Labour’s Expulsions

This has been written over a period of months, and it has never seemed the right moment to publish it as winning the case for justice and then the leadership campaign seemed more important but the issues raised by Jill Mountford’s expulsion just do not go away. In our local party, we have been discussing it since it happened, continuously voting, when permitted for an explanation, an appeal hearing and latterly in support of the Chakrabarti Inquiry recommendations establishing the principles of natural justice, due process and proportionality, all missing from Jill’s exclusion and the subsequent actions. During the leadership election the issues come to the fore as Tom Watson, the Courts and then Owen Smith turn up the heat. The temperature is now raised again by the Despatches programme and its trailers in the Murdoch press. This article talks about why she should be welcomed, as an individual and in principle, the rules of natural justice and the rules of the Labour Party. Jill Mountford was expelled through administrative action for allegedly supporting the AWL. Jill had rejoined the Labour Party in the aftermath of the 2015 General Election and received a letter last year stating she has been removed from the Labour Party’s membership list; the letter was copied to the London Regional Director and the CLP Secretary instructing that she was not to be admitted to any meetings. This was wrong in so many ways; she is a good campaigning comrade who should be welcomed into the Party and this administrative action is in breach of Labour’s own rules and those of natural justice. For facebook readers, using the original blog or Medium version of this article gets the active hyperlinks and tool tips.

Jill’s letter was signed by a junior member of the “Compliance Unit”, and alleges that Jill was “involved with and supported” the Alliance for Worker’s Liberty, which the letter states despite its de-registration, is a political party in opposition to Labour.

Jill is a community activist and has played leading roles in many successful and local campaigns such as the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, has been active in the Campaign for Free Education, and worked with the

Campaigning2savetheNHS

nascent campaign against the academisation of local schools. She recently gave a seminar as part of the Telegraph Hill festival on Sylvia Pankhurst, the Red Suffragette. There is no doubt that she is an active campaigning left winger, and a socialist; it would seem that some parts of the Labour Party have forgotten that people like this belong inside the Labour Party. If Labour are to win the next election, many voters and campaigners have to change their mind on how to change society and what changes they want, Jill Mountford has changed her mind about how best to organise and re-joined the Labour Party having been active in the Alliance for Workers Liberty.

We should be welcoming newcomers, particularly those with a progressive campaigning track record of someone like Jill.

Removing her from the membership list is contrary to both the rules and concepts of natural justice. The short version of the rules is that members can only be expelled after a hearing of the National Constitutional Committee at which people accused of breaking the rules have a right to hear the charges and present a defence. No such hearing has taken place which is a breach of both the Labour Party’s rules and those of natural justice.

There are other breaches of the rules in taking this action against a member, the charge is improperly formed in that no actions in breach of the rule is stated, the AWL is not a political party and only Conference can proscribe a non-Party organisation, which in the case of the AWL, it hasn’t; there are arguments as to whether it prohibited the AWL’s predecessor Socialist Organiser 26 years ago. (There is a rule which allows for the automatic expulsion for people who join or support non Labour political organisations, but the fact is that such things cannot be automatic, people make judgements and the class of organisations that might warrant such exclusion is different from that which permits entry, and its use has always shown {right wing} factional partiality. )

Basically a surprisingly ill-informed bunch of powerful people, who should have learned the lessons of Falkirk and Tower Hamlets have been digging through the detritus at the bottom of the rules cupboard looking for a way of expelling Jill Mountford either because they’re frightened of her influence today as she has been elected to the Momentum National Committee or of her influence tomorrow. What they’ve done since this expulsion shows they havn’t learnt.

I join those in calling for her re-instatement and call on the NEC to instruct the General Secretary to withdraw the letter and reinstate Jill’s name in the membership list, and put in place systems to ensure that Labour’s rules are adhered to. The Chakrabarti report has very strong words about natural justice and proportionality. While not asked to comment on the automatic exclusions and the different and more arbitrary process, she was very critical of the disciplinary process stating that the Labour Party wasn’t capable of running a legally safe disciplinary process, both structurally, there is a failure to implement a robust (or even trivial) segregation of duties and that the staff lack the experience and professional skills to perform their roles. They need to be trained or replaced.

ooOOOoo

Here’s some more.

More Reading:

Why I have been expelled from Labour – by Momentum national Steering Committee member Jill Mountford

Rule change for CLPs to submit to Labour Party conference 2016: “A disciplinary code that meets standards of natural justice”

http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/chakrabarti

1 Comments.

  1. I have amended the featured image. I have resized and cropped a version of a picture entitled, the expulsion from heaven, a conceit I know. @flickr imatges d’iconografia 2010 CC BY-SA, provenance described in Spanish. I have also perfromed a tin-eye search and can’t find a match, so I consider the flickr rights assertion to be good.