Labour officials continue to flout law over White’s suspension

With just three weeks until the polls close in the latest phase of the never-ending purgatory that is the Labour leadership contest, there continues an anxious wait for some party members and supporters in Croydon over when their voting forms will arrive, if at all.

Labour party voting 2016The battle for control of the party has continued throughout the summer, with challenge and counter-challenge through the law courts over which members are eligible to vote, and how much should or should not be refunded to those who paid fees in the reasonable expectation of being able to exercise all the rights of membership.

And Croydon has played its part in that, as it has influential members of Labour who have done their best to block socialists such as Mark Steel from joining, or to get constituency party officials such as David White or Andrew Fisher, an aide to Jeremy Corbyn, suspended or even thrown out of the party. 

Still, some aspect of that process continues, for in a darkened corner of the bunker that is Labour HQ, a special squad of dedicated Blairite staffers have been sifting through members’ tweets and social media postings going back months, even years, to determine who should be culled from the voting process, often on the flimsliest of excuses. Because, hey, no one wants Owen Smith to suffer the same embarrassment as Progress’s candidate in 2015, Liz “4.5 per cent” Kendall, do they?

And while not everything in the preceding paragraph may be based on fact, there is a real sense that some Labour incumbents – including many of the MPs like Lambeth South’s Steve Reed OBE, who played an enthusiastic part in the #chickencoup in late June – are dismissive of the tsunami of new members who have joined in the past 12 months, as they try to cling on to internal power by operating the party as if they inhabit North Korea.

There have been enough reports of members, generally those inclined to support the democratically elected leader Corbyn, being excluded from the leadership ballot that another hashtag has emerged – #LabourPurge2 – and lawyers have even set up helpful online guides of what to do if you think you might have been excluded.

But if you contact the Labour Party expecting a full and detailed explanation of what offence you are alleged to have committed (remember: the exclusions occur without the offender ever being given the opportunity to state their case or defend themselves), or to discover who it was that may have reported your assumed indiscretions, then don’t get your hopes up.

White, the lifelong Labour member and secretary of Croydon Central CLP, was suspended – effective immediately, without hearing or trial – on the basis of a single tweet in May. A case of 140 characters being held against one man of immense character.

David White, right, in cap, has continued to campaign throughout his suspension

David White, right, in cap, continued to campaign throughout his suspension by the Labour Party

Ten weeks later, with no case to answer, the Blairites who hold paid positions as employees within the Labour Party decided to drop White’s suspension. No explanation, no apology.

White’s suspension period coincided with Labour’s Chakrabarti inquiry, which made a series of recommendations about the proper procedures for handling allegations against party members. This included the right of members who had been accused to know the identity of their accusers and what offence they are supposed to have committed.

Duly unsuspended, and having hitherto been denied any information about how he came to be suspended, White wrote to the Labour Party’s compliance unit to request its file on his case.

Eventually, after several weeks’ wait, White received a response. This page is typical of the paperwork he was given:

David White letter


Thing is, the Labour Party, just like any other public body, has broader responsibilities under the law, in this case the Data Protection Act 1998. Under that Act, White is entitled through a Subject Access Request, to all information they hold about him in relation to his  recent suspension, including, as White points out, “details of who my accusers were”.

“The key pages are almost entirely redacted,” White told Inside Croydon.

“I think the Labour Party National Executive Committee should conduct a serious inquiry into the Party’s Compliance Unit,” said White, a former GLC and Croydon councillor and retired solicitor.

“They seem to be using suspensions and other disciplinary measures capriciously, principally against left-wingers who support Jeremy Corbyn . They also seem to be ignoring the recommendations of the Chakrabarti report that people suspended should, unless there are exceptional factors, be told who has accused them.”

Labour’s ruling NEC was recently overhauled at elections which saw a slate of candidates widely seen as supportive of Corbyn take charge. It will be instructive whether they are prepared to act against their party’s senior employees in this matter. If they don’t, they may have the government official, the Information Commissioner, to deal with, since White has now taken his case there.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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15 Responses to Labour officials continue to flout law over White’s suspension

  1. I love the Labour Party, I really do. I am well over 80 and its the only poltiical party to which I have ever belonged. Its just so sad that every now and then, and now is a typical time, it goes in for a paroxysm of trying to insert its head into its rearmost orifice and, in the process, wreaking a great degree of internal pain and strife (as such exercises are wont to do) and forgetting all about electability and sustainability. What will solve the current situation I do not know but what I do know is is that, unless solved and the party made more acceptable to the great British public, it can say farewell to power for many years. Pity. I’d have liked to see a Labour Government again but it may not happen in my time….unless all the crazies on both sides of the unnecessary divide stop their extreme and ultimately selfish behaviour and work out how to get together again.
    Perhaps now is the time to start scanning the skies for flying animals of the porcine type!

