No retrospective punishment say Jama & Pidcock

JVL Introduction

At last some NEC members are taking the Party to task for its application of retrospective justice – or rather injustice.

In its indecent haste to purge socialists, the Labour Party bureaucracy is quite happy to throw people out for actions which were entirely within the rules at the time they were undertaken.

It is a sign of how far the corrosion of values has gone under in the current regime that there is little expectation of this Jama-Pidcock motion – common moral, legal and political sense – being carried at the NEC.

This article was originally published by Skwawkbox on Sun 21 Nov 2021. Read the original here.

Jama, Pidcock table NEC motion to ban retrospective punishment and rescind expulsions

Pair condemn retrospective punishments ‘against natural law’ and call for unlawful expulsions to be rescinded

Labour national executive (NEC) members Nadia Jama and Laura Pidcock have tabled a motion for the NEC’s next meeting later this month demanding an end to retrospective application of the right’s ‘proscription’ of left groups – a practice that even the Labour right has admitted privately is unlawful.

The party’s right-wing regime, having forced the original ban through the NEC earlier this year, has been applying the rule in a way that is not only against the natural principle that no one should be punished later for doing something that was allowed at the time, but which wasn’t even agreed at the NEC meeting that passed the rule.

Thousands of Labour members have been targeted for even the most nebulous link with the banned groups, with one even expelled simply because a group’s social media account mentioned them. Councillor Pamela Fitzpatrick was expelled – after a 5-year campaign of abuse by the right – for being interviewed by one group about why she was standing to be the party’s general secretary, while Unison left-winger Lilly Boulby was expelled by the right-wing machine to remove the left’s democratically-achieved majority on Unison’s ‘Labour Link’ committee.

The motion reads:

Motion submitted to NEC

This meeting notes that at the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of 20th July NEC members were presented with a paper which resolved to proscribe four separate organisations for their incompatibility with “Labour values”. The proscription of those organisations (Socialist Appeal, Labour Against the Witch hunt, Labour in Exile & Resist) was passed by a majority at that NEC meeting, but not unanimously.

Throughout the discussion that occurred at that NEC meeting and in the papers preceding the meeting, there was no mention of the retrospective application of the decision to proscribe these organisations nor, crucially, was there a clear, exhaustive, description of what constitutes ‘support’ for the organisations listed.

At the request of many National Executive Committee members, a discussion took place at a subsequent NEC meeting about both of these substantive points of contention – namely of the retrospective application of the proscription of these organisations and of what constitutes ‘support’ for them. From that discussion it was clear that there were wide ranging interpretations of what was agreed at the July NEC meeting which made the decision to proscribe the organisations.

This meeting believes that:

  1. If the ruling body of the Labour Party (the NEC) cannot agree on what was decided on the 20th July NEC meeting, particularly in relation to how these rules are implemented, then the Labour Party should not proceed to implement them.
  2. Retrospective proscriptions are against the legal principle that people cannot be guilty of a criminal act that was not illegal at the time of the offence. This ‘natural law’ principle is especially pertinent for disciplinary cases, and the Labour Party should adhere to these principles in its dealings with its own members.
  3. There is an urgent need for clarity over who determines whether a member has met the threshold to be investigated and the criteria to be employed to determine if a member is given extra time to respond, the criteria that would be used to exonerate the member under investigation and who makes that decision.

Therefore. this meeting resolves that:

  1. A discussion must be convened at this NEC meeting to determine what constitutes ‘support’ for these organisations and a detailed examination of the process by which any future groups are proscribed.
  2. The retrospective application of this rule ceases and that all members who have faced disciplinary action and investigation because of any ‘support’ for subsequently proscribed organisations before the date of the 20th July NEC meeting should have that action rescinded.

Proposer – Laura Pidcock
Seconder – Nadia Jama

The pair are still waiting for confirmation that the motion will even be heard. Tragically for justice, the right-wing majority on Labour’s NEC and the right’s lack of principle mean that even if it is debated, it faces almost certain defeat, regardless of the obvious wrongs of the party administration’s application of the rule and the fundamental issues with the very idea of proscription.

