steel city scribblings
In so many cases.
I’ve just emailed this set of observations to a number of LP members of my acquaintance in my email address list (Apologies for the length):
Regardless of any editorial slant the key facts and observed implications cannot be disputed.
Three demands in this pledge stand out:
1. That LP membership data be handed to outside groups, some of whom have and continue to be hostile to the values, principles, ethics and aims of the majority of Labour Party members. (Point 3 of the “Pledge”)
2. That individual members facing a specific allegation be in effect and in practice publicly named and shamed (Point 9 of the “Pledge”); based on the contentious issue of unambiguous acceptance of a narrow non legally binding definition of racism (Point 6 of the “Pledge”); overseen by a single outside group (Points 7 & 8 of the “Pledge”) which claims monopolistic rights to represent all individuals in a specific community.
3. In conjunction with Point 5 of the “Pledge”:
“Any MPs, Peers, councillors, members or CLPs who support, campaign or provide a platform for people who have been suspended or expelled in the wake of antisemitic incidents* should themselves be suspended from membership.”
*Note the missing preface “alleged” in front of the term “anti-Semitic incidents” here as some members expelled as a result of such allegations have not been expelled for anti-Semitism but for bringing the Party into disrepute. As the anti-Semitism allegations cannot be substantiated with objective evidence. The members concerned having exercised their due process rights in a free society to defend themselves against such allegations.
This lays the ground for further “investigations” into the backgrounds and social media accounts of Labour members—from ordinary members to MPs—to find any evidence of them supporting or sympathising with those already deemed “anti-Semites” based on a non legally binding narrow defintion. Including those who have been expelled for other reasons due to the absence of objective evidence to substantiate the initial allegations.
It is not unreasonable to observe on the basis of the balance of probabilities that Constituencies, branches and Party Units/Affiliates who have organised protest meetings in solidarity to defend individuals facing accusations could face derecognition. It is also reasonable on the balance of probabilities to anticipate individual members facing disciplinary action, expulsion and even publicly naming and shaming simply for showing and expressing solidarity with fellow Party members seeking to merely defend themselves.
(And we have not even touched on support for the BDS movement).
The evidence for this lies in:
(a) Point 4 of the “Pledge” which, whilst naming two individuals, clearly implies that other members similarly accused but expelled from the Party for a different reason – bringing the Party into disrepute – are considered equally “guilty” of such accusations levelled against them simply on the basis of the allegation.
(b) The reported statement attributed to Jon Lansman that ““It is never OK to respond to allegations of racism by being defensive”
(c) A position adopted by leadership contender Rebecca Long-Bailey in a similarly reported statement “My advice to Labour Party members is that it is never OK to respond to allegations of racism by being defensive. The only acceptable response to any accusation of racist prejudice is self-scrutiny, self-criticism and self-improvement.”*
*Quoted from: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/01/15/boar-j15.html
What does this mean?
The fundamental Enlightenment principles and standards upon which any society – never mind any single organisation – functions is being systematically undermined. Due process legal rights and natural justice cannot exist in any approach which treats a subjective self defined opinion based allegation/accusation as prima facia guilt with no objective supporting evidence. Simply on the basis that an allegation is so because an individual or group says it is so. Whilst at the same time rejecting any notion of the right of an individual or group to defend themselves from an allegation.
Adopting these “Pledges” would be outside existing legal practice in this area as laid down in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) guidelines on the processing of hate crimes : https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/racist-and-religious-hate-crime-prosecution-guidance
which clearly require any flagged cases as requiring objective substantive evidence, additional to subjective opinion, to prove such intent behind any allegation/accusation and to successfully prosecute it.
Lansman and Long-Bailey actually go further than this in demanding, on behalf of an outside organisation, that in all practical effect any response by an individual Party member (and by implication Party Unit/Affiliate) to an allegation of racism which seeks to defend themselves from such an allegation as part of their due process rights is an illegitimate response as far as the requirements of this “Pledge” is concerned.
Adopting these “Pledges” along with the principles upon which they are based, as detailed by John Lansman and Rebecca Long-Bailey would in practical effect prevent an accused person establishing witnesses on the basis that the witness would then be suspended and continuing for each successive person.
This is the kind of approach, mindset, and pre-modern “principles” of mob rule. Those adopting such an approach inherent in these “Pledges” would have been burning witches 400 years ago. In the 1950’s they would have been sat on Joe McCarthy’s red-baiting Un- American activities Committee. In Joe Stalin’s regime they would have been eagerly denouncing their “comrades” for transportation to the Gulags and worse.
