Four years ago, at the height of optimism that the Labour Party could return to its socialist roots, I was targeted in a witch-hunt by a rather strange couple in Rushcliffe CLP. They colluded with anti-Corbyn officials at the East Midlands Region and officials in the Compliance Unit at Labour HQ. That couple have now moved to Scotland and appear to have joined the SNP, but not before their fabricated claims, falsified documents and fanciful allegations had been sent to Regional officials as “complaints” and caused serious damage to the local party. You can read all about it at petergates.org where I have placed all documentation relating to the case. On that website is clear and irrefutable evidence of the mendacity behind the so called “complaints”. Bear in mind that I had been elected as CLP Secretary and Branch Secretary at that time.
This ultimately led to my suspension along with 9 others in Rushcliffe and, due to deliberate delays by one Sam Matthews, two years later to a kangaroo court that my solicitor (a Labour Party CLP Chair) described as a fiasco. The panel ignored all evidence I had provided, refused to listen to many witnesses and recommended my exclusion for two years. The “complainants” produced no substantiating evidence against me; there was none to produce. Merely here-say fabrications from a Walter Mitty fantasy world.
I continued to argue my case and provide information of the irregularities in the Labour Party procedures. This I feel is a basic right and duty.
I applied to rejoin the Party on 20 June 2020 and with my application included letters of support from: Rushcliffe CLP Chair, the Leader of the Labour Group on Rushcliffe Borough Council, Rushcliffe PPC in the 2017 and 2019 General Elections, a previous Chair of West Bridgford Branch, and a previous BAME coordinator. After a couple of weeks I received a letter welcoming me back to the Labour Party. However shortly after, I received an email from the Legal and Governance Unit informing me that because I had disagreed with the decision to exclude me, and continued to argue my innocence, I had “demonstrated a contemptuous non acceptance of the Labour Party’s constitution, rules and procedures.” Furthermore, in making people aware of the case by presenting evidence I had “damaged the Party“.
I have made the point countless times and demonstrated with extensive irrefutable evidence that all allegations made against me and others were deliberately false, vexatious and mendacious. Indeed they were bearing on the slanderous. Of that there has never been any doubt. I have been advised by many people to take legal action against the Party, but have repeatedly refused to do so. I would not want to be a member of a Party that I needed to sue for defamation. That Party would not be worthy of my support.
That the Party is prepared to accuse me of being “contemptuous” when I was merely demonstrating my innocence and when I had offered to return to support the Party and let us all move on, indicates to me that institutionally the Labour Party takes a cavalier attitude to justice, honesty and decency. The Party’s response is petty, small minded and fails to recognise who the real enemy of socialism is; the party does really do need to get a grip.
Yet it was worse than that. I had already likened the process of suspension and exclusion to Joseph K’s experience in The Trial; it was truly Kafkaesque. Now we see this shifting into Orwellian territory where demonstrating one’s innocence against Big Brothers fanciful fabrications is itself a crime.
As someone who has an international academic reputation for equity and social justice I felt I could no longer allow myself and my reputation to be tainted by association with an organisation so lacking in political awareness and with a dubious attachment to socialism and social justice. I suppose I ought to be a little honoured that those individuals with power in the Labour Party consider me to be such a threat. Personally I only ever thought I was one small component in the fight for a better world. I must admit to enjoying The Trial and 1984. But when fiction becomes truth, it is time to move on.
Consequently and sadly, I have reached the conclusion that I have no alternative but to withdraw my application for membership and effectively resign from the Labour Party forthwith. As someone who joined in 1994 (inspired at that time by Tony Blair), and who has dedicated very many hours to the Labour Party, I am sure everyone can understand how difficult that decision has been. I have made same every good friends in that time. I feel very humbled by all those people in the party locally and nationally who have supported me throughout the past four years in very many ways. They have shown the true meaning of socialism and solidarity, and have indicated they will continue to do so.
However, I have been treated with utter contempt by The Labour Party for four years, and now faced the allegation that by demonstrating my innocence I am contemptuous. That really is deep into Stalinist territory. I now really have no other option but to part company. I really will not accept being treated that way. Like most honest socialists, I consider that I am indeed doing the Labour Party a favour by signing up to it. They should be biting my hand off. I will however be prepared to reconsider that decision but would require a full and public apology from the Labour Party over the “contemptuous” way it has treated me over these past four years. That door is still open to the Labour Party.
I wish good luck to all those socialists who are staying inside the party; you will have my support. However, that is not something I am prepared to do. After 26 years I am leaving the Labour Party to spend more time getting involved in socialist politics. In some ways the Party is correct. I do respond with contempt – contempt for Keir Starmer’s decision to apologise and pay compensation to some of those very people who were prepared to countenance lies, distortions and fabrications in order to remove socialists from the Labour Party, and lose us the 2017 General Election.