General Secretary of the Labour Party
Newcastle upon Tyne
Dear Mr McNicol
Appeal against Expulsion from the Labour Party
Membership Number: Lxxxxxxx
I acknowledge receipt of your email of 7 September 2016, and the copy letter, received this morning. I wish to appeal against my expulsion.
I was born into a middle class Tory voting household and to my eternal shame joined the Conservative Party at age 16. Three years later I was elected Vice Chairman of the Northern Region of the Federation of Conservative Students. I even helped Margaret Thatcher get elected in 1979.
But, life is a great leveller and educator, as I am sure you will agree.
My education began in the early 1980s as a teacher in the South Yorkshire pit village of Darton. I lived in the village for four years among miners and their families, and many of my charges were destined to also become miners. I witnessed at first hand the devastation of the miners’ strike and the evil reality of Thatcherism.
My education continued in 1988 when I was hospitalised in Cardiff for four months for surgery and treatment of lung cancer. Many of my fellow patients in the ward and at the radiotherapy clinic were former miners from the south Wales valleys and sufferers from pneumoconiosis and consequential lung cancer. I listened at first hand to their stories of life in the pits and the betrayal of their futures and communities by Thatcher and her minions.
Over 10 years I had changed forever from a right wing Tory into a true blood socialist, and in 1989 I joined the Labour Party.
Such conversions are not uncommon. I am sure you remember Conservative minister Shaun Woodward crossing the floor of the Commons to join the Labour Party, where he was welcomed with open arms by our then leader, Tony Blair.
Fellow Tory MPs Peter Temple-Morris, Robert Jackson and Quentin Davies did likewise.
And today, under Jeremy Corbyn we are seeing many more conversions from the Greens, the Lib Dems and others, which I hope are being welcomed with similar enthusiasm.
As I said earlier: life is a great educator.
Over the ensuing years, unemployment, bereavement, homelessness and a career in newspaper journalism hardened my beliefs as a socialist and supporter of the Labour Party.
One of the proudest moments of my life came in 1994 when 41 Labour MPs signed an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons praising my investigative journalism into the lies then being peddled by the Conservative government. Some of my all-time political heroes signed that EDM: the late and great Tony Benn, the much missed Alan Simpson, Ken Livingstone, Dennis Skinner and ironically Jeremy Corbyn.
These names next to mine remain a personal shield of honour, which will always remain, whatever the outcome of this appeal.
However, in 2003 I left the Labour Party after being disillusioned and betrayed by Tony Blair’s social welfare policies and for leading us into an illegal war in Iraq against the wishes of the British people and the vast majority of Labour Party members.
For the next 12 years I watched and wrote from afar, dismayed by so-called New Labour and the osmosis of party policy between the Tories and Labour. I became unattached to any political party and described myself as a nihilist.
But, Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour Party leader in 2015 reignited a personal belief that things might change and that Labour had rediscovered its soul, cherished under Clem Atlee, Harold Wilson, Jim Callaghan and Michael Foot.
Early in July this year I rejoined the Labour Party and on 18 July received my membership card with an accompanying letter which said: “You are the newest member to add your voice, skills and passion to our movement. Labour’s strength comes from its members.”
- Your email/letter of 7 September 2016 refers to my application to become a member of the Labour Party… and that my application has been rejected.
I have been a member of the Labour Party from 1989-2003 and rejoined with letter of acceptance and membership card on 18 July 2016. Indeed, not only am I already a member of the Labour Party, but you also accepted my £25 Poll Tax payment as a supporter on 28 July to allow me to vote in the Leadership election.
Your action is therefore retrospective and it could be viewed that you took my £25 voting fee under false pretences.
- Your email/letter of 7 September 2016 says: “The Labour Party should be the home of lively debate, of new ideas and of campaigns to change society. However, for fair debate to take place, people must be able to air their views in an atmosphere of respect. They shouldn’t be shouted down, they shouldn’t be intimidated, and they shouldn’t be abused, either in meetings or online.”
I have NEVER in my lifetime shouted down or intimidated anyone. I have also NEVER abused anyone.
As a victim and survivor of childhood sexual abuse and later domestic abuse, which left me minutes from death, I believe the NEC needs to revisit its use of the term “abuse”.
But, if abuse means bullying, I am a long time campaigner against bullying in all its forms.
