LAW submission to the Labour Party Democracy Review

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Background: 

The so-called Corbyn Review aims to produce a report to the 2018 annual conference in Liverpool. It is not a blue-sky-thinking exercise, however: Submissions invited on https://labour.org.uk/democracy-terms-of-reference/ are limited to answering 32 pre-set questions on six themes with a 250-word-limit on each of the questions.

None of these deal with the compliance unit (Disputes) or the fate of expelled and suspended members per se (or, for that matter, with the important demand for mandatory selection). We have therefore picked a relatively open-ended question that we think it worthwhile filling with some of LAW’s demands.

We call on Labour branches, CLPs and other party units to submit something along the following lines to the review asap.

Section 1: Building a Mass Movement (part of phase 2, submissions by March 23 2018)

Question: How do we get our increased membership more involved in the Party?

Answer: The automatic and instant expulsions and suspensions – especially those based on alleged anti-Semitism and those based on members’ alleged “support for other organisations” using rule 2.1.4.B – have brought the party into disrepute: They have prevented and discouraged new members from getting involved in party life, while valuable resources have been wasted in persecuting some of the most energetic and effective campaigners for social change.

We believe that the party should end these practices, and that:

  • the recommendations of the Chakrabarti report should be implemented immediately,
  • all those summarily expelled or suspended without due process should be immediately reinstated;
  • an accused member should be given all the evidence submitted against them and be regarded as innocent until proven guilty;
  • membership rights should not be removed until disciplinary procedures have been completed;
  • disciplinary procedures should include consultation with the member’s CLP and Branch;
  • disciplinary procedures should be time limited. Charges not resolved within three months should be automatically dropped;
  • the first part of Rule 2. 1. 4. B (‘Exclusions’) should be deleted: it currently bars from Labour Party membership anybody who “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Party”;
  • the party should reject the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism which, in its list of examples, conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people;
  • the party should immediately abolish the ‘compliance/disputes unit’. Disciplinary decisions should be taken by elected bodies, not paid officials.