As a result of an email sent by the General Secretary of the Labour Party, branches and CLPs have found themselves threatened with disciplinary action should they put forward motions in support of Jeremy Corbyn.

One branch in Oxford has found a way around this with the following motion being approved by Labour South East. This is because it does not mention Jeremy Corbyn. It does, however, call on the General Secretary to withdraw his ‘guidance’ and, were this to happen, motions of support for Jeremy Corbyn would surely be allowed.

This is the motion:

‘This [branch/CLP] notes the guidance sent by General Secretary David Evans to local party officers on 5th November 2020. We strongly agree that it is important to protect the integrity and confidentiality of our party’s disciplinary process and to maintain best practice throughout the conduct of any disciplinary enquiry.  

It is our view that such best practice, irrespective of the issue concerned or the identity of the member whose conduct is under investigation, must include: 

a)   That information about the suspension of a member must not be released to the press and discussed in public by any party members before the member themselves has been informed about the suspension. 

b)  That members should not be investigated under the disciplinary process for expressing disagreement with the ruling of a court or other tribunal. Saying that a ruling is mistaken in some way is not equivalent to disobeying it, and to prevent the expression of such opinions is contrary to democratic rights and will prevent proper political debate.  

The General Secretary’s guidance refers to an issue which has already been widely discussed in public and in the media. Senior party members have expressed an opinion in public on the issue.

We understand that the Labour Party NEC will be making a formal response to the issue in question, and regret that this response will not be informed by wider party consideration of the very serious issues raised.   

The ordinary members of this branch fully endorse the General Secretary’s statement that “our meetings must be conducted in accordance with our rules and guidance and in the spirit of creating an open and welcoming environment for people of all communities and backgrounds”.

However, we believe that all members, not just those in senior national positions, should have the opportunity to engage in responsible debate, within these parameters, about issues of concern to the wider party.  We are particularly concerned that the General Secretary’s statement that, “the Party will not hesitate to take appropriate action – including against individual members – where our rules and guidance are not adhered to, or standards of behaviour fall below that which we expect”, in the context of the national party’s interpretation of those rules on this occasion appearing contrary to our fundamental values of free speech and open debate, uses unacceptably threatening language.

This could be experienced as intimidation by volunteer local officers.  

We call upon the General Secretary to withdraw his guidance.’

To find out more about this motion and to hear from newly elected NEC representatives, watch the ‘Not the Andrew Marr Show’ tomorrow morning (10:30-11:30am).

Register on the link below.

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