Statement by Bristol and West of England Organising group For immediate release 19:00 01/02/20
Labour members in Bristol recently received an email in which the Labour South West regional office asked for councillor candidates for nine ‘vacant’ seats. What wasn’t revealed was that three of those seats were already filled!
South West regional director Phil Gaskin and his office have pressured the NEC to go against members’ democratic decisions, deselecting locally chosen council candidates. The Chair of Labour’s organisation sub-committee, Wendy Nichols, approved the reopening of these seats despite two of them being filled by members whose suspension cases have been dragged out. The Party is trying to rush through the re-selection of these seats before these cases have even been considered, disenfranchising the membership and undermining party values.
This follows Regional instigating the suspension of Chairs and Secretaries following democratic motions, blocking donations to local causes, and blocking members running their AGMs and postponing them at short notice. Particularly despicable were the attempts to prevent both Kingswood and Bath CLPs from donating money to food banks at Christmas time.
It also comes on top of the stitch-up of our metro mayor selections, eliminating candidates on the left, including the 2017 Labour candidate, despite them having more nominations than the right wingers shortlisted. The eventual candidate Dan Norris was not only implicated in the expenses scandal but is also entirely unapologetic about voting for the Iraq war: one of the country’s greatest atrocities. He even voted against holding the inquiry.
Momentum members make up the vast majority of those who get out and campaign. In 2019 we turned out 100s of people daily. Our members’ efforts meant Bristol retained 4 Labour MPs. Our members’ efforts meant a Labour Mayor in Bristol and a majority in the council. Our members’ efforts are being taken for granted.
The Organising Group of Momentum in Bristol and the West of England say enough is enough, it’s time that members decide who they will campaign for – and who they won’t.
We are pushing for Momentum members to support a Campaign Strike. This would mean instructing our members not to campaign for any candidate who has not signed this letter in support of those who have unjustly lost their candidacies, and targeting campaign efforts only towards those who have signed. We believe that those who don’t support members’ rights don’t deserve our efforts to get them elected.
The gravity of this action means it’s only right that we ballot our members to ensure that they are ready to have this fight together. We are recommending they vote in favour of the action. Members will receive a link to their ballot by email.
Our demands: We are calling for the timely resolution of all outstanding disciplinary cases, particularly so that candidates are not deselected without their cases even being considered
This action may be used to wrongfully suspend more hardworking members. Although it’s not forbidden, we have repeatedly seen that the bureaucrats are not interested in fair interpretations of the rules, so are preparing our members for the next antidemocratic backlash.
=== Statement ends ===
The ballot will be open until 23:59 Monday 8th Feb 2020