Socialist Worker

Union general secretary hits back after he's banned from Labour

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2518

Ronnie Draper (centre) on a junior doctors picket line

Ronnie Draper (centre) on a junior doctors' picket line (Pic: @Ronniebfawu)


Bfawu bakers' union general secretary Ronnie Draper has spoken out after he was suspended from the Labour Party yesterday, Thursday. His suspension came alongside those of many other Labour Party members singled out for comments made on Twitter or for previously supporting other parties. Draper has been a Labour member for 40 years.

In a statement released today Draper said, “I believe this flies in the face of natural justice. I passionately believe that all members should be allowed to be heard, and be given the opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice.”

He added, “I am extremely concerned that suspensions and bans are being imposed in an arbitrary or politically motivated way in this election.”

Draper had been told that his suspension was due to comments he had previously made on Twitter.

Draper said, “The only explanation I have been given is that this is something to do with an unidentified tweet I have posted.

“I am now blocked from attending Labour Party meetings, annual conference and, above all, voting in the leadership election”.

Draper added, "This suspension will not stop me or Bfawu from campaigning politically for workers' rights, including the £10 per hour rate and abolition of zero hour contracts."

Rejected

Many other Labour Party members also complained after receiving letters telling them they had been suspended or their application to join rejected. The letters were signed on behalf of general secretary Iain McNicol.

One of those suspended was former striking miner John Dunn, who is now part of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign.

Another member was told their application was rejected because they “declared your support for the Green Party on social media in June 2015”. Another still was told they had made “inappropriate comments on Twitter on 13 January 2013”.

Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell hit out against the suspensions, describing Draper’s suspension “by Labour Party officials” as “shocking”.

He added that “Labour Party members will not accept what appears to be a rigged purge of Jeremy Corbyn supporters.

“I am writing to general secretary Iain McNicol to demand that members and supporters who are suspended or lose their voting rights are given clear information about why actions has been taken and a timely opportunity to challenge the decision”.

McNicol hit back, claiming that all decisions were “made by elected NEC members,” not party officials.

But Labour has said the suspensions had come as part of a “robust validation process” of the almost 650,000 people eligible to vote. Clearly that isn’t carried out by the 32-member NEC, which hasn’t met since last month.

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