Open letter to Jermain Jackman’s “Socialists of Colour”

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We feature below an important open letter from the Labour Left Alliance. One of the candidates in the current NEC elections supported by the LLA, Carol Taylor-Spedding, has outrageously been accused of holding “openly antisemitic view” – simply for stating in a questionnaire that she feels “inspired” by Jackie Walker and that she opposes her expulsion from the Labour Party. The group “Socialists of Colour” even reported Carol to the Labour Party for antisemitism! Clearly, these are no socialists.

Worryingly, the group has recently been set up and is run by another NEC candidate, Jermain Jackman. He claims that he was not involved in either putting together the questions, issuing the outrageous “content warning” ahead of Carol’s replies, reporting her to the Labour Party or informing journalists about the group’s wich-hunt. But the website does not contain anything apart from their NEC campaign and the group’s questions are clearly designed to support Jermain’s campaign.

After we and the LLA  started complaining, Jermain eventually sought to distance himself from the website – by removing all names from their online presence (see pictures).

But Jermain continues to refuse to state if he AGREES with the actions his own group has taken. This is of course a hugely important question – surely members have a right to know if Jermain, if elected onto the NEC, will defend members from false allegations of antisemitism – or if he will be the one reporting them. The fact that he can tweet about all sorts of things, but will say nothing on this witch-hunt, speaks volumes.

Please forward this information and the open letter to others on the Labour Left. Continue Reading “Open letter to Jermain Jackman’s “Socialists of Colour””

Forde Enquiry: Submission by Labour Against the Witchhunt

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Download the PDF version of this submission here.

1. Introduction

The report ‘The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014 – 2019’ (the Report), gives us irrefutable proof of the plotting and outright sabotage committed against Corbyn, and the hundreds of thousands who joined the party following his election in 2015, to fight for socialist and democratic change.

It is extremely unfortunate that the Report was only produced in the last days of Corbyn’s leadership. Drawing upon primary evidence it shows serious wrong-doing by senior party officials. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Left to radically transform the Labour Party and effect progressive change, was ruined by the Right in the party. At the same time, supporters of Corbyn were vilified and slandered, their voices silenced and their votes nullified.

Unfortunately, it appears that this was sometimes done with the knowledge, and occasionally even with the active participation of the Corbyn leadership, as in the case of the expulsion of Jackie Walker and the campaign against Chris Williamson.

Politically, the Report maps out an attack on Corbyn and his advisors, who had gained partial control of the NEC in April 2018 when Jennie Formby was appointed General Secretary, by a faction of their political predecessors appointed prior to Corbyn becoming leader. Our submission makes the case against the mistakes committed by both factions within the party machine. Continue Reading “Forde Enquiry: Submission by Labour Against the Witchhunt”

Video: Campaign for Free Speech! with Norman Finkelstein, Tariq Ali, Jackie Walker, Chris Williamson & others

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This important event discussed how we can fight back against McCarthyite attempts to stifle debate on the issue of Israel/Palestine – and label those unjustly expelled and suspended as ‘unpersons’ who we are not allowed to share platforms with.

No to (self-)censorship! Discuss how we can fight back and mobilise for free speech in the Labour movement and beyond!

Speakers include Norman Finkelstein, Tariq Ali, Chris Williamson, Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, David Miller and Tony Greenstein. Chaired by Tina Werkmann of Labour Against the Witchhunt and Labour Left Alliance.

Model motion: No confidence in Keir Starmer! No more settlements with witch-hunters!

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Download as a Word file here

1. This branch/CLP notes with great concern: 

a) Keir Starmer’s July 22 2020 apology and payment of ‘damages’ in six figures to the former Labour Party employees who participated in the dreadful and one-sided BBC Panorama programme on alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party.

b) That the legal advice received by the Labour Party reportedly stated that the party had a very good chance to win the libel case pursued by the ‘whistleblowers’ featured in the programme.
c) That in the wake of this settlement, there are reports of “at least 42 further civil claims” against the party (Daily Telegraph July 24 2020), among them from BBC journalist John Ware and former general secretary Iain McNicol.

d) That the settlement has been used to demand that Starmer withdraws the whip from Jeremy Corbyn.

e) That the ‘leaked report’ quite clearly shows that there was an organised and concerted campaign by right-wingers in the party to undermine and sabotage Jeremy Corbyn and the left. Some of those actively involved in the campaign have now been paid off by Starmer. Continue Reading “Model motion: No confidence in Keir Starmer! No more settlements with witch-hunters!”

RLB sacking: Stop the anti-left witch-hunt!

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LAW Statement June 26 2020

Labour Against the Witchhunt condemns the June 25 sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey from the shadow cabinet. Her ‘crime’ was retweeing an interview in The Independent with the actor Maxine Peake. Repeating a widely circulated but inaccurate story, Maxine commented: “The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.”

