andrewgodsell

Tales from an author

#LabourPurge2 – An Update

I have not Blogged here about the Labour Purge for several weeks, but I have had a piece on the subject featured by Labour Insider.

http://www.phillipdavidjones.com/single-post/2016/10/26/Labour-Purgatory

Since I wrote that piece, many other members of the party have also had their suspension lifted, but with a warning. There are still many party members suspended, one of whom, Glynis Millward, is taking legal action.

https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/politics/suspended-labour-member-sues-iain-mcnicol-unable-vote-leadership-election/

The Purged and recently Unpurged continue to work together to challenge the process, with some of the detail set out on the Blog below.

https://shadownec.wordpress.com/about/

As for my case, the Information Commissioner’s Office are looking at a Data Protection complaint I have raised regarding the Labour Party, and I have taken legal advice. I continue to correspond by email with Labour HQ, but their legal team seem unable to respond in detail to valid points. Here is a summary I sent to Labour HQ on November 7:

Hello (yet again) Labour Legal

Your email of November 4 is another example of the Labour Party evading issues surrounding my suspension.

There are numerous unresolved issues from my previous emails to yourselves.

The most pressing points – in the view of myself and my legal advisor – requiring a response at the moment are:

1 For the third time I have been sent evidence that I did not Retweet the message relating to Angela Eagle. You claim “This retweet has since been removed from your twitter, however the Labour Party is in possession of evidence that it was once there (namely for a period following 6:48pm on Thursday 30th June 2016)”. Why has this evidence not been sent to me? Why is it not included in your responses to my Subject Access Request? How was the evidence obtained – was it a human or computerised process? How long do you think the alleged Retweet was on my timeline?

2 My email of September 6 said:

“My Twitter profile states “ReTweet not always endorsement”. I often Retweet things I do not necessarily agree with, as part of the sharing of information on Twitter, and I know many other people do likewise.  I cannot see why the Labour Party is using resources trawling social media, looking for evidence of alleged abuse, that can be used to suspend members, when that alleged abuse took place prior to the publication of the rules for the leadership election. Such trawling of social media is contrary to a recommendation of the Chakrabarti report. In view of this, the suspension of myself, in the mistaken belief that I had Retweeted derogatory comments about Angela Eagle, would be particularly unfair”.

Why have you not responded to this point? Please respond now.

3 I do not agree with your decision to protect the confidentiality of the person/s who made the original allegation, given that I believe it to be a malicious and unfounded allegation. I presume the Labour Party has some written record of the allegation, and therefore request that this is sent to me, along with an explanation of its absence from the SAR response.

4 I have been a Labour Party candidate in local elections on 10 occasions. Why is there no material about this in the SAR response? What other types of material are missing?

5 Please issue another letter, offering a clear apology for the incorrect decision to suspend me from the Labour Party.

Andrew Godsell

 

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#LabourPurge2 This could be progress?

 After sending six emails, and having three lengthy telephone conversations with Labour headquarters, since receiving the “evidence” for my suspension more than a month ago, the long-promised written reply to my challenge finally arrived two days ago.

 As I had asked a series of specific questions, I thought I might get specific answers, but all that the helpful Compliance colleagues managed was a few standard sentences, one of which claims to remove my right to appeal:

Dear Andrew,

Apologies for the delay in responding to you.

Your Subject Access Request has been posted to you and should be with you within a week.

There is no ability to appeal an administrative suspension. Suspensions are put in place while an investigation is carried out therefore you will have the opportunity to put your case across as part of this investigation. You will be contacted shortly regarding this.

Kind regards,
Rebecca

Having given myself 24 hours to calm down, I tried another patient and diplomatic appeal, which I emailed yesterday. I do not know if there will be any meaningful response from party HQ, but at least I have more evidence of my trying in good faith to resolve the issue – when the party finally address the case:

Hello Rebecca

Thank you for replying.

I maintain that this process has been mishandled, and am disappointed that nobody in Compliance or Legal seems able to respond in detail to the points made in my series of emails below.

My email of September 8 reports telephone conversations in which Compliance and Legal said they would look at my response to the evidence, and lift the suspension if they agreed with me that I had not Retweeted the relevant messages. Why has this not happened?

I have been suspended for 7 weeks, and lack a right of appeal. The party has failed to meet its obligations under the Equality Act, and the situation is harming my mental health.

