Labour suspends members for passing motion criticising Jeremy Corbyn suspension

Bristol West CLP voted to condemn the treatment of the former leader

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Saturday 14 November 2020 08:32
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Jeremy Corbyn responds to Labour Party suspension

Labour has suspended a group of members from one of its constituency parties after it passed a motion criticising the treatment of Jeremy Corbyn.

The chair, co-secretary and a number of other members in Bristol West Labour are facing disciplinary action over the show of defiance, which branded Mr Corbyn’s suspension “a politically motivated attack against the left of the Labour Party by the leadership”.

Labour declined to comment formally on the crackdown, but a source said the motion was not “competent constituency Labour party business” because it related to individual disciplinary matters.

Sir Keir Starmer’s new general secretary David Evans wrote to local parties last week warning them not to “have discussions about, or pass motions in relation to any aspect of individual disciplinary cases” – a veiled reference to the former leader’s fate.

The guidance said the party would “not hesitate to take appropriate action – including against individual members” if it was not followed. Labour says the approach is in line with that of former general secretaries.

Darran McLaughlin, the constituency Labour party’s co-secretary, told the LabourList website that an online extraordinary general meeting considered the motion with around 200 members participating.

“The anti-democratic suspension of Jeremy Corbyn has, rightly, been a topic of huge debate within the party,” he told the website.

“Because of this it is absolutely right that members should be able to have their say, as Keir Starmer does in every interview he gives.”

The motion was reportedly put the vote without debate to ensure that there could be no discussion of or challenge to a report by Equality and Human Rights Commission report into Labour itself.

Bristol West is a safe Labour seat a majority of 28,000, down from 37,000 in 2017.

Mr Corbyn was last month suspended from the party after 55 years, ostensibly for his response to the report into Labour antisemitism, after he said the scale of the problem had been “overstated for political reasons”.  

The latest round of suspensions comes ahead of the results of Labour’s NEC elections, which will reveal the balance of power between the party’s factions. 

Nine sets on the party’s ruling body are set to be elected by the general membership, with additional competitions for posts like youth rep and disable rep.

The contest will for the first time be held using the single transferrable vote system of proportional representation – meaning a clean sweep for one faction is unlikely and the balance of power is difficult to predict.

The main slates of candidates are Labour To Win, which represents the party’s right, Open Labour, the soft left, and the Grassroots Alliance, which represents the left.

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