However, Israeli training of US police, and the use of such inhuman techniques against Palestinians, have been well documented, for example by Amnesty International and Middle East Eye. Keir Starmer’s charge that any of this is an “anti-Semitic conspiracy theory” is ludicrous. It does underline the fact however that the witch-hunt has precious little to do with fighting antisemitism. It is all about getting rid of Jeremy Corbyn and now all of his remaining supporters and making sure the Labour Party remains a reliable ally from imperialism’s (and, crucially, Israel’s) point of view.

Rebecca Long-Bailey should have refuted the charge, and called out the Big Lie that criticising the Israeli state is anti-Jewish racism. Instead she retreated, tweeting that her praise of Peake was “not intended to be an endorsement of all parts of the article”. But appeasement only invites more attacks.

The agreed wording was not enough, and RLB was instructed to delete both her original tweet and her desperate “clarification”. Four hours after she expressed reluctance to do so “without the issuing of a press statement of clarification”, Starmer sacked her.

RLB’s cowardly capitulation is fully in line with her previous behavior. Her self-abasing endorsement of the Zionist, Tory-led, Board of Deputy’s ‘Ten Pledges’ did not protect her. Nor did calling herself a Zionist and refusing to protest again the witch-hunt or the appalling treatment suffered by the likes of Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Marc Wadsworth, Tony Greenstein and former MP Chris Williamson.

Starmer’s ratcheting up of the anti-socialist witch-hunt in the Labour Party is unsurprising. It fulfills his promise to show ‘zero tolerance’ of any criticism of the racist ideology of Zionism.

LAW calls out the Big Lie – that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism. LAW calls out the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance cynical misdefinition of anti-Semitism. Acceptance of the Big Lie is nowadays obligatory for career politicians. Loyalty to British imperialism requires loyalty to US imperialism and its attack dog in the Middle East, Israel. Common humanity means we must stand with the Palestinians, who face not only military occupation and lack of elementary democratic rights, but now the threat of another round of ethnic cleansing.

LAW welcomes Momentum’s petition, calling for RLB’s reinstatement. But why did Momentum not organise against the witch-hunt from the beginning? Why did it throw Jackie Walker, Momentum’s former vice chair, to the wolves? And why does it tolerate witch-hunters in its ranks, including at the very top? Momentum has become a career ladder for aspiring Labour politicians.

LAW welcomes the belated “solidarity” expressed for the latest victim of the witch-hunt by the likes of John McDonnell and John Trickett, and the June 26 statement by the Campaign Group of Socialist MPs. They are protesting against the unjust victimisation of Corbyn’s “continuity candidate”. It would have been much better to have fought the witch-hunt from the beginning. How about now extending your “solidarity” to the hundreds of Labour members wrongly vilified, smeared, suspended and expelled? Instead, the Corbyn leadership sought to appease right from day 1.

RLB’s sacking on charges of promoting an “anti-Semitic conspiracy theory” could possibily be the start of a bigger purge. The right will not be satisfied until what little remains of the parliamentary Labour left is purged. It is that or total surrender.

LAW calls upon Labour Party members to stay and fight. Do not resign in protest against Starmer or the cowardice and crass careerism of the parliamentary left.

We demand:

  • Constituency Labour Parties and branches must be allowed to meet and make decisions and pass motions and statements online;
  • Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) must repudiates the IHRA misdefinition of anti-Semitism, along with its so called examples, which deliberately conflates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism;
  • Members of the Campaign Group of Socialist MPs should repudiate the BoD’s ‘Ten Pledges;
  • Unite, Unison, GMB, Aslef, FBU, RMT, PCS and other trade unions must stop funding MPs who refuse to oppose the anti-left witch-hunt.

Reinstate the Liverpool Wavertree 4!

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Defend free speech in the Labour movement!
The Labour left will not be silenced on party democracy and Israel/Palestine!

Sign here: https://www.change.org/p/labour-party-reinstate-the-wavertree-4

We believe that the May 29 suspensions of four Constituency Labour Party officers from Liverpool Wavertree CLP (including the chair and secretary) under antisemitism charges are deeply unjust.

The four comrades – Nina Houghton, Kevin Bean, Helen Dickson and Hazuan Hashim – dared to raise political criticisms of their local MP Paula Barker, who had written an article in the Jewish Telegraph, without any prior consultation with the executive officers. She wrote, among other things: “Luciana [Berger] leaving the Labour Party was a shock to many and I find it deeply regrettable that she felt she could no longer stay.” This article was posted on Wavertree CLP’s Facebook page.

Luciana Berger MP, parachuted into the safe Labour seat for the 2010 general election, was one of the most vocal opponents of Jeremy Corbyn, who used her position as MP to publicly undermine and sabotage him at every opportunity. She helped to spread the lie that the Labour Party is overrun by antisemites and thereby fostered the current atmosphere, in which pro-Palestinian campaigners are regularly tarnished and vilified as antisemites – and she particularly singled out the Labour members in her own constituency. In the end she jumped ship and joined the Liberal Democrats, which really could not come as a “shock” to anybody who had followed her political trajectory. Tom Watson declared that she had been “forced out by racist thugs” in her CLP.

