Progress and Labour First try to have left-wing trade unionist expelled for fighting to keep children’s centres open

Join the demonstration to stop the closure of Children’s Centres in Lambeth – from 10.30am, Saturday 26 January, Windrush Square, Brixton. Facebook event

Becky with her daughter, talking about the children’s centres campaign

London Underground worker and RMT activist Becky Crocker is under threat of expulsion from Streatham Labour Party, which has a strong left-wing opposition but is currently dominated by the Blairite group Progress, as well as another right-wing faction, Labour First. Local right-wingers are clearly implicated in trying to get Becky expelled, and the reason is her involvement in the campaign, led by Lambeth Unison, to stop children’s centres closing. This is shameful stuff, although the Labour right in Lambeth has form. For more on Lambeth council’s record, see our recent interview with Jocelyn Cruywagen, ‘Confronting racism at Lambeth council’.

Below some words from Becky is a motion passed by St Leonard’s ward to go to Streatham CLP, explaining more of the facts.

Please send messages of solidarity to: crocker.becky@gmail.com

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Becky says:

“After rejoining the Labour Party, I went to my ward meeting in Streatham Hill and put a motion for the campaign I’m involved in to keep children’s centres open. We won, despite right-wing opposition and attempts by the chair to stop the vote going ahead. I was really pleased and excited by the idea I could use the Labour Party to support campaigns like this.

“Less than two weeks later I heard I had been expelled from the party because of my involvement with the socialist group Workers’ Liberty. I say ‘heard’ because bizarrely I haven’t had any kind of communication from the Labour Party, but left-wing members of the CLP Executive Committee have said the right-wing CLP leadership raised it at the EC meeting. So in fact it’s not clear if I’ve actually been expelled, but the right wing are saying and acting as if I have been.

“I’ve been told right-wing officers are explicitly citing the children’s centres campaign as the reason I should be excluded, as well as claiming that what I said at my ward was somehow deceitful and invalid. That’s nonsense. The real issue is that the organised right who dominate Labour in Lambeth and in Streatham are determined to defend everything the Progress-dominated council does, even if that means attacking a working mum for fighting to keep children’s centres open.

“Beyond that the vague and nonsensical clause in the Labour rulebook which has been used to expel socialists needs to go. The way it is interpreted by the party machine is unreasonable – if you read it it doesn’t say anything about barring membership of socialist groups – but in any case it should be scrapped.”

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Motion from St Leonard’s ward to Streatham CLP

This branch notes
1. That Becky Crocker, a new party member, has been refused party membership by Streatham CLP’s EC.
2. That this refusal followed a notification by the party’s national officials that Becky had previously been suspended.
3. That despite CL chair Joel Bodmer admitting that the notification period from national party officials had been received over the Christmas period, the CLP Secretary Louie Somerville failed to give EC members notice of this agenda item and the matter was considered under ‘Any Other Business’.
4. That members of the EC were warned before taking the decision that without evidence of the nature of this organisation [that Becky supports, ie Workers’ Liberty] and without inviting Becky to respond to the allegations, such a decision would be susceptible to legal challenge.
5. That at the previous meeting of her branch, Streatham Hill, Becky had proposed a motion calling for the local council to rethink its plans to close children’s centres.
6. That in her emotional and moving speech, Becky drew on her own experiences as a working mother, outlining how the cuts have deeply affected her and so many others.
7. That the CLP chair Joel Bodmer and the CLP secretary, Louie Somerville, distributed photocopies of a leaflet Becky had handed out in support of maintaining children’s centres as evidence against her, and that the Streatham Hill branch chair repeatedly made clear that the principal complaint regarding Becky was her motion and her campaign against cuts to children’s centres.

This branch believes
1. That to take a decision with such severe consequences without proper evidence and without allowing the accused to respond to the allegations is wrong and unlawful.
2. That the decision to deny Becky party membership was clearly based in spite and the resentment of local party officials supportive of councillors cutting crucial services relied on by the people Labour seeks to represent.
3. That members should not be penalised for joining organisations within the broad left, provided those organisations do not stand against the Labour Party.

This branch resolves
1. To extend its full support and solidarity to Becky.
2. To call on the CLP EC to reverse its decision immediately and reinstate Becky to the local party.
3. To instruct the Branch Secretary to write to the NEC setting out the branch’s support for the reversal of the decision and requsting that this be taken into account in any appeal process Becky initiates.
4. To instruct the Branch Secretary to write to the national and regional party officials requesting that they carry out an investigation into the conduct of the CLP officers in this matter, and enclosing a copy of this motion.
5. To instruct the Branch Secretary to submit this motion to the constituency party, substituting all references to ‘branch’ with ‘CLP’ and references to ‘Branch Secretary’ with ‘CLP Secretary’.

Let us know what you think? Write a reply? theclarionmag@gmail.com

3 Comments

  1. I am surprised to learn that suspensions or expulsions are treated as a local as opposed to a national issue. Are we sure this is description of events is accurate?

    1. Yes the Executive Committee have said she will be expelled. They gave the reason as belonging to a socialist organisation and individuals on the EC opposed her for taking an “anti-Labour” stance by opposing closures to children’s centres.

  2. As we understand it, while membership is (unlike say 30 years ago) decided nationally, in practice the party machine sometimes refers the question to CLPs. Some expelled comrades have been readmitted because their CLP called for it, while others have remained excluded because their CLP EC is dominated by the right (still others have not had their case referred to their CLP at all – and there are various other inconsistencies). Whatever the specifics about this case, that inter-relationship is part of what is going on here.

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