Your email states “you will be contacted shortly” about the investigation, but I have been told this several times across 7 weeks without anything happening. Please can you be more precise about a timescale?

I am copying this email, for information, to Jennie Formby, who has taken up my case within the NEC, and Simon Letts, leader of Southampton City Council. I have worked, and campaigned, with Jennie and Simon for several years, and they have both expressed a wish that the suspension be lifted, enabling me to return to Labour Party activity.

Please can somebody see sense, and lift this mistaken suspension?

Thank you

Andrew Godsell

#LabourPurge2   Invited to a meeting then banned from attending

It is now day 50 of my suspension from the Labour Party. I still lack evidence to substantiate the reason for the suspension, or any prospect of an appeal hearing.

The party machine continue to frustrate efforts to tackle this.

Having received an email inviting me to a meeting of Southampton and Romsey Labour Party, I sent the reply below yesterday.

Hello Ken

I have been suspended from the Labour Party for 7 weeks due to unsubstantiated allegations that I have broken party rules. Despite numerous telephone calls and emails to party headquarters, I have not been given a timescale for an appeal hearing. Party HQ are aware this is having an adverse effect on my health, but refuse to deal with the matter.

Given that thousands of other party members nationally are in the same position, I wish an opportunity to raise the matter at the next All Members Meeting. Please can you advise who I should contact to get the suspensions issue added to the agenda.

Thank you

I received the response below, banning me from the meeting I had been invited to attend, and refusing to allow discussion of the Labour purge (whereas many Constituency Labour Parties have passed motions asking for an end to the purge)   

Dear Andrew – Ken has passed me your email below.

I shan’t be putting this as an item for All Members Meeting for the following two reasons.

Firstly, as you are currently suspended, you are not permitted to attend any Labour Party meetings.

Secondly, even if you were, as previously advised in my email of early September, the local party has no say on your suspension or the timing, or outcome of, the national party’s consideration of the matter giving rise to the suspension. This is a matter for you to resolve directly with party HQ. I appreciate you may have been waiting a while but, if you feel you are being unfairly treated by the national party, you may wish to consider getting some independent advice. The local party cannot, and will not, interfere in the process.

I hope that clarifies why the matter will not be discussed at the All Members Meeting. If you have any issue with my reply, I suggest you contact Louise McGee, the Labour South East Regional Director, on louise_magee@labour.org.uk.

Regards

Matt Tucker

Chair of Southampton & Romsey Labour Party

I sent the following email to the Regional Director, but I doubt she will be in any hurry to reply.

Hello Louise

Please see emails below.

The lack of support from a local party I have worked hard for over many years is very disappointing.

I left telephone messages with your office on October 7 and again today, asking for a call back to discuss a timetable for my appeal, but this has not happened.

If I am prevented from attending meetings – in apparent contravention of the Labour rule book – I wonder why I received the email at the start of this chain inviting me to a meeting. I have also received other recent emails inviting me to Labour events.

Please can I have a prompt response to the points I have raised.

Thank you

 

#LabourPurge2 Data Protection breach reported to ICO

Yesterday I raised a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office about a series of Data Protection breaches by the Labour Party.

It is now 44 days since I was suspended from the Labour Party on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations, and I still have not been told when my appeal might be heard. I have sent yet another chaser email to party HQ today.

In contrast to the silence from party HQ, many of those suspended from the party remain  committed to an open discussion of the Labour Purge. I therefore set out below the points I made in my complaint to the ICO:

I wish the ICO to assess the case, and confirm that the Labour Party has breached the Data Protection Act in its dealings with myself. My case is similar to that of thousands of other party members, who have been arbitrarily suspended by a group at Labour headquarters, in a purge of people wishing to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. The suspension letters are signed by Iain McNicol, General Secretary of the Labour Party. I expect the ICO to find exactly which people in the Labour Party are guilty of this action, and issue a large fine – I understand the maximum possible fine is £500,000.   

The Labour Party has breached Data Protection law in three respects;

1 I submitted a Subject Access Request on August 27 2016, which was 40 days ago. They have not provided the requested information in the required timescale.

