Archived on 6/5/2022

Leo Gibbons suspended from Labour Group

3 Oct '21

“Earlier this week, Lewisham Council’s Labour Group voted in favour of our Chief Whip’s recommendation to suspend me from the Labour Group for 1 month. This decision was taken in response to me breaking the whip by abstaining from voting on two whipped motions during the Full Council meeting”

Forest Hill ward temporarily has only two Labour councillors.

4 Oct '21

Interesting. I guess I was naive not to realise that local councillors would be subject to a whip with consequences for disobeying.

Good on you @LeoGibbons for standing firm on what you believe. I saw the announcement about no running for the next local election (Leo Gibbons not re-standing at the next local elections) - I guess you must have considered running as an independent?

4 Oct '21

Interesting. He seemed pretty vocal about Labour adopting the IHRA definition. I wonder what the difference was?

5 Oct '21

If you follow the links in Michael’s post (above) you will find the info. Whether you will discern what the difference is … I struggled.

This helps to explain, however, why the Council never manage to deal with so many outstanding matters. If half as much attention was given to, for example, the Forest Hill Town Centre plan, it would have been completed years ago.

6 Oct '21

This post was flagged and is temporarily hidden.

6 Oct '21

If can read my view on the difference here:

And don’t worry @DevonishForester my suspension took two meetings and zero officer time.

6 Oct '21

This has encouraged me to cancel my membership. I had been meaning to do it for a while as Labour are such useless opposition to this horrendous government, but this attack on free speech is just another example of ridiculous and self indulgent behaviour that has alienated me from the party.

7 Oct '21

I personally disagree with @LeoGibbons votes on both items, but respect his right to vote how he wishes. However, in a party system it isn’t too surprising that he has some form of censure when he votes against his party whip (or deliberately abstains).

I find it difficult to take issue with the planning motion:

“This Council believes planning works best when developers and the local community work together to shape local areas and deliver necessary new homes; and therefore calls on the Government to protect the right of communities to object to individual planning applications.”

While I appreciate that Councillor Gibbons has serious reservations about the planning system, this doesn’t stop him sitting in planning meetings and making judgements on planning applications. The right of the local community to a have a proper voice in planning matter is important to safeguard against poor and inappropriate development and reduces the need for planning applications to go to the courts as the only recourse that communities have to a fair planning system. The right of neighbours and communities to speak against planning applications is one of the least problematic parts of a planning system that is riddled with problems at a much larger level.

On the issue of Islamophobia, I can understand the concern about labeling Muslims as a race, but it is something that has been enshrined in legislation for decades when applied to Jews. As with Muslims, Jews are not really a race, but antisemitism is a recognized form of racism in legislation and many antisemitic tropes are inherently racist. Muslims do not have the same protection in legislation, and this seems like a non-legislative way of recognizing many of the forms of Islamophobia.

The headline from the report “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness” doesn’t even specifically say it is racism but rooted in racism.

I think that the only line from the council motion that is problematic for me is “Contemporary examples of Islamophobia … could … include … denying Muslim populations the right to self-determination”. Does that mean that denying the right of self-determination to Kurds or Sahrawis make Morocco and Iraq and Turkey, Islamophobic? Or does it only apply when self-determination is being prevented by Hindus, Jews, Christians, or the Chinese Communist Party?

However, I believe that an all-party parliamentary group has done a very good job at helping to define Islamophobia and this should act as a guide to behaviour in public authorities and in society more generally. I reject the conclusions from some that defining antisemitism of Islamophobia (both badly named problems) shuts down free speech or legitimate discussion of theology or religious practice.

Are these really the worst decisions that the council has made and which @LeoGibbons has felt necessary to break with the ruling party?

7 Oct '21

I was clear in my statement that defining anti-Muslim bigotry isn’t a problem per see, in fact, I encourage a definition to help guide public authorities and society in recognising and dealing with the problem. However, any definition would have to be extremely clear and well defined, without vague or loose language. This definition has been rejected by the National Secular Society, Index on Censorship, Commission for Countering Extremism and the NPCC. I thought that offering institutional legitimacy to such a flawed definition, was a pretty big deal, hence my abstention. I am a supporter of the NSS and Index on Censorship, and my views on free speech are pretty old school compared to the contemporary Left. I guess I am pretty ‘hardline’ compared to many of my colleagues when it comes to threats to free speech.

I appreciate you engaging with this Michael. I would request that if you have serious concerns or are upset about my decision that you contact me directly, as I feel this forum might not be the best place for a discussion on such a sensitive subject.

On the planning motion, I know we disagree on this. I certainly don’t think passing this planning motion is one of the ‘worst’ decisions taken by the council, far from it. But I have been very vocal in my views on planning reform and the current case-by-case system - and voting for this motion would be hypocrisy and that sort of behaviour undermines our collective faith in politicians.

I hope that provides some context to these decisions.

7 Oct '21

I’m happy to avoid engaging further on this forum and we would probably be stopped from discussing politics on the forum if we went much further.
The only thing I would add to what I have said is that, regardless of our disagreement, I know @LeoGibbons is committed to opposing racism, Islamophobia and discrimination in all forms and wherever it appears. It shouldn’t need to be said, but I would hate for anybody to use my comments to suggest that I thought any differently about Councillor Gibbons.

7 Oct '21

I really appreciate that Michael.

I’ve had some pretty horrendous comments thrown my way on social media over all this - not from people genuinely hurt by my stance, but by those who get a cheap thrill out of harassing and smearing public figures. It’s been upsetting and draining.

7 Oct '21

Hmm pity the Council doesn’t practice what it preaches. I agree this is hypocrisy.

7 Oct '21

Hi @LeoGibbons

Whilst I don’t always agree with what you say, or how you say it, I’m sorry you’ve been abused online. We live in a strange online world at present where civil discussion sometimes appears to be a bonus rather than the norm when people disagree with you, let alone the people who just constantly set out to target individuals or selected targets.

You should, rightly, stick by your principles and I applaud you in that. I personally wish more people in politics did so, especially in areas dominated by one party.

I hope it’s not too draining, and if it is, maybe some time off social media might help (I’ve done this periodically).

And don’t forget it’s ok to change your mind on things :slight_smile:

Good luck.

7 Oct '21

I am shocked by the abuse you have had and still having elsewhere. These attacks stifle debate and how we can reconcile competing aspirations.

As to your suspension I am of the view that 3-line whips should be restricted to manifesto commitments and confidence votes. That’s effectively what people mandated you and you accepted to do.

Otherwise conscience should be challenged but never punished this side of the ballot box. You will be a loss to your party. I hope they realise that.

8 Oct '21

Slightly off-topic but I hope people won’t mind.

It’s a thank you to Leo Gibbons for getting out on the street and talking to local people.

I had brought an issue to his attention as it was affecting some of my residential and commercial tenants on Dartmouth Road and today one of them said that Leo had recently been along asking how things were going. She was so grateful and reassured to know that someone from the council was taking the trouble to listen; and I, as a landlord for dozens of people along there, couldn’t ask for more than a local councillor to do just what he did - so I’m very grateful too.

8 Oct '21

4 posts were split to a new topic: LTNs, traffic, parking & consultation

8 Oct '21

I’ve split some posts about wider local topics, as this one is about Leo’s suspension from the Labour Group. Let’s try and keep on topic please.