Stop Suspensions Before Investigation: NEC Fairness Campaign Report by Cllr Jo Bird

Here is the latest mailing from Jo Bird’s NEC campaign.

In it she reports on her campign to date and stresses, once again, the principles for which she is campaigning:

  1. Fairness and natural justice in our complaints system
  2. Open selection of Labour MPs, just as we have for Labour councillors
  3. Freedom, justice and equality for all people under military occupation
  4. Members-led policy decided at a sovereign democratic conference

So much has changed in the two months since Wirral South was the first Constituency Labour Party to nominate me for a CLP seat on Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC).

The Covid 19 pandemic has taken hold, with varying response from governments across the world. Our hearts go out to so many bereaved families. Communities have responded to the crisis with solidarity and socialism, such as creating mutual aid networks. I hope you are well, have access to the essentials you need, enough money to live on, secure housing and good healthcare. If you are ill, I wish you a full and speedy recovery.

The Labour Party can be a fabulous and supportive family. I urge all members to stay in Labour together, so long as it’s not bad for your mental health. We are still grieving the loss of a Corbyn-led Labour government and mobilising in new ways. Some of our key struggles for justice and equality are likely to move into workplaces, health, culture, humour, co-operatives, across borders and back onto the streets when possible. But it remains crucial to organise within democratic party structures too. As secretary of Wirral Labour group, I organised one of the country’s first remote meetings of a full Labour group of councillors.

The NEC makes key decisions for Labour in between annual national conference. During the current by-elections for the NEC, five candidates including myself were suspended from the Labour Party. Did such draconian action bring the Labour Party into disrepute? More than 50 CLPs paid no heed and continued to nominate me for the NEC (118 CLPs altogether). Members demanded free and fair elections. I was swiftly reinstated by a panel of the NEC who found my behaviour “did not amount to a breach of the Party’s Rules”. Thank you to everyone who voted or spoke out!

The #JoBird4NEC campaign has broad support from vibrant, networked organisations including Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Left Alliance, Labour Representation Committee, Red Labour, Welsh Labour Grassroots, Labour Briefing, Skwawkbox and the Canary – plus many thousands of ordinary members from across the political spectrum. My positive messages about Labour often go large. For example this Just Jews video, about my experience of being welcome as a Jewish person in the Labour party, has been viewed over 80,000 times. Thank you to everyone who generously crowd funded my campaign, the largest donations being £200.

We live in a diverse society and world. We need much more understanding and much less hostility. My Jewish great grandparents fled fascism in Europe. There should be no place for antisemitism or any form of racism in our Labour party. The evidence shows that less than 0.1% of Labour members have been formally accused of antisemitism.

I’m standing for:

  1. Fairness and natural justice in our complaints system
  2. Open selection of Labour MPs, just as we have for Labour councillors
  3. Freedom, justice and equality for all people under military occupation
  4. Members-led policy decided at a sovereign democratic conference

I’ve listened and talked with thousands of Labour supporters across the UK. Before travel advice changed, I spoke at 16 meetings from Birkenhead to Brighton and Glasgow. Belfast’s Labour members meeting was replaced with a livestream. I’m happy to accept invitations to speak with meetings held remotely.

From these meetings and conversations, it’s clear that people share a huge hunger for fundamental fairness. Almost every member I met knows a good comrade punished by unfair sanctions. Members are our best resource and every Labour branch has members with valuable trade union experience of fairer complaints systems.

We know power needs checks and balances. Through our campaigns and motions, we call on the NEC to:

  1. Stop all suspensions before investigation, unless criminal conduct or physical danger is a real possibility – ie ‘innocent until proven guilty’.
  2. Uphold Trade Union principles and representation in our Labour workplaces.
  3. Implement much better safeguarding measures for the accused – as recommended by the coroner’s report on Carl Sargeant, the Welsh Labour minister who tragically killed himself days after suspension and media allegations.
  4. Stop ‘unofficial’ leaks to hostile media and allow the accused to talk privately about the allegations against them.

