More Labour proscriptions

Labour’s NEC today voted to ban three more organisations that it deems incompatible with Party membership.

The organisations are the Alliance for Workers Liberty, the Labour Left Alliance and the Socialist Labour Network. This is in addition to four organisations banned – Socialist Appeal, Labour in Exile Network, Labour Against the Witchhunt and Resist – at a meeting in July last year. Supporters of the groups have since been auto-excluded from the party.

As usual, there was less than 24 hours’ notice for the proposed proscriptions.

A Momentum spokesperson commented: “As a democratic socialist party, Labour has a proud tradition of welcoming socialists of all traditions, while disciplinary procedures already exist for individual members that behave inappropriately.

“These factional proscriptions will create hundreds of time-consuming and pointless investigations into members for simply liking tweets or signing petitions. This has absolutely nothing to do with winning elections. Instead, it is yet another example of a Labour leadership obsessing over purging the left at a time when socialist ideas are more popular and urgent than ever.

“In the wake of a Victorian Tory budget that threatens to plunge millions into poverty, Starmer should be setting out an inspiring socialist alternative to soaring bills and energy crisis, not fanning the flames of internal party conflict.”

The new proscriptions will extend guilt by association, with members facing bans merely for attending events by a group or contributing to its website – or even just liking or sharing a social media post. If the NEC makes the ban’s application retrospective, as it did with earlier proscriptions, it will again fly in the face of natural justice.

A Momentum statement on the bans said: “We believe that these proscriptions are anti-democratic and are part of a strategy designed to attack the wider Labour left and especially Momentum. It has very little to do with the three organisations themselves, whose influence and membership are marginal.”

It concluded: “In this year’s NEC elections, Momentum-backed candidates will continue to fight for party democracy and fairness. We call on all wings of the labour movement to stand up against these anti-democratic and nakedly factional manoeuvres and we call for a culture of pluralism and debate to be protected and encouraged in the Party.”

Last month, Keir Starmer silenced Labour’s youth wing – a socialist stronghold – for daring to hold different policy positions on the war on Ukraine. And eleven Labour MPs were threatened with loss of the Labour whip unless they withdrew their signatures from a Stop the War Coalition statement.

According to Labour List’s Sienna Rogers, “Momentum has again been named in NEC papers as a group that will NOT be proscribed.” But one is left wondering: for how long – and who’s next? Redcar CLP have called for Labour to proscribe the Stop the War Coalition, but currently bans are possible only if the NEC sees a clear breach of ‘Labour values’, or in the case of ‘entryism’.

Meanwhile the real scandal about people working against the interests of the Party – in the heart of the party machine itself – remains off the agenda. Despite assurances at their meeting in November that they could expect a visit by the chair of the Forde Inquiry and for the report itself to be shared at the January meeting of the NEC, neither happened.

The Forde Report is the result of an inquiry looking into the so-called ‘Labour leaks’ report, an internal document leaked online in 2020 that painted a shocking picture. In it, senior party officials appeared alarmed at the Party’s prospects of success in the run-up to the 2017 General Election, and sought to divert resources into protecting their allies at the expense of kicking out the Tories, while adopting a contemptuous stance to those MPs willing to work with the Corbyn leadership, and particularly BAME and women MPs.

Image: Source: Momentum at the Stop Trump Rally. Author: Garry Knight from London, England,  licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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