And yet, as far as I can ascertain, every single Labour Party leadership candidate, except Clive Lewis, has signed up to these “Pledges.”
The practical effect of this situation is that anyone in the Labour Party who lives by the Enlightenment principles and standards of objective evidence based judgement and due process (as well as the stated LP values and aims) is now not only in a position in which they are effectively disenfranchised from the leadership ballot (as there is now no one standing – except Clive Lewis – who is willing to stand up for those Enlightenment principles) they are also in a position in which there is no place for them in the Party should the Party adopt these “Pledges.”
The choice will be to either jettison their own personal values and principles to stay in the Party or at some point face expulsion for sticking by those values and principles which led them to join the Party in the first place”
In the light of the current attempted enforced zeitgeist you might want to consider replacing the quote at the top of the page lest you fall foul of this pre-enlightenment approach and find yourself disbarred from voting for the Labour Party ever again!
Dave I fear the craven signing up to the IHRA by all five candidates – Long-Bailey not excepted – is the last straw for me. I will be leaving the LP.
This represents merely one aspect of what actually exists at present.
The experience of myself and a number of other Branch members, the Branch, and even the CLP itself over the past two years is that the Party at every level provides no protection under the rules for the majority of members who are not part of and protected by a select group – and such select groups include the PLC that is Momentum just as much as Progress/Blue Labour etc on the defined right.
I personally have been put at legal risk on one occasion and, without the persistence of a fellow member, would have been put at legal risk by a paid employee on an earlier occasion. In both cases both Regional and National levels have effectively declared they have no problem with members being placed in this position as a result of inaction on their part.
My GDPR rights and those of other members have been violated as a result of an illicit and potentially illegal recording taken at a Branch meeting by a guest which the Party at National level have failed, for nearly two years, to:
1. Deal with (intially losing the complaints in July 2018) and subsequently rejecting them.
2. Provide information as to whether any information obtained from this illicit recording formed any substantive evidence submitted in a complaint by the guest against another member. A complaint which was fast tracked within 48 hours, which did not get lost from the Party system in July 2018 (despite being linked to my own complaints) and which was upheld – clearly as a result of this individual receiving different treatment to those of other complaints.
Meanwhile, a related clear breach of confidentiality and their impact on the affected individual were met with disdain and inaction by Region; whilst blatent lies and breaches of protocol designed to impact on the listing process have also been ignored.
The inconsistency applied in the application of due process was further exacerbated by blatent gerrymandering of the PPC process across a number of Constituencies prior to the election. Designed to ensure pre-selected candidates were chosen. (some, and only some, of the information relating to that issue has been provided previously).
Some members are clearly more equal than others.
What is dangerous is that unless challenged with a view to changing behaviours and improving things this will continue. At some point one or more members will find themselves up the legal creek without a paddle as a result of this fast and loose approach with the legal liabilities of volunteer members who take up specific roles with legal responsibilities which the Party clearly has no interest in defending.
Just as dangerous is the the willingness of the hierarchy of the Party, which includes both so called “wings”, to compromise the due process rights of members to an outside agent hostile to the Party and what it stands for.
To quote from part of a response I sent out to a briefing I was supplied with this morning:
“As a result this is not about complaints, nor even individuals involved, but the fundamental issue of due process which has been abused in so many ways. Not least by blatent inconsistencies between cases dependent upon who is involved and which way round the complaints have been submitted.
The clear gerrymandering which has occurred cannot be allowed to stand if the Party as a whole expects to succeed at any electoral level.
On this point it is deeply worrying that every single candidate standing for leadership/deputy leadership posts are openly adopting a position which in very practical effect is compromising the due process rights of every single Party member at the behest of a hostile outside agency openly at odds with not only the Party values but those of wider civil society.
Innocent until proven guilty, evidence based enquiry and judgement, and objective based due process, in any rules or law based system is the cornerstone of the social contract at any level and in any organisation. Trade Unions would not accept such practices by employers against workers they represent at work. Labour Party members and Party Units are entitled to equal consideration of the same rights.
As is the rest of civil society.
If no one in the Party is prepared to challenge the abuse of these principles it will come back to bite the Party and those involved. The argument will be employed that if the Party cannot be trusted with the due process rights etc of its own members it cannot be trusted with those of the electorate at large and it would be naive to think the media would not at any point deemed appropriate employ such arguments against the Party to devestating effect.
Any Party, group of politicians or supporters/campaigners who play so fast and loose with these principles is going to get slaughtered.”
As an aside, though some of the points made have relevance here, this article provides the most comprehensive and clear demolition I have seen to date of the Centerist position which has got us where we are today:
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