The right wing in the British Labor Party, the Blairite clique, is doing what it can to prevent Jeremy Corbyn from being re-elected as party leader. A friend and comrade, Roger Silverman from the Workers International Network who rejoined the Labor Party as part of the huge surge that has followed Corbyn's election as leader, has just been suspended from the party which denies him a vote in the leadership election. Roger is appealing his suspension and has sent the following letter to the Labor Party General Secretary Iain McNichol. Roger's father was the former Labor Party MP Sydney Silverman who was a leading figure in the abolition of the death penalty in Britain. RM
Dear Mr McNicol,
In response to your letter dated 14th September, I am writing to give you notice of appeal against the decision to suspend my membership of the Labour Party and to discount my vote in the leadership election. I wish to register my protest at this arbitrary action and my intention to resist it most vigorously.
I note that the only evidence cited in support of my suspension refers to my "comments on social media between 19th July and 2nd August". It seems, therefore, that my only "crime" was to participate in the widespread debate taking place throughout society on the current crisis in the Labour Party. Among my comments I included what I consider a scientifically accurate and objective assessment of the true nature of the "New Labour" phenomenon. As with the contributions of others from all sides in this general debate, my arguments were politically sharp; they could not, however, in any shape or form be construed as personally "abusive". I have checked most painstakingly all my postings on facebook and can find not a scrap of justification for your innuendo that they violated your procedural rules - rules, incidentally, that I fully support - against "racist, abusive and foul language". I challenge you to find any such language in my name. Apparently, for some Labour Party officials, honest forthright political debate is not allowed.
Most Labour Party members would consider it perfectly legitimate to use emphatic language to characterise a political current which represented, after all, an explicit rejection of time-honoured fundamental Labour principles, such as public ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange; political representation of trade-union interests; and opposition to colonial wars.
I come from a long Labour family tradition. My father was a Labour MP for 33 years until his death; I would describe him as the Jeremy Corbyn of his time. He, too, was on occasion subjected to unjust bureaucratic victimisation: expelled from the Parliamentary Labour Party (along with others including Michael Foot) for opposing nuclear weapons in line with conference policy, and accused (ironically) of disloyalty to the Leader. My mother too was a Labour member of the London County Council. I remember canvassing for Labour in general elections as far back as in 1959, as a young teenager. I was active in the Labour Party for decades: in Hampstead, Brighton Kemptown, Barons Court, Hammersmith North, and more recently West Ham. Like many others, I left the Labour Party in revulsion during the Blair era; and, along with hundreds of thousands of others, I rejoined the Labour Party in the surge of enthusiasm that greeted Jeremy Corbyn's election.
Amid all the prevailing destructive acrimony, one positive effect of this leadership contest is that hundreds of thousands of people have been motivated to join in a debate about serious political issues. To try to suppress this debate with unilaterally imposed mass suspensions and retrospective cancellation of votes is an affront to Labour's identity, as proclaimed on my membership card, as a democratic socialist party.
I am particularly outraged at the decision to cancel my vote in the leadership election. I insist on immediate restoration of the validity of my vote until such time as the allegations against me, along with thousands of other unjustly disenfranchised bona fide Labour Party members, are proved; otherwise, there could be only one rational conclusion. My suspension and theirs could only be interpreted as a blatant exercise in vote-rigging on a massive scale.
Please inform me in detail of the precise charge against me; its date and source; copies of the minutes of any meetings, internal e-mails or reports setting out the grounds for my suspension; and the date, venue and all other relevant details of my appeal hearing.