2 I have been suspended from the Labour Party, and prevented from voting in the recent leadership election, on the basis of malicious and unfounded allegations about comments I made on Twitter. The “evidence” provided by the Labour Party does not match the allegations, but they have refused to address my appeal, and correct their mistake. I have provided the organisation with my name and email address, in order for them to communicate with me. They have misused this data in order to trawl through my Twitter account looking for evidence to suspend me. I did not authorise the organisation to misuse my data in this way, and they have not advised me that this would happen.

3 The organisation has failed to deal with my Subject Access Request, and appeal against suspension, in a reasonable timescale. They are aware that I struggle with Asperger Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, long term mental health conditions. I have asked them to prioritise my appeal in view of this, but they refuse to offer any timescale. This means that the continued misuse of my data by the organisation is causing me damage, distress, and mental pain.

 

#NationalPoetryDay

                   Visions Reflected

Weaving a tapestry, the Lady of Shalott

Visions reflected through a glass onion

Catch a glimpse of a fair maiden

Her feet sore from bunions

Fixing a hole in the ozone

Nearly ending the verse, that’s your lot

 

Making mayhem in a kitchen, the Lady of Shalott

Wonderland and nature offer such a lot

Pig and pepper, and the piper at the gates of dawn

Getting tired, they start to yawn

Fix your mind on what we might eat for tea

Perhaps a fish no longer swimming in the sea

 

Weaving a tapestry, the Lady of Shalott

Wonderland and nature offer a lot

Caterpillar, chrysalis, metamorphosis, butterfly

Sit and watch it flutter by

Fix your mind on the beauty in the sky

This is a short poem, not sure why

 

Making mayhem at a party, a lady wearing a hat

Another wisecrack, how do you do that?

Hatter, Hare, and Dormouse, sat here since dawn

Getting tired, were you asleep, or is it just a yawn?

Fix your mind on what you might want for tea

Perhaps a crumpet – do you fancy me?

 

Relaxing in a garden on a sunny Summer day

Alice is the lady in a blue dress

Eating an ice cream before it melts in a mess

Feeling dreamy, feeling hot on a hot day

Fixing her mind on what a gardener might say

Thoughts getting longer  – do you fancy me?

 

Labour Purge – 78,500 missing votes?

I have now been Blogging for nearly a month about the detail of suspension of thousands of members of the Labour Party.

My local BBC radio station have interviewed me about this. Link below – piece starts 1 hour and 5 minutes into programme. In my home city of Southampton, in contrast to my being prevented from voting in the leadership election after 32 years of Labour membership, a local councillor who left Labour to join another party last year actually got a vote. Vetting of the process by Labour HQ is a disgrace.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p046d7nm#play

I have today sent the latest in my series of emails to the Labour Party – following up on that sent on September 13 (link below).

https://andrewgodsell.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/the-labour-plotters-and-the-appalling-treatment-of-a-mentally-ill-man/

Hello

I still have not received the courtesy of a reply to the series of emails below. It is now 30 days since I was suspended from the Labour Party on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations.

Please can somebody deal with this matter.

Thank you

A moment later I received:

This is an automatic reply

Thank you for your email.

Governance and Legal Unit staff are now working at Annual Conference in Liverpool. We will respond when the unit re-opens on 29 September.

Sent by email from the Labour Party, promoted by Iain McNicol on behalf of The Labour Party, both at Southside, 105 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QT Website: http://www.labour.org.uk to join or renew call 0345 092 2299.

In summary, party HQ have abdicated any responsibility – until 6 days from now – for continuing their (very slow and obstructive) work on looking at incorrect suspensions of thousands of loyal members purged for wishing to vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

There has been much speculation about the size of the purge. The official figures from the Labour Party, summarised in Tweet below, show that 207,500 full members of the party did not get a ballot. Even if 129,000 of these are the registered supporter voters, there is still a shortfall of 78,500. This is vote rigging on an industrial scale.  

 

Labour Purge Day 27 – Ballot Closing? What Next?

Today at 5.00 pm was the closing date for requesting reissue of a Labour leadership ballot. This was 5 days later than the original timetable – due to Labour HQ accepting there have been problems.

The main problem is the Labour Purge, with the party HQ deliberately mismanaging the ballot over the last 4 weeks. They have suspended thousands of Corbyn supporters, depriving them of a vote, while unaccountably delaying the issue of ballots to countless other members and registered supporters.

To summarise, for the benefit of new readers, this is day 27 of my suspension, for allegedly Retweeting two messages, with the party’s evidence for this not actually proving their case. I have made a series of telephone calls, and sent lengthy emails, but they refuse to look at my appeal.

