Just when you thought Labour’s “strong-arming” of it’s Constituency Parties (CLPs) couldn’t get any worse – it does. Because the party machinery has now suspended a prominent figure in a Liverpool branch.
The Canary has been following developments in CLPs. As it reported last week, after suspending chairs and secretaries of two Bristol CLPs, the Labour Party moved the attacks onto Bath. SKWAWKBOX reported that Bath CLP:
has been forced to cancel a planned meeting to elect officers and discuss motions after ‘deliberate confusion’ in which all the planned motions it submitted were ruled out by the party’s regional office – except one to mark the anniversary of the death of George Orwell
It called this “literally Orwellian”.
Why is the party doing this? Because back in November, it sent an internal memo out. SKWAWKBOX reported that it stated that “all motions which touch on” the “issues” surrounding Corbyn “must be ruled out of order”. In other words, CLPs must throw out any motions relating to the former Labour leader. But now, the party has gone even further.
A step too far?
SKWAWKBOX reported that it has suspended Alan Gibbons, secretary of Liverpool Walton CLP. He is also an elected rep on Momentum’s National Coordinating Group (NCG). The Labour Party reportedly gave no reason for its suspension of Gibbons. But SKWAWKBOX said that:
Walton CLP recently voted in support of Jeremy Corbyn, one of hundreds of CLPs to do so. Officers of other CLPs have been suspended for respecting the democracy and free speech of their members
People on social media were shocked. Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell weighed in:
Heard Alan Gibbons has been suspended. Alan is a hard working, principled socialist, who wins respect for the party for the work he does in the community. He hasn’t heard what he’s suspended for but let me warn the bureaucracy, they’ve a fight on & I’m with Alan in it. @mygibbo
— John McDonnell MP (@johnmcdonnellMP) December 15, 2020
So did former shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon:
I hear Alan Gibbons (@mygibbo) Secretary of Liverpool Walton CLP has been suspended from Labour and not even told why.
I’ve spoken with Alan at events on combatting the far-right & organising for socialist policies in our Party. Alan is a real socialist who belongs in our Party.
— Richard Burgon MP (@RichardBurgon) December 15, 2020
The Canary‘s editor-at-large Kerry-Anne Mendoza had this to say:
This is a disgraceful political purge. It must be fought with everything we’ve got. Solidarity is our fundamental advantage in this fight.
Don’t waste your time or money on those who will not provide it.
— Kerry-Anne Mendoza ?️???????? (@TheMendozaWoman) December 15, 2020
And Gibbons himself said he’d fight this “authoritarian twaddle”:
I’ll be fighting this authoritarian twaddle like many other suspended socialists. https://t.co/R6sSUirGGz
— Alan Gibbons (@mygibbo) December 16, 2020
A “Merseyside legend”
SKWAWKBOX wrote that Gibbons:
is a Merseyside legend with organising and campaigning in his blood. When fascists tried to organise marches through Liverpool, Alan was at the forefront of organising to make sure they barely left Lime Street station before ‘squirming’ back inside and hiding until they all left again. He did it not once, but twice. He marches regularly in solidarity with the victims and survivors of Grenfell and is right at the heart of Black Lives Matter solidarity protests.
It seems the latest socialist to fall foul of the Labour Party purge will not be going down without a fight. But Gibbons is now part of a long line of prominent CLP members subject to this authoritarianism from the party machinery. So, The Canary has begun to document what’s happening.
Mapping the purge
We’re mapping CLPs that are resisting the main party line. You can view our interactive map here. On it, you can see the number of CLPs that oppose the main party’s stance:
Our investigative journalist Emma Guy is coordinating the map. She said:
Thank you to everyone who we have worked closely with over the last few days. We’ve realised that what we initially found is just the surface of a much larger story. We’re working around the clock to verify our information and will have a big announcement for you all next week. Thank you for your patience, we won’t keep you waiting for long.
We want to keep this project up-to-date. So, if you’re a member of a CLP that has recently passed a motion that goes against the main party line, contact us. You can speak to Guy by emailing emma.guy(at)thecanary.co
Alternatively, you can securely get in touch via our Tip Offs page here.
Labour’s suspension of Gibbons is perhaps the peak of this current purge. Removing a principled pillar of the community is beyond a step too far. It is peak authoritarianism. Its reinstatement of him must be swift and apologetic.