“It is not democratic that component parts of the Party, in this case the leadership and PLP, have given themselves the power via a back door to undermine the disciplinary process of the NEC – the Party’s most authoritative body between Annual Conferences.”
Barry Gray, Campaign for Labour Party Democracy
Justice 4 Jeremy
This year’s Labour Party Annual Conference seriously needs to address the deepening cost of living crisis and set out how the Party will tackle it. It should also halt the attacks on Jeremy Corbyn as these divert attention from addressing this crisis. The Party is a broad church and Jeremy should be a Labour candidate at the next General Election. Unfortunately, the leadership are preventing his re-selection.
Following Jeremy’s measured response to the 2020 report of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the leadership suspended him from the Party. When, however, his remarks were considered by a National Executive Committee (NEC) panel, it lifted his suspension and concluded the case. The NEC did not decide to bar Jeremy from standing as a Labour parliamentary candidate.
Unable to overturn the due process of this NEC decision, the leadership then acted to do so indirectly. It removed Jeremy’s membership of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) by withdrawing the Labour whip from him. According to the Party’s Rule Book, only PLP members can be considered by a CLP re-selection ‘trigger ballot’. So Jeremy’s suspension from the PLP is blocking him from a trigger ballot in Islington North. The leadership (using the office of Chief Whip), supported by the PLP, have undermined Party democracy and due process.
It is not democratic that component parts of the Party, in this case the leadership and PLP, have given themselves the power via a back door to undermine the disciplinary process of the NEC – the Party’s most authoritative body between Annual Conferences. It is a Rule Book anomaly that the leadership and PLP have this unintended ability to overrule the NEC over re-selections in this way. It needs to be corrected.
Fight the Tories – not JC
A rule change, submitted to this year’s Conference by Islington North and seven other CLPs, seeks to rectify the anomaly and remove this leadership/PLP veto over parliamentary re-selections.
This rule change is not just about one individual (Jeremy), it’s about the movement as a whole. It must be supported.
Regrettably, the leadership is opposing this rule change. It is keener on the Tories’ policies than those the Labour Party campaigned for in 2017 and 2019. A growing number of workers are saying ‘Enough is Enough’, with the public supporting them. The Party ought to be showing solidarity, but instead it’s discouraging its MPs from showing public support for those striking in opposition to the Tories’ attacks.
A potentially dangerous media diversion
It’s not up to us to speculate what Jeremy will decide to do after so many years of loyal service to the Party. And when we win this rule change it won’t even be an issue. But just imagine the damage to Labour’s GE campaign if – hypothetically – Jeremy found himself forced to stand as an independent.
He would become the sole focus of attention for the mainstream media, to the exclusion of the real issues our spokespeople will want to drive home and of the devastation wreaked by the Tories.
There would be a knock-on effect throughout the country as 000s of Labour voters show their disapproval of his exclusion by staying at home in key marginals. And equally embarrassingly, the certainty of him wiping the floor with any ‘official’ candidate standing against him, coming through in poll after poll during the campaign, will completely undermine any claims by our Party that we are capable of winning an overall majority.
As above, this rule change isn’t just about Jeremy, and nor should the GE be. So let’s make sure this doesn’t happen.
Defend our broad church
The Party has traditionally been a ‘broad church‘, always including significant currents that oppose the establishment’s agenda, alongside those on the right that acquiesce to that agenda. That principal of political breadth is now under attack. The right wing, currently controlling the Party, are determined it should rigidly toe the establishment’s line. They consider Jeremy and his supporters could serious undermine that line, so are working to remove them from the Party.
Those seeking a progressive advance at this year’s Conference need to stand up against the right, support those struggling against the Tories’ attacks, defend the Party’s political breadth, and agree the rule change so Jeremy can seek re-selection in his CLP.