I dropped into the “Stop the Purge” meeting earlier tonight, in time to hear Graham Hadfield from Brighton and Alan Runswick from Wallasey tell their stories. Their stories can be found elsewhere on the web. Both CLPs were suspended, and Brighton broken up. Individuals have been suspended or expelled. The expulsions have been under Rule 4.I.2.B. Pam Fitzpatrick from Harrow spoke about the witch-hunt of her son, a supporter of Socialist Appeal, who was suspended, reinstated, then expelled. He actually went to court to get a restraining injunction and that failed; he has been unable to raise the money to take it further through the courts. Tony Greenstein, still suspended and claiming to be the longest suspended member spoke of the anti-antisemitism campaign and the consequent suspensions. I also spoke.
I spoke of Lewisham Deptford, cataloguing the expulsions of which I knew, oddly one of which has been reversed. I said that in 2015, we had adopted the policy of believing people’s declaration of support unless, legally obtained, evidence proved the contrary. I stated that we’d successfully managed appeals against Appendix 2 exclusions but that in Lewisham there were still people who’d been refused membership and were waiting to join.
I spoke of the need for rules that meet the rules of natural justice, which means evidence, a hearing in which a defence is allowed and a right of appeal. We should also note that the AWL and Socialist Appeal have never been deemed organisations ineligible for affiliation by Conference. I also said that a rule that includes the words, “automatic”, “support” and “organisation” cannot be just.
Things I didn’t say and wish I had. Three comrades have been expelled from the South West Surrey CLP, Jeremy Hunt’s seat. They argued for support for Louise Irving and National Health Action Party; I am unclear how far they went, or what the CLP’s General Committee had said. These comrades argued for support for the NHAP in the 2017 election and have been expelled under Rule 4.I.2.B. Support for the “Progressive Alliance” is controversial inside the Party but SW Surrey is a strong Tory seat about which I have written before and Labour have collaborated with broad campaigns before, if only against Neil Hamilton in Tatton. Expulsion for at least 7 years, without a hearing, without a defence, with secret evidence and without appeal remains wrong and the views of the local Party should have been listened to.
We need to recognise that the fear of Party suspension remains real, although the bureaucrats have lost their supporting majority on the NEC, it might be much harder for them.
We need to submit submissions to the Democracy Review on abolishing Rule 4.I.2.B.
Image Credit: from flickr, CC C. Monster 2011 BY-SA – I am surprised how many pictures of Graffiti with the word Purge are on flickr. It’s just as well we have a right of panorama, or I may be pursued by the original artist and not the photographer. (Not likely I suspect).