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Fighting for a fair and transparent disciplinary process, speaking up for members’ rights – Yasmine Dar

Fighting for a fair and transparent disciplinary process, speaking up for members’ rights

In March this year I was greatly honoured to be elected as Chair of Labour’s National Executive Committee’s Disputes Panel. In this position, I have prioritised fighting for a fair and transparent disciplinary process and if re-elected to the NEC would continue to speak up for members’ rights. I am keen to continue to bring my knowledge of, and commitment to, our wonderful diverse membership, to the role of Disputes Committee Chair.

Sadly I have spent too much of my time over nearly three years on the NEC dealing with disciplinary matters – supporting members confounded and upset by the process; those who feel unjustly accused; and those who have been on the receiving end of rule breaches but cannot see justice being done.
A fair and transparent disciplinary process is a foundation stone of any organisation – members must be clear what the rules are and clear what happens when they are breached – the rulebook must be applied based on a dispassionate assessment of behaviour, not based on factionalism, political pressure or favour. Too often, members have raised with me that they feel like some complaints are prioritised at the expense of others, and that they are too often unclear why certain decisions have been made, particularly when they too often do not have access to any sort of appeals process.

As a life-long anti-racist activist, I am clear that there is no room for any form of discrimination in our Party, and breaches of the rules must be dealt with. As a professional within the criminal justice system, I am also clear that disciplinary processes are only one way of dealing with unacceptable behaviour – we must also commit to proper political education and culture change to ensure our membership understand why certain behaviours are unacceptable; and to change hearts and minds.

Since becoming chair of Disputes after a three-month vacancy and the general election, I have made myself available on a weekly basis to chair Disputes panels to support staff in clearing a backlog – justice delayed is justice denied. Along with other CLP reps on the NEC we have also pushed for:

• An equality analysis of those impacted by the disciplinary process;
• Improved communications with members keeping all parties informed, and recognising the terrible impact accusations and being on the receiving end of rule breaches can have on members’ mental health;
• A rejection of calls to fully out-source our disciplinary processes through so-called ‘independent’ processes which would end accountability as well as being likely to be extremely costly;
• Greater understanding of pressures experienced by members during the COVID pandemic – for example, allowing longer times for replies from members being investigated, and questioning the tone of the letters being sent out;
• Defence of the National Constitutional Committee, as a separate disciplinary authority demanded by principles of natural justice;
• A proper appeals process to enable members to question seemingly unfair decisions.

Alongside maintaining the policy agenda of the 2017 and 2019 manifestos, and ensuring greater member involvement and say in Party activities – both of which are fundamental to winning future elections – a fair, accountable and transparent disciplinary process will continue to be my priority if re-elected to Labour’s NEC.

This article by Yasmine Dar is the fourth in a series of blogposts DLO is publishing from members of the Grassroots Voice team of candidates for the Labour Party’s NEC elections.

Contact Yasmine: 07405210784 | [email protected] | @Yasmine_Dar

Other #GrassrootsVoice candidates, supported by the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance (CLGA), are Gemma Bolton, Ann Henderson, Nadia Jama, Laura Pidcock and Mish Rahman.