Todays deadline appears to mean the end of any chance of my voting.

The last few days have seen many reports on social media of new people being purged. At the start of September, the Daily Mirror reported about 7,000 party members were suspended – the figure has clearly grown since then.

Pamela Fitzpatrick, one of the very few people (I only know of two others) whose suspension has been lifted recently, has today Tweeted that she has still not received her ballot. Pamela has been assured it will arrive by midnight tomorrow, but Labour HQ have a strange concept of time.

What happens next?

We can discount any chance of a last minute outbreak of fairness from the Chicken Coup plotters, and thousands of loyal party members will miss out on the vote they are entitled to.

Assuming that Corbyn is re-elected, we can hope that the newly-elected NEC will lift the suspensions. There have been suggestions that this should be followed by the unsuspended members being given their votes back, which can be retrospectively added to whatever gerrymandered tally Iain McNicol announces.

As for the future of the party, and possible unity, I cannot see those who have been purged easily forgiving the plotters. The plotters have treated loyal comrades in an appalling way, and tried to destroy Labour Party democracy.

The Labour Plotters and the Appalling Treatment of a Mentally Ill Man

It is day 21 of my suspension from the Labour Party. I am one of thousands of supporters of Jeremy Corbyn suspended by a right wing clique at party HQ, who are continuing the work of the PLP plotters trying to bring down a leader overwhelmingly elected a year ago. The treatment of myself, and thousands of other loyal Labour Party members, by cynical careerists is sickening.

Here is an email I sent to the party today.

Hello

I write to complain about the appalling way I have been treated by the Labour Party, from which I have now been suspended for 21 days without evidence. I have been a loyal party member for 32 years, but am now alienated by arbitrary suspension, and this is severely affecting my already precarious mental health.

I have today spoken at length on the telephone with Jack from Compliance. I began by explaining that, further to several previous emails (see below for some of these) and telephone calls, I wished answers to a series of points. This is a summary of what happened today.

1 I said I spoke to Compliance 5 days ago, at which point I was told that my challenge to the supposed evidence – Retweeting messages I did not Retweet – would be looked at soon, and the suspension lifted if they agreed with me. When I asked for an update, Jack said “it is impossible to give a timescale for this process”.

2 As I have Asperger Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, long-term mental health conditions, I feel I should be entitled to expect reasonable adjustments, in accordance with the Equality Act, in the way that the Labour Party deals with my appeal against suspension. This view is supported by the Equality Advisory Support Service, with whom I have discussed the situation. Jack said he was unable to comment, but had noted my point, and would pass it to somebody dealing with my appeal.

3 I have not received a response to my email of August 27, asking about a subject access request in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1988. It is an offence under the Act for an organisation such as the Labour Party to process a person’s data in a way which causes distress. I therefore intended to file a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office. Jack said he was unable to comment, but had noted my point, and would pass it to somebody dealing with my appeal.

4 I had previously been told by Compliance that suspension appeals would not be heard until after the leadership election. This was not true, as Ronnie Draper was given a personal hearing on September 9, and his suspension was lifted that day. As I had been suspended a day before Ronnie Draper, and immediately launched an appeal, it was reasonable to expect that I should have been given an appeal hearing by now. Jack said this was not the case, but he needed to get advice from a colleague. Jack then said “nobody in Compliance will be able to speak on individual cases, including Mr Draper’s case”.

5 Pamela Fitzgerald had her suspension lifted on September 9, without needing an appeal hearing. I suggested this could be followed by my suspension being lifted without the need for a hearing. Jack said he would not comment on this.

6 I noticed on Twitter yesterday that one member of the party remains suspended but have been told they can vote in the leadership election. First Jack said this was not true. I pressed, saying that there had been quite a bit of material about this on Twitter, including some of the correspondence between the member and the party. I felt this set a precedent for other suspended members, including myself, being allowed to vote. Jack said “there is no such thing as a precedent”, which I remarked did not sound factually correct. Jack said he needed to get advice from a colleague. Then Jack said that, regardless of the truth or otherwise of the particular situation I had mentioned, he could not comment.

In summary, I felt that in view of my loyal party membership, the lack of evidence for the suspension, the number of times I had contacted the party about the matter, and my mental health, it was reasonable to expect a guarantee that the matter would be resolved in the next few days, a timescale that would enable me to vote in the leadership election.

