Pete Radcliffe: “I will not accept my expulsion from the Labour Party”

September 16, 2016 at 7:53 pm (AWL, democracy, labour party)

Comrade Pete Radcliffe wrote this on his blog a week ago, having just received notification of his expulsion:

Please support the Stop the Labour Purge campaign acting on behalf of all witch-hunted socialists in the Party

I have been informed today that I have been expelled from the Labour Party after a total of 35 years of Party membership and in spite of being Chair of Broxtowe Constituency Labour Party.

This follows an anonymous complaint about me to the Party. I don’t know what has led anyone to complain to the Party about me. I cannot believe that it comes from anyone in my constituency party where inclusiveness and comradely respect is genuinely shown by all party members. I am very grateful for the quick statement of support made by all of my fellow officers of Broxtowe CLP.

I am told that I am expelled because of I am an ‘active supporter of the AWL’ .

The AWL publishes a very useful and educative paper Solidarity and I welcome and am proud of  its significant contribution to debate in the Party and the wider labour movement.

My expulsion appears to have been activated without the knowledge of either myself or my fellow constituency officers – 2 days before I was notified. It was only hours before Owen Smith renewed the attacks on the AWL as ‘hard left’ and made preposterous claim that the AWL is anti-Semitic. The implication is therefore that I, as an individual, am also anti-Semitic. I have campaigned virtually all of my political life against anti-Semitism within the labour movement and I have evidenced some of my work on it below. I consider that implication and the action against me are motivated and contribute to slander against me.

I believe that this is not an attack solely on me as an individual. It is intended to disorganise my constituency party and demoralise its members. It is also part of a national witch hunt conducted by figures still powerful in the Party who are attempting to drive away the hundreds of thousands of new members who have moved it to the left.

I have long advocated that our Party should be open to all who want to fight for a Labour victory. Free speech and free debate are fundamental to socialism. They are essential to anything claiming to be a socialist political party.

Hundreds of thousands of energetic people are being attracted to our Party. We should welcome them and I believe that in my role as Chair of my CLP I have the responsibility to contribute to that.

That is why I, along with the other officers of my CLP, wrote in protest to the General Secretary and Chair of the PLP against the attempt to oust our leader unconstitutionally by trying to force him to resign without allowing a vote by the Party membership.

It is why, as officers of Broxtowe CLP, we protested to the General Secretary and the NEC about the further discourtesy shown to new members by instituting an unexpected freeze date that denied them the right to vote.

Later still on August 9th individually I organised an accredited online petition calling on the Party to refrain from using the full force of the appeal courts to enforce that freeze and give yet further offense to our new members. Over a 21 hour period, the petition was signed by over 1,000 Party members.

The day after sending that petition to the General Secretary, Tom Watson released his dossier on far left entryism. The following day I first began to hear from journalists, briefed by persons unknown, asking me to respond to accusations of being a ‘Trotskyite entryist’.

For the next 2 days I had journalists contact me before an article appeared in Politics Home claiming that I had been reported to the Labour Party as a ‘hard left’ activist and was being ‘probed’ by the Labour Party. That was on August 17th –  over 3 weeks before the notification of my expulsion. During that time, I heard nothing from the Labour Party and presumed this was a fictional provocation intended to damage the Party. It appears I was wrong.

In the original press attack upon me I was accused of speaking at a recent AWL event. However I spoke on the same platform as Ian Hodson, President of the BFAWU. Other speakers at the week-end event also included prominent representatives of the Progress/ Labour First right wing of our Party, Luke Akehurst, John McTernan. I cannot therefore believe that these are the real reasons for the complaint made against me.

There are no secrets about my politics. The paper Solidarity has been kind enough to cover much of my campaigning work in its news coverage. They have occasionally republished articles I have written elsewhere or on my blog. I find it scandalous that having an association with that paper and the policies it advocates, can be used to witch-hunt me or anyone else out of the Party.

The real reason some want me out of the Party must be is because they want to stop my political activities both for the Party and to influence its policies.

I list below most of the important work I have done over the last 6 years for and within the Party with links to more details. In the absence of my right to appeal, I leave others to make their own judgement on my record and the legitimacy of the attempts to remove me from the Party.

