A joint statement regarding all recent suspensions

A joint statement from Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Representation Committee and Red Labour  regarding all recent suspensions

 

A week ago we were celebrating the reinstatement of NEC candidate Jo Bird after a huge campaign of support across the party. Many CLPs had continued to nominate her despite the action against her and hundreds of individual members had protested by supporting petitions or sending individual letters.

Even then, we regretted that a second NEC candidate, Mo Azam was not reinstated.  We continued to argue that Jo’s suspension should not have happened in the first place and to demand, as Jo herself does, fairness and natural justice in complaints.

Since then there have been further outrageous attacks on these principles.

  • NEC candidate Graham Durham has been suspended. One of his supposed ‘crimes’ is calling the Chief Rabbi a Tory. In what world does an irrefutable fact end up on a charge sheet in our party?
  • NEC BAME candidate Keith Hussein we understand is also under administrative suspension.
  • Possibly the most pernicious case is that of West Ham’s Mehmood Mizra, who has by far the greatest number of CLP nominations for the BAME seat at 75, as well as backing from the transport union TSSA.

Mehmood is the leading left candidate running for the BAME position and the timing of this suspension is deeply suspicious, particularly taken in the context of other recent suspensions and with just two days before ballot papers are due to go out to members on Monday. This can be seen as a deliberate attempt to undermine democracy within the party. Already thousands of members have put Mehmood’s name on the ballot paper and may now be denied the opportunity to vote for him.

The Telegraph carried an article on Friday February 21 attacking Mehmood. It alleges that a complaint against him was made last October for sharing a cartoon which “depicted a sticker with the words “anti-Semitism” being placed across the mouth of a man who has a “free Palestine” band around his head….” More than shades of 1984??

Five left candidates for the NEC have therefore had action taken against them. Four will not currently be on the ballots when they are sent out on Monday. As with the previous suspensions of Cllr Jo Bird and Mo Azam, we stand firm against any attempts to silence left-wing campaigners. Following a campaign Jo was re-instated. Suspension is an extreme measure and the party must explain why they have taken these actions prior to an investigation.

Graham Durham’s CLP, Brent Central, unanimously passed a motion at their GM about his case expressing concern about the use of administrative suspensions against members who have received sufficient support to get through to the next stage in internal Labour Party elections.

We have adapted it below to take up the further cases of Keith Hussein and Mehmood Mizra:

This GC has been concerned at the recent spate of administrative suspensions from the Labour Party.

Candidates for the forthcoming NEC elections and parliamentary selections seemed to have been targeted which has meant that CLPs and unions who nominated these candidates were de facto disenfranchised. We were however pleased that Jo Bird, for example was “reinstated” and is back on the ballot paper.

Now it seems the same method of administrative suspension has been used again, against Graham Durham, who was on the ballot for NEC CLP place and against Mehmood Mizra and Keith Hussein who were on the ballot for the BAME NEC place.

This seems to happen to members once they have achieved enough support to be on the ballot. Labour Party elections should be as democratic as possible. Removing candidates in this way smacks of totalitarian regimes who deal with “opponents” in this way rather than letting the electorate decide.

This GC wants there to be a fair and transparent election of NEC members and parliamentary candidates. The timing of these suspensions gives us cause for concern. We ask the NEC to address these issues as quickly as possible and call for NEC elections to be halted until all candidates under suspension have been investigated or had their suspensions lifted. 

We urge comrades to:

  • pass such motions in whatever Labour movement forums they can
  • send messages of support to all the suspended candidates
  • sign petitions in their support including the follow-up open letter originally created in response to the suspensions of Jo Bird and Mo Azam Please sign the follow-up letter here.
  • share this joint statement widely
  • look out for other solidarity actions you can support as they are publicised

 

Comments (50)

  • Alan Griffiths says:

    I make no comment about any of these cases.
    Every employer’s Discipliniary Procedure includes suspension during investigation, for some cases. I’m surprised groups apparently mostly consisting of Labour members don’t seem to be familar with this point.
    Once upon a time, one of my acheivements as a Trade Union Branch Secretary was to get a sentince into my employer’s disciplinary procudure that suspension would be removed from the file if the employee wasn’t subsequently punished.

