The Disgraceful Politics Behind Labour’s National Constitutional Committee
Why this Website?
On 10th June 2018 I was “excluded from membership” of the Labour Party for two years after being a member for 25 years. The events leading up to this are quite shocking and there are people in the Party who should hang their heads in shame for bringing the Party into disrepute. I am not one of them however; I am proud of what I have achieved, and proud of how I engage with Party members. What you are about to read may shock you, parts of it may stretch credibility, especially when you consider it all took place under the umbrella of a democratic socialist party committed to social justice. But having spent over 40 years working as an academic that requires a high level of professionalisation, I was still shocked that there were people in the Party who at a semi-legal hearing would look me in the eye, and lie.
I am publishing this account because Labour Party members, and members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) have a right to know what goes on in their name, how their membership fees are spent, and how the political changes taking place in the Labour Party are being resisted by people who prefer subterfuge to debate. Submitting myself to a National Constitutional Committee (NCC) hearing was, in retrospect, a mistake. The decision to exclude me had already been made some time prior to the event, and the hearing itself was a complete irrelevance. The NCC acts as the "Witch-finder General" of the Labour Party right, systematically seeking out and removing supporters of the leadership rather than engaging in political debate. It is generally seen as dysfunctional. Along with many other supporters of the leadership, I was removed in order that I would be unable to participate in NEC elections, Labour Party Conference and to be elected by Party members as an officer. A tiny clique of malevolent local members and Regional Officials colluded in secret to disrupt the local party. Had this process taken place within a trade union - my own union now UNITE for example - it would have very simply been thrown out and the perpetrators of the lies rightly expelled from the union. No one can behave in the way they did and call themselves a socialist or trades unionist.
The members of the Panel were Peter Mason, (JLM) Chair, Maggie Cosin (CLP rep) , Dave Clements (GMB). Their identity was kept secret from me until I walked in the room.
What were the allegations?
I was accused of intimidation, misogyny, bullying, harassment, misusing membership data, misusing Constituency Labour Party (CLP) funds, and very many other misdemeanours. All of these allegation and the full charges can be found under My Response.
The first charge was that I had bullied, intimidated and harassed some members of the party particularly women, including sending “excessive correspondence”. No evidence was offered for this charge.
With advice from my solicitor - a long standing member of the Labour Party and a CLP Chair - we asked for evidence of bullying, intimidation and harassment, but the Secretary of the NCC advised us they were under no obligation to provide any.
We asked for the “excessive correspondence” but again were to told they were under no obligation to provide any and the NEC, through its “Presenter” (Richard Oliver, a GMB Official and member of the East Midlands Regional Board) refused to provide any. This was because the allegation was quite simply a lie. Later when pressed at the hearing for examples of this correspondence Richard Oliver pointed to the single email from me in the Charges Pack that asked for three items to go onto the agenda of the CLP General Committee meeting. This was, he claimed, evidence of my bullying and of my excessive emails.
The Presenter did offer one email he claimed I had sent, which appeared to show I was celebrating the fact that two of the complainants had resigned. I have no record nor any recollection of sending this email. My solicitor requested the original email so we could trace it, but was refused by the Presenter/NCC. We were only provided with the text of an email in the form of an untraceable PDF. The Presenter continued to use this email in spite of the evidence I offered that the GC meeting minutes show I was the only person to offer a vote of thanks to one complainant, when she stepped down as Chair, for her indefatigable work in the Women’s Group, and an email in which I offered to nominate the other complainant as Branch Chair.
In my Response to Charges, I provide a forensic analysis and a huge evidence base that demonstrates how all these allegations are false.
The second allegation was that I disrupted a meeting, that I was specifically invited to, and organised a mob to attend with the intention to disrupt it. The Charges Pack contain the minutes of this meeting which clearly show this was untrue. All those who attended with me had been elected as delegates to the CLP General Committee (GC) and were enthusiastic supporters of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. That meeting was an unscheduled meeting for which no agenda had been produced or circulated, and at which one of the complainants took the minutes which is highly improper. The meeting was closed by Andy Furlong who was the Chair of the East Midlands Regional Board after 14 minutes. No one knew why he was there (apart from the complainants) as he had no authority to be there. After this meeting, all ten of the members were suspended including two who never even attended the meeting! However, the complainant who took the minutes produced two distinct versions of the minutes which were circulated to two difference sets of people. This is subject to a CLP investigation that the East Midlands Regional Director has tried to close down. A full analysis of this meeting is in my Response to Charges.
The third allegation was that after I was suspended I continued to harass women and had become the leader of some shady cult of members that sought to exclude women from engaging in the Party. My solicitor again requested some evidence but was yet again denied any. The allegation had been made in an incoherent email which made sweeping unsubstantiated claims and assertions but provided no substance or manifestation or harassment. When at the hearing my solicitor asked for some names of women it was alleged I had excluded, only two names could be offered - both of whom were heavily involved in the Party and were GC delegates. One of these names was one of my own witnesses -who at the hearing described this allegation as ridiculous; the NCC Panel were not interested, but preferred to believe the allegation. The NCC refused to allow me to call two women witnesses to refute this claim, saying I already had two men who could speak for them.
