History spells trouble for Corbyn’s latest antisemitism proposals

History shows that Corbyn's proposal to let NEC members handle antisemitism complaints could open the party to expensive lawsuits.

Labour’s NEC have agreed a new procedure on dealing with antisemitism cases.

It looks like a toughening up – cases are to be dealt with summarily by a panel of three of the NEC’s officers. But many fear it could be a smokescreen, taking swift action against the most straight forward cases while cases against allies of the Corbyn project are left to languish.

But there is another problem with the proposal, one the Corbynistas have been repeatedly warned of yet refuse to acknowledge: it’s almost certainly unlawful.

In 1985 and 1986 – following the famous Bournemouth “taxis” speech, Labour’s then leader Neil Kinnock set about destroying the Militant Tendency with some gusto. Key to this was an inquiry Liverpool District Labour Party and the gross intimidation dished out to those who opposed the Militant’s plans to sack all the city council’s workforce as a way of provoking a general strike.

The NEC used the report as the basis on which to expel a number of key members of the Militant – including Derek Hatton, the city council’s deputy leader.

But Hatton and co took the party to court and argued that by being both investigator and judge the NEC had breached natural justice. The Militant won the case and eventually Hatton et al had to be expelled by a vote at 1986 party conference where they were offered – but refused – the chance to state their case.

That year’s conference also saw rule changes designed to create a separate ‘court’ for decisions about party discipline – the National Constitutional Committee (NCC). The current proposal seeks to bypass the NCC and is likely to be just as vulnerable to court action as the NEC was 33 years ago.

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