  • Jon Grunewald says:

    It seems that the Party has failed to pay any attention to the recommendations of Shami Chakrabarti in respect of administrative suspensions. By way of a reminder, she says this:
    Another matter which has been brought to my attention is the frequency of resort to the power of interim suspension in cases where an allegation that a member has acted in breach of the rules is before the General Secretary and/or his staff. Indeed, an early lesson that any new General Counsel might offer his/her colleagues is on the application of the vital legal principles of due process (or natural justice) and proportionality. I hope that my earlier comments make clear that I do not subscribe to the view that every allegation of misconduct within the Party is a factional mischief, but nor do I feel that every investigation warrants immediate publicity (a punishment in itself), nor administrative suspension (with the inevitable shame and opprobrium that is likely to follow) – even if the allegation has attracted public controversy.
    It is important to remember that the beginning of an investigation into alleged misconduct is just that. The making of a complaint marks the beginning, not the end, of a hopefully fair process that might end in a warning, admonishment, some further sanction up to and including expulsion from the Party, or exoneration and no further action whatsoever.
    Once you understand these basic natural justice principles, you realise that administrative suspension from the Labour Party need not be employed every (or nearly every) time a complaint (however credible) is made against a member.

  • Adella Harbar says:

    Thank you for your strong assertion in support of our suspended comrades – we stand in solidarity!

  • Tahir Mirza says:

    This is such a insult of those 75 CLPs who nominate Mehmood, it’s seems to shut our mouth on such an important issue of Palestine, last labour manifesto (2017) page 118 clearly support Palestine cause, but members can’t say anything at all, next struggle for free speech on these issues, but for now, elections should be paused, until they all reinstated

  • Martin says:

    Bird’s suspension was clearly a malicious attempt to ensure there were no Jews on the ballot. Whoever triggered the suspension needs to be suspended themselves.

    [JVL ed: we disagree strongly. This was not a “race” issue, keeping Jews off the ballot, but a political one – an attempt to make sure that the “wrong kind of Jew” was not on the ballot.]

  • Peter Williams says:

    When things are not ethical or fair, and false & deceitful rhetoric is being used to justify actions that amount to prejudiced & oppressive victimisation . . . it’s time for genuine democratic socialists to stand up & be counted.
    This very nasty ‘witch hunt’ must end!

  • Ian Merricks says:

    Labour must stop itself from being used as a football by certain people and organisations, the ones that like to conflate a fight for the rights of Palestinians, with Antisemitism. And the ones that like to conflate criticism of the Israeli government in this area with antisemitism. IT IS SIMPLY UNTRUE.

  • Baljit Soroya says:

    How pernicious andsmells of oppression.

  • Laura Murrell says:

    Yes, disciplinary procedures allow for suspension but that would be in suspected cases of gross misconduct. Most good procedures would give examples of what might be considered as gross misconduct and provide that the individual being suspended should be interviewed and advised why they are being suspended. I would expect the Labour Party to employ a model disciplinary procedure.

  • Tahir Butt says:

    The Labour Party is tearing itself apart with the Blairites and Corbynites fighting for control. It lacks a independent discipline process and clear guidance on legitimate criticism of Israel and defense of Palestinian human rights and where that constitutes Anti-semitism. If it continues with this approach, it will lose support amongst members, making it even more less likely to gain power.

  • Alice Grange says:

    Hmm? Think it’s time I left Labour…

  • Thomas says:

    I could not know for sure, but “Martin”‘s comment above may have been tongue-in-cheek. Obviously, the JVL’s editorial note is correct – it was an attempt to make sure the “wrong kind of Jew” was not on the ballot. But the atmosphere, as we can see from Mr Durham’s suspension, has been built up to suggest that you cannot criticise Israel or Jews, as such would be anti-Semitic. However, they only mean *certain* Jews, and the list of those you cannot criticise is not exactly transparent and enforcement is deliberately arbitrary, even coming down against other Jews.

    I would expect that it was in that vein that Martin’s comment should be read. “If criticising Jews earns you suspension then the Labour Right has a lot to answer for”.

  • Graham Durham says:

    I wish I could share the allegations against me publicly with comrades but that would mean further disciplinary charges against me . Rather Kafkaesque….however a few trusted comrades and solicitors have read the documentation and believe there is no case to answer .I declared as a candidate on 30 January , reached the ballot threshold on 5 February and the LP Suspension letter was dated 6 February ( although it actually arrived on 19 Feb)

    I am grateful to JVL, LRC , Red Labour and other organisations expressing support . This is a political attack on all socialists in the Party and now is the time to stand together
    Solidarity
    Graham

  • Richard Comaish says:

    The witchhunt is clearly deeply antisemitic, as the previous poster alleges, allowing, as it does, a only a miserable trope for ‘the right sort of Jews’ to inhabit. It’s also McCarthyist, of course – but who cares about that, these days?! 😃

  • These suspensions should not go ahead, these candidates should be reinstated

  • Paul says:

    At these times of increased illegal expansion of Israel. is it a coincidence that this silencing operation is taking place?

    It is of course also a confluence of interests for those willing to use any tool that hurts the left. They are themselves assisting real antisemitism, pre IHRA definition.

    Israel consorts with right wing antisemites and is now taken as the arbiter of of what antisemitism is.

    Darkly ironic but consistent then that Zionisms’ founders defined it by its differences in opposision to Judaism.

