John Dunn, a Labour Party member for 45 years, has suddenly been suspended. His infraction?
Well, back in late July, Dunn was out and about tackling Owen Smith – politely but firmly:
The two men spoke for a few minutes, before Mr Smith was bundled into the back of a car and driven away, his encounter now over with the very personification of the challenge he faces this summer. 1
An ex-miner, Dunn confronted Smith and accused him of “shamelessly exploiting” what had happened at Orgreave for his own political ends.
As you can see from the photo above, Dunn is proudly sporting a “Orgreave truth and justice campaign” T-shirt. Further evidence of his contumacy.
Dunn afterwards described the moment on his Facebook page:
Just back from running Owen Smith out of S Yorks.
So sick of him trying to shamelessly exploit our struggle that I felt compelled to dash off to Orgreave to politely (yes I can do polite!),and, as a striking miner, ask him to stop such shameless opportunism. He tried to tell me about his background in S. Wales so I replied that whilst he was making pharmaceutical companies rich we were struggling for justice and told him that it was disgusting that he would have such shame as to tarnish the defining moment in our strike, and if he was so committed to the Orgreave issue why had he not signed Ian Lavery’s early day motion, to which I got no response whatsoever.
I added that his actions in the PLP coup were no different to the UDM [Union of Democratic Minerworkers] scabs who undermined our strike. He scuttled into his car, wound the window up and wouldn’t speak to me anymore.
I personally saw John Dunn deliver a terrific speech, both poignant and hilarious by turns, in support of Jeremy Corbyn at last week’s Sheffield rally.
Unfortunately there is only limited footage I can find to embed, although there are plenty of tweets including this one:
And this image published in The Mirror:
Staunch support for the party’s leader appears to have been Dunn’s most egregious infringement of party regulations to date. The last straw, presumably, for Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), although we will never know for sure because they have refused to comment on any decisions regarding individual members:
The Labour party say their validation process includes an electoral register check and a duplication check.
It also includes “verification all voters share the aims and values of the Labour Party”, but they have not revealed on what basis this is judged.
It’s been suggested that supporters’ social media accounts are being examined for words including “traitor”, “scab” and even “blairite”, though Labour would not confirm this.
A Labour Party spokesperson said: “We don’t comment on NEC decisions regarding individual members.” 2
[bold emphasis added]
Defiant as ever, John Dunn vows to fight on:
John Dunn is one of many members and activists now being suspended ahead of the leadership vote. Others excluded include Ronnie Draper, the General Secretary of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union, who says he is “disgusted and in shock”.
Although reminiscent of a previous Labour Party witch-hunt carried out under Neil Kinnock’s leadership during the mid-80s when members were expelled on the grounds of allegiance to Militant Tendency, in the case of today’s purges, the vast majority of members targeted are among the ranks of supporters of the party’s leader, and not those in alliance with any breakaway faction.
The media has indeed repeatedly tried to recast pro-Corbyn group Momentum as if it were comprised of Militant-like entryists, but the slur is much too obvious and doesn’t wash. The better comparison to the 80s infiltration by Militant in fact belongs to another fringe ‘ginger group’ Progress – an influential Blairite faction that the media assiduously fails to discuss.
Progress put forward its own candidate, Liz Kendall, during the last leadership contest. She was so unpopular that she won just 4% of the vote.
Click here to read an earlier post with more about the recent history of the Labour Party and how Peter Mandelson steered it away from its traditional trade union roots and towards the ‘extreme centre’ of British politics.
Finally, here’s a brief and incisive overview on “how to rig an election” from youtube vlogger James Prowse:
1 From an article entitled “Labour leadership: Owen Smith attempts to woo Jeremy Corbyn backers” written by Chris Mason, published in BBC news on July 27, 2016. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36909320
2 From an article entitled “long serving trade union leader banned from Labour Leadership vote” written by Mikey Smith, published in The Mirror on August 25, 2016. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/long-serving-trade-union-leader-8704495