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A UNION has accused Labour general secretary David Evans of “unacceptable” silencing of members who want to discuss the party’s treatment of Jeremy Corbyn at meetings.
The party has a “very serious issue developing regarding freedom of expression and natural justice” over the ban on discussing the suspension of the Islington North MP, Communication Workers Union (CWU) general secretary Dave Ward wrote in a letter to the union’s branches.
Mr Ward warned that directives from Mr Evans forbidding Labour CLPs from discussing Mr Corbyn’s situation and expressing their solidarity, and even suspending members for doing so, “only serves to deepen divides within the party along factional grounds.”
He said that CWU has “expressed directly” to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer concerns over “freedom of expression and natural justice.”
Evans had written to Labour CLPs this week to say that motions relating to the withdrawing of the whip from Mr Corbyn, and motions of solidarity “will be ruled out of order.”
A number of CLPs have defied his instructions by passing motions in support of Corbyn, including Birmingham Hall Green, Hampstead and Kilburn, Milton Keynes North and South, and Leeds North East, according to the LabourList website.
The chair and co-secretary of Bristol West were suspended for having allowed a motion to be debated, and Labour has now cancelled the CLP’s AGM.
Others, such as Hackney South and Bristol East, have circumvented the “ban” by instead commenting on democracy or passing motions of no confidence in Evans or Sir Keir.
Corbyn was suspended on October 30 pending the investigation of his comments over the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report into Labour’s handling of anti-semitism complaints.
He had said that “anyone claiming there is no anti-semitism in the Labour Party is wrong” but that the “scale of the problem was overstated for political reasons by our opponents.”
When Corbyn was reinstated to the party earlier this month, his successor Sir Keir swiftly withdrew the whip from him.
Ward said in his letter that Sir Keir’s action “flies in the face of the party’s rules and customs” as Labour’s national executive committee panel had found Corbyn “to be not guilty of any breaches in a unanimous decision.”
An emergency motion was presented to the CWU NEC which called for Corbyn to have the whip restored.
This was passed unanimously.
His letter came a week after the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union said that it would be consulting members over whether it should remain affiliated with Labour because of concern over the “political direction” of the party.
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