NEC Fairness Campaign Report by Cllr Jo Bird
Updated: Jul 1, 2020
Stop suspensions before investigation
So much has changed in the two months since Wirral South was the first Constituency Labour Party to nominate me for a CLP seat on Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
The Covid 19 pandemic has taken hold, with varying response from governments across the world. Our hearts go out to so many bereaved families. Communities have responded to the crisis with solidarity and socialism, such as creating mutual aid networks. I hope you are well, have access to the essentials you need, enough money to live on, secure housing and good healthcare. If you are ill, I wish you a full and speedy recovery.
The Labour Party can be a fabulous and supportive family. I urge all members to stay in Labour together, so long as it’s not bad for your mental health. We are still grieving the loss of a Corbyn-led Labour government and mobilising in new ways. Some of our key struggles for justice and equality are likely to move into workplaces, health, culture, humour, co-operatives, across borders and back onto the streets when possible. But it remains crucial to organise within democratic party structures too. As secretary of Wirral Labour group, I organised one of the country’s first remote meetings of a full Labour group of councillors.
The NEC makes key decisions for Labour in between annual national conference. During the current by-elections for the NEC, five candidates including myself were suspended from the Labour Party. Did such draconian action bring the Labour Party into disrepute? More than 50 CLPs paid no heed and continued to nominate me for the NEC (118 CLPs altogether). Members demanded free and fair elections. I was swiftly reinstated by a panel of the NEC who found my behaviour “did not amount to a breach of the Party’s Rules”. Thank you to everyone who voted or spoke out!
The #JoBird4NEC campaign has broad support from vibrant, networked organisations including Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Left Alliance, Labour Representation Committee, Red Labour, Welsh Labour Grassroots, Labour Briefing, Skwawkbox and the Canary – plus many thousands of ordinary members from across the political spectrum. My positive messages about Labour often go large. For example this Just Jews video, about my experience of being welcome as a Jewish person in the Labour party, has been viewed over 80,000 times. Thank you to everyone who generously crowd funded my campaign, the largest donations being £200.
We live in a diverse society and world. We need much more understanding and much less hostility. My Jewish great grandparents fled fascism in Europe. There should be no place for antisemitism or any form of racism in our Labour party. The evidence shows that less than 0.1% of Labour members have been formally accused of antisemitism.
1. Fairness and natural justice in our complaints system
2. Open selection of Labour MPs, just as we have for Labour councillors
3. Freedom, justice and equality for all people under military occupation
4. Members-led policy decided at a sovereign democratic conference
I’ve listened and talked with thousands of Labour supporters across the UK. Before travel advice changed, I spoke at 16 meetings from Birkenhead to Brighton and Glasgow. Belfast’s Labour members meeting was replaced with a livestream. I’m happy to accept invitations to speak with meetings held remotely.
From these meetings and conversations, it’s clear that people share a huge hunger for fundamental fairness. Almost every member I met knows a good comrade punished by unfair sanctions. Members are our best resource and every Labour branch has members with valuable trade union experience of fairer complaints systems.
We know power needs checks and balances. Through our campaigns and motions, we call on the NEC to:
1. Stop all suspensions before investigation, unless criminal conduct or physical danger is a real possibility – ie ‘innocent until proven guilty’.
2. Uphold Trade Union principles and representation in our Labour workplaces.
3. Implement much better safeguarding measures for the accused - as recommended by the coroner’s report on Carl Sargeant, the Welsh Labour minister who tragically killed himself days after suspension and media allegations.
4. Stop ‘unofficial’ leaks to hostile media and allow the accused to talk privately about the allegations against them.
I urge all NEC members and candidates to be more accountable to Labour members:
· To publish NEC member’s registers of interests, just like elected Labour MPs and councillors do - here’s my register of interests
We have around 600,000 members of our Labour Party. Everyone who joined by 11th November can vote for Jo Bird on their NEC election ballot, before voting closes this Thursday 2 April. Thank you!
Councillor Jo Bird
Facebook: Jo Bird 4 NEC