Model motions protesting against Chris Williamson’s re-suspension

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Labour Against the Witchhunt

We believe that the renewed suspension of Chris Williamson MP is a travesty of justice.

We are particularly concerned that Keith Vaz’ U-turn seems to have been motivated purely by the pressure coming from the right inside and outside the party. Sadly but unsurprisingly, that now includes Jon Lansman.

We presume Vaz initially judged the case by its merit and found – correctly – that Chris had not said or done anything that could be described as anti-Semitic or bringing the party into disrepute. Vaz quite rightly judged that the evidence did not warrant Chris’s ongoing suspension or his referral to the National Constitutional Committee (which is still dominated by the right).

But Vaz’s U-turn and Chris’s renewed suspension, following the deeply undemocratic and hysterical letter organised by Tom Watson, symbolise how unfair and one-sided the whole disciplinary process really is. The right is calling all the shots  – and Labour HQ seems to always do exactly what they demand.

But the right will never be appeased. They will never accept Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, let alone prime minister. They will continue their campaign of sabotage, because he remains an unreliable ally from the ruling class’s point of view, especially given his strong support for the rights of Palestinians.

There is very little chance that Chris will get a fair hearing from the NEC Disputes Panel, when several of those who will sit in judgment upon him have already torn his reputation to shreds on social media, without even having seen all the evidence.

We therefore call on the NEC:

  •  to immediately reinstate Chris Williamson, as recommended by the NEC panel
  • to immediately open trigger ballots so that Labour Party members can choose a parliamentary candidate who actually reflects their wishes
  • to stop the practice of automatic suspensions and expulsions: members should be regarded as innocent until proven guilty

Labour Party Northern Ireland

1. We are opposed to the original suspension of Chris Williamson MP. Given that the opinion expressed was a reasonable one, we consider that there was insufficient evidence from the outset that his comments constituted conduct that justified withdrawal of the whip.

2. We are opposed to the second suspension of Chris Williamson on the grounds that it was arbitrary and unreasonable, being as it failed to adhere to Labour Party rules and procedures governing disciplinary matters.

3. We are opposed to the disciplining of any member who publicly states that the Labour Party does not have a particular problem with anti-semitism.

4. We call on the Labour Party leadership and on all members to robustly challenge the false narrative that the Labour Party is a racist and bigoted party.


Jewish Voice for Labour

This branch/CLP notes with alarm the unprecedented over-ruling of an NEC disciplinary panel decision to lift the suspension of Derby North MP Chris Williamson, as a result of a hostile public campaign led by members of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Disciplinary panels have delegated powers and make their decisions in the light of material presented to them by party staff and independent advice from qualified legal counsel. To our knowledge there is no previous case of a panel decision being referred back to the NEC. For this to happen as a result of partisan political lobbying is unacceptable interference in the processes the party has been struggling to make faster, more robust and more effective. It amounts to a violation of the natural justice that members have a right to expect in the party’s disciplinary procedures.

We call upon the NEC, meeting on July 9, to reject such interference and to uphold the decision of the June 27 panel lifting Chris Williamson’s suspension.

 


We note that:

  • Chris Williamson is a  well-respected and hardworking MP with great standing in his constituency and a strong record of anti-racist campaigning.
  • Our campaign for a Labour Government depends on the dedication and principled commitment of Chris Williamson and others like him.
  • Chris Williamson, Labour MP for Derby North, said ”The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. …[O]ur party has been partly responsible for that because… we have backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party.”
  • Following his initial suspension (27/02/19) Chris Williamson was tried according to procedure by the 3 member panel of the NCC and the suspension was lifted (26/06/19).
  • Following the lifting of his suspension, a hostile and personal campaign against him by the Media and sections of the PLP has resulted in unprecedented action to refer his case on to the NEC (28/06/19).

We believe that Chris Williamson’s comments are not anti-Semitic.

We strongly disagree with the actions of the members of the Parliamentary Labour Party who published a letter calling upon Jeremy Corbyn to overturn this decision on the basis that there has been, “political interference.”

Resolution:

This branch/ CLP reaffirms our support for Chris Williamson and we call on the NEC to reinstate Chris Williamson immediately.

Model motion: Reinstate Pete Willsman!

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This branch/CLP notes:

  • On May 31, Labour Party NEC member Peter Willsman was put under “administrative suspension” after he was secretly recorded by the Israeli-American author Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • The audio was recorded in January 2019, but leaked to the press over five months later, no doubt to coincide with a new hotting up in the campaign o get rid of Jeremy Corbyn.

