Labour Party suspension of Young Labour Chair jumps the shark.

The Labour Party has truly demonstrated what an utter cesspit it has become under Keir Starmer and David Evans in the wake of so many suspension letters being sent out, often at a ridiculous hour, midnight or 1am, designed to cause maximum distress to people unable to act at that time, or to start their day with. Young Labour chair Jess Barnard was one such recipient, a fantastic advocate for the party, someone who genuinely wants to make a difference, someone who has a particular interest in mental health awareness and has spoken of her own struggles publicly. So what did Labour do? Chose to send her a suspension letter at 1am in the morning on Suicide Prevention Day for, of all things, standing AGAINST transphobia.

The Labour Party has become a regime of diktat under the current leadership, flouting the rulebook in order to impose orders to not discuss certain topics, block no confidence motions in the leadership, block solidarity motions with some of those already suspended and meting out suspensions for the most ridiculous reasons, such as those given against people who had ever had anything to do with proscribed groups at a time before they were proscribed, leaving the Party open to legal challenges as it has. You’d think given Starmer, as he always likes to remind us being the former Director of Public Prosecutions, he’d know when he’s doing something legally stupid, but perhaps he, or Evans really don’t care as long as they can keep purging socialists, keep driving more members away, so the party, in as dire a state as it is, remains in their control. Above all else, this is about control.

So it is that we come to Jess Barnard, the elected Chair of Young Labour, the representative body within the Labour Party to represent members below the age of 27 – a weird figure, but there we go – who has herself been targeted for suspension.

Jess has found herself on the wrong side of the Labour leadership, but hasn’t let that stop her from doing what she feels is right and that means highlighting causes the leadership would rather not and it has invited pile-ons from right wing supporters of the Labour leadership, most recently for inviting the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to speak at the Young Labour event at Labour Conference.

She’s also found herself on the wrong side of the right wing press with Murdoch Times scribbler Oliver Kamm going as far as to derangedly accuse Barnard of wanting a second holocaust for Young Labour’s advocacy of Palestinian rights. Thankfully, there are journalists out there who will write factually, such as the Skwawkbox, who has covered this story in detail. No support from the Labour leadership whatsoever, they’d already cancelled Young Labour’s rulebook mandated Conference of their own, so you can see how much regard the leadership have for young members – about as much as they have for members full stop. This Labour leadership would rather have rich donors.

However at 1am in the morning of Friday the 10th of September, she found herself presented with a suspension letter for challenging transphobia – I repeat, she was challenging it. Not defending it. It is indefensible to defend hate speech of any form after all, identifying as trans is a protected characteristic, but that is not what Jess Barnard was doing and was not what she’d been issued with a suspension letter for. She was challenging transphobia in a twitter exchange with a right wing Labour Councillor and had been issued with a suspension letter for it. It was on Friday. Suicide Prevention Day. Often such letters, knowing they cause significant distress, particularly to long time members are supplied with contact details for the Samaritans. I don’t know if that was the case with Jess, but my goodness, can you imagine if anyone sent suspension letters that day was?

Here are the tweets in question, where Jess makes reference to TERF’s, an acronym standing for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist, emphasis should be on the first two words since as I said before, identifying as trans is protected in law. I also fail to see what is so feminist about behaving this way towards such people either. The label fits the behaviour, Jess had done nothing wrong, in fact if its not obvious in the first tweet it is with the exchange with the councillor where she is clearly defending the rights of trans people and not attacking them.

To her credit, Jess went straight to the NEC and also got her legal team involved. Lo and behold, later that day the suspension order was rescinded. The claim from the Party is that this was sent in error, but the Communication Worker’s Union General Secretary Dave Ward hit the nail on the head when he sent a tweet saying the Labour Party disputes process is in disarray. It is not an error to hunt through somebody’s tweets, compile an investigation document, attach it and send it. This is clearly factional and wrong.

Of course he’s right, a fair amount of work goes into investigating anyone to the point a suspension is warranted, but you get the feeling they’re being doled out like sweets, especially when they’re being sent out for standing up for a protected characteristic! Are we the Transphobe Party now? It’d be good to get a statement from Starmer on this, but he’s been too busy tweeting about tennis to show interest in this or show Young Labour’s top representative an ounce of solidarity.