Paula, elected with the help of the left, including the Wavertree 4, seemed to support that narrative in her article. The four comrades felt so concerned that they wrote a private letter to Paula, but we understand she simply brushed their concerns aside. Without any decision-making CLP meetings taking place where the comrades could have presented a motion, the four decided to publish their views in the weekly internal CLP bulletin of May 26, which has been functioning as a medium of debate and has been featuring all sorts of local and national events during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The four comrades wrote that, “Paula’s words will most certainly be taken to imply that we, as a CLP, were responsible [for Berger’s departure]. This accusation has been repeated by our political opponents, such as the anti-Corbyn Labour right and the Liberal Democrats on numerous occasions, culminating in Tom Watson’s calumny, under the protective cloak of parliamentary privilege. In the furore that followed, individual officers and members, such as our then chair, were subjected to further abuse and false allegations in the media, all of which were designed to obscure the political differences between Ms Berger and the CLP.”

Clearly, nothing in their letter is even vaguely antisemitic. The four committed the crime of questioning if the local CLP (and the party as a whole) is really overrun by antisemites – that is enough to get you charged with being an anti-Semite yourself!

Of course, members don’t just have the right to criticize their MP – in a truly democratic party it is their duty to do so! These latest suspensions are clearly a serious attack on the right to free speech in the party.

The witch-hunt in Labour started as a campaign to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn. The leaked report has proven beyond all doubt what the right in the Labour Party is capable of – they would rather destroy the party than allow it to be taken over by the left. But sadly, the Corbyn leadership, with the help of Momentum, sought to appease these forces rather than fight them, which allowed the witch-hunt to grow and become even more vicious. No wonder that under Keir Starmer it has been expanded once more – now in an attempt to eradicate the entire Labour left. We know of dozens of suspensions in the last couple of weeks alone, some of them based on a single tweet.

But we will not be silenced! We will continue to oppose attempts to undermine party democracy, censor debate and to equate anti-Zionism with antisemitism. And we will continue to demand a disciplinary process that is fair, transparent and just – these latest attacks show how overdue that is. This fight back has only just begun- and will continue until the witch-hunt is defeated!

Please email info@labouragainstthewitchhunt.org if you want to add your organisation’s name to this petition

Labour Against the Witchhunt www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org
Labour Left Alliance  https://labourleft.org

Expelled for this single tweet – the witch-hunt in overdrive

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Labour Against the Witchhunt has become aware a new wave of suspensions and expulsions – often for the most absurd reasons. For example, we have seen the full suspension letter the Labour Party sent to Becky Massey, an activist in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and member of the executive committee of Brighton City Labour Party which was then disbanded (as featured in the leaked report). The single charge  is her tweet about Chris Williamson, posted six months ago. It reads: “The 99% of people will have the best friend in Chris Williamson as an MP who, if reelected, will work for them. ‘I resigned from Labour to spend more time fighting for socialism.'”

In our view Chris Williamson was wrong to leave the Labour Party, but we can understand why he did so – he had been vilified, smeared and hounded by the press, without a single parliamentary ‘colleague’ coming to his defense (including Richard Burgon and the rest of the so-called Socialist Campaign Group).

Rule 2.1.4. of the Labour Party rule book is of course famously ‘elastic’:

“A member of the Party who joins and/ or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Party, or supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate, or publicly declares their intent to stand against a Labour candidate, shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a Party member.”

This “support” is usually interpreted as calling for a vote for a candidate who is standing against a Labour Party candidate. In Becky’s case however, it has been interpreted as ‘tweeting in a supportive manner’. Despite the fact that she fully cooperated and explained that she did not actually call for a vote for Chris, she was expelled after two weeks – without even a hearing.

On the other hand, a number of right-wing Labour honchos who actually called on people to vote for the Liberal Democrats or even the Tories are left untouched. And we are still waiting for any disciplinary measures to be taken against those officials at Labour Party HQ who have been shown in the leaked report to have run an active campaign of sabotage against the party during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Asa Winstanley of Electronic Intifada speculates that Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner were given a list of names by the Jewish Labour Movement in a meeting earlier in the week. This certainly would go some way to explain the latest wave of suspensions of left-wingers. Mike Cushman, membership secretary of Jewish Voice for Labour, received a ‘notice of investigation’ this week. Another Palestine supporter victimised is David Miller, professor of political science at Bristol University. He was suspended for pointing out that Keir Starmer was “in receipt of money from the Zionist movement, from Trevor Chinn”. This is of course factually correct. Miller is also correct in calling this latest wave a “targeted harassment of socialist members”. Clearly, the right-wingers at the top of the Labour Party will not stop their witch-hunt until all traces of socialism are eradicated.

