Perfidy And Purges - The Summer Of 2016

Perfidy And Purges - The Summer Of 2016

Perfidy and purges, two words that forever will be synonymous with the summer of 2016. Five days ago I joined the many thousands of committed and loyal labour members that have been 'purged'.

Like many members I had become very concerned at the sheer volume of suspensions, incredulous that whole constituency labour parties (CLPs) had found themselves subject to suspension and developed a growing unease at what appeared to be blatant bias.

Many thousands of Corbyn supporters had been suspended. Yet I had not heard of a single Smith supporter being suspended.

I sent a message to Iain McNicol, the General Secretary of the Labour party, asking for a breakdown of the numbers of Smith exclusions compared to that of Corbyn supporters.

On Sunday over the bank holiday weekend I glanced at my inbox and noticed an email marked "supporter applications". I assumed this might be a response to my query. However, Iain had not sent me a response to my query. Instead he notified me that I too was now suspended.

I am a sitting Labour councillor in Harrow so not only was I suspended from the party and excluded from voting in the leadership election but also from the Harrow Labour Group. I was no longer allowed to hold office as Vice Chair of the Group nor sit on the Group executive. The suspension was with immediate effect.

The letter informed me that allegations had been brought to the attention of the Labour Party's National Executive Committee (NEC) that I had breached a Labour party rule. The reason for my suspension was my conduct towards fellow members and in meetings. No dates or details are given as to what conduct, nor was I notified who had made these allegation. The letter continues "It is important these allegations are investigated and the NEC will be asked to authorise a full report to be drawn up with recommendations for disciplinary action if appropriate".

The bank holiday weekend was intended to be one of relaxation with my family and friends. Instead I spent the whole weekend in a state of shock and upset. Not knowing what you are accused of and therefore not being able to defend yourself is something I would not wish on anyone. I have spent most of my whole working life representing clients in what is often described as the Kafkaesque world of social security. Nothing however has been quite as Kafkaesque, as the labour party purge of its own members. The suspension letter gives virtually no detail of the allegation. It also does not give clear information about how to appeal or whether there are any time limits. The natural response of many will be to ask for the reasons before putting in an appeal. However, I have subsequently found out there is a strict time limit of 14 days to appeal. So those who delay putting in their appeal until receipt of the reasons may find that they are outside the time limit.

To be suspended with immediate effect has left me feeling that I am being treated as a criminal. Yet I have done nothing wrong.

I have been overwhelmed by the support and kindness I have received since telling people what has happened. It restores my faith that there are still so many fantastic people in the Labour Party. However, the perfidy and purges of summer 2016 will be remain with me for a very long time.

Pamela Fitzpatrick is a Councillor in the London Borough of Harrow

Follow pamela at @cllrfitzpatrick


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