  • Elijah Traven says:

    The suspension of Graham Durham for saying Rebecca Long Bailey has been ‘cuddling’ up to the Chief Rabbi and the Jewish Labour Movement is an expression used by everyone in society to suggest a creep who we all know exist in a despicable way who butter up people to get gains for themselves at the expense of others. They are disreputable and dishonest and make us cringe. They’ll sell their very souls as they have not an iota of moral honour. I don’t suggest that Graham Durham was implying anything of the kind but we all know what he meant. It doesn’t have to be spelt out. I read just now again the JC news reporter. He says he does support RLB for the leadership position with a degree of critical distance though and there’s nothing wrong with that. We can all make off the cuff remarks that really mean nothing and have no implications. Cuddling up to is a commonly used expression and could be used and is used within our own families and friendships. The target is amused and might hit back with any kind of response. Graham Durham supports RLB in general as I do and many others do as I don’t trust Keir Starmer. None of us know at this stage what he may do to the Labour Party though there are some well founded suspicions. To suspend Graham Durham is an actual crime against justice. The Labour Party at the decision making level in dealing with accusations against party members especially when it comes to Israel are showing themselves up as people who in my mind don’t have labour values, they’re not acting like Labour Party people. They have been subverted by those who support Israel it seems unconditionally and certain in no way want the subject of Palestine raised in any way, shape or form. It’s not a subject of discussion they want, instead they concentrate their on those who do raise the subject of Palestine and just what Israel is doing out there to the people of Palestine, Gaza and West Bank. It’s a horror show. I don’t know how they can erase this from their consciousness. But they won’t debate it with anyone who isn’t fully inside their camp and not even there much too. The whole operation is in offensive shape. They’re on the offensive at all times. You can see this in Israel with the mainstream media. Though there is a newspaper in Israel called Haaretz which fully supports the idea of the Israeli state and can’t be questioned on that but who day after day write sympathetically about the Palestinian cause. I read it with pleasure though mainly just the headline stories. This shows another side of Israel. It isn’t a totalitarian news system and isn’t a totalitarian state. There is a significant concern amongst the Jewish people in Israel but over the past decade it has not been able to find successful political form. A shift to the right has been going on for years. A more narrower view of Palestine is therefore created inside Israel. Graham Durham is a good guy. When political organisations and institutions start expelling or sacking good guys then you know something is seriously wrong.

  • RH says:

    One thing is clear : the IHRA document is now proved to be what many feared, namely a manipulative tool for the pursuit of factional interest. It has pushed the Labour Party into a position of absurdity as far as its disciplinary procedures are concerned.

    The document needs to be binned, and the travesty it represents replaced by an honest definition that cannot be exploited by sectarian Zionist political interests. The baleful influence of the anti-Labour JLM also needs curtailing after its work on behalf of the Tories during the election; individual members are suspended for far less.

    But where are those with the courage and intelligence to take these necessary actions?

  • June bains says:

    This smacks of a witch hunt. What on earth is happening in the labour party. How many more of us are going to be targeted under this. Where has common sense gone.

  • John Kingston says:

    This McCarthyesque witch hunt has got to stop. Too many excellent Labour Party members are being suspended for alleged anti-Semitism before any investigation and then remain suspended indefinitely without a hearing to assess the allegations.

  • Rin says:

    I hope this nasty misuse of process is stopped. I’d like to know who’s behind all these suspensions.

  • Anthony Broomfield says:

    Well said Ladies and Gentlemen, Thanks for standing up

  • Brian Hanson says:

    Those responsible for issuing “administrative suspension” have acted in contempt of honourable Labour Party members, Constituency Parties and affiliated trade unions who have nominated these candidates. As such they have brought the Party into disrepute so should themselves be suspended pending an independent inquiry into their authoritarian actions, with their future status within the Party to be decided by Conference.

  • Harry law says:

    “Graham Durham has been suspended. One of his supposed ‘crimes’ is calling the Chief Rabbi a Tory” If telling the truth can get you suspended, what about former PM Tony Blair telling a lie and nothing happens to him. Last June speaking at an Israeli University Tony Blair said Jeremy Corbyn was an Anti Semite “Asked if he believed Corbyn himself was anti-Semitic, Blair said yes” without offering any evidence. https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-israel-blair-says-corbyn-is-an-anti-semite-but-he-doesnt-know-it/
    Two complaints were made to the Labour Party the first one on 6th June 2019 [both acknowledged]. Needless to say nothing has been done. Could anything be more calculated to bring the LP into disrepute than a former Labour Leader and Prime Minister of 13 years calling the present leader an Anti Semite. Well I can think of one, imagine if Tony Blair had been accused of being a paedophile, not by some nobody, but by a Chief Constable of 13 years service and without offering any evidence, he/she would lose their job instantly. But that’s where we are with the Labour Party, telling the truth is incompatible with membership.