  • Building my local Party and the referendum campaign
  • Campaigning for the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader
  • Challenging the government’s support for Saudi Arabia
  • Campaigning against anti-union laws
  • Campaigning against war and terrorism and for a 2–state resolution in Israel/ Palestine
  • Campaigning against anti-semitism
  • Campaigning in support of oppressed Kurdish people in Syria and Turkey
  • Campaigning against the government cuts
    Details of my work can be read in the Appendix to this article

My history and my views have never been a secret. In 2001 I resigned from the Labour Party after, then, 29 years membership. Whilst I continued to campaign for Labour general election victories in the days of Tony Blair’s leadership, I feared that some of the changes of the Labour Party might be irreversible. Firstly, the Party’s turn away from working class communities and towards ‘Middle England’ and secondly, the marginalisation of trade unions. I stood as a protest candidate in the very safe Labour constituency of Nottingham East in 2001 and then again in 2005 after the Iraq war.

I was wrong about the Party. It was able to revive after Blair and Brown’s leadership – it had to revive in the face of a very right-wing Cameron government. Although it has left us a legacy of political alienation in many working class communities which we have seen so starkly in the EU referendum result.

I rejoined the Party in 2010 in Broxtowe after working with it to rebuild the Labour Party in areas of the borough where the BNP had got a councillor elected – another result of the collapse of the Labour Party in many areas because of Tony Blair.

I never hid anything either about my earlier disenchantment with the Party or my activities during those years. I was pleased to say I felt very welcomed by other constituency activists and officers. They showed the same solidarity I believe our Party should show to all others who want to work for its success regardless of their voting or electoral activities in the past.

Genuine political disagreements about how we fight together for the interests of all working class people, the vast majority in our society, should be met with respectful and democratic debate and not crude labelling, expulsions, exclusions and the denial of free speech.

I do not believe I have acted as anything other than a responsible socialist. I will not walk away from the Labour Party nor advocate anyone else does.

I appeal to party members and organisations to support the call for the revoking of my expulsion and my rights to resume my work for the future of this Party and the return of a Labour government. We need that to reverse the devastation inflicted on our society by the Tories and put a government accountable to the vast majority of society, working class people, in control.


Appendix – my recent political work for and within the Party

  • Building my local Party and the referendum campaign
    Over the last 6 years of membership of Broxtowe Constituency Labour Party, I have been a branch secretary for 3 years, constituency secretary for 2 ½ years and from last May its constituency Chair.
    Over the course of my branch secretaries position, with other activists, I built that branch into the biggest and most active branch in the constituency with regular street stalls and very successful council election campaigns.
    When I became Chair of the CLP this year my first act was to agree with fellow officers Cllr Greg Marshall and Cllr Dawn Elliott to go ahead with the production of over 30,000 of a 4 page Newsletter and then co-ordinate their distribution over the final 2 weeks of the EU referendum campaign.
    The Newsletter with its main article in support of remaining in the EU also made clear our opposition to the Tories cuts on our local services. We feel confident that the Newsletter and the energetic work of our much strengthened Party gave us a better result than most other neighbouring East Midlands constituencies – a fact acknowledged by our Tory opponent Anna Soubry MP.
  • Campaigning for the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader
    When Jeremy Corbyn put his name forward for leadership I wrote an open letter to Labour MPs in the region asking them to nominate Corbyn. I invited fellow Labour activists to sign it and 103 of them did, including 19 councillors and 1 council leader. See https://beestonleftie.wordpress.com/2015/06/
    Given that the nomination threshold was only closely met and our letter may have affected some MPs, is this why people want me out of the Party?
  • Challenging the government’s support for Saudi Arabia
    In January 2015 I wrote an open letter to Cameron following the intensification of Saudi terror on its own citizens highlighted by the flogging and threatened death sentence on free speech Saudi activist Raif Badawi. Over the following 6 months that letter was signed by over 1,000 human rights activists, journalists, trade unionists and political activists. It was supported by 11 prominent NGOs. It called for Britain to end its arms trade with Saudi Arabia and for other trade sanctions to be considered whilst the Saudi regime continued its human rights abuses.
    See http://wp.me/P5RyD9-3
    The open letter was delivered to Parliament in July 2015 on a Day of Action that I organised with the supporting NGOs. A delegation of MPs and activists delivered it to Downing Street including the now shadow transport minister Andy McDonald. raifpresentAmongst others Glenys Kinnock addressed the assembled activists in Whitehall on that day.
    See http://wp.me/p5RyD9-cY
    The same day with the support of John McDonnell’s office I organised a meeting in Parliament addressed by supporting NGOs and Sarah Champion MP speaking from the Labour Party, as well as MPs and leaders from the  SNP and Greens. Jeremy Corbyn was one of the first signatories of our Open Letter and spoke in support of the issue at later Parliamentary meetings.
    I hope that our work contributed to the greater awareness and desire for action against Saudi Arabia that helped Jeremy Corbyn force the later government climb down on their provision of prison equipment to Saudi Arabia. A topic also touched on in my speech to the 2015 Labour conference.
    The abandonment of any aim of an ethical foreign policy was a major failure of the Blair and Brown governments. Is this why certain people want me out of the Party?
  • Campaigning against anti-union laws
    At the 2015 Labour conference I spoke to our motion that was composited with other trade union and CLP motions. My CLP added a pledge to the other motions composited to restore the trade union rights of solidarity and sympathy action that had been taken away by Thatcher. My speech to conference can be viewed here

