The NEC’s decision to suspend Labour Party members in the upcoming leadership election has caused an uproar, with thousands being banned from voting. Many have taken to social media to express their anger, and others have written letters questioning their suspension. Now, one such member has received a reply suggesting that suspensions will not be investigated until after the leadership election is over.
Andrew Godsell, a committed Labour member for 32 years, was suspended by the NEC due to “allegations” about “comments [he] posted on Twitter”. Given no specifics, Godsell contacted the NEC’s Compliance Unit to find out the reason for his suspension. Despite promising him further evidence, the department failed to contact him again.
In a further email, Godsell queried his suspension, the reasons behind it, and the timescale of the investigation into the allegations made against him. The compliance department responded:
the investigating officer will be in touch in due course but this will not be before the conclusion of the leadership election. This is due to the extra work the election creates for staff, meaning we do not have the resources to complete investigations in this timescale. Unfortunately I am unable to give you an exact date as to when you will be contacted.
The news clearly angered Godsell. He took to Twitter, using the popular hashtag #LabourPurge2.
— Andrew Godsell (@AndrewGodsell) September 2, 2016
This so-called ‘purge’ has seen members banned for a multitude of reasons — including tweeting apparent support for the Green Party or Liberal Democrats, and even being a Foo Fighters fan. Many have taken to social media to share their experiences:
#labourpurge Purged from membership for being a 'member of Liberal Democrats' = totally untrue. I'm a lifetime labour voter. Disgraceful.
— Joss Hands (@josshands) August 29, 2016
— Chris Devismes (@B9igndispo) August 24, 2016
Shehab Khan, political columnist for The Independent, estimates that this purging is happening on a massive scale:
Labour was on course to have up to 866,000 members. After the purge this was cut to 647000. Now reports suggest it could be as low as 538000
— Shehab Khan (@ShehabKhan) September 3, 2016
Among many supporters, the opinion of Labour’s NEC is very negative. The NEC has not only banned Labour members from voting. It has also made supporters pay extra money to vote. And it has used members’ own money to go to court to prevent them from voting.
The fact that the NEC doesn’t have the “time” to complete the “extra work” – the reinstatement of their rights as members – will surely infuriate those who spent a lot of time and money to gain that right in the first place.
Some are suggesting the NEC’s purge has a hidden agenda. Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell has slammed the NEC, saying:
Labour Party members will not accept what appears to be a rigged purge of Jeremy Corbyn supporters.
McDonnell’s sentiments are supported by many:
As the suspensions spread wider, they suppress Corbyn's vote but also expose the system and its injustices to more people #LabourPurge2
— Heather Mendick (@helensclegel) September 2, 2016
Lawyer Peter Stefanovic suggests the purge could have been part of a wider plan:
Was NEC's true motive in going to the court of appeal last month with members own money to secure powers to purge the Labour Party?
— Peter Stefanovic (@PeterStefanovi2) August 30, 2016
This latest revelation comes after a series of questionable, undemocratic sanctions from the NEC. Stalling the investigations into members’ suspensions appears to confirm the worst fears of many Corbyn supporters, and will leave thousands without the ability to vote.
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