Vote Jo Bird for the NEC. Vote for fairness and justice!

This post by Jo Bird is based on a speech she delivered recently.

Vote Jo Bird for the NEC. Vote for fairness and justice!

I’m Jo Bird and I’m standing for election to Labour’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee. The NEC makes key decisions for Labour in between annual national conference.

We are doing well. I’ve lots of broad support including Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Left Alliance, Labour Representation Committee, Red Labour, Welsh Labour Grassroots, Labour Briefing, Skwawkbox and the Canary  – plus thousands and thousands of ordinary members.

I joined Labour in 2015 because people united around Jeremy Corbyn and socialism. I was elected as a Labour Councillor on the Wirral 18 months ago. As secretary to local Labour group, I ensure Party rules are applied fairly and equally to everybody.

My positive messages about Labour often go viral. For example my Just Jews video about being welcome as a Jewish person in the Labour party has been viewed over 80,000 times.

I’m Jewish. My Jewish great grandparents fled fascism in Europe. There should be no place for antisemitism or any form of racism in our Labour party. We live in a diverse society and world. We need much more understanding and much less hostility.

We condemn this hostile Tory government for its racist deportations, detentions and deaths. And for its cruel benefit sanctions against disabled and poor people. And for its attacks on public services and the trade unions that defend the many from the few.

As your elected NEC representative, I will support 4 key changes:

  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

Because this NEC election is for all of us – all the 600,000 paid up members of Labour. Its our Labour Party. Its our votes and our democracy. We should decide our policies. We should decide the Rules. We should decide who can be a member and who can not. We should not outsource this to some outside agency that works against our interests.

A question for you. Who knows someone disciplined by the Labour Party? Raise your hand. Now, keep your hand up if this was a good experience, if you learned something useful?

No, its not good. It seems to be about punishment and not changing behaviour or learning. We the accused, we are not told who makes the anonymous allegations. Nor why they might be a breach of the Rules. If we tell anyone what we are accused of, we are threatened with even more disciplinary action.

This is wrong. For some people its actually devastating. For some people its a life and death issue. Last July, the coroners report found “Carl Sargeant was a Welsh Government Minister who was removed from office on the 3rd of November 2017 amid allegations… The circumstances of his removal from office and the considerable media interest which ensued resulted in a significant deterioration in his mental wellbeing and he took his own life on the morning of 7th November 2017.” The coroner was concerned that the accused “may not be provided with appropriate channels of support”.

Carl’s son Jack Sargeant said, “We hope that political parties and governments across the union take note and make it policy for safeguarding measures to be in place for all public servants.”

Two months after the coroners report the NEC recommended new Rules. Not an improvement but actually made it worse. The new rules meant it was perfectly possible for one person to place any member immediately into arbitrary “administrative suspension” – before any investigation. Not even a courtesy phone call to check the wellbeing of the accused. Not even to check the evidence. Do you think these rules are OK?

No. Its not OK. Party members, we need a fair complaints system worthy of our Trade Union and Labour values of solidarity, tolerance and respect and we need to implement Chakrabarti’s report recommendations in full.

In my case, was it a coincidence I was suspended during the NEC election contest? I was sent off in the first half. Hmm, who do you think could benefit from my suspension?

Another suspension, Mehmood Merza, the leading Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidate. The leading one. More than 70 CLPs have said ‘we want to vote, we want to nominate Mehmood Merza’. And he is taken out in middle of the elections. Ballot papers are due out. Its absolutely disgusting. We call for suspending the BAME elections for the NEC, so we can have free and fair elections.

Free and fair elections are such an essential part of any democracy – whether its internal to a political party or external elections with the general public.

You know that injustice is super stressful, and I didn’t sleep much while I was suspended. I was lifted by the love and solidarity of thousands of members in over a hundred CLPs who continued to nominate me for the NEC.

Members passed motions and wrote letters, some fellow candidates signed a letter to support free and fair elections.

Some members stood up saying “I’m Spartacus” and referred themselves for antisemitism for supporting Palestinian human rights. THANK YOU ALL. L’Haim! To Life!

I was reinstated last Monday by a panel of the NEC who said “your behaviour on this occasion did not amount to a breach of the Party’s Rules… For the avoidance of doubt, you are no longer administratively suspended and there are no restrictions placed on your membership at this time.” There was no apology. There are no consequences for the people who make vexatious allegations.