I urge all NEC members and candidates to be more accountable to Labour members:

We have around 600,000 members of our Labour Party. Everyone who joined by 11th November can vote for Jo Bird on their NEC election ballot, before voting closes this Thursday 2 April. Thank you!

Councillor Jo Bird
#JoBird4NEC
Twitter: JoBird4NEC
Facebook: Jo Bird 4 NEC
Instagram: JoBirdyLabour
Email: [email protected]

Website: Subscribe for more email updates to Jo Bird’s website

 

Comments (11)

  • Maggie Gothard says:

    Our household has voted for you..do hope you get on the NEC.

  • Joern Janssen says:

    This is the most sympathetic and honest commitment to the labour party.

  • Lorcan says:

    Perhaps Corbyn’s biggest failure was not to ensure that the recommendations of the Chakrabarti report on disciplinary processes wasn’t implemented rapidly and in full. I’m sure vested interests stood in his way in thwarting that and the result is that due process and natural justice are regularly ignored in NEC disciplinary cases, leading to a view that these have become kangaroo courts.
    I’m delighted that Jo’s suspension was lifted and I hope that she is elected to the NEC and will be able to help implement these much needed improvements to Labour’s disciplinary procedutres

  • David Cannon says:

    All power to your elbow

  • Allan Howard says:

    If someone makes a complaint of alleged anti-semitism (or bullying or whatever) to the LP about a member or a councilor etc, they should be told to report the matter to the police, and only in the event that the person is found guilty of said offence in a court of law should they then be expelled.

    Apart from anything else, this would deter people/groups from making malicious and vexatious claims. And in EVERY case, the LP should follow up to ascertain if the person or group concerned DID in fact report the matter to the police, and the person or group making the allegation, told that the LP will be checking to see if they did so.

    And needless to say, anyone involved with the LP who makes vexatious claims should be expelled immediately. I mean given that Margaret Hodge submitted 200 alleged cases of A/S to the LP involving 111 people, of which only 20 turned out to be LP members, it is of course an impossibility that Hodge could have believed that the 91 people who WEREN’T members WERE, and she should of course have been hauled before the NEC (or whoever) to explain how she did so, and then expelled from the LP when she fails to come up with a plausible explanation, which of course she would do. Needless to say, the reason she did so was to bring the LP and members into disrepute, and specifically Jeremy Corbyn.

  • Sean Conway says:

    Best of luck in the NEC election Jo. You got my vote. Let’s hope we get a progressive slate elected and support for open selection of our MPs.

  • Mary Wyatt says:

    We must make our complaints system fairer. I voted for you and I hope you get a place on the NEC

  • ian thomson says:

    The important point underlying Allan Howard’s excellent comment is that if we are to use the “bringing party into disrepute” clause in cases like Chris Williamson and others then it should be used even-handedly. Margaret Hodge and others have deliberately taken actions which arguably have the effect of damaging the parties reputation yet are not even investigated. Can anyone really believe that the chicken coup did not harm the reputation of the party yet at least two of those involved have survived to stand for the most senior positions in the party. If the Labour Party is anything, it is, or should be, a party of equality whereby the same rules apply to all members equally from the highest to the lowest.

  • John Bowley says:

    Margaret Hodge MP damaged our Labour Party with attempted coups against elected leader Jeremy Corbyn, yet is untroubled by party discipline.

    Everything which Jo Bird and her supporters have said is fair and proper.

    I too have voted for Jo for the NEC.

  • Doug says:

    Vexatious claims rely on an industrial level of barrel scraping of social media postings going back years
    Margaret Hodge should have been sacked on the spot for gross misconduct

  • Peter Jones says:

    Full support to your initiative, Jo. Party members must be able to reassert control over the investigative and disciplinary processes which their own Party follows. However, all current leadership contenders have signed up to the Board of Deputies ‘pledges’ which will wreck our process: how can we prevent these commitments from being Party policy?

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