Indeed, I was the first to alert NEC member Johanna Baxter on 14 July 2016, that the cyber bully who had reduced her to tears was not a member of the Labour Party or follower of Jeremy Corbyn, but was a far right Nazi troll named Claire Khaw, a former member of the BNP.
- Your email/letter of 7 September 2016 says I am being expelled because “You have made inappropriate comments on social media including a post on 28 June 2016”.
A quick trawl of my own accounts shows that the only comments you might refer to was my blog posting: Hanging from Traitors’ Gate – Progress: Labour’s right wing Militant
I revisited this subject in more detail in another blog posting on 27 July 2016: The right wing incontinence of the Progress plotters
My blogs are always widely shared on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in and other social media platforms. These particular blogs are typical of the scores of investigative newspaper reports which won me dozens of awards over a 28 year career in journalism.
They shine a light onto facts about Progress and its members.
If your problem is in the title of the blog piece, maybe lessons in English metaphor and history are required.
A view shared by many is that Progress is as much a right wing entryist party within a party as Militant was in the 1980s.
As for the bulk of the piece, it is written with the same dynamism that former Labour leader Neil Kinnock attacked Militant.
If your problem is with my use of the word Traitor/Traitors, I believe that anyone who has committed the treachery to our leader Jeremy Corbyn and to the 121,751 Labour Party members, 88,449 Registered Supporters and 41,928 Trade Union Affiliated Supporters who voted for him, as observed by the so-called #chickencoup, deserves to be called a Traitor.
I am sure that as a former trade union leader you have used the word traitor or scab to other comrades in times of dispute.
I know that MPs Tom Watson, John McTernan, Luke Akehurst and others have used the word Traitor, and much worse about fellow Labour Party members.
If your problem is about me naming MPs who should face deselection if they fail to ameliorate their treachery, I am doing no more or less than Neil Kinnock did when he named, shamed and threatened with expulsion Derek Hatton, Tony Mulhearn and Lesley Mahmood.
The Labour Party has thrived amid robust and lively debate. To kill or stifle that debate behind claims of bullying or intimidation is to kill the Labour Party and make it into a pink imitation of the Conservatives.
I vigorously defend my blog post and request that my expulsion is overturned.
I have been increasingly shocked by the actions of the NEC executive board and certain NEC members over the past three months.
This may not help my appeal, but in my opinion the NEC has acted against the membership of the Labour Party and in doing so has damaged the reputation of the party for the foreseeable future.
The top-down NEC dictats bullying the membership can be viewed as Stalinism.
The purge and witch-hunt of members and electors who do not hold a certain beliefs might be seen as McCarthyism.
And the encouragement for members to report other members for un-comradely actions are those of the former East German Stasi.
I never thought I would witness such behaviour from the management of the Labour Party.
Please clarify your reasons for my expulsion and confirm when my appeal will be heard.
I reserve all rights.
43 thoughts on “Appeal against my expulsion from the Labour Party – an open letter”
It is outrageous that you and so many thousand of members have been subject to unsubstantiated accusations Nic. Your writing is intellegent, honest and resonates with so many including myself. I sincerely hope you get a positive response to your letter . Your integrity is unquestionable and your voice deserves to be heard.
Thank you Julia. Your words mean a lot.
I agree wholeheartedly with the above!
Hear hear… What the RW are being given allowed to do is subvert Democracy at every turn. It us jaw droppingly Blatant and outrageous. It’s acceptance by McNichol exemplifies how bad things have become. How dare the RW call themselves “moderates”. I can only assume they mead “moderate” in the Syrian meaning of the word (ie the exact opposite).
I’ve just read all of this and I really can’t understand why you have lost your membership? I’ve just become a brand new Labour member, the first time EVER I have joined a political party, and I am confused as to why this is happening to you. I want to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. Perhaps they will suspend my membership….:(
Excellent Nic if they do not repsond or do not reinstate you after writing so openly, honestly and intelligently, then I truly fear for the Labour Party and its future.
Great to see you still fighting Nic, and we’re all behind you.
For your information, or should I say if you don’t already know this I think you will find it most useful on your blog.
Tory paper written for or by Nicholas Ridley on how the Tories would denationalise state industries, undermine unions, and use the arms of the state against them in 1977: file:///C:/Users/mervyn/Documents/FABEA1F4BFA64CB398DFA20D8B8B6C98.pdf
This next document is Margaret Thatcher’s secret 1982 cabinet papers, “the longer
term options” which maps out in detail how they will dismantle the state and put all public services into private hands. Rolling back socialism.
