Due process and a fair hearing

Submitted by AWL on 24 October, 2018 - 11:44 Author: Keith Road

There is now a single unified “left” slate for the expanded Labour Party National Constitutional Committee.

With the backing of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, Momentum and several smaller organisations, this slate will probably receive many Labour Party nominations and the majority of the delegate votes.

The opposing slates from Labour First and Open Labour are yet to write anything publicly on what they see as their role on the NCC.

The united left candidates have co-signed an article for the Labour Hub website. Some of what they have to say is promising if vague. Other questions which Solidarity thinks are important for all candidates to answer are still yet to be fully explained.

The key questions for NCC members to consider are:
• What are your views on due process? This includes the notice of charges, right to view and question evidence, getting a timely hearing with representation, the presumption of innocence and a robust right of appeal.

It is reassuring that the article for Labour Hub states, “Baroness Chakrabarti proposed a framework for clear and transparent procedures for dealing with allegations. She recommended drawing up and adopting a clear complaints procedure which explains with sufficient clarity things such as how and to whom complaints are to be made and how long each stage of the process is likely to take... She emphasised that the subject of a complaint must be informed immediately.”

The candidates also welcome the appointment of legal counsel Gordon Nardell, the suggestion of other sanctions rather than just suspension or expulsion, and the transfer of the powers to suspend to the NCC.

Their statement talks about the purge of left wingers from the Party in 2015. It fails to deal with the mis-use of the badly worded Clause 2.4.1(B) under which members and supporters of Workers’ Liberty and other socialists have been expelled.

The Labour Party abolished its proscribed list in 1973, but the use of the clause suggests that at least informally some version of it remains in operation.

We would like to see a firm commitment from everyone standing in this election that they will stop the use of this clause and immediately review all the cases of socialists excluded under this rule, with the intention to reinstate them. No one who was auto-excluded was given any right to appeal. We call on the incoming NCC to work on changing this process.

The left slate includes Stephen Marks from Jewish Voice for Labour. How the NCC deals with allegations of antisemitism is vitally important.

The National Executive has decided to adopt the full IHRA text on antisemitism. That of course, includes the clause that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country” — e.g. criticism of the sort it is reasonable to level against the USA or Russia or China or Sri Lanka or Turkey — or Britain — for their treatment of other peoples, or subordinated peoples under their rule — “cannot be regarded as antisemitic”.

JVL are vehement opponents of the IHRA text.

It is important to know that Stephen Marks will follow the vote at the National Executive and ensure that the NCC are guided by its conclusions.

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