Update, 13 February: Jewish Voice for Labour says that Bird’s nominations have now reached 96. If reflected in the final vote, this would put her in a comfortable third place, and would have won her a seat on the NEC.
Bureaucrats in the UK’s Labour Party are trying to rig an important internal election against the left and Palestine solidarity activists.
Left-wing Liverpool area councilor Jo Bird – who is also a Jewish Palestine solidarity activist – has been suspended as a party member.
Before news of her suspension broke on Friday, Bird was a leading candidate for elections to Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee in April.
But under party rules her suspension, unless quickly reversed, means she will be ineligible for the position.
Critics have called it an attempt to rig the election against the left and the Palestine solidarity movement.Bird’s run for the national executive is being supported by left-wing groups, including the Labour Left Alliance, Jewish Voice for Labour and the Labour Representation Committee.
Jewish Voice for Labour said that “the timing of this suspension is deeply suspicious and has the hallmarks of a deliberate attempt to undermine members’ wishes.”
The group is asking local constituency parties to continue nominating Bird.
Under the party’s draconian rules, suspended members are forbidden from talking about their suspensions, even when Labour bureaucrats leak the news – as happens habitually.
The news first leaked out on Friday, when the publication LabourList tweeted that Bird had been suspended.The tweet showed that at the time, Bird was in joint first place in the site’s tally of local Labour Party constituency nominations. Both she and Johanna Baxter – the latter endorsed by the right-wing Labour First faction – had at the time reportedly received 61 nominations each.
Even after the suspension, as of now, Bird is still in a strong second place to Baxter. There are three seats on the national executive up for grabs.
The nominations have no direct impact on the election itself, but they are an indicator of where the membership’s votes are likely to go.
The National Executive Committee sets the party’s rules and has powers to discipline members, including doling out suspensions and expulsions.
The election is being run at the same time as elections for leader and deputy leader of the Labour Party. The winners of those elections will be announced in April.
Keir Starmer, the most right-wing candidate, is currently leading in both opinion polls of members and in tallies of local party nominations.
The paper appears to have been briefed by Labour sources about Bird’s suspension.
But a well-placed source told The Electronic Intifada that the paper’s claim she was “led out” of a Labour Party meeting on the weekend was untrue. In any case, the meeting the paper reports on is a Local Government Association meeting, not a Labour meeting.
The Labour Party did not respond to a request for comment on Jo Bird.
The same Jewish Chronicle article also responded to my resignation from Labour, with further untrue claims.
The Electronic Intifada has written to the paper asking that it correct its false claim that “Winstanley said he had quit ahead of an expulsion hearing by the party.”
In fact no hearing was ever set or discussed by the party, and I certainly did not say there had been.