Hundreds of angry Labour members are demanding the reinstatement of three disabled pensioner activists who have been unfairly expelled by the party, in a manner sadly echoing the 'sack the socialist' purges of last year.
Bob Walker, Tony Lucock and Gerry Tyrell were members of Garston and Halewood CLP, and despite suffering from various disabilities, all three have regularly volunteered their time and efforts to support Labour both in their own and other constituencies.
Bob was democratically elected by CLP members in July to be their Vice Chair for Membership. The 'Garston 3' are lifelong socialists and trade unionists who have faced politically-motivated accusations that they support another party, simply because they attend a wide variety of public political meetings, including those of the anti-austerity coalition, TUSC. Bob, Tony and Gerry all categorically deny that they are members of, or support, any party other than Labour.
The TUSC is staunchly supportive of Labour values - indeed one of it's former candidates, Ellen Kenyon Peers, went on to join Labour, without apparently being seen as tainted by her association.
Sam Matthews, head of Labour's 'Disputes' (formerly the Compliance Unit) has expelled them without redress, despite photographic evidence that the three campaigned for weeks on end for a Labour candidate in a Tory marginal during #GE2017.
The anonymity of their original accusers, the complete absence of due process, the sloppy responses of Labour’s disciplinary bureaucrats and the refusal of their own CLP chair and exec. to allow CLP members to debate an emergency motion (which demanded they be afforded due process) raises doubts about the motivations of all involved.
Supporters of the Garston 3 have launched a petition demanding their immediate reinstatement, which has gathered more than 300 signatures in just a few days. They have also attracted vociferous support on social media, with calls for other CLPs to raise motions asking for their reinstatement.
There is outrage from fellow CLP members at the way the men have been treated, including Jennifer James, who began the petition.
"Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, the Labour Party has become a beacon of hope to millions around the world: animated by the principles of solidarity, freedom, peace and equality. A membership purge which targets lifelong socialists and champions of precisely these principles diminishes that light and damages the Labour movement" she said,
"The spirit and content of the charges against Bob, Tony and Gerry evoke the shameful tradition of American McCarthyism. The tactic of 'guilt by association' will inevitably rebound on the integrity and legitimacy of any who tolerate or employ them."
It has rightly been pointed out that a number of high profile Labour members and MPs, including Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham and Kate Hoey, have attended events organised by other parties, without facing any accusation of 'supporting another party'.
Not least among their number is, of course, Tony Blair, whose pre-election call for people to consider voting for other parties has incurred no sanction - his actions are, however, the focus of another petition calling for his expulsion from Labour, currently at over 13,000 signatures.
The Garston 3 campaign can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org