Expelled after 46 years

Jay Kramer shares her response to Labour’s Legal & Governance Department’s allegation against her

On 8th November 2021, I received by email from the Legal & Governance Department of the Labour Party a “Notice of Allegation”. My ‘crime’ was to have liked and shared on my Facebook page a fringe meeting called ‘Defend the Left’ taking place during Labour Party conference in Brighton at the end of September. It was alleged that I had broken Rule 2, Clause 1.5 by “committing a prohibited act”. Underneath the letter were screenshots of my postings marked Exhibit 1-4. I was given fourteen days to respond, and I reproduce extracts from my submission below:

“I am a former Deputy Leader of Hastings Borough Council and East Sussex County Councillor. I have had unbroken membership of the Labour Party for the past 46 years. I have held officer positions in my branch and am a former Secretary and Chair of the Hastings & Rye CLP. I have campaigned in every election since 1997, both parliamentary and local, and have held committee rooms in my house at every election. I believe I have a reputation in the Hastings and Rye CLP as a Socialist, for promoting equalities, for my integrity and for my commitment to winning elections for Labour. I have also encouraged younger members of the Labour Party to put themselves forward for election, especially women. I am of Jewish heritage which is integral to informing my politics.

The context for me sharing and liking this fringe meeting is as follows:

 I had been appalled by the Labour Party’s treatment of Ken Loach. This man has done an extraordinary amount to effect societal change in terms of social justice. His film Cathy Come Home had a direct impact on homelessness and housing policy in the 1960’s; more recently, I, Daniel Blake exposed the inhumane treatment of claimants in the benefits system, and Sorry I Missed You was a landmark film in exposing the appalling treatment of delivery drivers. Rather than expelling him, the Labour Party should have been proud and privileged to have him as a member.

During the week of conference, one of our democratically elected conference delegates for Hastings & Rye CLP, Leah Levane, was expelled from the party in a way that was designed to humiliate her by calling the police and dealing with her unprofessionally. Leah has been an ambassador for Palestinian rights and has headed up Jewish Voice for Labour as Co-Chair. It is obvious that the leadership of the Labour Party realises that it cannot proscribe Jewish Voice for Labour in case it is challenged legally on anti-Semitism. It is therefore picking people off to try and weaken the organisation of which I am a member.

Our greatly valued comrade and former councillor on Hastings Borough Council, Mike Howard, died after a short illness recently. Mike was Jewish and proud of that heritage and considered that the lessons he absorbed from his family’s experience of fleeing pogroms in Lithuania and Poland were integral to his socialist internationalism. Many of us across the country are angry and want justice for the fact that Mike remained under suspension by the Labour Party and had not had his appeal heard in months. This was one of the final issues Mike raised before his untimely death.

You may have gathered by now that I have no intention of defending my actions. Based on democracy, free speech, and solidarity I have every right to share and like posts on Facebook. The fact that I shared or liked an organisation does not make me a member or a supporter. The burden of proof is on you.”

Four weeks later I received an email to say that under the same rule I had been expelled and was offered the right of appeal. Although I am not holding my breath, I feel it is important to use any procedures that are offered and so I have submitted an appeal and await the outcome.

In conclusion, I think it is important to speak out and let people know about the purge of socialists in the Labour Party because people may be feeling intimidated. Members’ money is being used to trawl through our Facebook pages and pay the wages of anonymous staff in the disputes team.

In parallel, members are leaving in droves. In Hastings & Rye, a local active Party with a Labour-led council, the Party has been destroyed and remaining activists are thin on the ground. Instead of fighting the right-wing Tory Government, the leadership of the Labour Party has turned on its’ own members in an unprecedented attack on democracy. Jewish comrades have been disproportionately attacked in terms of expulsions, notices of investigation and suspensions. At this rate, there will be more of us outside the Party than in and we must unite in solidarity.

Image: Party Conference 2021, by Emma Tait.

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