Stop the Labour purge

BACK in the old days ballot-rigging, vote massaging and smear campaigns were commonplace within the union movement, whilst the Labour Party openly operated a system of bans and proscriptions to keep out communists and those they dubbed “fellow travellers” that was maintained until the early 1970s.

Though the bourgeois media regularly accused the communists of vote manipulation it was, in fact, the chosen tactic of the right-wing blocs throughout the labour movement.

Some believed that we had seen the last of these dubious practices with the end of the Cold War. The events over the past few weeks have clearly proved them wrong. Labour members and supporters are being suspended or banned from voting on a colossal scale in the current leadership contest by the right-wing bureaucracy in a blatant effort to stop the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn.

The right-wing clique working in Labour’s shadowy Compliance Unit has suspended leading labour movement figures such as Ronnie Draper, general secretary of the Baker’s Union — a Labour affiliate — other long-standing members and thousands of new, young recruits that Corbyn has won over since his original election victory last year.

The purge is being carried out in the name of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC). But the NEC is in no position to investigate or even review the cases of potentially hundreds or thousands of suspended Labour members. It is not in continuous session and it last met in July. In fact Labour’s unelected general secretary, Iain McNicol, and the unelected Compliance Unit are responsible for the present outrages.

Seventeen victims recently wrote to the Guardian complaining about these double-standards, saying: “We are members of the Labour party who have been suspended or subject to the attentions of Labour’s compliance unit. We are amazed that there has not been an outcry in the media about the tactics and methods that have been employed to debar supporters of Jeremy Corbyn from voting in the leadership election...

“If it had been the left that had been ringing people up at home to ask them why they have joined the party or had been trawling through people’s social media posts to find “evidence” of abusive behaviour, the air would be heavy with condemnations. It is one thing for someone to be suspended as a result of a genuine complaint of abusive behaviour. It is a different matter for party officials to openly look for a pretext to stop people from voting. If this were a public election, Labour’s officials would be guilty of corrupt electoral practices...

“...Abuse from the right of the Labour party is accepted; a tweet expressing support for the Foo Fighters is deemed a hanging offence. If by some miracle Owen Smith were to win, the victory would be forever tainted.”

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP says this smacks of a “rigged purge” and Corbyn has rightly called for “the strongest principles of natural justice” to be implemented.

The Labour Representation Committee (LRC) is rightly calling on the incoming Labour NEC to change the disciplinary procedures within the party to allow for due process and implementation of the principles of natural justice. The LRC is also calling for an inquiry into Iain McNicol’s role in relation to the suspensions of Labour members and supporters, and propose rule changes to make the Labour Party’s general secretary an elected post.

The fight for a democratic Labour Party is linked to the fight for a democratic trade union movement. In the unions we must struggle to elect genuine working class leaderships, who are prepared to represent and fight for the membership against the employers and against the right wing within the movement and to campaign for the removal of all anti-trade union legislation.

The New Communist Party (NCP) campaigns for a democratic Labour Party controlled by its affiliates; a Labour Party whose policies reflected those of a democratic union movement would become a powerful instrument for progressive reforms that would strengthen organised labour and benefit the working class.

At the same time we must build the revolutionary party and campaign for revolutionary change. Social democracy remains social democracy whatever trend is dominant within it. It has never led to socialism.

Our Party’s strategy is the only way to fight for the communist alternative in England, Scotland and Wales today. We want day-to-day reforms and they can only be achieved by Labour, the main reformist, social democratic party in Britain. We want revolution and that can only be achieved through the leadership of the communist party.