So I’m “back in the game”. The second half of this NEC election started this week, when all Labour members are emailed or posted with ballot papers.

I’m a leading candidate. Its one member one vote. First past the post for the NEC.

Vote for Jo Bird. Campaign for Jo Bird. Share my messages, share my leaflet. Get the word out. This is a low budget campaign. I don’t have backing from well funded organisations.

I will be the members voice for fairness and justice. I will be your voice on the National Executive Committee.

Thank you very much.

#JoBird4NEC

Comments (11)

  • Rene Gimpel says:

    Well done, Jo, and well articulated. Yesterday evening I canvassed my Kensington CLP at our AGM, with a request that we affiliate to JVL, I held you up as an example of why it was both a matter of principle and a matter of urgency that we affirm our support.

    I am pleased to say that we voted overwhelmingly to affiliate.

  • Terence Murphy says:

    Jo you have my vote

  • Jan Brooker says:

    As a suspendee I am ignoring the LP’s L&GU about not talking about my suspension. The ICO says about my data: “But your data is your data. It belongs to you so it’s important your data is used only in ways you would reasonably expect” https://ico.org.uk/your-data-matters/
    BUT the Data Protection Team of the LP is outside of compliance with my SAR. This is the actual LAW ~ not the internal rules of the ‘private members club’.
    As i wrote in my reply to them today: “Dear ‘no name given’
    ➡️Your early points have already been addressed by me in previous emails. Are you not aware of this?
    ➡️I want the investigation into my social media posts to be put on hold until you get into compliance with my legal rights over my SAR ~ as the lack of information has put me at a disadvantage ~ in not having the full facts that I am legally entitled to have.
    ➡️This reads as a *standard* response and I do not know why you think this is helpful some 6 weeks later from my last email, and 5 months after my initial SAR. You only give me 5/7 days to respond to yourselves yet seem unable to meet what, if this was an external, legal, matter would be regarded as a speed of response that does not meet the requirements of Natural Justice ~ as the Chakrabarti Report recommendations. Justice delayed is justice denied, as the old legal maxim. I am being treated unfairly, and the severe delays are causing me personal stress and anxiety, that others have not been able to cope with, leading to depression and even suicide, it is reported.”

  • Paul Harnett says:

    I met you once Jo – at the Marc Wadswoth event in Manchester. I really hope you win. I’m banned for many of the reasons you point out. This is madness. When you win please process all the more deserving people than me and then get me back into the party.

  • Margo Harkin says:

    Brilliant words Jo. You were treated in a shocking and thoroughly unjust manner. The system needs overhauled. As someone from Northern Ireland who witnessed what a powerhouse for good you were when you lived here, you have my vote. Good luck.

  • Paul Steele says:

    We nominated Jo for endorsement by our CLP. Unfortunately it met the day Jo was suspended and we were prevented from selecting her. Both we and our CLP were disenfranchised by the Labour Party’s apparent gerrymandering. We look forward to supporting her with our individual votes.

  • Terry Brough says:

    Good luck, Jo. You certainly have my vote. Solidarity.

  • Suzanne says:

    Yasher Ko’ach!

    [JVL web adds: Congratulations!; Etymology Heb יישר כוח yasher koakh, Yiddish יישר־כּוח (ya)sh(er)-kóyekh, lit. ‘straight strength/power’]

  • John Bowley says:

    Well done, Jo. You speak for most of us. I will be voting for you, Jo Bird. South West Wilts CLP overwhelmingly voted to endorse you. South West Wilts CLP earlier voted to affiliate to the principled group: Jewish Voice for Labour. Several of us are solidarity members of JVL.

  • Janine Wallcraft says:

    you are so right in what you say about Labour’s disciplinary system. A member of my branch was suspended because of a complaint about him. He was told nothing about the accusation or about the process of the investigation. Worse, all the party officers contacted the Disciplinary Office to ask for information about his case and got no response at all. In the end the member took matters in his own hands and threatened to go to the media if his case was not dealt with in a specified time. Within 3 days they claimed to have done the investigation, found the accusations unfounded and reinstated him. No apologies. I was not impressed and can imagine how this could affect the mental health of someone more vulnerable than my local friend.

  • George Higgitt says:

    I’ve just voted for Jo 🙂

Comments are now closed.