The past couple of weeks have seen an acceleration of the purge against Corbyn supporters and socialists inside the Labour Party. Not content with disenfranchising around 130,000 members from the current leadership election, the right-wing Party bureaucracy is suspending and expelling new and long-standing members in a desperate attempt to tilt the balance in favour of the Blairite-backed Owen Smith.
A number of Socialist Appeal supporters have fallen victim to this McCarthyite witch-hunt, receiving letters of expulsion instead of ballot papers. This is in addition previous waves of expulsions last summer and, more recently, in May of this year. We publish here statements from three Socialist Appeal supporters and long-standing Labour members who have been recently expelled.
We call on all of our readers to protest against the purge, and to demand the reinstatement of all those who have been falsely suspending or expelled from the Party. The labour movement must fight for sweeping democratic change in the Party, in order to guarantee that it is a voice for workers, youth, and the oppressed, and not a vehicle for the careers and privileges of a New Labour clique.
- Protest the purge! End the expulsions!
- Reinstate the victims of the anti-Corbyn witch-hunt!
- Defend democracy! Defend Corbyn! Fight for Socialism!
Several Socialist Appeal supporters who have been expelled from the Labour Party will be speaking at a meeting tomorrow evening in London, organised by the Stop the #LabourPurge campaign, alongside Pamela Fitzpatrick, a suspended Labour councillor from Harrow West CLP.
Stop Labour's Purge!
Wednesday 7th September, 7pm
Conference Room, Indian YMCA, London
This month I celebrated 36 years as a Labour Party member. I joined in September 1980 and have been a fully paid up member ever since.
I stuck around during the Blair years, but the vast majority of my work in the movement was in the union. I'm a member of the UNISON Regional Council and Regional Committee, Chair of Gateshead UNISON and for many years I have been a member of the Regional Labour Link Committee. For a number of years I was education convenor for Gateshead Council representing more than 1,500 members - overwhelmingly low-paid women. I am currently involved in developing a disabled members group in Gateshead UNISON. For the last two years I have been proud to play a part in ensuring that the Northern Region UNISON Labour Link Committee voted to nominate Jeremy Corbyn.
I am a founder member of Momentum in North Tyneside and was a member of the National Committee of the Labour Representation Committee. During that 36 years I have been proud to call myself a socialist and a Marxist. I've never hidden my ideas, but on the contrary have consistently argued for those ideas in the labour movement and in the union. I've never been concerned about being in a minority, as I have always been of the opinion that the struggle for socialist ideas in the labour movement was a struggle worth fighting. I've seen the rise and the fall of Blairism in the Party. During that time I have never wavered in the view that sooner or later the Labour Party would be transformed by working people seeking a way out for themselves and their families. Through UNISON's political structures I have consistently fought for the union to turn towards Labour and fight for the interests of our members by combating austerity.
For many years I have contributed to the socialist press, reporting on events and writing articles on the trade union movement, campaigns, historical issues and on international issues. I've been involved in supporting Jeremy Corbyn's campaign for the leadership from the beginning and have helped to promote the campaign in North Tyneside and around the region. This evening when I returned from a weekend away, I found a letter from the Labour Party informing me that I was henceforth expelled from the Party for being a "supporter of Socialist Appeal".
While I'm sure many people won't be surprised to hear that I'm a supporter of Socialist Appeal, I'm sure that it will be a much greater surprise that an NEC sub-committee - without reference to the NEC or Party Conference - has decided to attack a socialist newspaper that has been sold inside the Labour Party and in the movement for 25 years. In the past, witch-hunting of the left in the Labour Party was the precursor to the rise of the right wing around Neil Kinnock, then Blair and Mandelson. Now the purge is the sign of panic and desperation. Jeremy Corbyn will win by miles; for every person bureaucratically expelled or excluded from the Party and the ballot, another one thousand will join.
As the experience of the last year or so demonstrates so very clearly: you cannot separate the ideas of socialism from the Labour Party and the labour movement. In fact, these attacks will only serve to crystallise the movement and prepare the way for a greater shift to the left in the future. As for me, I will be campaigning for reinstatement and will continue to play an active role in Momentum and in the struggle to build the ideas of socialism. If any comrades want to help in the campaign for reinstatement please get in touch.