We further note:

  • Tenenbom claims that he ‘happened’ to come across Pete Willsman in a hotel bar and that his sound engineer ‘happened’ to have left a hidden microphone switched on.
  • However, Tenenbom has published a number of books in which he uses exactly this kind of method: He secretly films and records people, often guiding them into making the kind of unguarded comments he was looking for, in order to prove how anti-Semitism is rife in Germany, Palestine, the USA etc.
  • Tenenbom has given lectures in which he explains why “the suffering of Palestinian people is bullshit” (https://bit.ly/2MAH1xo) and told LBC Radio: “He [Pete Willsman] is a nice guy, he has a great sense of humour, he’s knowledgeable. But Like Jeremy Corbyn – I met Jeremy and he’s also a nice guy, very fatherly – but they suffer from a disease of really hating the Jews.” (https://www.lbc.co.uk/news/labour-israeli-embassy-behind-antisemitism-smears/)

We believe:

  • That anti-Semitism, like all forms of racism, must be vigorously combatted – ideally, through education and debate, not disciplinary measures and ‘zero tolerance’.
  • That the Labour Party is not institutionally anti-Semitic, as the figures published by Jennie Formby prove. On the contrary, many claims of anti-Semitism have been taken out of context, exaggerated and weaponised in order to undermine Jeremy Corbyn, an outspoken supporter of the rights of Palestinians. Anti-Zionism has been willfully and wrongly equated with anti-Semitism.
  • That nothing Pete Willsman said was anti-Semitic. Pete did, however, point to some uncomfortable truths exposed by the Al Jazeera documentary The Lobby, which has been ignored by the mainstream media. The documentary revealed a systematic effort by the Israeli embassy to involve itself in the internal battles in the Labour Party. Also revealed were the efforts by the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs to label opponents of Israel as anti-Semites.
  • That this proven interference should be the subject of an overdue investigation, as demanded by Jeremy Corbyn in a letter of January 2017.

We further believe:

  • A stalwart of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLDP), Pete Willsman has been serving on Labour’s NEC for many decades and is one of the few real allies of Jeremy Corbyn on that body. This is why he has been on the radar of those who will do anything to get rid of Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party.
  • That anti-Corbyn MPs such as Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman and Tom Watson insult, disrupt, make bogus accusations and work hand in glove with the media – with no repercussions coming their way. Those making false charges ought to face disciplinary action and should be held accountable for their actions.

We therefore express our full solidarity with Pete Willsman, Chris Williamson MP and all the other Labour Party members who have been suspended, expelled or disciplined on bogus charges of anti-Semitism or because of their support for left-wing groups. We want to see them immediately reinstated.

Important information:

There is no ban in the Labour Party on moving motions in support of comrades in ongoing disciplinary cases. Like in the case Chris Williamson MP, the ‘advice’ sent out by Labour Party HQ merely declares such motions to be “not competent business” for the NEC to discuss. That merely means the NEC will not look at them – but the rest of the workers’ movement  certainly will. Any motion, any statement, any act of public solidarity will add pressure to get our comrades reinstated, gives courage to other Labour Party members and branches and assures the victims of the witch-hunt that they do not stand alone.

More info on this issue and detailed guidelines on how to move a motion are here: http://www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org/campaigns/there-is-no-ban-on-moving-motions-in-support-of-chris-williamson-mp/

 

 

Model motion: Implement the reformed trigger ballot

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Model motion: Implement the reformed trigger ballot

This branch/CLP notes:

  • Labour Party conference 2018 voted to reform the trigger ballot, which is currently the only way in which Labour Party members can exercise some democratic control over their parliamentary representative.
  • This was moved by the NEC as part of the ‘democracy review’ and thereby superseded the much more democratic rule change for ‘open selection’ of all parliamentary candidates (which was supported by over 95% of CLP delegates at the 2018 conference).

We also note that:

  • In January 2019, Labour Party general secretary Jennie Formby was commissioned by the NEC to “urgently” draw up guidelines and a timetable for the implementation of the reformed trigger ballot. Without such guidelines, CLPs cannot launch proceedings.
  • In February 2019, eight Labour Party MPs split from the party to form The Independent Group, which is currently known as Change UK.
  • The Guardian reported on February 25 that in an “attempt to stop further defections, Labour could delay the start of re-election battles” and that “Labour is set to put back the start of the formal MP selection process, due to begin in a few weeks, which could have led to vast numbers of MPs facing deselection.”
  • This is indeed what seems to have happened: At the March and May meetings of the NEC, proposals to implement the trigger ballots have not been presented and this important democratic issue seems to have been kicked into the long grass.