Publicity is our main weapon in this extremely uneven fight. The steering committee of Labour Against the Witchhunt has decided to call a conference to coincide with the planned release of Keir Starmer’s “investigation” into the leaked report in July. No doubt, it will be a whitewash, focusing on who leaked it rather than the substance of the right-wing smears and campaign of sabotage against Jeremy Corbyn. But we also want to look at the many mistakes made by the Corbyn leadership: The report shows that they decided to support the lie that the Labour Party is overrun by antisemites. They sought to appease the Israel advocacy groups and the self-appointed leadership of “the Jewish community” and  behaved as though they believed this lie. In the process they displayed an inability to recognise real antisemitism, while eagerly trying to get rid of Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson, none of whom can be accused of even a trace of antisemitism.

Details tbc, but please click here to register for the Zoom event.

 

SIGN: Solidarity with Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy – and all those unjustly expelled!

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Sign the petition here!

The defeat of Jeremy Corbyn has given the right inside and outside the Labour Party a mandate to press ahead with their campaign against the left. They will not rest until the Labour Party has been purged of all traces of socialism.

The latest manufactured ‘outrage’ of the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council concerns Labour MPs Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Diane Abbott. These comrades spoke in a Zoom meeting organised by Don’t Leave, Organise. This online event was also attended by Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein – and 550 other people.

Both the BoD and JLC are now demanding that the two black MPs be suspended by the Labour Party “for sharing platforms with those that have been expelled from the Party for antisemitism”.

1) We believe that these expulsions – like the vast majority of others – were hugely unjust and the investigations deeply flawed. Despite forming the cornerstones of the report produced by Shami Chakrabarti back in 2016, due process and natural justice remain absent from Labour’s disciplinary process. While antisemitism and other forms of chauvinism exist in the Labour Party (as in wider society), the number of real antisemitic incidents in the Labour Party has been grossly exaggerated for political purposes.

2) Neither the Board of Deputies nor the Jewish Leadership Council has a democratic mandate to speak for all Jews in Britain, many of whom are very critical of the actions of the state of Israel. The organisations are clearly pro-Israel and work to a political agenda to attack, discredit and destroy any opposition to the systematic and brutal oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli state. To this end, they energetically encourage the conflation of anti-Zionism with antisemitism.

3) Furthermore, we note with great concern that Jonathan Goldstein, chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, reports that he had a meeting with Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner where, “it was agreed that no Labour MP should be sharing a platform with anyone expelled from the party for anti-Jewish racism“. The validity of many of these cases is being energetically challenged by many of the accused and their supporters. Furthermore, the leader of the Labour Party is not entitled to make such a promise: The policies and rules of the Labour Party are determined by its members at annual conference. If Keir Starmer has made such an undertaking, he must be reprimanded and ordered to withdraw it.

4) Guilt by association, as demanded by the BoD’s so-called 10 pledges, is a deeply troubling attack on the right to free speech. Already in our party, the witch-hunting right wing have concocted Kafkaesque charges against many members that would be laughed out of court even by the deeply flawed standards of the UK’s legal system. Transparently, this is an ongoing campaign against the left in the Labour Party; it is not a campaign against the scourge of antisemitism!

Therefore, we are putting out this urgent call for solidarity from CLPs and Labour Party branches, from trade unions, Labour councillors and particularly from those Labour MPs organised in the Socialist Campaign Group:  

  • Publicly stand up for Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy and to reject any reprimands or sanctions against them
  • Campaign vigorously against the implementation of the BoD’s ‘10 Pledges’ and to defend the right to freedom of speech and freedom of association in the Labour Party and trade unions, in the Palestine solidarity movement and in society at large
  • Proudly appear on platforms and in meetings with those who have been unjustly smeared, vilified, suspended and expelled from the Labour Party in the campaign against Corbyn and the left
  • Join us in the fight for a just and transparent disciplinary process in the Labour Party
  • Reject the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, which conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism
  • Support the individual and national rights of the Palestinian people

Sign the petition here!

VIDEO: The Labour Party under Starmer and our tasks – with Jackie Walker, Graham Bash and Moshe Machover

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VIDEO: The Labour leadership elections and our tasks (filmed April 14 2020)

After Keir Starmer’s election to leader of the Labour Party, we discussed how we can continue the fight:
* to defend freedom of speech in our party,
* to stop the misuse of trumped up charges to remove left candidates, and
* to reject the IHRA mis-definition of anti-Semitism

We also want to continue to campaign to stop Starmer from implementing the Board of Deputies’ so-called ‘10 Pledges’ – one of his first announcements. Our open letter to Rebecca Long-Bailey on this issue has been signed by almost 5,000 people and a number of organisations: https://bit.ly/2VaLWX3

We also discussed our response to the leaked Labour Party report that was produced in response to the investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and which gives us proof of the warfare and sabotage committed against Corbyn and the hundreds of thousands who joined the party in order to support him in the fight for socialist change.