Tynemouth CLP and North Tyneside Momentum
Chair Gateshead UNISON (personal capacity)
After 10 years of uninterrupted membership of the Labour Party I have been expelled, without the right to appeal, as part of a McCarthyite witch-hunt that has affected thousands of other party members.
The only official reason given is that I have "publicly shown support for International Marxist Tendency on Facebook", despite the fact that neither Socialist Appeal nor the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) have ever been banned by the Labour Party's National Conference or NEC, nor have these organisations ever stood candidates against the Labour Party.
These expulsions have the stench of utter hypocrisy. There exist numerous organised groups on the Right that are supported by prominent pro-business MPs, Lords and wealthy donors. To my knowledge, not one of these pro-business "entryists" have been subject to disciplinary measures - even when in some cases they have given direct backing to the Lib Dems! This is nothing short of transparent electoral fraud.
Regarding the role of the International Marxist Tendency, which I am ‘guilty’ of "publicly showing support" for: thanks to the Blairites, hundreds of thousands of youth from my generation, who should have found a home in the Labour Party as a fighting, socialist organisation, instead were turned away from it in disgust, identifying it at the time as the party responsible for two imperialist wars, PFI and student fees.
It was only thanks to the comrades of Socialist Appeal (the IMT in Britain), who have the advantage of a broad view of history that comes with a grounding in Marxist theory, that I was able to gain an education in the real nature of the Labour Party. All the efforts of the Blairites have been unable to sever the party's links with the working class, and we could foresee therefore that once the contradictions of capitalism came to the fore, the grip of the Blairites in the party would be challenged by hundreds of thousands of workers and youth.
Socialist Appeal won me to the Labour Party - not for what it was, but for what it would become. The Labour Party is right now in the process of regenerating itself as a weapon in the hand of the working class after a long period where it served only as a foot ladder for a handful of careerists.
These expulsions speak of desperation and weakness. Despite expelling myself and thousands more like me for the ‘crime’ of being socialists and Corbyn supporters, this purge will not halt the terminal decline of the Blairites. In the words of the old arch-bogeyman of the Blairites, Leon Trotsky: "You are pitiful isolated individuals; you are bankrupts; your role is played out. Go where you belong from now on - into the dustbin of history!"
Leeds Central CLP
At the end of August, instead of receiving a ballot paper in the post, I received a letter from Iain McNicol stating that I have been expelled from the Party. The only reason given in the letter for my expulsion is because I am a supporter of the Marxist newspaper Socialist Appeal.
Up until this point, I had been a continuous and active member of the Labour Party for almost ten years. Throughout this period I have always been completely open about my support for Socialist Appeal, and this support has never been deemed a problem by local Labour Party members, councillors, or MPs. Socialist Appeal is not a political party and has never stood candidates against Labour, nor supported any electoral candidates against Labour. This therefore begs the question: why only now is my support for Socialist Appeal deemed incompatible with my Labour Party membership?
Around a dozen other Socialist Appeal comrades have received similar expulsion letters recently. This is on top of the potentially hundreds, or even thousands, of Party members who have been suspended or expelled in the latest Labour purge (not to mention the 130,000 who have been disenfranchised by the Party’s bureaucratic manoeuvres).
The hypocrisy is plain for all to see: Corbyn supporters are silenced and socialists are witch-hunted; meanwhile, the New Labour mafia openly plots against the democratically elected leader through right-wing ‘entryist’ organisations such as Labour First, Labour Tomorrow, Saving Labour, and Progress.
I will be appealing against my expulsion through every channel available. But it is clear that the only way to ensure we have proper justice and genuine democracy in the Labour Party is to re-elect Corbyn as leader and sweep all the old bureaucratic Blairite rubbish of the PLP, the Compliance Unit, and the right-wing Labour machinery out of the Party.
Defend Corbyn! Fight for Socialism!
Hackney North and Stoke Newington CLP and Hackney Momentum