We further note:

  • At the snap election in 2017, CLPs were told that the sitting MP would simply remain in place, without any democratic input by the local members.
  • The ongoing Brexit crisis makes another snap election or, worse, the formation of a national government, a real possibility. Jeremy Corbyn is unlikely to be invited to join – let alone lead – such a national government, as the vast majority of MPs in the Parliamentary Labour Party have proven how hostile they are to him and his politics.
  • Unless the makeup of the PLP dramatically changes to more accurately reflect the will and composition of the membership, Jeremy Corbyn could well be held prisoner by a majority of MPs who are deeply hostile to the Corbyn project.

We therefore urge the NEC to:

  • Urgently launch guidelines and a timetable to implement the trigger ballot and help branches and CLPs to get ready in case a snap election is called. Labour Party members must be allowed to exercise the right to hold their representatives to account.
  • Rule out the possibility that Labour Party MPs will participate in any kind of ‘national government’.

Background: How the reformed trigger ballots works

Labour Party conference 2018 voted to introduce two separate trigger ballots: one for all the Labour branches of a CLP, another one for all local affiliates (trade unions, socialist societies, cooperative organisations).

Once the NEC has published its timetable (and only then) are CLP members and affiliates asked to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to retaining the sitting MP as the only candidate. If 33 % of a CLP’s branches or 33 % of the CLP’s affiliates vote ‘no’, then a full selection process starts – ie, a democratic contest between different candidates, including the sitting MP. Only full Labour Party members have a vote in this next stage of the process.

For example: A CLP has 10 branches and 10 affiliates. To start a full selection process, EITHER 4 LP branches OR 4 affiliated organisations have to vote ‘no’ when asked if they want to retain the sitting MP.

Proposed rule change motion for Labour Party conference: Open Selection

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Proposed rule change motion: Open Selection

This branch/CLP believes:

  • that being a Labour MP should not be a job for life;
  • that candidates should be selected openly without restrictions before each general election;
  • that all individual and affiliate members should be able to participate in the selection of candidates;
  • that the existing system of trigger ballots prevents this from happening and creates unnecessary antagonisms, turning what should be a normal open process into an implied vote of no confidence in a sitting Labour MP;
  • that a fully democratised Labour Party based on the principle of One Member One Vote is the best way to ensure the election of a Labour government with the strength and resolve to create a fair and just society for the many, not the few.

Therefore this branch/CLP:

  • calls upon the NEC to endorse and support the LI Rule Change motion from 2018 and to reintroduce it as an NEC rule change at the next Labour Conference;
  • moves the following rule change to Labour Party conference 2019:

Replace Clause IV.5 and IV.6 with the following:

“5. Following an election for a Parliamentary constituency the procedure for selection of Westminster Parliamentary Candidates shall be as follows:

  1. If the CLP is not represented in Parliament by a member of the PLP, a timetable for selecting the next Westminster Parliamentary Candidate shall commence no sooner than six weeks after the election and complete no later than 12 months after the election.
  2. If a CLP is represented in Parliament by a member of the PLP, then a timetable for selecting the next Westminster Parliamentary Candidate shall commence no sooner than 36 months and complete no later than 48 months after the election. The sitting Member of Parliament shall be automatically included on the shortlist of candidates unless they request to retire or resign from the PLP.
  3. The CLP Shortlisting Committee shall draw up a shortlist of interested candidates to present to all members of the CLP who are eligible to vote in accordance with Clause I.1.A above.”

    Consequential amendments to be made elsewhere in the Rule Book where the ‘trigger ballot’ is
    mentioned.

 

Model motion on Anti-Semitism and the witch-hunt of Corbyn supporters 

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1. This branch/CLPs notes that:

1.1. The dramatic increase in suspensions and expulsions of Labour Party members without due process – especially those based on alleged anti-Semitism or “support for other organisations” using rule 2.1.4.B.

1. 2. Despite the growing number of fallacious allegations of anti-Semitism, initiated by a group of anti-Corbyn MPs in cooperation with the mainstream media, the number of cases of anti-Semitism among Labour Party members upheld remains tiny. The overwhelming majority of allegations have been baseless and politically motivated – attempts to purge or muzzle members who are critical of Israeli government policies and actions, particularly pro-Corbyn members on the left of the party.

1.3. The Labour Party has only adopted the preambleof the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. It has not adopted the disputed list of examples, which conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people.

