Why I have been expelled from Labour – by Momentum national Steering Committee member Jill Mountford

jill

On Saturday 20 February I returned home from canvassing for Sadiq Khan on a nearby estate in Lewisham to find a letter from the “Compliance Unit” expelling me from the Labour Party.

As I began to read, I thought the letter would cite the fact that in May 2010 I stood as a socialist candidate against Labour (against Harriet Harman, in the very safe seat of Camberwell and Peckham – while also calling for the return of a Labour government). That would have been grossly unfair, because since then, almost six years ago, I have not only not supported any non-Labour candidates, but actively supported Labour.

But the letter didn’t say anything about that. Instead it cited my socialist “principles and policies” and the fact I work with Workers’ Liberty.

The Labour Party was founded in part by socialists and by distinct socialist organisations. Right up until his death, Keir Hardie was a member of one of them, the ILP. What’s the problem with socialist groups being active in the party, as long as they genuinely support it?

Many of my friends in the Lewisham Labour Party and labour movement are shocked by my expulsion, because I’m known as someone who for years has argued vocally and consistently for people to support the Labour Party, even when it’s not universally popular – for instance, in our Save Lewisham Hospital campaign. Despite my views being a minority in the local party, I have worked amicably and productively in and for it since I rejoined in July last year.

Excluding socialists who support and work hard for the party is not the way to a Labour victory. It is particularly galling when right wingers are welcomed in. And I do mean right wingers – the week before I was expelled, Richard Barrett, Hull’s only UKIP councillor, elected in 2014, defected to Labour. The same Richard Barrett stood for UKIP against Labour in the 2015 general election! In the event the local party’s members rejected him – but not the Compliance Unit! And clearly he had been encouraged to come over.

It reminded me of Shaun Woodward, the Tory MP who defected, was imposed on a safe seat and immediately made a minister – at the same time that many constituencies were being blocked from selecting the longstanding Labour activists they wanted as candidates.

This is not the only glaring inconsistency going on. One of the many bad things about the way the Compliance Unit works is its arbitrariness. Many socialists with similar politics to mine have been allowed to join or remain in the Labour Party, and several who were expelled appealed and have been reinstated (obviously I will be appealing too). There had been few expulsions since August and none since November. In that content, I’m not sure why the Unit suddenly decided to target me and others expelled in February. It seems very much like factional bad behaviour.

The party’s membership processes need serious democratic reform. Meanwhile, we need an end to this kind of disruptive, unprincipled factionalism, and to rededicate ourselves to a united fight against the Tories. As chair of Lewisham Momentum and a member of Momentum’s national steering group, I will continue working to recruit new Labour members and support, and for Labour victories in the upcoming elections.

Feel free to get in touch: jillmountford@rocketmail.com

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26 thoughts on “Why I have been expelled from Labour – by Momentum national Steering Committee member Jill Mountford

  1. As one of Rochdale seven expelled 6 years ago at the instigation of Simon Danczuk I know how you feel! But what stance has your Regional Party taken? They are key and your CLP should have the last say. The North West Regional is corrupt and even now supports our disgusting MP. It’s all googlable. Good luck to you, things need to change.

    Mick Coats 07590595473

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  2. Why are Socialist barred from the Labour Party but ‘Tory Liters’ are welcomed with open arms. The Labour Party died when Tory Blair hijacked it. We now have a chance under JC to resurrect it.

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  3. Momentum also needs to operate in a democratic and open way.
    You can’t have your cake and also eat it mate and I hope you are struggling for the movement to become a genuine grass roots one because at the moment it’s acting no better than anyone else.

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  4. best wishes in your fight against your unjust expulsion from the Party. Labour needs all socialists together to fight against this obnoxious Government and return a Labour Government committed to socialist principles. You are not alone.

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  5. Well, I’m an ex labour Cllr who saw hypocrasy and fraud in my branch, I complained, I Lafita stood as an independent with labour values, my partner stayed in the party, then a tear later she also had a letter… Quoting regs, she and I wrote to Corbyn and guess what… You got it… Nothing.

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  6. Fully support you Jill . How can we help you to become re-instated . Do you think that this is a purge on members of Momentum ?

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  7. It would be helpful if you got your facts right. Alan Howarth was not “imposed” on Newport East CLP as their candidate – something you would know if anyone in London paid attention to politics in the devolved Nations. “Imposition” implies that the CLP was forced to have AH as a candidate. This was not the case – whilst there was an NEC set shortlist (as is normal in a selection so close to a General Election) it was the members of Newport East who chose him as our candidate. Whilst from a neighbouring CLP, I know many Newport East members who commented at the time how much work AH put in to persuading them to vote for him, especially given he was a “posh ex-Tory”. He is still remembered with much fondness in South East Wales as a hard working MP

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  8. Good luck in your appeal. It is ridiculous that you should be targetted in such a way. We need all the socialists we can get in the Labour Party and in the country!

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  9. Two things shook me about this – I thought that those not against us could be counted as for us, and that we have a compliance unit! Surely compliance comes from listening to the electorate and devising appropriate policies together.

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  10. They’re mounting an attack against as they see it mainly London based people with left wing credentials. People should not be expelled. The right wing are trying to take over the party at grass roots level illegally.

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  11. I agree with John, this is the right wing contingency waging war on those of us that want a truly, democratic TRUELabour party. Good luck Jill

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  12. It’s possibly ‘cos you are trying to deselect your MP. You know, the one working people voted for. But is it some weird NOLS/SO thing you can’t let go of or is it part of a wider programme?

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