Re-standing for the NCC (and why it needs abolishing)

Ahead of nominations for the Socialist Society nominations for Labour Party national committees, I wrote to affiliated organisations outlining why I am re-standing, and seeking their support. My letter is below…

On Monday the Socialist Society Executive will be meeting to agree nominations for the NCC ahead of  elections at Party Conference, and I’m writing to outline why I would like you to support me for a second term.

The Labour Party’s disciplinary system is broken.

Since being elected in 2016 as your representative on the National Constitutional Committee, the Party’s highest disciplinary body, I’ve witnesses first-hand the Party consistently fail to tackle the scale of our disciplinary challenges.

Whether on sexual harassment, antisemitism, racism, transphobia, bullying and harassment, our processes are too slow for all involved, political interference all too common, and tolerance for intolerant behaviour far too frequent.

Labour is a political party, and our central mission is to change Britain for the better by winning elections, exercising and redistributing power for those who do not have it. Each instance of bad behaviour by members that leads to a complaint moves us further away from that goal. Whether because of individuals intimidated out of campaigning or attending meetings or being subjected to abuse against their identity and protected characteristics, or because of the damage it does to the Party when it is exposed. One complaint is too may.

We must foster a culture of solidarity, tolerance and respect within our movement. It is not enough for the Labour Party to claim to be the party of anti-racism and equality. We need to set that example within ourselves if the country is to believe that we have their best interests at heart.

In the year before my election, the NCC heard two cases. Since, many hundreds of highly sensitive, deeply troubling disciplinary matters have been heard or still await hearing. Throughout this period, waiting lists of members subject to disciplinary action have grown, whilst the Party have failed to secure the resources needed to investigate and clear them.

Throughout this time, I have consistently pushed for greater transparency of the process as well as better procedures to give complainants and respondents greater confidence that they will be treated without fear or favour.

  • Leading efforts to amend the Labour Party rule book to include protected characteristic discrimination as an explicit offense, defining such discrimination automatically as acts and conduct that are “prejudicial and grossly detrimental”.
  • Full involvement of the NCC in shaping the rules and procedures that the NEC impose on the way we hear cases and operate as a national committee.
  • Adequate resources within the Party to properly handle complaints, investigate cases and present them to the NCC. Delays in concluding disciplinary cases were used as a pretext to expand the NCC when the fault laid squarely with the NEC’s refusal to provide what was needed.
  • A clear schedule of tariffs, so Party members subject to complaint understand the consequences or their actions, and victims have confidence that the sanction will be proportionate.
  • Greater sanctions for breaching confidentiality, intimidating witnesses or attempting to interfere with the outcome of cases by lobbying NCC members.

Whilst I have always acted in the interests of fairness, upholding confidentiality of the cases I am involved in, I have never been afraid to speak out when the NCC gets it wrong, or when the Party fail to act in the interests of members. When I have needed to step away from individual disciplinary cases, I have done so. When others have failed to remain objective, I have called it out.

The decision by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to investigate the Labour Party for alleged institutional racism is significant, and I do not think Party members or the leadership fully appreciate the extent of the regulator’s powers to expose failures and wrongdoing. Whilst the scope of EHRC’s investigation will examine the Party’s response to antisemitism, their findings will undoubtedly have serious implications for the governance and discipline of the Party. I make no apology for my role in calling the statutory regulator in to examine the Party.

At the end of my first term on the NCC, I have come to the conclusion that nothing short of a fully independent process will now overcome the mess the Party’s disciplinary system is now in. There is a sincere part of me that desperately wants to throw in the towel and walk away from my involvement in a process that at times has filled me with disappointment, depression and sadness.

It is more important however that we continue to push for a Party that is able to deal with its internal challenges, and do so in the only way that seems to make an impact, through applying serious pressure. Until that independence is achieved, I will do all I can to provide internal scrutiny of the system.

If re-elected to the NCC I will continue to do all I can from within the Party to make this happen, and I would be very grateful for your support on Monday.