A Statement from a Member of Chipping Barnet CLP

Even motions in compliance with the restrictions imposed on democratic discussion by Labour's General Secretary appear to be leading to suspensions.

2 min read

We are publishing this statement from a member of Chipping Barnet Constituency Labour Party as it raises further serious questions about the internal democratic functioning of the Labour Party and the victimisation of elected CLP officials. The motion in question was tweeted out and is also available here. We are particularly concerned that this motion appears to have abided by all the rules imposed by the General Secretary, yet CLP officials appear to have been suspended nevertheless. Indeed, two motions were withdrawn because they were in violation of these rules. New Socialist views the existing rules as unjustifiably restrictive on the democratic functioning of the Labour Party, but reported suspensions in response to a motion that does not even appear to break them are a further and even more unjustifiable attack on democratic discussion.

On 3rd December I attended Chipping Barnet Labour Party’s All Members Meeting, via Zoom. The meeting was well-attended, managed diligently and fairly. An emergency motion about political process was passed.

The motion resolved to support the implementation of the EHRC report’s findings, to promote unity within the party, and to enable respectful and democratic discussion. It was clear that the proposer wanted to ensure that all members can respectfully engage with the direction and management of the party. This is something that journalists, MPs, Councillors and others within the party have had an opportunity to do. Arguments for and against the motion were heard.

After the meeting I was disappointed to see that selective details of the motion had been shared with a journalist whilst the meeting was still going on.

The motion seemed compliant with the most recent guidance of the General Secretary (it did not mention anybody by name, it did not question the EHRC’s findings and did not call for the restoration of the whip to the former leader). Despite this, and the motion being ruled in order by the chair, a small number of members in the meeting attempted to attach additional implications to the meaning of a motion about party process. They then continued to share information about the meeting on social media after it had closed, creating a misleading narrative to those who could not attend, which can only serve to damage the party’s standing locally and nationally.

It was disappointing to see damaging misrepresentations of the meeting in these accounts, as well as omission of other important actions. We heard from guest speakers about local campaigns, passed a motion in support of Universal Basic Income, and passed a motion which resolved to “show active solidarity with all members regardless of race, background, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender or (dis)ability”.

Since the meeting, I have heard concerning reports about the suspension of hard-working and respected members of the Executive Committee. Such heavy handedness in response to a motion which did not contradict the General Secretary’s guidance is deeply concerning.

The author of this piece wishes to remain anonymous.