1) Welcome and opening remarks (co-chair Tina Werkmann)
2) The Labour leadership elections and our tasks
Introduced by Jackie Walker and Graham Bash (both members of the steering committee LAW) and Moshe Machover, honorary president of LAW

Joint LAW/LLA statement on the ‘leaked report’: Full investigation needed! All disciplinary cases of the last 5 years must be reviewed!

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Joint statement by Labour Against the Witchhunt and the Labour Left Alliance

We demand a full investigation into the witch-hunt and the election campaigns!
Now all disciplinary cases of the last five years must be reviewed!

As experienced activists in the Labour Party, we knew that the right in the party was plotting against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters from day one. We knew, because we were the victims of their wrongful suspensions, their expulsions and their public smears and lies, all based on the flimsiest of evidence.

The report ‘The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014 – 2019’,  produced in response to the investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, now gives us irrefutable proof of the plotting and outright sabotage committed against Corbyn and the hundreds of thousands who joined the party to fight for socialist and democratic change.

It is a crying shame that this report was produced only in the last days of Corbyn’s leadership. It is based upon primary evidence showing serious wrong-doing by senior party officials. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the left to radically transform the Labour Party and effect progressive change was ruined by the right in the party.

At the same time, supporters of Corbyn were vilified and slandered, their voices silenced and their votes nullified. Unfortunately, it appears that this was sometimes done with the knowledge and occasionally even with the participation of the Corbyn leadership, as in the expulsions of Jackie Walker and Chris Williamson.

Keir Starmer must ensure the immediate publication of the report and a full enquiry into the facts:

*** The report describes how “the pro-Corbyn left decisively won” at Brighton CLP’s annual general meeting (AGM) in July 2016. Afterwards, two high-ranking Labour officials discussed how to overturn the result: “I say act now and worry about [rules and legal issues] later, so long as we don’t do something that’ll end up f[***]ing everything else up.” Party officials then overturned the AGM’s decisions, the old executive was restored and the local party split into three separate CLPs. (p113)

*** Labour officials discussed how to continue the unlawful suspension of Wallasey CLP, where the left “are properly organised” – in order to save the local right-wing MP, Angela Eagle, from being challenged. (p114)

*** We read that, “in many cases party members at all levels request the suspension of another party member as a way of escalating or indeed resolving a dispute. There is a wrongly-held view that political opponents can be ‘taken out’ of a contest or stopped from attending meetings by making a complaint with the intention of achieving a suspension of that member.” (p533) Clearly, this is exactly what has been taking place, even as recently as during the March 2020 NEC by-election. Half a dozen of the candidates were suspended in the middle of the contest, before any investigation was launched.

*** Sam Matthews, then head of Disputes, was able to single-handedly suspend Glyn Secker (secretary of Jewish Voice for Labour) as recently as 2018 – the case was so weak that he had to be reinstated almost immediately: Following on from a report produced by the disgraced right-wing Corbyn critic David Collier into the Facebook group ‘Palestine Live’ (of which Corbyn was a member), “documentary evidence shows that it was only because James Schneider, Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesperson, urged [Sam] Matthews to take action, that the report was examined at all. Of all the examples of extreme antisemitism in the report, GLU picked Glyn Secker, even though the report did not contain allegations of antisemitic comments by Secker and the report stated ‘Glyn Secker has had minimal interaction on the site’.” (p428)

*** The ‘Disputes’ unit desperately looked for reasons to expel the prominent Israeli Jew Moshé  Machover. Because of his background, they found it difficult to charge him with racism: “The anti-Semitism stuff just clouds it in my view”. (p373) Instead, they decided to auto-expel him over his alleged membership of the “Communist Party of Great Britain Marxism-Leninism” (they got the wrong CPGB, incidentally) – but he was able to quickly disprove this claim. As party officials “found themselves inundated with emails about the case, including from Jewish socialist groups”, there was pressure to drop the case and rescind his expulsion. Many other, less prominent members, found it much more difficult to challenge their auto-expulsions.

*** We learn that despite some reforms under Jennie Formby, there are huge, ongoing problems with the way the party handles disciplinary cases. For example, the Governance and Legal unit uses a list of “investigatory search terms” to “vet” members, which includes words like ‘Atzmon’ and “a list of 57 (later 68) Labour MPs and their Twitter handles”. In other words, staff “initiate cases themselves by proactively investigating social media comments by Party members” (p17) to create a body of evidence where no basis for a case exists. The report also makes various positive references to Dave Rich from the Community Security Trust (CST), whose views are still being routinely sought as “expert opinion”. But the CST is not a neutral body – it is a pro-Israel charity, which the Tory government started funding in 2015 and has given at least 65 million pounds since.

