I want to propose a change to Labour’s Rules to ensure that a due process is defined for any expulsions for “supporting” the wrong people. To me, the critical weaknesses of the current rule, apart from its potential for corrupt usage is the chilling effect that banning the support of “political organisations” will have and the lack of due process in evaluating if someone has actually “supported” a political organisation other than Labour. The rest of this article illustrates a possible change and asks advice whether to amend Rule 2.I.4.B or to delete it; I plan to take one of these options to the CLPD AGM to seek support.
Rule 2.I.4.B says,
A member of the Party who joins and/ or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Party, or supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate, or publicly declares their intent to stand against a Labour candidate, shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a Party member, subject to the provisions of Chapter 6.I.2 below of the disciplinary rules
This is the rule that many of our comrades have been expelled under. It is interpreted that “automatically” means no appeal nor does it seem necessary to use the Chapter 6 disciplinary process. It is clearly being used factionally and used against ordinary members and not elected officials, or we would be seeing expulsions of the MP Brexiters for supporting leave.eu. (Hoey and Stuart may yet be disciplined under other rules.)
I assume we all oppose this usage, as it inhibits those of us who are members of the Labour Party from even buying newspapers from non party leftists. The definition used of political organisations would include “Hope not Hate” and “Stand Up to Racism”. The critical word here is ‘support’ and the exclusion of any consideration of the evaluation of evidence of the putting of a defence. We should also note that by constraining the rule to “an official Labour group”, means that supporting, by unspecified actions, Momentum, Progress, Labour First and Compass also renders one open to automatic ineligibility, with no due process.
The question is shall we just delete the rule and rely on 4.I.2.A which says,
A member of the Party who stands for election, subscribes to a nomination paper of or acts as the election agent to a person standing for election, in opposition to a Labour candidate, shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a Party member, subject to the provisions of Chapter 6.I.2 below of the disciplinary rules.
which would itself require the insertion of due process or should we make minor amendments to change 4.I.2.B to delete and replace the phrase “political organisations” and refer to political parties, or political organisations declared by conference ineligible for affiliation and insert due process clauses, such that it reads, say,
A member of the Party who joins a political party, or organisations ancillary to a political party other than the Labour Party or Parties with which the Labour Party has signed inter party agreements, or supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate, or publicly declares their intent to stand against a Labour candidate, or joins a political organisation declared by Conference intelligible for affiliation to the Labour Party shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a Party member. Any decisions giving effect to this rule are to be taken under procedures defined in Chapter 6.I.A.
Rule 6.I.A states that the investigation is to be done by the General Secretary, the decision to that there is a case to answer is taken by the NEC and the decision to expel or apply other penalties including none taken by the National Constitutional Committee (NCC ) after a hearing at which the accused can speak and challenge any evidence. It’s about as close as the Party gets to due process and segregation of duties. My proposed rule drops the charge of “supporting” another political organisation but Rule 2.I.8 mandates that any disciplinary action for supporting an inappropriate organisation or election campaign needs to be heard by the NCC. So the rules currently give the party the opportunity to expel or otherwise discipline people for inappropriate political activity.
Should we seek to delete or amend it?
Do we think that
Any decisions giving effect to this rule are to be taken under procedures defined in Chapter 6.I.A.
is robust enough, because even if we decide to delete 4.I.2.B, we still need to amend 4.I.2.A to ensure that the Chapter 6 Due Process applies to these decisions too.
Here’s a version of Labour’s Chapter 2 rules as at 2016/17.