It had been suggested that all of this was the work of a rogue senior official with a vendetta against Barnard, but again, the work involved shows that is a risible, weaselly excuse. She was targeted for her beliefs, which are not in keeping with the current leadership even if they are in keeping with the party ethos and she’s not alone. Another example publicised in Evolve Politics this morning shows a Labour member, who shared one of that publications tweets relating to supporting a 4 day working week and championing free broadband has been suspended on the basis that they’ve shared racist content. Free broadband isn’t a protected characteristic last time I looked and I’ve yet to meet someone who self identifies as broadband who might be offended! Something has got to give and with Labour Conference just around the corner, things may well be explosive. A lot of hurt and upset is being caused by these often hilariously stupid suspensions, that sadly the people affected do not find funny at all. Exposed for being based on absolute idiocy, on factional vengefulness as they have in this and many other instances is incredibly damaging to the party’s reputation, its electability and we need a change. That change has to come from the very top.

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Embrace Blair’s Legacy? Screw that Keith.

As sure as night follows day, Keir Starmer’s lack of self-awareness rumbles on as we’re now looking at yet another relaunch of his leadership. Corbyn just getting his feet under the table was enough to give the out of touch majority of the Labour PLP a collective brain aneurysm, but Starmer can fail and fail and fail again to make any progress, any inroads with the public, can stand around awkwardly with ice cream and continue to be a pale, male and stale mire of nothingness and still not a peep from them.

This time he’s gone full Blairite, he wants to embrace Blair’s legacy going forwards. How utterly, mind-screamingly stupid a move this is. Blair’s legacy is toxic, but having surrounded himself with the same right-wingers Blair surrounded himself with, we’ve seen them in recent appointments, Peter Mandelson to start with of course, Mr I work every day to undermine Jeremy Corbyn brought in to try and make Labour electable when the majority of members were inspired to join the very party then led by Corbyn, that Mandy despised so much, members who would never join a party led by a Blair clone, so little wonder the party is losing on average 250 members a day, having lost 120,000 of them overall since Starmer took over as leader. There have sadly been others from Blairs team join since.

Starmer is a man so bereft of ideas, that he has surrounded himself by the worst right wingers perverting the Labour Party, that he’s now gone full Tory. Tony Blair was regarded of course by Margaret Thatcher as her greatest achievement – a tame opposition party that would never rock the establishment boat, a safe pair of hands for vested interests should her own party ever fall out of control. Mandelson of course famously said the Labour voter would have nowhere else to go, that this was the perfect scam, the wealthy would never have anything to fear and a servile public would just have to lump it. Labour’s landslide in 1997 was massive, but it came off the back of an incredibly corrupt, far too long tenure of Tory rule – they’d been in power for 18 years. Just as Starmer lied about being a socialist to get elected Labour leader – if only trading standards could be applied to him, he’d have gone months ago – Blair did likewise, it soon became apparent what a weasel he was, because he was essentially a bastard Tory and did bastard Tory things. No council house building, despite knowing it was a crisis then and continued with right to buy, losing even more of our housing stock, tuition fees were introduced, bank deregulation began, did nothing to reverse anti-trade union legislation that Thatcher had brought in, in fact boasted about how tough it was, benefit cuts to single mothers and refugees seeking asylum, disability assessments were introduced, kids as young as 10 with ASBO’s being named and shamed, racially profiling Muslims for stop and search and told them if they didn’t like it to take off their veils, saddling the NHS with PFI’s condemning them to massive debts and paving the way for private firms to come into the NHS, built on since savagely by the Tories, there were outsourcing disasters under Blair as well, he introduced it in the late 90’s and the Tories copied his example after, so many of the problems we see today were happening then too and actually started there. Oh and there was of course the matter of an illegal war that killed a million people. Labour’s polling in subsequent elections suffered as a result – they kept power, such was the dire state of the Tories at that time, Blair of course had Murdoch shielding the public from much of his mess at the time too, but their polling suffered and the party finances did as well. Blair left Labour £25m in debt and utterly reliant on donors for survival. It’s an uncomfortable truth for Blair’s defenders that actually the closest we’ve come to power since ‘97 and the only election where Labour actually gained seats instead of losing them was in 2017 under Jeremy Corbyn. In fact Corbyn got more votes in 2017 than Blair did in 2001 or 2005, it is our crap electoral system that means that that achievement did not translate into more seats than it did. Blair oversaw a haemorrhage in support, a decline in voter turnout as well – turnout used to be over 70% in a general election, it hasn’t managed that since 1997, again, the closest it got was 2017 when a candidate for change, a candidate that inspired people stood for election and offered genuine choice, not two shades of Tory. So much for Mandelson saying we had nowhere else to go, we just stopped voting.