*** Jackie Walker’s case was deliberately delayed by McNicol and his staff. They were determined to get rid of Tony Greenstein and Marc Wadsworth first in order to build a campaign to justify Jackie’s expulsion. However, the report also states that, “LOTO [Leader of the Opposition’s Office] wanted Walker to be suspended and had briefed the media to that effect”. (p366) In April 2018, “Jeremy Corbyn and Jennie Formby met with the Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council and the Community and Security Trust” and agreed to their demand that “the Party should expedite Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker’s cases. LOTO and Jennie Formby agreed”. The report quotes questionable evidence by Dave Rich, which implies that Jackie’s views are similar to those of Louis Farrakhan, but omits evidence given by black Jewish Professor Lewis Gordon, a world-leading academic on Jewish/black relations, which contradicts every claim by Dave Rich and supports Jackie’s case.

*** In the case of Chris Williamson, it appears that Jennie Formby was the one driving his expulsion. The report approvingly quotes her long chart sheet against him: “Several of these [complaints], if taken as an isolated incident, may have resulted in no action. However, taken together they add up to a pattern of behaviour that is not only reckless, it has brought the party into disrepute. I would also add that I personally spoke with Chris only two weeks ago and asked him to stop aligning himself with Labour Against the Witchhunt and speaking about antisemitism in the way that he is, because as an MP he does not have the privilege of behaving in the same way as an ordinary lay member does.” (p826)

These examples show just how futile it was of Corbyn and his allies to try and appease the right by going along with some of these injustices – when they should have taken them on in a decisive manner. There can be no compromise, no unity with those who would rather sabotage our party than see a radical Labour movement.

We demand that:

  • Keir Starmer must officially publish this report and condemn the campaign to undermine and sabotage Jeremy Corbyn and the left.
  • All disciplinary cases processed during the last five years have to be overturned, pending unbiased re-examination.
  • We urgently need a radical overhaul of the party’s disciplinary system. Disciplinary procedures should be carried out in accordance with the principles of natural justice, and be time-limited: charges not resolved within three months should be automatically dropped. An accused member should be given all the evidence submitted against them and be regarded as innocent until proven guilty. Those aspects of the Chakrabati report must finally be implemented.
  • All those mentioned in the document who took part in this sabotage and who are still in their post must be immediately investigated for gross misconduct. That must include Emilie Oldknow (Executive Director for Governance, Membership and Party Services), who is being touted as Keir Starmer’s preferred choice as new general secretary and who is shown to have actively taken part in the witch-hunt against Corbyn and his supporters.
  • All those involved who have jumped ship and now enjoy well-paid positions in different companies must be named and shamed. They include:
    • Iain McNicol, formerly General Secretary, now a member of the House of Lords
    • Sam Matthews, formerly head of Disputes
    • John Stolliday, formerly Director of the Governance and Legal Unit

Fight against Keir Starmer implementing the ’10 Demands’ by the Board of Deputies!

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In one of his first actions as leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer has sent a letter to Marie van der Zyl, president of the BoD, promising to “deliver them as soon as possible”.

Click here for a number of model motions you can move in your branch, CLP and trade union branch.

As we pointed out in our open letter to Rebecca Long-Bailey, which has been signed by almost 5,000 people, the Board of Deputies (BoD) is not the representative body for the majority of Jews in Britain, many of whom are very critical of the actions of the state of Israel – unlike the BoD. The BoD is a pro-Israel organisation. It claims, for instance, that the Palestinians in Gaza are “using its civilians – including children – as pawns” in their fight against Israeli occupation and oppression.

The BoD have supported every war, every attack launched by Israel. The BoD is not a neutral body, but one with an evident political agenda: to attack, weaken and destroy any opposition to the systematic and brutal oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli government. The BoD encourages the conflation of criticism of the Israeli government (anti-Zionism), with antisemitism (hatred of Jews).

The BoD, and its individual officers, have maintained open hostility to Labour since Corbyn took leadership of the party. They organised the ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration outside parliament in March 2018, which was clearly aimed at weakening and attacking Jeremy Corbyn.

We believe that the BoD’s ‘10 Pledges’ are an outrageous political interference by an organisation that is overtly hostile to today’s Labour Party and everything it stands for. If implemented, these policies would for example, result in the suspensions and expulsions of the thousands of Labour members who have stood in open solidarity with those wrongly accused of antisemitism, including Chris Williamson, Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone and Marc Wadsworth.

Also, it is not for the leader of the Labour Party, or candidates aspiring to be the leader, to commit themselves to such pledges. The policies and rules of the Labour Party are determined by the members of the party via annual conference. By agreeing to these pledges, you are at risk of undermining our democratic processes.

We reject all of the ’10 pledges’, in particular:

Pledge 2: This pledge calls for the disciplinary process to be run by an “independent provider”. No, Labour party members should be judged by their peers only, not by outside agencies with their own political agenda.