Comments (9)

  • Kuhnberg says:

    Agreed, retrospective punishment is an abomination. But why should anyone be punished for non-offenses like those of which Pamela Fitzpatrick, Heather Mendick and Jo Bird stand accused? Why should good socialists who have worked diligently for the party for many years be expelled for communicating with fringe groups whose views, while differing from those of the leadership, are located within the realm of acceptable left-wing opinion? Honest open debate is more valuable to the party than the authoritarian imposition of a single viewpoint.

  • dave says:

    I agree with Kuhnberg – just going after the retrospective aspect concedes and won’t do much given all the other ways that the right are going after the left. Anyway, you don’t just stop supporting comrades and friends in proscribed groups and I don’t see how you can prove you don’t.

  • John Bowley says:

    The present Labour Party hierarchy is showing that it is unfit for government.

  • Margaret West says:

    I agree in principle with the first two posts. However
    the whole thing is a construction based on nothing ..
    given that the proscription of these organisations
    was effectively decided by a small selected group
    of the NEC. It was then ratified by the NEC after a cursory
    examination of the why’s and wherefores at the end
    of a nine hour meeting.

    It seems that for these organisations “support” of
    them was never considered by the NEC and this
    omission is criticised by Jama and Pidcock:
    it is their opinion that the retrospective application
    of “justice” is not allowed.

    So – good luck Jama and Pidcock and I hope your
    motion is at least considered.

  • Joseph Hannigan says:

    Necessary..what a waste of creative energies tho’.

  • Pauline Fraser says:

    I’m pleased that Laura and Nadia have stepped up and tabled this motion, but agree with Kuhnberg that it doesn’t go far enough to support wonderful socialist councillors like Pamela Fitzpatrick and Jo Bird. Perhaps Laura and Nadia are trying to maximise the support they get on the NEC and that focusing on this issue is most likely to do that. In any case it is a welcome move and proof that the Left on the NEC is alive and kicking.

  • Dave Hansell says:

    The key problem with this motion is that it only deals with one aspect of a much wider problem in which the Labour Party hierarchy and bureaucracy are operating outside of due process principles and standards.

    What is required is one or both of the following:

    1. A short straightforward motion compelling the Party at all levels to follow widely accepted due process legal principles and standards.

    2. A class action to bring the hierarchy and bureaucracy to heel on these matters.

    At present the Party at all levels is operating as a law to itself. As demonstrated in this example

    https://mobile.twitter.com/acailler/status/1461258973802336264?s=20

    Where, to quote from the horse’s mouth:

    “Labour rules, unlike the actual law, are based on gender and not sex – therefore they go beyond the law, or as they would like the law, just like Stonewall does!”

    In practice this example is no different in principle – at least for those who don’t operate on the basis of ‘my gang right or wrong’ – to what is happening on an equally regular basis to non conforming members of the Jewish Community, JVL members for example, who don’t toe the BoD/FoI line and their convenient self selecting/self referencing pseudo definitions.

    If we are going to be serious about doing the business we cannot hope to defeat the Tory philosophy of one law for those we like and another for everyone else at the ballot box at any level. We have to act, and be seen to act, consistently to a set of principles and standards rather than picking and choosing to suit.

    Though, given the stance and approach of too many fellow travellers in recent times, the odds do not seem particularly favourable.

  • Stephen Richards says:

    As a regular contributor to Skwawkbox, may I recommend reading & contributing to this blog. I have regular differences of opinion with some contributors but debates are usually constructed in a serious & sometimes humorous manner.

  • Andrew Hornung says:

    Some time ago I wrote a comment doubting that the focus on complaining about retrospectivity would in most cases be fruitful. There may not be a uniform pattern in the accusations, but as I understand it the leadership faction’s tack in most cases is not to say “you are being punished for having supported a proscribed organisation before it was proscribed” but rather to say “your having supported a proscribed organisation suggests to us that you are now a supporter unless you can prove otherwise”.
    As far as breaches of natural justice go this is just as bad, of course, because the only way a person prove they are not a supporter is to denounce that organisation or at least make a declaration in favour of their proscription.
    As matters stand, without such denunciation, suspicion becomes the same as proof.
    The attack has to be on the definition of “support/supporter”.

Comments are now closed.