Please note that Labour party members have NOT been banned from discussing the IHRA mis-definition of antisemitism!
The phrase “not competent business”, contained in Labour Party general secretary David Evans’s latest email (full text below), is nothing but hot air. It means precisely nothing. Find below scathing response from left wing barrister Duncan Shipley Dalton.
We have been through exactly this before, when Jennie Formby used the formulation to stop branches coming out in support of Chris Williamson. She failed – and dozens of branches and CLP passed motions in support of Chris!
Worst case scenario, the general secretary and/or the NEC might not discuss any motions passed on those issues. But surely, that is not the main point about them anyway.
That point is the need to stand up to the ongoing witch-hunt! Thousands of left-wingers have been smeared, vilified and wrongly hounded as antisemites during the last five years. The futile attempt to appease the right – rather than openly take them on and defeat them politically – has led to the defeat of Corbyn and the left. Surely this is the main lesson we have to learn from the last five years.
Standing by it is not an option. There is little point in staying in the Labour Party under Starmer, if you are not prepared to fight.
Model motions against IHRA are available on our website: http://www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org/
Response from left-wing barrister Duncan Shipley Dalton
The NEC and therefore the GS has no authority in the rules to dictate what is ‘competent business’ for a CLP to discuss. The only authority is in Chap 1, VIII, 3.E-“The NEC shall from time to time, issue guidance and instructions on the conduct of meetings…” CONDUCT not CONTENTConduct is a noun meaning ‘the manner in which an activity is managed or directed.’ That is not the same as the content or subject the meeting deals with. The NEC can issue guidance on how a meeting can be run/organised but not dictate what motions are competent business.
Secondly, the idea discussing the IHRA will “…undermine Labour’s ability to campaign against any form of racism…” is so absurd as to be in the realms of irrationality. As previously stated the NEC/GS has no authority in the rules to dictate this. If what is being threatened.
is disciplinary punishment for breaching the code of conduct in Appendix 9, this is incorrect. The codes are not part of the rules, they are not directly enforceable. They are considered per Chap 2.I.8/9. Exactly what underlying breach of 2.I.8 occurs if a CLP discusses a motion requesting the NEC to reverse its decision on the IHRA? Is the GS suggesting that such a request “is prejudicial, or in the opinion of the NEC is grossly detrimental to the Party” REALLY! The absurdity just piles up at times.
Full text of the email from David Evans:
FAO: CLP secretaries & chairs
As CLPs and branches are now able to meet online, I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on a few pertinent issues. This will ensure that the business your local party is conducting is appropriate, minimises any challenge to its decisions and does not leave the party – locally and nationally – or its officers open to potential legal liabilities. Apologies for the length of this email, but I hope you will agree it covers some very important issues.
NEC nominations – voting procedures
We have received a number of requests for further clarity on the voting systems that are to be used for the nomination of NEC candidates. Nominations should be made by secret ballot, not by a show of hands.
• Where a voting system is specified in your CLPs standing orders, this is the system that should be used to make your nominations;
• Where a voting system is not specified in your CLP standing orders, you should rely on previous custom and practice from your CLP.
We would usually expect that to be either multi-member First Past The Post (‘Approval Voting’ on Choice Voting) or Single Transferable Vote (‘Electoral Reform Society 97 STV’ on Choice Voting). CLPs should not be devising new voting systems of their own.
We advise that wherever possible nominations are taken by email in advance of the meeting to allow the ballot to be set up before the meeting. Any such email nominations would only be valid if the member making the nomination is in attendance at the subsequent meeting. Should there be fewer nominations than, or an equal number to, the total positions available, there is no need to progress to a ballot.
The Labour Party recently agreed a settlement with seven former members of staff who appeared on an edition of the BBC’s Panorama programme, as well as with the journalist who hosted that programme. Those settlements included an unreserved apology and a withdrawal of the allegations previously made by the Party about those individuals. The withdrawal and apology are binding on the party and any motions which seek to undermine or contradict them will create a risk of further legal proceedings for both the national party and local parties. As such, motions relating to these settlements and the circumstances behind them are not competent business for discussion by local parties.
CLP officers have an important responsibility to ensure that they and other members conduct themselves in a respectful and comradely manner. We therefore take this opportunity to reiterate to local Labour Parties and officers that they should be aware of the potential liabilities to them should the allegations that have now been withdrawn by the national party be repeated.
Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report
On Monday 13 July 2020 the party announced that it had received the EHRC’s draft report into allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party. This draft report has been provided to the party by the EHRC on a confidential basis as part of its investigation.
When we are able to provide more information about the EHRC’s report we will do so. Until that time speculation as to the contents of the report is not helpful. It is therefore not competent business for CLPs to discuss.
IHRA definition of antisemitism
We are aware that some CLPs and branches have had motions tabled to “repudiate” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. The IHRA definition of antisemitism and its examples was properly adopted by the Labour Party in September 2018. CLPs and branches have no powers to overturn this decision. Furthermore, such motions undermine the Labour Party’s ability to tackle racism. Any such motions are therefore not competent business for CLPs or branches.
As per the previous general secretary’s instruction, any discussion about ongoing disciplinary cases remains prohibited.