Pledge 3: This would hand over confidential details of ongoing disciplinary cases to “Jewish representative bodies”. Which “bodies”? Of course the BoD chiefly mean themselves, because in pledge 8 they reject any engagement with what they call “fringe organisations and individuals”, by which they include principled, non-Zionist organisations like Jewish Voice for Labour.

Pledge 4: This would impose a lifetime ban from membership for what the BoD refers to as “repeat offenders, such as Ken Livingstone or Jackie Walker.” However, Ken Livingstone resigned his membership; whereas Jackie was not found guilty of antisemitism, but “bringing the party into disrepute”. Clearly, neither of them has said or done anything antisemitic (defined as “hatred of Jews”). Not only is this crass harassment of two individuals who have fought against racism for their entire life, it allows an anti-Labour organisation to decide who should or should not be a member of our party.

Pledge 5: This states: “Any MPs, peers, councillors, members or CLPs who support, campaign or provide a platform for people who have been suspended or expelled in the wake of antisemitic incidents should themselves be suspended from membership.” This is gross censorship, which should be rejected by anybody who wants a critical, engaged and thinking membership. This pledge would make it impossible for members to campaign to right a wrong in the party; it could lead to the suspension and smearing of thousands of members who dare to question and criticise what they may perceive to be wrong decisions.

Pledge 6: The Labour Party’s NEC has already adopted the IHRA’s ‘definition’ of antisemitism with all its eleven examples, even though some of those conflate anti-Zionism with antisemitism. Making this “the basis for considering antisemitism disciplinary cases” is yet another insidious attack on free speech – exactly what the definition’s author, Kenneth Stern, has been warning about.

Pledge 7: This pledge seeks to hand the deliverance of “anti-racism training” to the Jewish Labour Movement, a pro-Zionist organisation that was revived in 2015 with the specific aim of undermining and attacking Jeremy Corbyn and the left. JLM (whose members don’t have to be Jewish or Labour Party members) have been instrumental in exaggerating and weaponising the very small number of antisemitic incidents in the Labour movement in order to smear Jeremy Corbyn and the left, by wilfully conflating anti-Zionism with Antisemitism.

We call on all on all socialists, anti-imperialists and Corbyn supporters to stay actively involved in the Labour Party and join us in this campaign against the BoD’s ‘10 Pledges’ and the ongoing witch-hunt against the left in the Labour movement.

Model motions: Reject the 10 Pledges by the Board of Deputies

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Please click here for some advice on how to move a motion or emergency motion in the Labour Party.

LAW model motion

1) This branch/CLP notes:

  1. That all candidates standing for the position of Labour leader have signed up to the 10 Pledges issued by the Board of Deputies, including Rebecca Long-Bailey.
  2. That the BoD is not the representative body for the majority of Jews in Britain, many of whom are very critical of the actions of the state of Israel. The BoD is a pro-Israel organisation and has supported every war, every attack launched by Israel. It encourages the conflation of criticism of the Israeli government (anti-Zionism), with antisemitism (hatred of Jews).
  3. That the BoD, and its individual officers, have maintained open hostility to Labour since Corbyn took leadership of the party. They organised the ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration outside parliament in March 2018, which was clearly aimed at weakening and attacking Jeremy Corbyn.

2) We believe:

  1. That it is not for the leader of the Labour Party, or candidates aspiring to be the leader, to commit themselves to such pledges. The policies and rules of the Labour Party are determined by the members of the party via annual conference.
  2. That the BoD’s ‘10 Pledges’ are an outrageous political interference by an organisation that is overtly hostile to today’s Labour Party and everything it stands for.
  3. They are an attack on free speech and would create a dangerous atmosphere of (self-) censorship.
  4. If implemented, the pledges could concretely lead to:
    • The suspensions and expulsions of the thousands of Labour members who dare to stand in solidarity with those wrongly accused of antisemitism, including Chris Williamson and Marc Wadsworth.
    • The BoD and other pro-Zionist organisations would decide who can and cannot be a member of the Labour Party. For example, the pledges demand a lifetime ban from membership for what the BoD refers to as “repeat offenders, such as Ken Livingstone or Jackie Walker” – both of whom have fought against racism for their entire life.
    • The handing over of confidential details of ongoing disciplinary cases to “Jewish representative bodies” (by which the BoD chiefly means itself).
    • The official sidelining and proscription of non-Zionist organisations like Jewish Voice for Labour, which are described as a “fringe organisation”.

We therefore call on all candidates in the Labour leadership election to officially distance themselves from these pledges and commit themselves to fight for a Labour Party that values and protects free speech, open debate and stands in international solidarity with the people in Palestine.


Motion passed by Ilford South LP branch

This branch condemns the Board of Deputies attempts at interference in the Labour party leadership election by demanding that candidates sign 10 pledges, one of which suggests outsourcing the Labour party’s disciplinary processes to a third party.

Their demands reflect the views of only one section of the British Jewish community, but they seek to proscribe the views of other Jewish groups who don’t agree with them, labelling them as fringe groups to be ignored and discounted.