Instead of embracing these facts, instead of accepting Blair and his ilk are yesterday’s men and learning the lessons of recent history, Starmer is now promoting himself as the natural successor to Blair. Blair could at the very least think for himself Keith, you have to focus group everything. Yours so far is a legacy of pint holding and pointing, of standing awkwardly on the beach in a suit as people look away from you, of standing on a platform of socialism and then tearing up every pledge you made. Of losing by-election after by-election, only winning the last one in all likelihood, because the Green Party didn’t stand. Of sacking every socialist from your front bench as soon as you could find an excuse to do so whilst letting off right-wingers bringing shame on the party, of cheering on sporting events whilst failing to show solidarity for your own MP’s who have been vilified or attacked, for shamelessly capitalising on brave stances such as that of Dawn Butler by begging for cash whilst again offering her no solidarity, paying off ex-staff despite legal advice saying the party had a case against them, constantly attacking the left so that members are driven away in disgust. Between lost membership revenue and paying off people you had no right to, the party is now apparently on the brink of bankruptcy, you’re sacking staff as a result, yet hiring more on poorer terms and conditions turning the party of the working class into a bad fire and rehire employer. You’ve overseen left unions withdraw funding and consider disaffiliation, you’ve consistently blocked the release of the Forde Report which no doubt would expose the wrongdoing of many of those you’d paid off, you called Black Lives Matter a moment and with recent proscriptions and the lack of action taken after attacks on left wing Jewish members, not to mention those showing solidarity with Palestine, you’ve overseen a party that has consistently attacked its own left wing more than the government and led the party to become more racist. You’ve utterly failed to act as a leader of the opposition by consistently agreeing with the government on everything, from demanding schools reopen, no ifs, no buts, no equivocation, to demanding they lift restrictions even faster, based on no scientific evidence, but for crass, blatant political gain. You failed to demand male politicians resign, but are quick to demand female ones do – the difference in your responses to Matt Hancock and Nicola Sturgeon. The failure to hold the worst Tory government in modern history to account at the most crucial of times, during this pandemic has failed a nation and cost lives and throughout all of that, you’ve offered no alternatives and no policies.

Frankly we’re at the point where even if you brought in policies and you’ve talked about a Green New Deal in recent days, who would trust you? Who would believe you? You haven’t the conviction to stand by your own pledges, you keep trying to remake yourself every other week with another relaunch, yet the problem remains you are a singularly dislikeable, wooden, political vacuum, an empty suit, an advert for brylcreem but nothing else. You have no original ideas, you cannot think for yourself, you’ve been dishonest in your pronouncements, you’ve all but sent our party broke and now you’re wining and dining donors to fill the void but they aren’t biting much are they Keith! Even Blair couldn’t pull the party out of debt, it was Corbyn that did that, by increasing membership, increasing revenue by embracing the people. Many small donations made a big difference. It wasn’t Corbyn leaving us £25m in the hole, he left us £13m in the black and you and David Evans your unelected, unratified General Secretary have left him suspended from the party for far too long, despite an NEC panel clearing him, have given no indicator when this will be lifted and this has pissed off members possibly more than any other single action you’ve taken and for all that cash he injected into party coffers you seem to have blown it all and have fuck all to show for it.

Tony Blair is reviled in this day and age, people went off him fast, particularly members quickly enough at the time he was still leader. You really think that in this era of social media, of wokeness, of people being better informed than ever before as newspapers fall into decline and independent media offers alternative views and news that won’t be covered elsewhere that you can pull off a con like this when it seems you need someone to tell you what colour underwear to put on each day, let alone come up with a policy? Then you really are as daft as you look. You want us to embrace Blair’s legacy? Forget it. Much of the rot the Tories have wrought in recent years has built off what he started. To embrace Blairs legacy is to inspire the Tories, not oppose them. Your predecessor showed you the way, you pretended to be like him, yet now you say you’re like Tony fucking Blair. No politician as blatantly dishonest and lacking in principles as Starmer will ever succeed. It’s way past time the Party got rid. Clearly it isn’t true that anyone but Corbyn would be 20 points ahead. Its time we demanded he go, no ifs, no buts, no equivocation.

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Labour First conference motion is a violent, incendiary, Islamophobic declaration of war on Palestine.

