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Keir Starmer has broken his pledges to the Labour membership – we need to fight for our rights as party members

“We must fight for unity & integrity in our party by demanding the lifting of the remaining suspensions, by not ratifying the appointment of David Evans at conference & by standing up to defend Jeremy Corbyn & his right to sit with Labour MPs.”

Maia Kirby, Save our Socialists

Save Our Socialists is urging comrades to take steps to restore integrity to the Labour Party this conference, writes Maia Kirby.

The latest election results will come as no surprise to socialists in the Labour Party. If you suspend the former leader of the party and dozens of left activists for their expressions of solidarity and spend a year stripping back the policy advancements of the last five years, you are going to lose.  Things will get even worse if the current leadership of the party continues to devote itself to driving out some of its most talented and dedicated activists. The truth is Keir Starmer has broken his pledges to the membership, abandoned his false promises of unity, integrity and authority and failed by his own standards of electability. The General Secretary he appointed, quite apart from the fact that there are allegations of his involvement in the Croydon council scandal, offers nothing to anyone: his attempts to drive the left from the party have failed, although he has caused major upset. He is also failing to deliver on the legal obligations of the party under GDPR and has continued to contribute to the culture exposed in the leaked report into the party’s handling of disciplinary cases.

It is a dark time for socialists. With a Labour leadership running the party into the ground, and constant attacks at all levels, many want to give up and have done. But we must continue to fight for socialist representation in mainstream politics – it is more vital than ever before as the country accelerates towards further crises. This is why Save our Socialists are calling on members to turn up to elect socialist delegates to conference this year. We must fight for unity and integrity in our party by demanding the lifting of the remaining suspensions, by not ratifying the appointment of David Evans at conference and by standing up to defend Jeremy Corbyn and his right to sit with Labour MPs.

At the time of writing less than fifty percent of the officers suspended for ‘non-competent business’ have been re-instated to the party. Those that have had their suspensions lifted over the course of several months have all received the same warning letter and notes on their record for 12 months. As one of our recent posts asks: how long does it take to investigate the same [bogus] accusation? The answer must surely be that either David Evans and the Governance and Legal Unit (GLU) have no idea what they are doing, or that they were hoping to keep prominent left activists suspended for as long as possible. Probably both. Left members and organisations must now consider how we are going to provide ongoing support for those still suspended, and for the many who are at risk of being suspended if they get anywhere close to being democratically selected as council or parliamentary candidates. It is important that left members continue to put pressure on the leadership to lift the remaining officer suspensions, so please consider writing to David Evans and our CLP representatives on the National Executive Committee.

An email to David Evans, however, is unlikely to move him. It has become increasingly apparent that his primary purpose in the position of General Secretary is to remove the left from positions of power in the party. His misleadingly named ‘guidance’ caused an unprecedented 284 CLP Secretaries and Chairs to write to him calling on him to withdraw it. Even many local officers who would not consider themselves to be on the left of the party have been critical at the General Secretary’s bid to make them responsible for shutting down discussion of Jeremy Corbyn or criticisms of the current leadership. Not even Blair, who notoriously centralised power in the party, attempted to police speech in this way. Save our Socialists is calling on conference delegates to vote to not ratify the appointment of David Evans at conference this year.

A change in General Secretary is not the only measure that is needed to restore integrity and a positive direction to the party. The Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) has long behaved as though it alone constitutes the Labour Party, with no accountability to members. The behaviour of members of the PLP in relation to the ascendancy of the left over the last five years, and the possibility of a socialist government, leads many to consider them in large part responsible for the election defeat of 2019. With the ongoing suspension of the whip from Jeremy Corbyn, it is crucial that members are given scrutiny powers over the actions of the PLP, via the party’s sovereign body: Conference. Save our Socialists is supporting the constitutional amendment circulated by CLPD, that demands the PLP be fully accountable to Labour Party Conference. Whilst Corbyn has the whip suspended, the party cannot hope to move forward in the spirit of unity. Members must be given the chance to have their say on whether we want to move forward and build on the radical policies of the last five years or continue with no vision and no determination to improve the lives of the many. Without Corbyn as a Labour MP, the energy and enthusiasm that he brought into the party is in danger of disappearing entirely. So please bring this rule change to your CLPs. Rule changes such as this must be submitted by CLPs before 11 June, so members will need to submit it to their branches or All Member Meetings as soon as possible.

The course of action taken by the leadership of the party initiated by the suspension and then removal of the whip from Corbyn and culminating in many suspensions and dozens of CLPs unable to campaign MUST come to an end. Sadly, it is highly likely that the leadership will not have learnt the lesson from the latest election results, prominent Labour right wingers having already indicated they intend to double-down on their strategy of needless demoralisation. It is therefore even more important for the left to turn out to fight for our suspended comrades, for the end to Evans’ reign of punishment and incompetence, and for Jeremy Corbyn who has fought so hard and for so long to give us the space to bloom.

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