7 February 2011

Attempted expulsion of editors of Devon Labour Briefing

In February 1986 the leadership of Exeter Labour Party sought to expel three members who held dissenting views.

Twenty-five years ago tonight, the General Management Committee of Exeter Labour Party was due to meet. Before that esteemed body was a recommendation from the Executive Committee of the Party calling for the expulsion of three men in their early twenties. The catch-all charge was engaging in “a sustained course of conduct prejudicial to the party.”

The facts behind the charge were that the three had edited a magazine, Devon Labour Briefing, which had argued for socialist politics and reported facts that the leadership of the party did not like.

The expulsion, though, was never to be. Mr Justice Evans granted the three men an injunction restraining Exeter Labour Party from interfering with their membership rights. Why? Because the party leadership in its enthusiasm to rid the party of dissident elements had set itself up as judge, jury and executioner, without ever clarifying the precise charge or the evidence against them.

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