This is the speech I would have made on the rule changes implementing an independent disciplinary system.
The EHRC said we needed an independent disciplinary process, independent of the Leader & NEC. As a Party we should expect that we would develop a process conformant with the standards of natural justice and Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
People are entitled to “a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal”, article 6 also enumerates criteria of fairness, inc. innocent until proven guilty and the right to present a defence and chose an advocate. It also guarantees a free defence for those that can’t afford it.
Such a scheme would require that the investigation and decision to prosecute should be under the direction of lawyers with an ethical commitment to their peers i.e. other lawyers, and that guilt and sanctions if required, is determined by a jury of our peers, advised by legal advice independent of that of the ‘prosecution’. Let us note that the EHRC also called out Labour for not offering the NCC independent legal advice.
These proposals are the wrong way round and will not protect the party from allegations of a factional use of its disciplinary system, not least because of the central role of the General Secretary, who does not and has not previously held a professional qualification guaranteeing a commitment to a standard of ethics. This is not to say that I consider the current incumbent to be unethical, but the fact is he is a paid officer of the party accountable to the NEC and is thus not independent of it.
We have also been told we have to pass these rules, that not to do so would be crime against the EHRC’s remediation plan and our compliance agreement. This is not so. The NEC could and should have proposed a truly independent disciplinary process; this isn’t. We can do better.
To finish, I am pleased to hear the assertions and promises that these rules will prove we’ve turned a corner, and that this shame will end.
You can see the debate on youtube here, and the rules changes were published in CAC 2. (They are published in the Labour Party’s classic three column, which makes them very hard to read, They cover 17 pages and published the morning of the debate. I will see if I can make a version that is more readable, but the .pdf is very hard to cut and paste, I’ll have to get an alternate source.)
Points I’d like to have made, but probably wouldn’t because it diverts from the thrust of the argument, that this is a factional take on the EHRC’s requirements, and is not independent
No-one is talking about the bullying and cheating going on, often performed, or covered up by staff and/or NEC members.
There is no means of complaining about the GS, or as far as I can see NEC members and no way of pursuing acts in contravention of C2.II.7, which guarantees members the right to dignity and respect, and to be treated fairly by the Labour Party and Party Officers. Today and in the past, we find complaints about Regional Directors being referred to themselves for action.
The record on actions for safeguarding is also poor. There is no recognition that some of the complaints received should be referred to the police.
The picture is mine and and taken in 2017.