What are the issues here?
I am well aware this all sounds ridiculously unbelievable. Had I not witnessed it with my own eyes I would struggle to believe it happened. But not only does it illustrate the lengths some in the party will go to, but also that the structures allow this to happen unchallenged. There are a number of really serious issues here that pose questions for what goes on inside some shady areas of the Labour Party. In these pages, I go on to describe:
- The NEC produced no evidence nor manifestation of any bullying, harassment or intimidation or misuse of data or funds on my part - because there is none. This is all very suspicious. In contrast to natural justice, I was presumed guilty from the outset and the purpose of the “hearing” was to paint some gloss of legitimacy over that.
- The NEC Presenter with the backing of the NCC refused to produce any evidence that would support any of the allegations.
- The CLP are about to resurrect the investigation into a previous CLP Secretary - one of the key actors in the false allegations - and the fabrication of the minutes of a CLP meeting which led to our 10 suspensions. This investigation was stopped on the order of the East midlands Regional Office - very suspicious. One of the NEC witnesses lied to the NCC panel over this, my solicitor exposed the lie yet the NCC ignored it with the complicity of the NEC Presenter.
- The NCC appear to have been mislead over the provenance of an email the NEC Presenter claimed I sent, but which I have neither record nor recollection of sending. Their refusal to produce the original was very suspect.
- The Regional Director misled the NEC Disputes Panel in January 2017 and has consistently refused to produce any documentation of his “investigation” - because there was no investigation - contrary to the Party Rules.
- The NCC were suspiciously aggressive on restricting my witnesses contrary to the Party Rules - again very suspicious and contrary both to Party rules and natural justice.
These are all very serious and I believe someone in the NCC knows something suspicious was going on, hence their gerrymandering of the hearing. I have no doubt there has been collusion behind the scenes. With my solicitor I am preparing a formal Subject Access Request (SAR) in order to uncover the full correspondence and information behind the case and we will push this with the Information Commissioner if the Party continues to be obstructive. They have so far declined to satisfy the legal requirements of the Data Protection Act and have refused to communicate over this transgression. Even communication with Jennie Formby goes unacknowledged. This is very suspicious; if the Party had a genuine case, they would be only too keen to communicate the facts. The Party can do without all this subterfuge - especially in Rushcliffe, where we have a fantastic Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) and a chance of taking the seat from the Conservatives.
What has been the effect of all this?
My exclusion has had very negative repercussions for the Party locally. Some people have resigned, many others have just stopped coming to meetings because of the lack of any justice in a party they thought was the party of social justice. It is tempting to conclude this might have been the purpose all along. I do believe those who were behind this have little interest in building a socialist Labour Party - as it would detract from their own personal ambitions. They played along with forces at a regional and national level to engineer a witch-hunt and a kangaroo court. Reading the official documentation will lead you to this as the only conclusion that can be drawn. I further believe the panel had very clearly been selected (in secret) specifically to find me guilty. Successive correspondence with the Secretary of the NCC makes this abundantly clear. But none of this political subterfuge matters; the NCC operates with impunity.
I have provided a detailed analysis of my exclusion from the Party titled "Malice in Wonderland".
My Full Response to the Party
In addition, I have added on the next page my complete response to the "Charges" from the Party so you can make up your own mind. This includes all the allegations made against me and my complete rebuttal of those. It is a pretty long and detailed document - because unlike the complainants, I provide evidence not merely unsubstantiated, fabricated and mendacious assertions.
Go to: Response to Charges.
I want to thank all the Labour Party members in Rushcliffe and West Bridgford in particular for their unflinching support and encouragement over the past two and a half years. The conversations, letters, emails and motions calling for my reinstatement have been really humbling. I want to particularly thank Keir Chewings, Penny Gowland, Mia Colley, Mark Gibson, Umaar Kazmi, Beryl Whitehead, Jake Jackson, Jane Caro, Jean Stansfield, Chris Williamson, Alistair MacInnes, David Morgan, Ros Chapman, Ben Gray, Linda Burdett, Brent Abbot, Zbyszek Luczynski, Adele Williams, Lucy James, Mike Scott, Eve Cina, Ged Talty, Steve Battlemuch, Jane Hart, Pete Sorenson, Mary Bailey, Roger Clare, Jan Clare, Ena Stansfield, Ian Crompton, Alan Chewings, Cheryl Pidgeon, Tina Byrom, Andy Clapham, Phil Gunn, Tom Unterrainer, Louise Regan, Cecile Wright, Darren Williams, Christine Shawcroft, and many, many others who have unstintingly supported me over the past two years. Their support as comrades and socialists means so much. Their comradeship and integrity compares very starkly with the malicious and mendacious skulduggery of four individuals who are at the root of this politicalwitch-hunt.