Bristol Labour Fiasco – Democracy Subverted Again

The statement below is from the chair of Bristol LCF. It describes the farcical methods used by the right wing regional bureaucracy to undermine the left and subvert democracy. This is a brazen example of the sinister direction of Labour under this “new leadership”; Starmer and Evans must go, the membership need to fight hard for that to happen and to restore democracy and freedom of speech.

Statement on Attacks on Democracy in Bristol Labour Party 

I am writing this as Co-Chair of Bristol Labour Campaign Forum (charged with policy development and overseeing the selection of councillor candidates) to complain about what I consider to be an illegal takeover by South West Regional Office of the functions of grassroots member organisation in Bristol, against processes as set out in the Rule Book 

  1. In December all four of the Bristol CLPs passed motions calling for the whip to be restored to Jeremy Corbyn, former Leader of the Opposition. As a result the officers of three of the CLPs were suspended; only Bristol South escaped as it passed its motion before David Evans’ diktat. Subsequent to this, the RO announced it was taking over the management of two of the CLPs, Bristol West (one of the largest CLPs in the country) and Bristol North West. They were told they could not hold any meetings in December or January and their AGMs were postponed to February, under the auspices of RO. Bristol East escaped as the two suspended officers had already handed their posts to successors. A number of other activists were also suspended including two candidates for councillor who had been selected by due process in key wards. Numerous requests from LCF officers to RO, NEC and GS to expedite their disciplinary hearings so they could be reinstated were ignored or rebuffed. 
  2. Although the two co-chairs  and secretary of the LCF had not been suspended or subjected to any disciplinary hearings, RO informed the Secretary that it was taking over management of the councillor selection process, which had been managed according to the rulebook by the officers .Like the CLPs we were told not to hold meetings till February. We were also informed that the selection process would be delayed until February. It appears that this delay to selection , with a number of vacant seats caused by the suspensions and resignation, may have been deliberately engineered to allow RO to unilaterally impose candidates on wards, on the grounds of purdah commencing before the May election. The vacant seats remain unfilled as of today.  A number of potential candidates have been identified, we understand by the RO with assistance of the Labour Group of Councillors. These are candidates who would normally be rejected on the grounds of not being members of the Labour party or a trade union. We believe these selections to be illegal and undemocratic.
  3. The postponed AGM held yesterday evening  managed by RO was an undemocratic travesty.  It was run as a webinar with chat disabled so that members could not speak to each other. There were no statements written or spoken from the candidates   so choice was made blindly on tribal grounds. A democratic meeting was reduced to an online voting exercise, with a voting system that was either itself faulty or ineffectively handled by RO staff so that voting was not concluded for 5 hours. Of the 540 registered attendees some 100 never got to vote. No other business, as would be expected of an AGM, was carried out, with tabled votes of no confidence not heard.  

I  would add that over the past year, we have experienced a lack of co-operation from RO which has hindered our work as LCF. The secretary was refused access to membership lists, making it difficult for us to communicate with the membership about our meetings and activities; requests and messages have either been ignored or answered after long delay. It is pretty evident that our only sin is support for the previous leader of the party and his socialist manifesto; the right-wingers in the Labour party have tried to nullify our efforts to promote democracy and unity and facilitate democratic participation 

Harriet Bradley, Professor
Chair of Bristol LCF, former Labour Councillor for Brislington West .
Feb 12th 2021