Jack now said “Just because you have phoned and spoken to me, you cannot jump the queue.”  I reminded Jack of the points I had just made, and pointed out it was unreasonable for him to make his suggestion.

Jack said he had spoken to me at length, but Compliance did not have time to look at my case at the moment. I said that it would save time on future phone calls and emails if somebody in Compliance would spend a few minutes looking at the supposed evidence, and lift the suspension. Jack said he could not guarantee any progress with my appeal ahead of the leadership ballot closing.

By this point I was getting so anxious that I told Jack I was having trouble getting the words out.

Jack said he understood and sympathised with my position, but “my hands are tied, and I can only tell you what I have already said, because that is what I have been told to do”.

I asked Jack if he could pass the call to somebody else, who had the authority to do something more specific, given the circumstance I had outlined. Jack said he had been told not to pass the call on, and that he now had to terminate the call. Jack then became the third person from Compliance to put the phone down on me.

I again ask, please can somebody deal with this promptly and fairly?

Thank you

Andrew Godsell

 

 

Why NOT Trust the CONservatives?

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Why-Trust-Conservatives-Andrew-Godsell/dp/1326209159/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1473680557&sr=1-6

Sadly almost all of my political energy in recent weeks has been used fighting against suspension from the Labour Party. Among the many annoying aspects of the situation, it is taking me away from one of the things I do best, namely attack the Conservative Party. To partly redress the balance, thought I would post the final chapter of my critical history of the Conservatives, a book published last year. So here are my thoughts on a decade of Dodgy Dave as leader of the Nasty Party.

 We Are All in This Together 2005-2015

The Labour Party defeated the Conservatives in a third successive General Election on May 5 2005, obtaining a majority of 66. Labour won 356 seats, the Conservatives 198, the Liberal Democrats 62, and the others 30. The day after the Election, Michael Howard announced his decision to stand down as Conservative Leader. Following a review of the rules for Leadership elections, which did not lead to any changes, a contest began in October. Two ballots led to David Cameron and David Davis advancing, while Liam Fox and Kenneth Clarke were eliminated. The vote among party members saw Cameron defeat Davis by 68 per cent to 32 per cent. Cameron – educated at Eton and caught smoking cannabis there – had only been an MP since 2001. He struggled to establish a strong image as Leader of the Conservatives, being criticised by many for his relative inexperience, and faced difficulty uniting the party. A veneer of socially-conscious Conservatism alienated the right, despite Cameron’s clear Eurosceptism.

Tony Blair stepped down as Prime Minister in 2007, and was replaced by Gordon Brown, the new Labour Leader, who had been Chancellor of the Exchequer for the 10 years of Blair’s premiership. At the same time John Prescott ceased to be Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, but Harriet Harman, who replaced him in that role, was not accorded the additional position of Deputy Prime Minister by Brown. The premiership of Brown was undermined by the onset of an international banking crisis in 2007, which developed into a global recession, and the biggest crisis of capitalism since the depression of the 1930s. With the Labour government struggling to deal with a budget crisis, as vast amounts of public money were used to rescue private sector banks, Cameron and the Conservatives gained ground. In June 2009 the Conservatives won the European Union election, with 25 seats, while UKIP took 13 seats, Labour 13, the Liberal Democrats 11, and the others 10. The Conservatives now resumed their link with the Ulster Unionists, running a joint campaign in the Northern Ireland section of this election.

Public confidence in the British political system was severely reduced by the scandal of MPs making excessive, and often illegal, claims for expenses. A campaign by the Daily Telegraph, during 2009, highlighted failings by both Conservative and Labour MPs. After requests under the Freedom of Information Act had been blocked, due to lengthy resistance by MPs, the Telegraph leaked information. The newspaper largely used the expenses detail against the Labour Party, and in favour of the Conservatives. Being outside the public sector, the Daily Telegraph was exempt from Freedom of Information, and did not have to disclose how much, and to whom, it paid for the leaked detail. It subsequently transpired that the Telegraph bought the information for £150,000 from John Wick, a supporter of the Conservative Party, with former links to the security services. The deal was agreed by Will Lewis, the editor of the Telegraph, who moved the following year to News International.

