By Maia Kirby
Jane Haden, Newton Abbot CLP, had been a member of the Labour Party for over ten years. In that time she has stood for local government, been a Constituency and Local Campaign Forum treasurer, an election agent over two general elections and multiple local government elections. She was a CLP Secretary for eight days until she was suspended. Here she talks about her experience.
“Up until 18th December when I was given an ‘administrative’ suspension from the Labour Party, I had been an active member for over 10 years under four leaders. I had stood as a local government candidate, been the Constituency treasurer for almost 8 years, acted as election agent over two general elections and numerous local and county elections and organised canvassing and campaigns. I was also the treasurer of the Local Campaign Forum and CLP secretary for all of 8 days! I did all of this because I wanted to make a difference, make things better in my local community and the country, believing Labour would help give a voice to those around me I see struggling every day, making their lives better.
In addition to this I help with two community groups, one an access to food group and one providing benefit and housing support. Both of these groups give valuable information on the struggles experienced by vulnerable members of our communities.
I live in what locally is considered a deprived area and have done so for over 30 years. I live in what was a council house and is now owned by a housing association. We had to move because of the Bedroom Tax, our children were discriminated against at school due to where we live and we are a low income family.
All of this means I have some idea what people face on a day to day basis and explains why I wanted to fight for change through supporting the Labour Party. Grassroots members are the people who know what the problems are that are faced every day by those living in our communities, because they are part of those communities. It seems to me that the recent suspensions have deprived the Party of people who live in areas and have lives that the Party seeks to improve, and that the Party is seeking to stop the voices of these people being heard.
I don’t officially know why I was suspended, but it seems clear it was because I acted as Branch Secretary when our Secretary and only Labour Councillor Ryan Hall was suspended. I wrote and sent out minutes and forwarded a motion in support of our Councillor and against his suspension.
I did not write or submit the motion. I did however support it, particularly as Ryan who works alongside me organising our access to food project, was suspended for tweeting about the SW Regional Director’s intervention stopping a CLP donating to a food bank. He also knows how difficult ordinary people are finding the situation. They are struggling to get food. He was angry about the actions of the Regional Director, and why would he not be? It’s tough out there and getting tougher.
We have a duty as human beings to call out wrongs when we see them. The Labour Party should be encouraging this, not supressing it. Injustice festers if not addressed – whether that be not restoring the whip to Jeremy Corbyn or suppressing discussion about the anti-Semitism report. Respectful discussion moves a group forward to a better understanding – whereas ruling by diktat and fear merely leads to resentment, disunity and mistrust of officers whether at CLP, regional or national level.”
Jane has sadly left the party over her treatment and the treatment of her comrades. But tomorrow, a meeting of the NEC disputes panel has the chance to re-instate into membership the seventy-odd Constituency and Branch Labour Party officers who were also suspended for tabling or supporting solidarity motions and to put an end to what has been a shameful chapter in the Party’s history.
Maia Kirby is CLP Secretary for Hackney North CLP.
Save Our Socialists has been important in providing a collective response to what is an attack on the collective left.
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