As Labour Party conference approaches, the numbers of members being suspended and expelled is increasing. This purge has become extremely destructive.
The most recent high-profile suspensions were that of two Bristol Labour councillors — Hibaq Jama and Mike Langley. The suspensions leave Labour with one councillor below what is needed for an overall majority.
A number of conference delegates, including those who have submitted a contemporary motion supporting the Stop the Purge campaign, have found themselves suspended and expelled. Harrow West delegate Rosie Woods has joined the long list of those expelled for an association with Workers’ Liberty.
The Labour Party says that 4,000 people have been excluded. As suspensions are likely to continue until the conference the true figure could be much more. The process is completely untransparent.
Despite some small victories — including the reinstatement of BFAWU General Secretary and Stop the Purge Chair, Ronnie Draper and Harrow Councillor Pamela Fitzpatrick — many other members remain in the continued limbo of suspension, and those expelled are denied an appeal. Ronnie and Pamela have called for all other suspended members to be given the natural justice they deserve.
The contemporary motion — “For a Democratic, Pluralist Labour Party” — calling for change in Labour Party functioning that will allow it to become a space for open discussions of socialist politics and a hub of working-class organising and campaigning has been “ruled out” by the Conference Committee. We will be action to get this motion heard — including a lobby of conference — alongside ongoing campaigning for suspended activists to be reinstated. We all need to demand a comprehensive review if not amnesty for all those suspended and expelled.
If Jeremy Corbyn, as is expected, wins the leadership election this will become even more necessary. With a majority on the National Executive backing Corbyn, the right will be facing a much expanded membership, the prospect of the boundary review, and a decrease in their control of the machine. We call on the leadership of Corbyn and McDonnell to take control of the situation immediately. The leadership has not yet spoken out, called clearly for an immediate end to the suspensions and expulsions. It will require continued pressure to ensure they back the campaign.
Activists should be prepared for an initial increase in summary suspensions and expulsions, and be prepared to continue to build the Stop the Purge campaign beyond 24 September.