Guest article written by Steve Forrest, Harrow West CLP (personal capacity)
The Labour Party withchunt goes on unabated and seemingly unchecked by any of the left NEC members or left MP’s. All we have is the commitment that they are opposing internally but as expulsions reach the 1000 mark it is time we had more public commitments and statements given against this repugnant stain on our Party’s character.
The Party machine is carrying out an organised witchunt against socialists within the Party, the punishment is automatic expulsion with no right of appeal. This is an affront to the basic principles of natural justice.
An instructive example is the recent case of young activist and Party member Jack Halinski-Fitzpatrickwho was readmited back into the Party after a period of suspension dating back to last summers leadership election in mid January. This young activist is 23 years old and is the Youth Officer of the CLP in Harrow West.
Yet only three weeks later was auto expelled by the Labour Party for the same accusations that he had been readmitted on. Namely, that he was a member of the Social Appeal and that this was incompatible with membership of the Labour Party. This is based on the fact that this is a “proscribed” organisation seemingly because it emerged from the Militant tendency which was a proscribed organisation. Before tackling the question of proscribed organisations the Socialist Appeal has carried out its politics for 25 years without previously any issues under Smith, Blair, Brown and Miliband which is because it is not proscribed and has never stood candidates against the Labour Party.
It is alleged that membership of an organisation of this kind is deemed a complete antithesis to Labour Party membership as the Labour Party stands for democratic socialism a broad defence of capitalism, i.e. the market economy and not revolutionary socialism. This is a completely hollow argument and exemplifies that this is no more than a witchunt of socialists in its totality. The labour Party was established in 1900 where the marxist SDF played a key role, the Constitution was developed under the influence of the Russian revolution and saw the adoption of Clause 4 the original socialist one not Blair’s neoliberal updated version.
The original Clause 4 stands unequivocally for socialism and yes stands squarely against the neoliberal wing of the Party of Blair, Mandelson and Progress. Our current leader and Shadow Chancellor between them voted 1000 times against the neoliberalism of the Blair and Brown years and are working might and main to turn the Party in a socialist direction. The question is posed if you start with the Trotskyists where does it end? The Party leader, the Shadow Chancellor.
If membership of a separate organistion is the crime why are Progress and Labour First not having their members emptied out of the Party. Again this point emphasises that this is a political witchunt against socialism in the Party.
The final point is the denial of the right to appeal is an astonishing affront to the right to natural justice from a Party that ushered in the Human Rights Act. Even the Hollywood Ten were afforded the right to a hearing in Washington in front of the HUAC. This denial of the right to appeal brings a stain to our Party’s banner.
The recent case of Jack Halinski-Fitzpatrick was taken to the High Court seeking an interim injunction to rescind the expulsion with the provision of a right to appeal. To pursue the case to its conclusion in the courts will place a burden of many possibly hundreds of thousands of pounds on a 23 year old activist and his supporters. This is because the Labour Party have made clear they are prepared to spend members money to defend this case. Therefore the right to seek justice through the courts is denied to the working class Party members and activists. Further underlining the denial of the right of natural justice.
The evidence that is available and beyond doubt is that this witchunt is being organised and managed by senior figures within the Party and right wing Labour MP’s and that its scope runs very deep and wide with a clear political aim to fight socialists and their ideas within the Party.
It is our modern McCarthyism and as socialists and trade unionists we must oppose this purge utterly and completely as at its heart is the very struggle for the future of the Labour Party either a defender of capitalism or a pioneer of a socialist society. We must defend this anti socialist purge and with it further and deepen the roots of a socialist Labour Party.