The Labour Party is short of cash, and it faces an uphill battle with coming elections. It urgently needs more staff to recruit new members and to organise campaigning. Yet it is advertising, not for that sort of staff, but for an “investigator” to expel more members.
The job is “Compliance Officer – Investigations”, paying £35,000 a year for work in Labour’s shadowy “Compliance Unit” (see here for the job advert). The Compliance Unit is mentioned several times in the latest Labour Party rulebook, but in such contexts as “procedural guidelines determined by the NEC… are available from the Compliance Unit” (rule 1.2.5.B). Nowhere does the rulebook confer any authority on the Unit, or state how it should be staffed and to whom it is accountable. In most operations, the “compliance unit” are staff who check the compliance of the operation with public laws and regulations.
This “Compliance Unit” is different. It is about making Labour Party members “compliant” with the unelected staff! The powers the Compliance Unit has asserted in recent months include “automatic exclusion”, under which members are excluded without hearing or appeal and told that they cannot reapply until five years later. The unit should be disbanded, and its staff reassigned to constructive work. Labour needs more organisers, not more witch-hunters.
Where the Labour Party really needs to take disciplinary action, it can be done by the National Constitutional Committee, the body designated in the rulebook for the job. The new “investigator” job has been advertised on the w4mpjobs website, which describes itself as “funded by the House of Commons to provide career development opportunities for those working for MPs and those who are looking for a job with an MP or in other areas of political activity.” So even worse: public money is being used to fund internal party witch-hunts. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has publicly called for the abolition of the Compliance Unit. He is right.