To open this document please click on where it says SHOW IMAGES it then opens into a viewer where you can zoom and drag the page up and down, the pages are turned at the bottom.
Hope I am not teaching granny how to suck eggs but people have told me they can’t read it etc., I too have been suspended, without any explanation, but we are in good company as they have also suspended Clem Atlees great niece and great nephew for openly supporting Jeremy Corbyn, you just couldn’t make it up.
Finally this video is extremely important, discussion on Europe between Janis Varoufakis and Noam Chomsky, power politics against genuine democracy, very revealing inside information.
Really really important video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WG-uEND74E#t=6080
Thank you very much
As always Nic, factual, with passion. If we lose that as a nation we lose our soul. Difficult to express how pleased I am that you are willing to yet again, put such efforts in for the sake of our society Nic… applaud you and will take inspiration from your spirit in these truly bizarre times.
Thanks as always Christine xx
Very eloquent and I am sure that you will not be the only one when JC is relected I hope things will change
I hope you win this battle Nic, good luck and my utmost respect. Labour needs voices like yours.
I am so very new to this world of politics and as so find myself in a ‘bubble’ of the fictional kind. Is this real or did I wake up in a parallel universe. I am head weary and body tired from trying to keep myself focused on the reasons I joined. Listening to and watching the actions of Jeremy Cobyn who remains almost Zen like in opposition makes me want to be a better person. I have had the pleasure of reading (and copying) your blogs and I love them. Your spirit and tenacity gives me courage and hope in equal measure. I wish you your right and I hope to continue to read all you have to say. Stay strong 🌹✌️
Thank you so much Juliette
100% with you and all you say here! I fervently hope JC will be ready-elected and the new NEC will reverse all this stupidity. We need to return to those principles clearly stated on the back of our party membership cards. If that requires removal of the coup instigators, and their allies within Labour HQ, then let’s get It done as quickly as possible. We can then get on with what we should be doing – getting the Tories out of power.
The more these people try to cook the books the more important and justified is our opposition. Never yield.
Thanks for that. I too have been suspended. I am ‘under investigation.’ Sounds ominous; like they’re unsure what to do with me; which ‘box’ to put me in (& bury me if they get their way). Tony Benn said the fight is never over; it never ends.”
Very well written. Your openness and integrity shines through. I have shared this on FB. Good luck with your appeal.
This is a most thought provoking article, factual in detail, soul searching and must represent the thoughts of all those whose heartfelt feelings have been thrashed by the actions of a NEC group determined to destroy the Labour Party
Though not a Labour Party Member in my opinion you have brought clarity to the whole of the Electorial Challenge. Good on You
Very eloquent Nic, I hope your appeal.is successful. I can’t comprehend what’s happening. The great niece and nephew of Clem Attlee, also purged.
The behaviour of those within is likened to churlish playground behaviour.
I hope it’s sorted soon good luck
One thing that’s obvious is that once Jeremy Corbyn is elected again all these undemocratic wrongs will soon be righted by the new NEC. Cases like yours, Nic – as I’m sure you understand – are all part of the great change that is slowly but emphatically taking place. You also know, of course, that’s it all about shaking windows and rattling walls. Mr McNicol might one day have to decide to move on or, we hope, lend a hand.
I have been profoundly shocked at the way our party hierarchy has been behaving, these expulsions would be funny if I didn’t believe that there was something sinister behind them. First they attack Jeremy and accuse him of not attracting voters from other parties, then when he not only attracts voters from other parties he gets them to actually join the Labour party, Iain McNicol and the current NEC members have done nothing but try and purge them out, usually for little or no good reason.
If Jeremy Corbyn does not win the leadership, I intend to resign from the party. I will cut up my 40 year membership and send it back to Iain McNicol, I can no longer be a member of a party that treats its members so shoddily and cannot even find it in itself to oppose the Tories on austerity, when it knows how badly people are being affected. How can I a disabled person with a disabled partner stay in a party that allows the Conservative government to deliberately grade people out of their DLA, deliberately change the rules to make sure they are 2 points short on PIP so they can remove their wheelchairs, motor cars and benefits?
