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Saturday, 27 August 2016

The Labour Party purge is getting ridiculous


The Labour Party purge is getting absolutely ridiculous. Not content with banning 130,000 party members from participation in the leadership election out of a fear that they're likely to back Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party hierarchy has set about trawling through people's social media accounts looking for excuses to suspend them from the party.

Some of the most notable examples include the Orgreave Justice campaigner and 45 year long Labour Party member John Dunn, the head of the Bakers' Union Ronnie Draper, a Unison rep and long-time Labour Party activist called Philip Lewis and a woman called Catherine Starr who was apparently suspended for liking a band called the Foo Fighters too much.

The Catherine Starr case was unusual because the letter of suspension actually included a date when the supposedly unacceptable comment was made, allowing her to track down the "abusive" comment to a post where she said "I fucking love the Foo Fighters". Huge numbers of people are being suspended with an explanation consisting of nothing more than "comments you posted on social media" making it pretty much impossible for people to track down the supposedly problematic comments.

There is clearly a lack of due process if people are being suspended from the party and barred from voting in the leadership election based on such vague allegations. If the Labour Party snoopers have evidence of abusive language they should include screen grabs of the comments deemed to be unacceptable, which is hardly difficult given the way that they're snooping through people's social media accounts.

Some people have raised concerns that snooping through the social media accounts of tens of thousands of Labour Party members in order to find excuses to suspend Jeremy Corbyn supporters is a deeply sinister thing to do. Others have argued that it's a tremendous waste of time and effort that could be better used on actually opposing the Tories. My biggest concern is the abject hypocrisy of it all.

You just have to look at the behaviour of some of the Labour Party members who are backing Owen Smith to see how rigged the whole purge is:

In March 2016 Catherine Starr posted a comment about how much she likes the Foo Fighters on her personal Facebook page. The Labour Party donor Michael Foster wrote an extraordinary article for the Daily Mail describing other Labour Party members as "Nazi stormtroopers" and a tide of other abusive comments and insults including "arrivistas", "a divisive, aggressive holier-than-thou cadre of hard-Left socialists", "bullies and arm-twisters", "economically illiterate people", "a mob", "second-rate minds", "the extreme left".

Catherine Starr has been purged and Michael Foster has suffered no consequences for his abusive diatribe.
In 2014 Dr Gemma Angel wrote a Twitter post detailing her reasons for voting for the Green Party at the European elections. Since Jeremy Corbyn became Labour Party leader she changed her allegiance and tried to join the Labour Party. In 2016 the unelected Labour Party peer David Sainsbury made a donation of £2,150,000 to the Liberal Democrats.
For a tweet supporting the Green Party from over two years ago Dr Gemma Angel was purged from the party. For handing over two million quid to a rival political party between April and June 2016 David Sainsbury has suffered no consequences. 

The fact that the Labour Party hierarchy have decided to trawl through the social media postings of Jeremy Corbyn supporters to look for (often incredibly tenuous) excuses to block them from membership is bad enough, but the fact that party politicians and donors are being allowed to get away with things that are very much worse demonstrates beyond doubt that the purge is being conducted in order to rig the election, rather than to rid the party of abusive people or those who clearly support other political parties.

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