human Rights Act if the General Secretary decides debate on a particular subject is not competent business, however bad it appears to Labour members and non Labour members. On the other hand this does not apply to Labour controlled Councils which are public bodies and must conform to article 10 of the Human Rights Act, also any misapplication of the IHRA description see my comments here.. https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/article/no-need-to-worry-about-the-ihra-definition-it-cant-possibly-be-abused/ I can see the Labour party tying themselves into legal knots in the coming months.

  • Andrew Morris says:

    This article almost exactly expresses my own reasons for recently leaving the Labour party. The only difference is that I left before the dictatorial suppression of free-speech was imposed, after Starmer handed over a large amount of sorely needed Labour party funds to the very people who deliberately undermined the party before the 2017 and 2019 elections.

  • Doug says:

    They want you to resign, stay and vote to affiliate with JVL
    Wait for Union elections, legal and leadership challenges
    if you are going to leave at least let’s all go down together

  • Mary Davies says:

    Solidarity with Gt Yarmouth CLP.

  • Eveline says:

    To be honest, I do wish that Starmer would expel Jeremy. I’ll explain why. . I don’t think Jeremy will ever resign of his own accord. Starmer knows that, and he has Jeremy exactly where he wants him: safe and gagged within the party. We do need a new movement, and Jeremy, with his large following in the country is by far the best person to start that. But only if he is not shackled by the present Labour leadership and its iron rules on what he can and cannot say. Free Jeremy…..

  • William Johnston says:

    In some ways I understand why people are leaving. What some of those who are doing so need to understand is that leaving will not shame Starmer, Evans, Raynor et al into mending their ways. Far from it: they will be whooping with joy, and hoping to provoke many more into leaving, relinquishing the space to a Blair style rump.

    Stay, I implore you. Even if you do or say nothing, just being there provides a potential for change. When the moments come to let your voice be heard, what purpose can be served if you’re not there to shout your continued presence.

    They also serve, who only sit and wait?

  • I agree with Eveline. I feel that a new Party is the only way to go and Jeremy is a bit younger than the man who has just been elected President of the U.S. It is not just the “iron rules” that makes certain factions in the Party unfit for leadership however. A recent comment by “Doug” on another subject outlined precisely WHY these people will never uphold Labour Party values. He stated what I have long suspected, that uncritical support for Israel is NOT a support for Jews but is purely a support for the state of Israel as a political suppository for Western interests in the middle East. This information must be wisely disseminated. It explains exactly why even legitimate criticism of Israel is not permitted. It explains exactly why some in the Party are so inexplicably enthused about Israel to the exclusion of other countries.
    It would appear that the present leadership have no real commitment to the Labour Party their commitment is to old fashioned imperialism!

  • ruby lescott says:

    I agree with Doug. Much as I’m sick of the antics of the last few years, and would feel some relief at being detached from it, I can’t bear to let them win so easily. They want us to leave, it’s all provocation to get us to leave and we must stay and fight back. If Starmer expels Jeremy, of course, we’ll have to rethink our position.

  • Allan Howard says:

    I wonder what sort of ‘support’ a new party with Jeremy at the helm would get from the MSM et al Eveline! Needless to say, Jeremy and its members would just be smeared and demonised from the get-go. When you own and/or control the MSM you control the narrative and, as such, can create ‘reality’, and the fact that respondents of a poll conducted for the authors of Bad News For Labour believed, on average, that a third (34%) of LP members had been reported (to the LP) for anti-semitism is testament to their power and effectiveness. Yes, the PTB got a shock in 2017 when Jeremy came so close to winning the GE, and that’s why they then trebled down on their smears and demonisation in the follwing months and years.

  • Allan Howard says:

    ALL of the ‘episodes’ involving Jeremy directly happened AFTER the 2017 GE – ie the ‘Mural’ episode, the ‘English Irony’ episode, the ‘Wreath Laying’ episode, the ‘Book Foreword’ episode etc, and I have no doubt whatsoever that these ‘episodes’ didn’t just happen to come to light – one by one – in the couple of years or so AFTER the 2017 GE, and I have little doubt that they were ‘unearthed’ within weeks of Jeremy being elected leader (and quite possibly BEFORE then), and the reason his enemies didn’t use them until they DID use them is because their main objective was to smear and demonise the WHOLE of the left membership – ie Jeremy’s supporters – as anti-semites (and bullies and thugs and homophobes – think ‘Angela Eagle’ – etc), and when the Tories were twenty points plus ahead of the LP – and Theresa May and Co called a snap election – they thought they had done enough damage to the left and Jeremy’s reputation to finish him off as leader. But when – during the course of the campaign – the LP increasingly closed the gap, his enemies couldn’t very well start ‘utilising’ one or more of said episodes, as it would have looked too glaringly obvious to many people that it – or they – should just happen to come to light at such a time.

  • Doug says:

    What about JC standing for Mayor of London

  • Alan Howard“s comment on episodes that “proved” Corbyn`s “antisemitism” did most certainly not “just come to light” Corbyn`s detractors were using a tried and tested method of political attack!
    In one of his books Barrack Obama describes that when he was running for President he created a team whose only function was to research his (Obama`s) own life. Obama`s purpose was that knowing his opponents would be doing exactly the same in an effort to unearth any information about Obama`s life that could be used to discredit him. Obama felt that it would be useful to be aware ,in advance, of info that could be used against him. This precisely what was done with Corbyn. Any information that could possibly be twisted an misrepresented was diligently dug out.
    All the “instances of A.S.” that have been presented so triumphantly can be dismissed with even a small amount of thought!
    And of course Corbyn is antisemitic! I heard him in a bakers saying that he “Didn`t like bagels”. The man is a fiend!!

  • Hugh Neal says:

    None of this is specifically about anti semitism. It is a poorly veiled attempt to turn the Labour Party back into an arm of the Establishment and a cash cow for the MPs as it was during the Blair years. At least now the iron fist has lost its velvet glove. What makes it difficult to remain in the Party is that, as yet, there seems to be no coordinated effective fight back fron the Left.

Comments are now closed.