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Labour branded ‘Orwellian’ as 90 CLPs raise concern over freedom of speech

OFFICIALS from 90 Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) have written to the party’s headquarters in protest at the ban on discussion of topics such as the withdrawal of the whip from Jeremy Corbyn.

In an open letter seen by the Morning Star, scores of CLP officials across Britain, from Orkney to Cornwall, raised their concerns with Labour general secretary David Evans.

Around 130 secretaries and chairs of CLPs said that Mr Evans’s restrictions on motions at meetings, “accompanied by threats and suspensions,” go against the human right to freedom of expression.

They said: “Party members should have the right to express their views, including on whether the whip should or should not be restored to Jeremy Corbyn.

“The policing of discussion about a decision which has received a lot of media attention is demanding a great deal from volunteers, who take up the role of administrators to facilitate and encourage dynamic, campaigning local parties.”

Many of the CLP chairs and secretaries are quitting their posts “because of stress” over the matter, the letter says.

“This is expertise the party can ill-afford to lose, with important elections coming up in May 2021,” it adds.

The officials urge Mr Evans to revoke his ban and to halt any disciplinary action being taken against party officers.

Meanwhile, Bath CLP, which did not sign the open letter, was reported to have been forced to cancel a meeting today.

All the motions submitted to the CLP were ruled out by the regional office – except one to mark the anniversary of the death of George Orwell – according to the Skwawkbox website, which branded the situation “literally Orwellian.”

It reported that Bath CLP’s elected officers sent out an email on Tuesday evening to members which said: “We are not able to tell you why in Bath some meetings can be managed by the EC (Executive Committee) and others not, because we have been given no reasons.

“We have been told that some kind of investigation is underway, but we do not know who is conducting it or whether we will be involved in the investigation. We have been told it is not a disciplinary process but do not know what it is about.

“We can assure you we have tried hard on numerous occasions to find out more details, but no one will tell us and therefore we cannot tell you.”

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