The following statement has been published by Red Labour in protest at the expulsion from the Labour Party of supporters of Solidarity and of Corbyn. We urge activists to republish the statement, to add supportive comments on the Facebook page, and to get their union branches and CLPs to endorse it.
"In the course of a rather grotesquely titled 'operation ice-pick' (ice pick being the murder weapon used on Trotsky by an agent of Stalin), a number of long-standing party members have been expelled despite being energetic Labour supporters for all recent elections.
The charge against them is that they are suspected of being members of the Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL)
- or to “have been” associated with AWL in the past
- or just to be suspected of having contributed
- or circulated Solidarity (the weekly paper linked to the AWL)
- or having attended AWL public events
- or selling or writing for its paper 'Solidarity'.
Some have received letters saying only that they have been expelled for being members of "political groups other than official Labour groups", a criterion drawn from the rules but so vague that if taken literally it could be a mandate for expelling probably the majority of Labour's members. (CND members? Members of Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth? Associates of 38 Degrees? Of Red Labour? Of CLPD? Of LRC? Of Momentum?)
If these expulsions are allowed to go through, they can be a precedent for expelling whomever the Compliance Unit wants to expel and feels confident about expelling. They can be a precedent allowing sections of the Labour Party machine who do not want to come to terms with Jeremy Corbyn's election as leader to undermine Jeremy by salami-slicing away his most active supporters.
Red Labour believes that the only political criteria for membership of the Labour Party should be support for Labour candidates. There should be no exclusions of members for what brand of socialism they advocate. The only other people that might be validly excluded would be out-and-out racists, fascists and the like.
We call on the Labour Party to lift the expulsion of the four Party members, Ed Maltby, Liam McNulty, Vicki Morris and Daniel Randall: members expelled by administrative action of the Compliance Unit.
There is also the case of Nottingham Trades Council President and NUT NEC member, Liam Conway, who was expelled 10 years ago. Liam has been repeatedly prevented from rejoining the Labour Party despite campaigning for Labour victories and only Labour victories for the past 9 years.
These expulsions should be reversed, just as the Compliance Unit exclusions of many supporters from the leadership ballot were also reversed.
We believe the Labour Party needs to revise its rules about expulsions allowing for charges, hearings, and appeals, which are currently not allowed. In the meantime, they should apply the existing rules with wisdom and restraint.
A number of CLPs have made clear that they will not respect expulsions made on such a basis and we would advocate others to do so as well. Our Party has to put the period of bans and proscriptions behind it.
It should be open to all who want to support Labour's electoral battles against the Tories, who support the struggles of our trade unions and others fighting back against this cruel Tory government. Minority views should be respected. In a healthy Labour Party there should be no witch-hunting of people because of their ideas."
None of the expelled have received precise charges to which they can reply. Some are charged with "having been" members of AWL; others' letters of expulsion make no mention of AWL at all.
But there is a sound precedent for current and avowed members of AWL being accepted as Labour Party members in good standing.
The Labour Party used to have a “proscribed list” of groups whose members were banned, mostly groups linked to the Communist Party. That list was abolished in 1973.
The Independent Labour Party, which was a founding group of the Labour Party in 1900, then split away in 1932. It attempted to reaffiliate in 1939 and was refused. It contested parliamentary elections against Labour up to February 1974.
In 1975, it decided to redefine itself as a “political pressure group”, Independent Labour Publications, but was explicit that the new ILP continued the old ILP. It was accepted back into Labour, and rightly so. It’s still around.
The same approach should apply to Workers’ Liberty as to the ILP. And, for sure, no-one should be excluded for “thought-crime” of being interested in the ideas of Workers’ Liberty, circulating Solidarity, or attending discussions organised by Workers’ Liberty.
If not, why do you think that is?
Because he is under a lot of pressure not to be too daring - not just on this but on many issues. And from many sources - including the people running his office, who are generally to his right and don't have his campaigning background. Some of them are Stalinists who positively welcome the purging of Trots.
Corbyn argued early on, on national TV, that it was fine for revolutionary socialists to be in the Labour Party, but as far as I know has said nothing even about the purge in general since then. John McDonnell has made a couple of public statements about the issue but done little more than that so far.
Until now, part of the pressure was feeling boxed into a corner. Now is the time for the left to urge them to be bolder, on this and many issues!