Sunday, 4 September 2016

My letter of rejection by the Labour NEC, and my response.

In June, I applied to join the Labour party. I believed that as a result of the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader, the Party was at last starting to reflect the philosophy and policies which I feel a truly socialist party should. When a challenge was made to Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, I thought it important that he should get all the support he could and I wanted to be in a position to vote for him. As the vindictive attacks continued against Corbyn I was, naively, bewildered by the attitude of the Parliamentary Party, and it has taken me some time to understand what is going on. It is now clear that his opponents don't fear that Labour cannot win an election under Corbyn, they fear that he can win. A victory for a left of centre Labour Party in a general election would jeopardise the comfortable wellbeing of a great many influential people, and the overwhelming power of the transnational corporations in the UK but also in Europe would be threatened.

That is why I applied to join the Labour Party, and that is why my application has been refused!

Below I show the letter I received from the General Secretary, and below that, my response.

Labour Party Membership
The Labour Party
Head Office
Southside, 105 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6QT
Labour Central, Kings Manor, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 6PA

0345 092 2299 |

1 September 2016

Dear Tim,
Thank you for your recent application to become a member of the Labour Party. 

The Labour Party should be the home of lively debate, of new ideas and of campaigns to change society. However, for fair debate to take place, people must be able to air their views in an atmosphere of respect. They shouldn’t be shouted down, they shouldn’t be intimidated, and they shouldn’t be abused, either in meetings or online.

A panel of the National Executive Committee (NEC) has considered your application, and decided to invoke Appendix 2.1.B.x of the Labour Party’s rules, which states:

“At any time before the individual is accepted as a full member of the Party, the General Secretary may rule that the individual application for membership be rejected for any reason which s/he sees fit”

Under the procedures of the National Executive Committee (NEC), if a rejected applicant for membership has acted in a way, within the past two years which, had s/he been a member at the time, would have meant they were auto-excluded from membership, there is no appeal against the decision to reject the application. In your case, the reason for your application being rejected is as follows:

You publicly showed support for the Green party on social media on 12 October 2014.

The NEC will not normally consider a further application for membership until two years has elapsed, unless you write to us and we consider there are exceptional circumstances. 

Yours sincerely,

Iain McNicol
General Secretary of The Labour Party

I found the above letter deeply offensive. I am replying as shown below:

The Labour Party Head Office
105 Victoria Street
 5 September 2016

For attention of Mr Iain McNicol, General Secretary
 Dear Mr McNicol

I must thank you for your letter dated 1 September 2016 rejecting my application to join the Labour Party.

Firstly, I would like to take issue with the fact that it has taken this long for you to come to this conclusion, following my application in June, and subsequent confirmation of my membership, including issuing me with a membership number.

Secondly, on the issue of my showing support for the Green Party in social media one month under two years ago, my exclusion seems to me unnecessarily petty and vindictive, and gives the impression that your team have been desperately seeking an excuse to exclude me (and many others in similar circumstances) for reasons of your own.

Thirdly, although I have no recollection of this social media entry, I am quite sure that whatever I was supporting was entirely compatible with socialist values. My political beliefs haven’t changed, only the means to express them. At that time, the Green Party was the only credible left of centre party around, and it would have been surprising if I had not found something in their policies to support.

I have been in complete sympathy with your publicly declared zero tolerance for abuse in social media.  Your letter to me made much of your stand regarding abuse, intimidation and so on.  While I agree with and accept the stand you take, I strongly object to the implication in your letter that my ‘transgression’ somehow equates to the abuse and intimidation you refer to.

On the subject of abuse, I have noted with interest the apparent indifference in the NEC to instances of abusive or unacceptable language on the part of prominent Labour members, whether it is Mr Wayne David’s inexcusable racist remarks on BBC radio in Wales, Michael Foster’s characterisation of  Corbyn supporters as Nazi storm troopers, Mr Frank Field’s much publicised reference to an ‘execution squad’, and even Mr John McTernan’s reference to certain MPs as morons. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe all those mentioned here are still entitled to vote in the upcoming leadership election, and have retained their Party membership.

I noted some time ago that you declared your intention not to interfere in the leadership election.  However I suggest to you that outside observers (of which I am now one) could be forgiven for thinking that the treatment by the NEC of would be voters in the leadership election has been partisan.  I would also suggest to you that in the event of an Owen Smith victory later this month, the consequences for the Party and the NEC would be dire, as that result could only be achieved as a result of the disenfranchisement of thousands of Corbyn supporters.

Lastly, I see that recently an MP publicly stated that the objective in this leadership challenge was never to displace Jeremy Corbyn, but merely to cause trouble.  This leads me to question what has happened to this Party, which I support. You head the NEC and presumably aspire to being a man of integrity. It cannot be right that Members of Parliament, who claim to be democrats, refuse to accept a democratically elected leader.  The lack of integrity shown by some of those MPs comes very close to falling within the definition of corruption.  I would have hoped that you, as General Secretary, and therefore without bias in all this, could have used your very considerable influence to unite, not divide, the Party.

Yours sincerely

Tim Thomson


jacqui ibbrt said...

well said you are speaking for many people

David Lowton said...

In a nut shell. I agree with everything you stated in your letter. Hope you get your vote, if not you will have the last laugh.

Jonathan Wilson said...

There is something really bizarre, assuming I have read that correctly, where you can be banned from joining the Labour party for something not relevant (you were not a LP member) at the time that is backdated as if you were a member at the time.

So what its basically saying is "you can only join the LP, if you have not been or supported another party for two years prior to joining the LP".

So you should have been able to foretell Corbyn becoming the leader, or at least that Labour would have moved slightly leftward, two years before it happened and then refrained from showing any kind of support (direct or inferred) in the time before eventually joining the LP... yet if someone wants to cross the floor (either in the HOC/HOL, or at council level) they don't have to have a two year waiting period!

Also where does one draw the line? Does "following" on twitter or "friending" on facebook count as showing support? Does using words such a "green" in any context show support? Its becoming increasingly Kafkaesque.

Phil O'Keefe said...

Great letter. There's nothing further to say about the pathetic gerrymandering carried out by the NEC at the behest of McNichol.

Stan Rosenthal said...

It is one thing to join a party at any time after supporting another party, it is quite another to join for the purposes of participating in a crucial leadership election where one of the candidates is clearly sympathetic to the policies of the party you previously supported. In that case it can be argued that your membership is part of the process of the Labour Party being taken over by that other party, or other parties of the left who do not share the main purpose of the Labour Party which is to gain power through the parliamentary process for the people it represents.

Stan Rosenthal said...

How about publishing my counter-argument to your one if you believe you are on such strong moral ground? The reply to the point made. That would be a good test of your integrity on this matter.

jah_min said...

It's quite clear that the people behind these absurd decisions are not fit to occupy the positions they do and they will have to be removed, by legitimate means, from them at the soonest opportunity, if the Labour Party is to move forward.

timx said...

Hi Stan. I would hate to think my integrity was in doubt!
There is nothing I want more than to see a genuinely socialist Labour government in power. I was not a Green member in 2014, but simply offered support on some issue I agreed with (although I don't now remember what). I attempted to join Labour, yes, to support Jeremy Corbyn, but because he is a genuine socialist with good progressive ideas I agree with. I think that the idea of Greens 'infiltrating' the Labour party would probably raise a smile or two! But surely Labour should be welcoming like-minded supporters, wherever they come from? Grass roots support from thousands of activists and members is what will win an election for Labour 'through the parliamentary process for the people it represents'. Even though I am not now a member, I still believe a Labour Party reflecting Jeremy Corbyn's principles, ideology and integrity would be representing me.