1.4. Yet we are witnessing members being publicly witch-hunted, suspended and expelled for using the word ‘Zio’; for criticising the ideology of Zionism; for comparing the actions of the state of Israel to those of the Nazis; or for pointing out, as Ken Livingstone did, that in 1933 the Zionist movement and the Nazis signed the Ha’avara agreement (breaking the non-Zionist Jewish-led call for an economic boycott of the Nazi regime). This is a historical fact and no one should be disciplined for alluding to it.

2. This branch/CLP demands that:

2.1. The Labour Party ends the practice of automatic, instant, expulsion or suspension of Labour Party members;

a) that all those summarily expelled or suspended from membership without due process be immediately reinstated;

b) that a member accused of a breach of rule be regarded as innocent until proven guilty and be given all the evidence submitted against them by their accuser

c) that membership rights must not be removed until disciplinary investigations and procedures have been completed;

d) that disciplinary procedures must be time limited. Charges not resolved within three months must be automatically dropped.

2.2. The Labour Party’s “Compliance Unit” should be abolished. Disciplinary decisions should be taken only by elected bodies, not by paid officials.

2.3. The first part of rule 2.1.4.B (‘Exclusions’) should be abolished: it 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” and has been exclusively used against left-wingers.

 

Transparency and presumption of innocence

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Based on FSOI/JVL model and passed unanimously by South Cambridgeshire Constituency Party on March 27:

“South Cambridgeshire Constituency Labour Party notes that more than 20 months on from the Report of the Chakrabarti Inquiry, disciplinary measures in response to complaints and charges against members have continued to be implemented in an arbitrary manner without consistent regard to the key recommendations of the Chakrabarti Report.

This Constituency Party calls for the NEC to initiate a review of the relevant Labour Party rules and procedures to ensure that there is a fair and transparent process in relation to the suspension and expulsion of members from the Party, including a right of appeal.

These procedures should, in addition, and following the precepts of natural justice, recognise the right of those charged with infringing Party rules to know the exact nature of the charges and by whom they are laid.

The review should include consideration of the role and procedures of the Compliance Unit.

This Constituency Labour Party confirms its support for the Chakrabarti Report’s recommendations of due process based on natural justice in dealing with complaints against members. The Report advocates:
• transparency,
• presumption of innocence,
• reliance on fact-based verified evidence,
• reasonable time scales for dealing with cases and for the right of challenge and reply,
• proportionality of disciplinary measures.

We fully support the Chakrabarti Report’s commitment to strengthening a culture of free speech within the party and its desire that complaints are dealt with as far as possible through educational means rather than suspensions and exclusions

We are concerned that the Chakrabarti Inquiry Report is not specifically mentioned in the brief for the Democracy Review.

We call for the new General Secretary and the NEC to reiterate its support for the key recommendations of the Chakrabarti inquiry Report, and to implement them in practice immediately, including and in particular the new “End to End” disciplinary process recommended in that Report.

We call upon the convenors of the Democracy Review to ensure that there is opportunity within the Democracy Review to:
• examine the role of party structures that deal with disciplinary and compliance matters;
• flesh out the key recommendations of the Chakrabarti Report and to consider the best ways to put its principles and recommendations into practice.”

To be sent to NEC and as submission to Democracy Review by our Chair.

Model motion: Review suspensions policy

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Model Motion to Labour NEC

Review suspensions policy

This branch/CLP notes the August 9 report by online political news journal Skwawkbox revealing the Information Commissioners Office ruling that Labour headquarters cannot trawl through members’ social media accounts for disciplinary purposes, as this was a breach of the Data Protection Act, because, as a ‘data controller’ under the act, it does not have permission from the members to use their data for that purpose.

We recognise that in the past two years, particularly during the Labour leadership contests of 2015 and 2016, a number of Labour members were suspended, excluded or expelled from the party. There is a great deal of evidence that many of these members and applicants were treated as such for unclear and sometimes seemingly arbitrary reasons, and often without the transparent, time-limited process based on natural justice, recommended by Labour’s Chakrabarti report into anti-Semitism and racism.

We deplore the malicious and vexatious accusations against Labour Party members and others that has resulted in their suspension from the party. And, while these accusations have sometimes been overturned, they caused a great deal of distress to the individuals involved and damaged their reputation and standing within the party and the wider community.

We call on the NEC to review the suspensions policy so that, except in exceptional circumstances of credible accusations of hate speech, violence or threats of violence or intimidation, all outstanding exclusions and suspensions should be lifted and this course of action publicly supported by the party leader.