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Dear Disputes… A bewildered member of the Labour Party asks for help

A FEW weeks ago I got  a really strange letter from your department. It is imposing, couched in very legalistic language. 

Apparently somebody has complained about me — I don’t know who. They must remain anonymous, you say. 

The letter hints at terriible transgressions on my part, that are bringing the party into disrepute. But you don’t say what.

They must be truly shocking, as it seems the complaint cannot be treated in the normal way. You didn’t think it enough to send me a notice of investigation which normally precedes suspension, I believe. 

Nor was the complaint first approved by the NEC — that would happen later, you say. No, I had to be removed immediately lest the party’s reputation be further sullied.

Perplexed, I waited anxiously for the letter you promised ”within five working days,” that would reveal the list of allegations against me. 

That was one month ago. How come? 

Are the allegations so numerous that it is taking weeks to draw up? Didn’t the original complaint contain any helpful suggestions? Or is some poor intern struggling with the technology that will enable him/her to trawl through my social media posts to find something — anything — that can be used against me?

In the meantime it has been a bit difficult to obey your injunction not to talk to anybody about this, under pain of further “disciplinary action.” 

As I was absent from branch and CLP meetings comrades started to enquire anxiously after my health. 

Someone wanted to put me forward as a delegate to the Labour Party conference. I had to refuse.

In the end I cracked and confessed, in a variety of chats and Facebook pages: I had been suspended, for reasons unspecified.

It was then that the floodgates opened. So many comrades locally and nationally had gone through the same “process.”

Feverishly, we compared notes. What did we have in common? Well, we were all on the left — fair enough. Not the flavour of the month in the party just now. And many of us had campaigned on the issue of Israel/Palestine, working for a just peace based on international law.  

There again, understandable. Our leader, a well-known human rights lawyer, has made it clear what he thinks of any member who is not, like him, a “committed zionist.” 

We also discovered many of us had been processed in batches, as the sequenced case numbers revealed. 

Apropos, can you tell me how many people have received my letter or something similar over the last year or two? 

Comparing case numbers, we found that at least 6,000 members have had one in the last few months.

And so we wait. Some have tried putting in a subject access request to prise more information out of the party. I hear these are piled to the rafters in party HQ.

But I shouldn’t moan. You clearly have members’ welfare at heart.

If I find this whole experience distressing, you suggest I contact my GP. Plus you kindly provide the telephone number for the Samaritans — presumably if I get to feel a bit suicidal. 

Another week or two and I might just give them a ring. But oh no, I forgot! Talking about this whole sorry mess is … forbidden.

So, dear Disputes team, whoever you are, please help.

I am confused.

In all sincerity,

Anon

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