The electoral pact between the Conservatives and Ulster Unionists led to an embarrassing rejection, as Sylvia, Lady Hermon, the only sitting Ulster Unionist MP, resigned from the party in March 2010. The reluctant Unionist alliance failed to win any seats at the subsequent General Election, and the pact was soon discontinued. That General Election, held on May 6 2010, led to a hung Parliament, with the Conservatives having 307 seats, Labour 258, the Liberal Democrats 57, and the others 28. The Conservative Party had failed to win a majority for a fourth successive General Election, which represented their worst sequence of results since the six successive defeats between 1847 and 1868. After several days of negotiations between parties, Gordon Brown and the Labour government departed from office, being replaced by a Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition. David Cameron became the Prime Minister, while Nick Clegg was his Deputy – a Con-Dem double act. Cameron, aged 43, was the youngest Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool, a Tory who took office in 1812.

The government quickly set about massive public spending cuts, with the Conservatives using a budget deficit as an excuse to attack public services. Cameron and the government told people “we are all in this together”, but the continuing problems of recession, aggravated by austerity, had a disproportionate impact on people with lower incomes, while the Conservatives rewarded rich people with massive tax cuts. The policy was overseen by George Osborne, a complacent Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had inherited a multi-million pound fortune. Unemployment increased to almost 2,700,000 by the end of 2011 – the highest figure since 1994.

A messy compromise between the Conservatives, who opposed electoral reform, and the Liberal Democrats, who had long been in favour of some reform, led to a referendum on the generally unsatisfactory Alternative Vote, in May 2011. The electorate rejected AV by 68 per cent to 32 per cent, a result which damaged the cause of electoral reform. Later that year the Coalition carried legislation to set a fixed term of five years for Parliament – unless there was a vote of no confidence in the government, or a majority vote of two thirds of MPs in favour of an early election. It appeared that the main motive was a wish by the Coalition government to bind the two parties making up the alliance, with a law that would force them to remain together, in power, for five years.

The Coalition government’s policies had an adverse effect on both the National Health Service and Sure Start. The Health and Adult Social Care Act 2012 led to major reorganisation of the National Health Service, with the Conservatives undermining the service through fragmentation and privatisation. Dozens of the Conservative MPs who voted for the legislation benefitted financially, through links to private health companies, which won contracts as parts of the NHS were sold off. The Welfare Reform Act 2012 unfairly disadvantaged many benefit claimants, particularly with the introduction of an under-occupancy penalty, generally known as the Bedroom Tax. Major cuts to Legal Aid were also imposed. In the light of these events, the Conservatives were regularly reminded of the “nasty party” tag by the Labour Party, led by Ed Miliband, who replaced Gordon Brown in 2010.

The Conservative Party, along with their friends in UKIP, whipped up hysteria about immigration, undermining Britain’s multi-cultural society. Internal argument among Conservatives over Britain’s role in the European Union continued to influence the party leadership. At the start of 2013, David Cameron announced that a referendum on British membership of the EU would be held if the Conservatives won the next General Election. The death of Margaret Thatcher, in April 2013, led to widespread re-assessment of her legacy. While Conservatives lauded Thatcher as a saviour of Britain, many people saw that Thatcher had encouraged a form of capitalism that was in crisis, sold off important public assets, and divided the nation. A lasting effect of Thatcher’s policies was a drop in the level of support for the Conservatives, who only gained a majority in one out of the five General Elections between 1992 and 2010. In the Summer of 2013, the Coalition government’s plan for armed intervention in the civil war in Syria was defeated in a vote by the House of Commons, as the Labour Party led the argument against this course. Cameron, who misjudged the situation, had to pledge that the government accepted the will of Parliament.

In May 2014 the Conservatives were reduced to third place in the European Union election, with 19 seats. UKIP won the election with 24 seats ahead of Labour, who took 20 seats. The Liberal Democrats were left with a single MEP, while the other parties won 9 seats. After a protracted and damaging trial, Andy Coulson, formerly director of communications for David Cameron, was convicted of previously organising phone-hacking at the News of the World – part of the News International group – and sent to prison in July 2014. Cameron’s judgment in appointing Coulson, who had already been under suspicion, was questioned. July brought another scandal, with credible allegations that Conservative MPs were active in a paedophile ring, during the Thatcher administration, prompting Theresa May, the Home Secretary, to announce an inquiry into historic allegations of child abuse. The chair of the enquiry, Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, had to step down a few days after her appointment, due to public pressure, as her brother, Michael Havers, had been Attorney General in the Thatcher government.  Following this May blundered again, appointing Dame Fiona Woolf, who also resigned as chair, due to her friendship with Leon Brittan, who was accused of suppressing a dossier about paedophile MPs in 1984, when he was Home Secretary.

