Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/927/24018
The Socialist 30 November 2016 |
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Support the campaign to readmit expelled trade union militants
Half-million strong TUC demo, central London, 26 March 2011, against the government's cuts, photo Paul Mattsson (Click to enlarge)
Hannah Sell, Socialist Party deputy general secretary
For months the Labour Party National Executive Committee (NEC) 'away day' on 22 November, 2016 had been billed as a meeting to discuss the Labour Party's currently undemocratic structures. Momentum (Corbyn support group) ran a campaign called 'Your Party', spearheaded by Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack, for the away day to agree to increase the number of NEC members representing the Labour Party membership.
Unfortunately, the meeting on 22 November did not discuss party democracy. One NEC member described the meeting as "tranquil" with "nothing faintly controversial on the agenda". However, this surface calm does not hide the fact that the Blairites remain determined to undermine and remove Jeremy Corbyn. In order to consolidate his leadership victory it is urgent that action is taken to democratise the Labour Party and end the Blairites control of the party machine.
An essential part of this is campaigning for the re-admittance to the Labour Party of all expelled or excluded socialists. Earlier this month a joint application for Labour Party membership was submitted to the Labour Party NEC. It was from 75 people, with a combined Labour Party membership of over 1,000 years. A petition in support of their application has been signed by hundreds of trade unionists and activists.
All the applicants have previously been expelled or excluded from the Labour Party because of their socialist ideas. Among them were many leading figures from the trade union movement including Chris Baugh, PCS assistant general secretary, Jane Nellist, NUT national executive and Roger Bannister, Hugo Pierre and Dave Auger, all members of Unison's ruling national executive committee. Trade union representatives on the Labour Party NEC should urgently argue their case.
Chris Baugh explained why he had joined the collective application: "From my teens I was a Labour Party member for over 20 years before being expelled in 1995. For PCS members, Blair and Brown meant widespread privatisations, job cuts and attacks on pay and conditions. Blairism nearly destroyed Labour as a voice for working people. The election of Jeremy Corbyn is a chance to change things. In a personal capacity and alongside those who were unfairly expelled for our socialist ideas, I hope the Labour Party will agree our application to rejoin."
Roger Bannister added: "I want to be re-admitted to the Labour Party so I can help transform Labour into a party that opposes cuts at national and local level. Since 2010 almost 700,000 local government workers, including many Unison members, have lost their jobs as vital services have closed. That is why Unison's local government service group executive has now called on Labour council's to implement no cuts budgets.
"I was one of those expelled from the Labour Party in the 1980s because I had the temerity to support the struggle of Liverpool City Council against Maggie Thatcher, which succeeded in forcing the Tory government to give £60 million worth of extra funding to the council. Today, Liverpool and other Labour councils are implementing eye-watering cuts.
"I hope that trade unionists on the Labour Party NEC, particularly the Unison members Keith Birch and Wendy Nicholls, will support our re-admittance to the Labour Party in order to further the discussion on how the Labour Party can best defend local government jobs and services."