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A union leader has until Monday to explain why he shouldn’t be expelled from Labor for ties to a party banned group, HuffPost UK reveal.
Ian Hodson, national president of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU), was warned that he was facing “auto-exclusion” for being listed as a sponsor of the Labor Against the Witchhunt (LAW) protest group.
Labor Against the Witchunt, which claimed anti-Semitism allegations against supporters of Jeremy Corbyn were politically motivated attacks, was one of four groups banned by the party in July.
Hodson received a letter from the party’s governance unit last month warning him not to be expelled unless he could explain his alleged ties to the group.
But the move sparked heavy criticism of Keir Starmer from many leftists, and the bakers’ union – one of Labor’s oldest union members – threatened to sever ties with the party it has supported since 1902.
The union, which has nearly 20,000 members and a major seat on the party’s ruling National Executive Committee, has warned it will hold a special Brexit conference this month, which will coincide with Starmer’s speech at the annual conference if Hodson’s expulsion continues.
In a last-ditch effort to compromise, HuffPost UK is aware that the deadline for a full response from Hodson from the party is by Aug.
Hodson’s supporters say he had no idea the Labor Against the Witchhunt website listed him as a “sponsor” – a crime that was one of the reasons filmmaker Ken Loach was automatically banned – and his name has now been removed from the website removed.
Really humble thanks for all the messages of support and solidarity. Our communities need a strong common political voice to represent their needs and aspirations. It’s time for the internal wars to end in the @UKLabour and that requires leadership. No expulsions.
– Ian Hodson (@IanBFAWU) August 25, 2021
Hodson strongly protested the 2016 suspension of former bakers’ union general secretary Ronnie Draper, but some of his allies say the party mistakenly mistook him for wanting to hear suspended members fairly with LAW’s other activities.
Corbyn also protested Draper’s suspension during the Labor leadership contest against Owen Smith. The union leader was later reinstated as a party member and says the charges against him are “false”.
Draper told HuffPost UK: “Like thousands of us before him, Ian is a strong advocate for freedom of expression and a strong democratic process. The Labor Party seems to be giving up these core values, and with it unionists and lifelong socialists like Ian.
“If we allow our party to exclude socialists like Ian Hodson and Pamela Fitzpatrick” [another member accused of links to proscribed groups], then I fear that the Labor Party will become a dictatorship that does not listen to different opinions, no matter how relevant they are. Solidarity, comrades, we are with you. “
If the party accepts Hodson’s defense, he could avoid expulsion and the threat of the bakers’ resignation be dropped.
However, HuffPost UK believes some at the party’s headquarters believe there are clear reasons for an exclusion beyond the description of the “sponsor” on the LAW website.
Labor Against the Witchhunt has been very critical of Starmer’s handling of the anti-Semitism controversy and its decisions following the devastating judgment of the Equalities and Human Rights Committee (EHRC).
The EHRC ruled that there had been “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination for which the Labor Party is responsible,” and this year’s Brighton Congress is due to adopt new rule changes to meet the watchdog’s reform recommendations.
Starmer allies believe that it would be unfortunate if a union were eliminated, and point out that Hodson’s expulsion would not be a comment on the union as a whole.
However, some Labor MPs believe that the union, which often allies itself with Unite and Left-wing members of the NEC on important votes, should be replaced on the governing body in favor of a larger union such as the Musicians’ Union or the Steel Workers Union Community .
In a broader sense, the bakers union was on the left, heavily criticizing Labour’s decision to ban four groups.
Starmer is said to be firmly behind the bans as they believe they are sending a message that the party will not tolerate extremism or enterism.
Loach was believed to have excluded himself from Labor after failing to respond to a letter warning of an automatic exclusion unless he could declare his support for Labor Against the Witchhunt within seven days .
The threatened deportation of Pamela Fitzpatrick has also attracted many leftists. She says among the allegations against her is that she spoke to some excluded members at a Zoom event and gave an interview to the banned group Socialist Appeal.