A number of Labour MPs, peers, trade union general secretaries, members of Labour’s national executive committee and organisations on the left have jointly issued a statement on democracy within the party.
Titled ‘Stand Up for Labour Party Democracy’, the statement calls on the Labour leadership to “reinstate the whip to Jeremy Corbyn” and “end the attacks on party democracy, legitimate discussion and recent wave of suspensions”.
The group of Labour left figures, including the leaders of seven party-affiliated trade unions, has said it is “deeply concerned by the Labour leadership undermining party democracy” via a “clampdown on legitimate party discussions”.
Labour general secretary David Evans told local party secretaries, chairs, MPs, MSPs and MSPs in November that motions on the suspension of the whip from Corbyn – including expressions of solidarity – would be “ruled out of order”.
He said such items for debate were “providing a flashpoint for the expression of views that undermine the Labour Party’s ability to provide a safe and welcoming space for all members, in particular our Jewish members”.
In an email to local officials last week, Evans thanked officers who have been implementing his guidance by not allowing the motions to be heard. He reiterated that limits must be in place to ensure meetings are safe for Jewish members.
Banned motions include any criticising the Equality and Human Rights Commission report that found Labour responsible for unlawful acts, expressions of solidarity with Corbyn, and motions of no confidence in Evans or Keir Starmer.
The Jewish Labour Movement, a party-affiliated organisation, has expressed concern over certain motions being heard and in November offered its members “practical guidance in line with our duty of care” in response to such discussions.
Reacting to the EHRC action plan today, JLM referred to “recent events” showing that a “toxic culture persists in many parts of the party”. The group urged Labour to address this concern as well as set up an independent disciplinary process.
Momentum has unveiled today a new support unit for “wrongly suspended members”, which is run by legal advisors and will aim to help those facing disciplinary proceedings for expressing support for Jeremy Corbyn.
Below is the full text of the statement and list of signatories.
We are proud that the Labour Party is a democratic socialist party and so we are deeply concerned by the Labour leadership undermining party democracy and its clampdown on legitimate party discussions in recent weeks.
The decision to deny Jeremy Corbyn the Labour Party whip despite the NEC readmitting him back into the party; the attempts to silence the elected representatives of Young Labour for releasing a statement reflecting the views of their own executive members; instructions to CLPs about what they can and can’t discuss; and the suspension of CLP officers for reflecting the wishes of their local party members is part of a worrying pattern of behaviour.
Members are the lifeblood of our party. It is the volunteering of tens of thousands of members – their local campaigning, their door-knocking and their relationships with local voters – that roots us in every community.
Members must be treated with respect, including by upholding the basic democratic right that local party members can decide what they discuss and the positions our local parties take, as well as by ensuring that meetings are always open, inclusive and free from discrimination.
Attempts to prevent party members from discussing legitimate topics in a respectful way will demoralise and undermine the involvement of many ahead of what is a key period of elections in 2021 when grassroots members of our party will be needed to give up their spare time to help us win.
We call on the Labour leadership to reinstate the whip to Jeremy Corbyn, end the attacks on party democracy, legitimate discussion and recent wave of suspensions, and instead to focus on taking the fight to the Tories.
Diane Abbott MP
Tahir Ali MP
Apsana Begum MP
Richard Burgon MP
Ian Byrne MP
Dan Carden MP
Mary Foy MP
Ian Lavery MP
Rebecca Long-Bailey MP
John McDonnell MP
Ian Mearns MP
Grahame Morris MP
Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP
Kate Osborne MP
Zarah Sultana MP
Jon Trickett MP
Claudia Webbe MP
Mick Whitley MP
Nadia Whittome MP
Beth Winter MP
Christine Blower, Member of the House of Lords
Pauline Bryan, Member of the House of Lords
Katy Clark, Member of the House of Lords
Bryn Davies, Member of the House of Lords
John Hendy QC, Member of the House of Lords
Prem Sikka, Member of the House of Lords
Tony Woodley, Member of the House of Lords
Manuel Cortes, General Secretary of TSSA
Chris Kitchen, General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM)
Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite the Union
Dave Ward, General Secretary of the Communication Workers Union (CWU)
Mick Whelan, General Secretary of ASLEF
Sarah Woolley, General Secretary of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU)
Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU)
Gemma Bolton NEC (CLP Section)
Yasmine Dar NEC (CLP Section)
Nadia Jama NEC (CLP Section)
Laura Pidcock NEC (CLP Section)
Mish Rahman NEC (CLP Section)
Lara McNeill, NEC Youth Representative
Jess Barnard, Chair of Young Labour
Campaign For Labour Party Democracy
Campaign For Socialism (Scotland)
Welsh Labour Grassroots
Arise: a Festival of Labour’s Left Ideas
Labour Representation Committee
Don’t Leave, Organise
Jewish Voice for Labour
Labour Assembly Against Austerity