I support Jeremy Corbyn but I am not a blind supporter I can see there are areas where he needs to improve, but it would be beneficial to all of us in the party, if those in a position to help, actually helped him, Labour and our voters, instead of being deliberately obstructive, by forcing him to make errors then rush off with their stories to the right wing press about how bad he is doing. I cannot believe some of the behaviour of our MPs, especially by some whom I previously respected and admired like Angela Eagle. I feel incredibly let down by them. To blame Jeremy for 17 million people voting to Brexit is totally absurd, the blame is David Cameron’s and his alone and to see and hear Labour MPs cheering him in the HOuse when he attacked Jeremy Corbyn made me feel physically sick. Has Iain McNicol thought about taking their memberships away? To hear a Labour MP shout out to our leader “shut up and sit down” during an important debate was an absolute disgrace and imo he should have been throw out of the party.
I hope you are reinstated, i think the way you have been treated is appalling we need more people like ypu in the party, not less.
Thank you so much for that eloquent and thoughtful comment. I agree with all you say.
Also suspended. Seems that my MP didn’t like my email expressing my annoyance at her joining the others’ “traitorous behaviour”. This…traitor…seems to be the key word they look for. There was no swearing or threats in the email, but I did say I wouldn’t vote for her again. Really nasty threat! They really don’t know much about what constitutes abuse! Joined after Milliband lost, not a member of any sub group and never been in any other party. Love how they don’t tell you how to appeal, but guess the aim is to stop you voting Corbyn, and perhaps get you to leave the party, so they can rule uninterrupted. They know best afterall! Will find a way to appeal!
I have never joined anything before and last time I voted Labour was 1997 because I wanted the Tories out. I never felt comfortable with New Labour so never voted for them again. Since Corbyn I have joined and become Women’s officer for the Cotswold CLP.
Corbyn is not a God but I love his honesty , integrity and gentleness.
Democracy is at stake here.
Thank you for your very wise words at a very difficult time.
This whole business makes me so sad! I am a long term member and lively local activist who has worked hard for my party. I believe, I still do! in the principles of the party and in ensuring fair treatment, social justice and respect to people no matter who and where they are.
I know that some say we have to win power, by any means, to be able to drive that forward , but that “by any means” goes against the grain of decency and fair treatment when the current actions are ongoing! I have seen some of the extracts from postings that allegedly caused people to be suspended and in truth there is no place in our party for some of those nasty statements. But sentence without trial and opportunity to defend oneself, for the most heinous of offence is the basis of our justice system! Where and when does that process kick in? Are people given information on how to activate that process? The right to representation, the right to defend themselves? The right not to be disenfranchised without opportunity to defend themselves! Are we being given information on who is gathering this information, how they are doing it and establishing its veracity?
It all makes me most uncomfortable and it strikes me that if we saw this happening elsewhere we would feel justified in calling attention to it and challenging it robustly!
The fact that party time energy and possibly resources are being used to do this, when they NEED to being used otherwise is so obvious that it is stunning how some seek to justify it!
I really hope the party I have cared about passionately for many many years can recover from this….the sooner that recovery process starts the better for ALL of us and especially the people we seek to defend against the awful attacks by the Conservatives and others!
PLEASE can we stop, think and march in time and unity on the vagaries we SHOULD be concentrating our energies on?
Your piece was an excellent one and I hope it gets the successful reaction it deserves!
I agree with you 100% Marie. Thank you for your comment.
Excellent letter. I hope you get reinstated along with the rest of the members who have been purged from the party they love. When this election is over there should be an inquiry into this purge and the way the right-wing plotters have treated the leadership and the party members. We should make sure this purge and coup will never happen again
Reblogged this on krazyklaws's Blog.
It’s so disheartening to think that there are thousands of us who have been ‘purged’ for so many similar and spurious reasons. A great post. Readers here might also like my less erudite but nevertheless heartfelt post over at https://nicknakorn.wordpress.com/2016/09/12/an-open-letter-to-iain-mcnicol/ I lend my solidarity to all the ‘purged’ members – best wishes.
I would wish to second your appeal. You make some very important general points and also some very moving personal ones. I will be looking to follow the outcome with great interest.
It seems any journalist with passion and commitment for left wing causes is automatically deemed beyond the pale by this anti-democratic and philistine establishment. The mere use of the trigger word ‘traitor’ sealed your fate despite the careful contextual framing you gave it. Anyone with a modicum of good sense (Jennie Formby?) would overturn this ludicrous expulsion. Good luck with the appeal comrade.
Thank you Sonya