  • Denise Wilcox says:

    Suspend voting until investigations are completed

  • Ian Young says:

    I am absolutely disgusted at the attacks on members who support socialists ideals by those on the right of the party it has to stop NOW.

  • Bob Mitchell says:

    This letter seems measured as elections have been compromised.

  • It is totally unacceptable that seemingly the right wing? of the Labour party have the power to suspend the above NEC candidates. Who is actually making these decisions.
    It definitely is not democratic behaviour and symptomatic of the way Johnson is behaviour. Total disregard for the members and not allowing the democratic process to prevail.

  • Dean Stones says:

    But for the fact that these attacks are real I would have never imagined these kinds of pernicious attacks could be happening in our party. The sooner the tories are purged from our party the better. FTT

  • Adrian Ternouth says:

    This has to stop now, what we need is unity not division.

  • Steve Merriman says:

    I thought that when witch-finder general Ian McNichol left, there would be an end to CRIMINAL McCarthyite behaviour that puts the Spanish Inquisition to shame. Little has changed regrettably, which tells me the Blairite rot in the Labour Party runs so deep that it may never regain power or deserve to.

  • Jeff bowler says:

    It’s the right declaring their attempt at unity! Dear god when will these spineless gravy trainers realise that the left will not be silenced again!

  • Steven Bligh says:

    These elections are neither fair nor transparent when so many candidates – often the most popular ones – are being suspended with no reasons given so close to the ballot. This is a denial of democracy and a denial of natural justice. The ballot should be suspended until due process has run it’s course. Otherwise the suspension due to an allegation process is clearly open to abuse.

  • David Graham says:

    This is abuse of process and invalidates party democracy, in a manner worthy of a fascist dictatorship!

  • Sheila Scoular says:

    Please suspend the NEC elections until these suspensions are adjudicated. Also initiate an inquiry into accusations resulting into suspensions of Left-wing candidates by Right-wing members. Then take action.

  • Mike Larcey says:

    No wonder Labour lost the last election even though we had a superb leader. A lot of energy within certain factions was spent more at undermining him than fighting the Tories, LibDms, UKIP, Brexit Party. And now the same factions are turning on hard working comrades who are committed to fighting austerity, inequality and all the evils of neo-liberalism.

  • Cath Peach says:

    If these suspensions are necessary l’d like to see a delay in the vote whilst situations can be investigated to prevent unfair actions being taken against candidates.

  • James Kirby says:

    This is outrageous and is a violation of democracy in our party.

  • Jo says:

    Shamed by the suspensions.

  • Diane Miles says:

    I heard this morning on the radio that there is a new organisation founded by Tony/Toby Young in defence of free speech. I think we in the Labour Party may need this organisation to prevent some of our best people being thrown out for such things as accusing someone of being a Tory.

  • Trish O'Hara says:

    Fantastic letter

  • Anti-fascist says:

    The targeted witch-hunting is strongly reminiscent of the Transport House onslaught against the Young Socialists and Keep Left in 1963 and 1964, a vicious campaign then replicated in the 1980s against Militant.

    As in those political assaults, much is derived from hearsay, rumour, character assassination, lies and bogus “complaints”.

    There is a real need for transparency to enable those who want to fight back to identify exactly who in the Labour Party machine is driving this forward and on what precise political basis.

  • Z LUCZYNSKI says:

    The complaints procedure and all the recommendations in the Chakrabarti report must be implemented so all these procedures are reversed.

  • Harry ritchie says:

    Has anyone bothered to determine how many members of the board of deputies are members of the Labour Party. If as l imagine None, the won’t someone tell emotion piss off and mind their own business. Very cheeky twerps !

  • Mark Bebbington says:

    The current system appears to be failing , and as most cases seem to eminate from very few complainants , it appears many are vexatious. The case of Jo Bird shows that it is possible to deal with vexatious complaints quickly , and as these appear to be the majority of ” complaints ” , I am surprised at the size of the backlog.

  • Martin allen says:

    Scandalous- and looks no respite from prospective leader candidates , two at least, linking criticism of Zionism to anti Semitism.

  • Kwame says:

    BoD and JLM are pathetic attention seekers. What makes them think that they are any better. They ignorantly back Johnson, Bannon, Trump, Pomero, Netanyahu and Orban, with their unjustly and racist propaganda warfare. Thumbs up to JVL, LFPME and JSG who not only are self consciously honest, but to know how deal with real racists that are Tory and Liberal in the West. Solidarity

  • SM says:

    Vexatious accusers should be investigated via a disciplinary process and / or should the accusations be treated as libellous/slanderous statements?

  • Kwame says:

    Am so glad that Jo Bird has been reinstated. Also our foes such as the BoD are pure demons

Comments are now closed.