  2. If the polls reported in The Times today are correct, then irrespective of the Progress supporters efforts, Corbyn is projected to win with an even bigger mandate. He is leading Smith by 62% over 38%. Assuming that is the case it will be interesting to see what their next move is.

  3. farmersboy says:

    I’ve been purged which if I were younger would probably make me proud. The reason given is comments on twitter on 30 June and 23 July. It’s easy for me and therefore them to check as my Tweets for the whole of June, July and August are a link to a comedy show and another to Wimbledon football foundation. But this also means that someone among my 10 followers is out to get me…

  4. edtf says:

    “Because, hey, no one wants Owen Smith to suffer the same embarrassment as Progress’s candidate in 2015, Liz “4.5 per cent” Kendall, do they?”

    As far as I’m aware, Owen Smith isn’t formally affiliated with progress in any way.

    I’m not a particular fan of either Corbyn OR Smith, but I do despair of this kind of binary, black-and-white thinking which has characterised a leadership debate that members and supporters both sides have tried their best to massively oversimplify.

    Things are actually a bit more nuanced than “you’re either in Corbyn’s camp or you’re a Progress Red Tory”.

  5. Totally agree with edtf’s third paragraph! Much supporter behaviour, on both sides, is like that of a Pantomime Audience when the villain/hero appears: “Oh Yes you are!!” “Oh no you’re not” “Booo” :Hoorah”…..unhelpful childishness!

  6. Rod Davies says:

    It appears that the battle between the factions in the Labour Party is more important to them than compromising, collaborating and presenting a coherent opposition. It is a fact of life that the UK political environment is largely defined by the Tory electoral machine and its party unity, despite immense divisions between the Tory party factions.
    While the majority of the Labour Party’s membership may be convinced by him as leader, their impact at the ballot box is a drop in the ocean of votes needed to secure a parliamentary majority. Yet this and the self-evident lack of confidence in Mr Corbyn as leader among Labour MP doesn’t seem to worry the army of supporters. It suggests a profound disconnect between the membership and the realities of UK politics.
    While this circus may provide some entertainment, it is a major issue for the country. As Theresa May’s new cabinet dominated by the far right Brexiteers prepares to formulate its approach to leaving the EU, the nation needs a robust and coherent opposition.

    • davidjl2014 says:

      Check your facts. The new cabinet is NOT dominated by “far right Brexiteers” indeed many of those ministers responsible for the negotiation of withdrawal might easily be described as “wet pro-euro sympathizers” For God’s sake, get a grip. If you really think that all those people who voted Brexit and all those politicians who promoted it are “far right” I suggest you emigrate. I’ll willingly give you a list of countries that run regimes far far more right-wing than country you are privileged to live in. Go to them, and see how you like it.

  7. The nation needs a robust and coherent opposition: EXACTLY!!

    • davidjl2014 says:

      Well, where is it? Look in the mirror and ask yourself the same question.
      A socialist party of total failure when given so many years of opportunity to succeed and now can’t cope with it once deposed.
      Yet even the embarrassing ex-Chancellor will be soon be given the opportunity on Strictly Come Dancing to show how his maths can turn a 3/4 waltz into a 2/4 polka. The votes will prove that they wont add up to being any “coherent opposition” to anyone else appearing on the show.

  8. mraemiller says:

    There is some irony it the attempts to stop the “hard left” taking over used by the right wing of the party degenerating into something the NKVD would have been ashamed of.

    All this goes back to the previous leadership election when the lack of freeze date resulted in such a massive expansion in the grass roots as to push the party toward a split as it attempts to change too fast.

    Then again perhaps there are bigger forces at play and all this is inevitable

    Anyway I think we should keep Corbyn because my mum says he has a very well proportioned face…

    If you ask me Owen Smith is a plank

  9. I seriously hope that people realise they can just phone the Labour Party and ask for the codes to be emailed to them and vote online

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