I don’t think it’s an outrageous suggestion that the Labour Party and other institutions of the Labour movement have some kind of a ‘duty of care’ for it’s members. I’m also going to suggest that, as a movement, we have a moral duty to protect, defend and support those who are picked off, bullied and witch-hunted, irrespective of the finer details of any disagreements we might have with them. Recently, one of the members of our Red Labour group has had their suspension rescinded, without an apology or explanation. We’ve seen the Labour members in Wallasey exonerated and countless examples of members who have had no information on their exclusions and suspensions, who have spent months in limbo. Some have even become notorious by their suspensions. I’m thinking of friends who have been abused in the street, shouted and spat at, have had lies told about them in the local and national press. But if they are ‘pardoned’, if things are swept under the carpet, is that all ok? Is it ‘natural justice’ to be defamed, to have been caused mental and even physical distress? Is that a situation we can tolerate and a party we can be proud of? I think not.
You see, much of this vile treatment has a political root: huge parts of it are caused by nasty, vindictive and bitter people within the party machine and local officials and “representatives” with a sense of entitlement which means that they think it’s ok to screw anyone over to preserve their power. All this is done with impunity in “our” Labour Party, yet it has done untold damage to people’s reputation and people’s mental health. And while the blame lies firmly with these bitterites, whose goal it is to punish those responsible for taking their ball away, there’s something else going on: for what has “our side” of the party done about it? Mostly kept quiet, with some going even further – actively helping the people who are doing this to our comrades. Is this, in turn, acceptable? No, of course it isn’t – but some people, supposedly socialists, have made a Faustian pact to rid them of a temporary problem. Sod the long-term damage, there’s a scrap to win. I can’t think of a more disastrous strategy. That ‘duty of care’ extends to everyone who has taken part in this ‘revolution’. It’s not “owned” by one, privileged group. It’s all of ours – and it’s not anyone’s to throw away.