Grassroots Black Left Submission to Labour’s Democracy Review

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I have been asked to distribute this to people and ask them to submit the following to the Democracy Review at democracy@labour.org.uk.  It has to be in by Friday 12th January 4pm.

I am also enclosing the Grassroots Black Left (GBL) criticism of Momentum owner Jon Lansman’s proposals on BAME. They are very critical of the fact that Lansman has wound up all the liberation strands in Momentum and is in the process of winding up the Youth Section as well.

Here is the link to Lansman’s Open Letter with which the GBL agree.  At the moment BAME is in the hands of the Right and is a rotten borough which excludes 99% of Black and Asian members of the Labour Party.

The Grassroots Black Left proposals reject the term BAME as a white term.  In particular they reject the concept of ‘ethnic minority’ which is ill defined and can include people who are not oppressed.  They call for a Labour Party Black Socialists group with 2 representatives, not one as Lansman proposes on the NEC.  They also call for an annual not a biannual conference.

If you agree with the Grassroots Black Left Proposals can you please submit them in your own name, with your membership number attached and contact details by tomorrow January 12, 4 pm at the very latest.

Thank you, Tony Greenstein

Please accept this as my submission to the Labour Party Democracy Review. I request an acknowledgement of receipt.

According to the Guardian’s Rajeev Syal Democracy review may put Keith Vaz’s position on Labour NEC at risk, fewer than 800 members voted for Keith Vaz as the BAME NEC member in August, despite an estimated 72,000 black and minority ethnic members.  This is unacceptable.  As presently constituted BAME Labour appears to be a self-selecting elite club which is not open to the vast majority of Black and Asian members of the Labour Party.  As presently constituted some 1% of Black and Asia Labour Party members are members of BAME Labour  and yet they elected Keith Vaz as the BAME member of the National Executive Committee.  It is clear that as presently constituted BAME Labour is a rotten borough.  The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader was supposed to lead to a wind of change, not a consolidation of the undemocratic practices of New Labour.  The old undemocratic institutions of New Labour need to be overthrown.

I would therefore like to propose:

1. A new affiliated organisation called the ‘Labour Party Black Socialists’ (LPBS), open to members of the Labour Party, or people aged 14 or over eligible for membership who, pay an annual subscription and meet the requirement   of being of African, Caribbean, Asian and other people who face discrimination on the basis of their colour.

2. The operation and finances of the organisation should be under the direct control of its members through their elected leadership bodies.

3. The organisation should have representation at all levels of the Labour Party, to include two representatives on the party’s NEC, NCC, CAC and to Party Conference and the Policy Forum, regional boards, LCFs, GCs and ECs, Women and Youth conferences, elected from the organisation’s bodies at the appropriate level, limited to non-members of parliament and assembly members, at least one of whom should be a woman. One should be African, Caribbean and the other Asian.

4. We should aspire to achieving proportionality of Black representation of elected local authority and parliamentary members according to the population of relevant geographical areas, using all-Black shortlists and Black women on all-women shortlists to achieve this.

5. Labour Party Black Sections should work with Labour to get it to adopt the Black Agenda for its implementation by the party when it is in government.

There should be an annual conference for Black members that elects a national committee based on the race and gender criteria set out above.

Full name:
Labour membership number:
Contact details:

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Criticism of Lansman’s Proposals on BAME from Grassroots Black Left

  • Does not opt for Black-only, but BAME – taking us back more than 30 years
  • Accepts the current two-yearly conference status quo. Labour women have a conference every year.  Katy Clark has told us she is in favour of an annual Black Labour Party members’ conference
  • Opts for just one “BAME” Labour Party NEC member as per the status quo, stating, vaguely: ” Additional BAME representation on the NEC and throughout all levels of the Party should be seriously considered during the second and third phases of this Democracy Review.” This needs to rule out MPs standing. Grassroots Black left demand gender equality and African, Caribbean and Asian equality among Black Labour representatives
  • Sticks with the patronising “Ethnic minority” CLP officers and local “Ethnic Minority Forums”
  • Has no proposal for Black Labour members to elect delegates to all levels of the party, including the region, policy forums etc
  • Says there should be a full-time staff member for BAME Labour who is “accountable to BAME Labour’s democratic structures” but not appointed by them. Therefore the staff member’s loyalty would be to Labour head office, namely General Secretary Iain “witch-hunter” McNichol
  • Supports one member one vote being used, to automatically include all BAME Labour members. So, no recommendation for a new Black affiliated socialist society run by Black members, for Black members.
  • BAME (Black Asian Minority Ethnic): An awful term manufactured by white census apparatchiks. It cynically destroys the anti-racist gains of history by rejecting political “Black”, which refers to Africans, Caribbeans, Asians and other people discriminated against because of their colour. No conscious Black person I know would ever use BAME. It’s not our term. It was imposed on us. Now’s the time to slay the BAME dragon, get rid of the neo-colonial term and for Black people to regain our self-respect, dignity and equal rights. That’s what Grassroots Black Left is about.

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.