    An independence referendum was held in Scotland, on the initiative of the Scottish National Party administration. In the weeks leading up to polling in September 2014, the Conservatives were worried that the outcome would be a vote for independence. With the Tories and Liberal Democrats unpopular in Scotland, the government was reduced to leaving much of the detailed campaigning against independence to the Labour Party, with Gordon Brown taking centre-stage. The referendum rejected independence, at this point, by a margin of 55 per cent to 45 per cent. The government committed British forces to take part in air strikes against the Islamic State terrorists in Iraq, having received backing from the House of Commons in September. Meanwhile British military activity in Afghanistan reached an end, 13 years after this action, led by the USA, was started under Tony Blair’s government.

During the Autumn two sitting Conservative MPs, Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless, defected to UKIP, and were returned to Parliament for the latter party at By-Elections. Nigel Farage, the reckless UKIP Leader, fanned fruitless speculation about other MPs defecting from the Conservative Party – which he had once been a member of. Many people were concerned about the openly racist, xenophobic, sexist, and homophobic comments regularly made by prominent members of UKIP. Besides a cynical approach to Europe, UKIP had an extreme outlook, bordering on Fascism. In 2006 Cameron said “UKIP is sort of a bunch of fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists”. After ruling out a Conservative pact with UKIP across several years, Cameron changed his mind in Autumn 2014. There was growing support among members of the Conservative Party and UKIP for the idea that, in the event of another hung Parliament, the right wing parties should work together. In late 2014, and the early part of 2015, Liberal Democrat members of the government, anticipating the forthcoming General Election, sought to distance themselves from the Conservatives. There was clear evidence that the Coalition was failing to deal effectively with the budget deficit, and national debt. The Coalition reorganisation of the NHS had left it in crisis, and the Labour Party’s rescue plan was growing in popularity.

After 13 years out of power, as Labour won three successive General Elections, the Conservatives sought to re-create Thatcherism. Cameron was portrayed by supporters as a modern Conservative, in touch with ordinary people. The reality of Cameron’s premiership was continuation of old themes, which had motivated the Conservative Party since its foundation in 1830. For nearly two centuries, the Conservative Party has been run by the wealthy and powerful, with the party focussed on keeping those people wealthy and powerful. The rich benefitted in a limited recovery from capitalist crisis after 2010 but, for most people, Britain was a poorer place, both morally and financially, under the Conservatives.

Labour Purge Day 19 – The Battle Continues

Yesterday evening I travelled from Southampton to London to attend a public meeting called by Labour Against the Witch Hunts, a group battling against the unfair suspension of thousands of members of the Labour Party.

As people at the meeting exchanged their experiences of arbitrary suspension, by the dreaded Compliance Unit, and the unclear appeal process, phrases such as Kafkaesque and Orwellian were used. It is so sad to see the methods being used by the right to attack the resurgence of a left movement built around Jeremy Corbyn. One of the key messages was do not be silent – we must continue to publicly oppose, and expose, the methods of the Labour Purge.

Labour Against the Witch Hunts have organised a petition, to be delivered to the National Executive Committee, asking for emergency action to lift suspensions, and restore voting rights in the leadership election. If you have not done so, please sign the petition – link below.

National Executive Committee of the Labour Party: Hold Emergency NEC Meeting to quash suspensions, expulsions & refusal of memberships

There is also a short survey gathering evidence about the suspensions.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe7rE-nkCoAFt6GXgOzxK8GSog_rC1LHWo4wNtQ4mU4BBgmiw/viewform?c=0&w=1

The announcement two days ago that Ronnie Draper and Pamela Fitzpatrick have had their suspensions lifted is good news. It is also shows the previous announcement from Labour HQ that they will not deal with appeals until after the leadership election concludes to be untrue.

The last few days have seen a further round of suspensions of Corbyn supporters, as the unaccountable right wing clique at party HQ continue attempts to gerrymander the leadership election. They have even suspended a nephew of former Labour Prime Minister, Clement Attlee.

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