Leadership accused of “factional crackdown” as regional board motion blocked

The Labour leadership has been accused of an “authoritarian, factional crackdown” following allegations that the London regional executive committee has been prevented from voting on a motion expressing solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn.

Commenting after a meeting on Monday, London representative on the Momentum national coordinating group Mick Moore argued unity within Labour is “being systematically undermined by a culture of control-freakery and forced silence”.

LabourList understands that after REC chair Jim Kelly was unsuccessfully challenged on whether the motion could be considered in the virtual meeting last night, the committee had attempted to move to a vote.

But a source has told LabourList that a Labour Party officer then prevented the vote from going ahead with the online meeting software Zoom by removing the chair as a co-host, disabling his control of the voting functions.

LabourList understand supporters of the decision believe the vote could not take place since the REC, as an agent of the party, is not allowed to comment on ongoing disciplinary cases. Labour has declined to comment on the meeting or vote.

Momentum NCG representative Moore declared today: “The Labour leadership and their allies in the party are embarking on an authoritarian, factional crackdown.

“First they told members they couldn’t meet over lockdown, then they tried to ban motions on the suspension of a former leader, and now they are preventing members from exercising their democratic rights – party unity is being systematically undermined by a culture of control-freakery and forced silence.

“Members are the lifeblood of the Labour Party, and Starmer must immediately put a stop to this behaviour and reverse the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn. If he does not, he risks tearing the party apart.”

The concerns voiced by the left-wing group representative follow those raised by the Unite the Union party staff branch last week that “due process appears to have broken down” with the suspension of the former Labour leader.

Corbyn was suspended following the publication of the Equality and Human Rights Commission report after he issued a statement arguing that “the scale” of Labour antisemitism was “dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents”.

A Labour spokesperson announced three hours afterwards that he was suspended from the party pending investigation and that the whip had been withdrawn “[in] light of his comments… and his failure to retract them subsequently”.

Commenting on the EHRC report at a press conference after the former Labour leader made his statement, Keir Starmer had declared: “If you’re antisemitic, you should be nowhere near this party. And we’ll make sure you’re not.

“And if after all the pain, all the grief, and all the evidence in this report, there are still those who think there’s no problem with antisemitism in the Labour Party. That it’s all exaggerated, or a factional attack.

“Then, frankly, you are part of the problem too. And you should be nowhere near the Labour Party either.”

Starmer has said that he did not take the decision to suspend Corbyn himself and it was taken independently by David Evans. But some have criticised this process, as they say the general secretary also counts as “political interference”.

Labour MPs, including John McDonnell, and other organisations have voiced their objection to the disciplinary action. Jon Trickett MP told a Momentum rally that he is “convinced” left-wing activists can get Corbyn reinstated to the party.

Others including Jewish Labour Movement parliamentary chair Margaret Hodge MP criticised Corbyn for his comments, while Angela Rayner MP said the former Labour leader has an “absolute blindspot” when it comes to issues raised by the EHRC.

The party was referred to the EHRC in 2018 by the Campaign Against Antisemitism. A probe was launched in May 2019 into whether Labour had “unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people because they are Jewish”.

After the publication of the report, the CAA submitted complaints against Corbyn, Diane Abbott and 15 other sitting MPs and “has given Labour six months to conduct transparent investigations and finally deliver justice for the Jewish community”.

In its report, the EHRC concluded that Labour is responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act – relating to political interference in antisemitism complaints; failure to provide adequate training to those handling them; and harassment.

All candidates in the Labour leadership election earlier this year pledged to implement an independent process, and this is a compulsory move following the publication of the final EHRC report on Labour antisemitism.

Labour has been served with an unlawful act notice on the basis of the statutory investigation. The party has six weeks – until December 10th – to produce an action plan to the EHRC in response to the findings and recommendations.

Jim Kelly and Labour have been contacted for comment.

Below is the full text of the motion.

London Labour Party regional executive committee believes:

1. Antisemitism is a poison in society and has no place in the Labour Party; there is agreement across the party that we must redouble our efforts to eradicate it

2. Publication of the EHRC report presented an opportunity for the party to reflect on its findings, unite and move forward, ensuring that all communities see Labour as a progressive and anti-racist party where all feel welcome and valued irrespective of their class, race, religion or ethnic background

3. Events since the report’s publication have overshadowed the important task of rebuilding solidarity and unity within the party and showing ourselves as a credible alternative to the inept Tory government that is incapable of dealing with the health crisis or the economic crisis it has created.

London Labour Party REC calls on:

i. All party units and elected representatives of the Labour Party, including the NEC, to take the necessary steps to avert what threatens to become the biggest internal crisis facing Labour in decades.

ii. The leadership of the party to reverse the divisive course of action it has embarked upon, to work for party unity and to ensure Labour becomes a credible government in waiting.

We stand in solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn and look forward to him resuming his place in parliament under the Labour whip as soon as possible.

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