If you want to see how right wing, so-called Labour moderates hope they’ve engineered this years Labour Conference, you only have to look at the ridiculous motion the right wing Labour First group, sadly not proscribed, but then they’re right wing, have put forward, that they hope to see pass, courtesy of their secretary, Luke ‘The Nuke’ Akehurst. Never met a war he didn’t seem to like. Supports Saudi Arabia attacking Yemen, the biggest humanitarian disaster in the world, because he ‘doesn’t want Iran to win it’ and of course is to this day a staunch defender of Labour’s disastrous intervention in Iraq under Tony Blair. Offering support for military interventions and selling bombs because he’s picked a side and wants them to win despite being totally unaffected by it himself. You have to be utterly twisted to cheerlead over such things, it takes a special sort of fucked up to agitate for war where we have no business waging it and make no mistake, when we’re selling the weapons, we’re part of it, the blood is on our hands too, it’s just that most of us don’t choose to bathe in it. Take a look at this motion.

Two-state solution, not everyone agrees with that but it’s a debate to be had sure, first paragraph talks of peace, no arguments there, but I want to draw your eyes down to where it gets properly batshit and that’s the fourth paragraph, I’ll read it out:

Conference condemns all acts of terrorism unequivocally. Conference calls for free and democratic elections in the Palestinian Authority and the restoration of Palestinian Authority control over Gaza. Conference calls for the terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to be removed from power in Gaza and disarmed in return for massive investment to improve life for citizens in Gaza.

Terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad eh? Its funny that it’s only the West and Israel that designate them such.

In fact, in the case of Hamas, the UK only recognises their military wing, Hamas’ Izz ad-din Al-Qassam Brigades as a proscribed terrorist group, not the political side of it because hey, guess what? Hamas were elected to power in Palestine and run the Palestinian state. That wasn’t the West’s plan, but hey, the likes of the US and UK have form for not acknowledging election results in other countries that they don’t like. Venezuela anyone?

But this motion truly goes full Luke the Nuke when it talks about removing them from power. How are you going to do that? They’re elected. Fairly. Given Akehurst’s penchant for violence as long as its not on his own doorstep, it really does look like they’re agitating for military action here. As if Palestine doesn’t already have enough on its hands. I’m not excusing the fact they fire rockets at Israel, but they’re firing at a nuclear power with an iron shield defence system preventing most rockets getting through. When Israel fire on Palestine, and of course they bloody do it as well, all their rockets hit. It’s David vs Goliath stuff. There’s no talk of engaging in diplomacy in this motion, of compromise, of bringing two sides together, it simply says removal, then going on to say we’ll offer you pots of cash to improve and invest for citizens in Gaza. Bribing the population into civil unrest? They’ve dealt with this shit for 60 years, they aren’t about to stop now because you’re prepared to raid the piggy bank. Armed invasion instead then? We all know how much you love them. But for all your talk of benefits, do you really mean the Palestinians though Luke? Or more illegal settlers? Once ‘settled’, bulldozing family homes, driving farmers off their land, they’d technically be Gazans themselves. Given that aside from being secretary of Labour First, which he regards on his Twitter profile as a ‘spare time’ role, his work, his main role is as director of We Believe in Israel, an outfit to promote Israel’s right to exist – not Palestine’s –  and is funded by BICOM, the Britain Israel Communications Research Centre, so any recommendations for the betterment of Gazans doesn’t convince me its Palestinian Gazans you give a damn about. In fact, you’ve got form for arguing that the illegal settlement of Palestinian lands is permissible insofar as it doesn’t contravene the Geneva Convention! This motion is so ambiguous and your bias so well documented you’d have to be a fool to think otherwise of you.

With people like this on Labour’s NEC, the pressure to go to war again should we attain power is significantly raised. Our taxes once more being used to spill blood elsewhere. Akehurst is no representative of Labour members, how he came top in the last NEC elections after years of repeatedly failing to get back onto the NEC I still find incredibly suspicious. His family doesn’t suffer, his family isn’t affected, he isn’t affected, but he doesn’t give a shit and for as long as he works for We Believe in Israel, he’s taking money from one state, despite calling for a two state solution. More like a two-faced solution. He is as I’ve said previously, probably the most dangerous man in the Labour Party today and it shows. Conference needs to throw this filth out the door, not least because it’s blatantly Islamophobic and falls foul of Labour’s brand spanking new Code of Conduct over Islamophobia. I guess we’ll soon see how seriously they consider that to be, but I fear given how the delegate structure has been rigged, that instead this ‘declaration of war’ motion may yet pass.

Cornish Damo provides this site and its content free of charge, but in order to continue doing so, to continue to rant and write and tell it like it is, impartially, independently and free of outside influence, your donations are essential. If you can afford to do so without hardship, please consider supporting my work via one of the options on the support us page.

Thank you for your solidarity and for supporting alternative media holding power and the mainstream media to account.