A Socialist Appeal member, expelled from the Labour Party, recently went court to contest the expulsion. Unsurprisingly the Party had their side upheld and he will not be reinstated, at least not through court procedures.
The submission to the court from the Labour Party is the first clear statement of the pretexts they use for suspending and expelling socialists from the Party, including supports of the AWL. Labour’s document quotes Chapter 2.4.1.B “A member of the Party who joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Party... shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a Party member.”
This clause has been used selectively. Members of groups on Labour’s right and centre, Progress, Labour First, Open Labour, have not been excluded on these grounds. Labour officials conceded that Socialist Appeal is not in fact a proscribed organisation. But they argued that Socialist Appeal’s socialist views criminalise it! Its stated aim to put the market economy “into the dustbin of history” is in contravention of Labour’s view that the “enterprise of the market” and the “rigour of competition” are important to a modern economy.
The case shows the need to campaign to open up the Labour Party, end auto-exclusions and suspensions, and fight for natural justice against bureaucratic manoeuvres. The campaign Stop the Labour Purge will be advocating useful rule changes at Labour Party conference: to stop membership eligibility being defined by conservative political standards. It should be based on supporting Labour in elections and helping the Party in its activity.
There should be proper procedures for disciplinary action based on standards of natural justice. In the run-up to the 2015 Labour Party leadership election hundreds of exclusions were made by the Compliance Unit, an unelected body with no clear status in the Party rules. Many were “automatic exclusions” under Chapter 2 Clause 4 (A); the excluded have no notice of the charges against them until after they are excluded; no hearing; and no right of appeal.
The possible grounds for these “automatic exclusions” are so broad that probably the big majority of Party members could, in theory be “automatically excluded” if a Compliance Unit official so wishes. The grounds for exclusion need to be made much more precise and should be based on current, active hostility to Labour (such as being a Tory), or being shown to be (through evidence and investigation) guilty of such things as racist or sexist abuse.