    As an active trade unionist firstly as GMWU/GMBATU steward, then a UCU branch officer throughout my employed life, restoring trade union and employment rights has always been one of my major concerns as a Party member. Like many trade unionists I consider this to be one of biggest failures of the Blair government. Is this why certain people want me out of the Party?
  • Campaigning against war and terrorism and for a 2–state resolution in Israel/ Palestine
    In July 2014 I made a successful call on my CLP to hold a public meeting on the military onslaught on Gaza. The meeting in Beeston attracted an audience of well over 100 local constituents and was addressed by our PPC of the time, a prominent Pakistani Labour councillor and through Skype by Israeli anti-war activist Elizabeth Tsurkov. All speakers at the meeting not only condemned the Gaza onslaught but made a strong call for peace through meaningful dialogue towards a 2-state settlement.
  • Campaigning against anti-Semitism
    In June of this year I wrote the submission of my CLP to the Labour Party Chakrabarti enquiry. Our submission addressed the issue of anti-Semitism. It called for education and debate in the Party recognizing that much of the contemporary left had only a superficial understanding of the reasons why the continuing existence of Israel is so important to the Jewish community. Our statement called for real action from the Party to revive the prospects of a peaceful and just 2-states settlement for both Palestinian and Israeli people. The statement can be read from this link
    I was frequently active in debates in my union, the UCU, in opposing anti-Semitism: arguing at the 2011 UCU congress that antisemitism was an issue that the union should not deny as much as it did at the time. Link to my speech at the Congress
  • Campaigning in support of oppressed Kurdish people in Syria and Turkey
    In August 2014, I spoke at Kurdish public protests against the brutal attacks on the Yazidi and Kurdish people by the at the time of ISIS’s dramatic offensive in Syria. I wrote an appeal for MPs to meet with representatives of the local 4,000 local strongly Labour-supporting Kurdish community. I led the delegation that met local MP Chris Leslie from whom we had a sympathetic hearing. I have continued to work with the Kurdish community, many of whom have joined, become active and strengthened relations between that community and the Labour Party. I work with the local Kurdish community in Nottingham and across the country in championing the Kurdish militia, the YPG, in their battle with ISIS in Syria and giving appropriate respect to Kurdish and other fighters who go to their aid. They are now facing a brutal onslaught in Turkey as well, about which this Tory government is silent. I campaign along with my Kurdish friends for the Labour Party to give real support to the Kurds but not to use them as an excuse for disastrous foreign military adventures.
  • Campaigning against the government cuts
    From 2012-13, I was secretary of a campaign, Councillors Against Cuts, that was set up with local councillors and advocated that councils consider alternative strategies to those of implementation of the cuts demanded of them by the Tory government. At that time there was a confidence in the trade union movement and an outrage in our councils about these cuts.
    I believe an alternative strategy of combined union/ Party defiance was possible. It is my personal belief that such an alternative strategy still needs to be considered before our services are stripped to the bone.

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