The Board has been consistent in its support for the Conservative party, fulsomely welcoming the election of Boris Johnson, whose writings and actions expose a racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic mindset, yet they make no criticism of this or the fact that the Tory party members aren’t bound by the IHRA definition

This branch particularly notes that the pledges breach free speech and human rights, and do not include all forms of racism. They do not represent the diversity that exists in our branch or the country as a whole.

Accordingly we call upon candidates to reject this interference and review any decisions to sign the pledges and urge any candidates that have not thus far signed to reject their demands.


Draft Emergency motion

This CLP utterly condemns the ultimatum to the Labour Party and its leadership candidates by the Jewish Board of Deputies.

To accept their “Ten Pledges” (attached) would be to put the Labour party under the permanent control of an undemocratic right-wing group and prevent any attempt to speak up for the Palestinian people against a hard-right Israeli government. It is an unprecedented and quite blatant attack on free speech.

We note that:

  • The Jewish Board of Deputies represents only the minority of British Jews who attend Orthodox synagogues and that some of those synagogues refuse to allow women to vote.
  • The Chief Rabbi has described Boris Johnson as “a longstanding friend of the Jewish community” and congratulated him warmly on his election as Conservative Party leader.
  • The former Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council is now Chief Executive of the Conservative Party
  • The Jewish Labour Movement, which is affiliated to the Labour Party, is in no sense a representative organisation, in that its members don’t have to be Labour Party members and don’t even have to be Jewish. Further, it is only open to people who are explicitly Zionist and therefore excludes many left wing Jews.
  • All of the above organisations have refused to meet with the Jewish Voice for Labour group to discuss their views on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party in a calm and civilised way.
  • Independent research carried out by Jewish and other organisations has clearly shown that anti-Semitism is more common on the right of politics than the left.
  • All of these facts are well-documented and easy to confirm.

We call on both the NEC and all leadership candidates to distance themselves from this attack on the Labour Party.

Sign the open letter to Rebecca Long-Bailey: Reject the BoD’s 10 Pledges!

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This letter is available for download a A4 leaflet in PDF format by clicking here (file will automatically download).

CLICK HERE TO SIGN

Dear Rebecca (rebecca.longbailey.mp@parliament.uk)

We call on you to reject the Board of Deputies’ 10 Pledges

We address this letter to you, because, unlike Keir Starmer, you state that you intend to “stay true” to Jeremy Corbyn’s “radical socialist vision”.

The Board of Deputies (BoD) is not the representative body for the majority of Jews in Britain, many of whom are very critical of the actions of the state of Israel – unlike the BoD. The BoD is a pro-Israel organisation. It claims, for instance, that the Palestinians in Gaza are “using its civilians – including children – as pawns” in their fight against Israeli occupation and oppression.

The BoD have supported every war, every attack launched by Israel. The BoD is not a neutral body, but one with an evident political agenda: to attack, weaken and destroy any opposition to the systematic and brutal oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli government. The BoD encourages the conflation of criticism of the Israeli government (anti-Zionism), with antisemitism (hatred of Jews).

The BoD, and its individual officers, have maintained open hostility to Labour since Corbyn took leadership of the party. They organised the ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration outside parliament in March 2018, which was clearly aimed at weakening and attacking Jeremy Corbyn.

We believe that the BoD’s ‘10 Pledges’ are an outrageous political interference by an organisation that is overtly hostile to today’s Labour Party and everything it stands for. If implemented, these policies would for example, result in the suspensions and expulsions of the thousands of Labour members who have stood in open solidarity with those wrongly accused of antisemitism, including Chris Williamson, Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone and Marc Wadsworth.

Solidarity is surely what the Labour Party stands for? If implemented, the pledges would create an atmosphere of fear, distrust and self-censorship. Is that really the kind of party you want Labour to become?

Also, it is not for the leader of the Labour Party, or candidates aspiring to be the leader, to commit themselves to such pledges. The policies and rules of the Labour Party are determined by the members of the party via annual conference. By agreeing to these pledges, you are at risk of undermining of our democratic processes.

We believe you are on a very dangerous path. Please turn around while you still can. We ask you to reject the ’10 pledges’ and stand with us – for the democratic transformation of the Labour Party into a vehicle for positive change, free speech and open debate.

We reject all of the ’10 pledges’, in particular:

Pledge 2: This pledge calls for the disciplinary process to be run by an “independent provider”. No, Labour party members should be judged by their peers only, not by outside agencies with their own political agenda.

Pledge 3: This would hand over confidential details of ongoing disciplinary cases to “Jewish representative bodies”. Which “bodies”? Of course the BoD chiefly mean themselves, because in pledge 8 they reject any engagement with what they call “fringe organisations and individuals”, by which they include principled, non-Zionist organisations like Jewish Voice for Labour.

Pledge 4: This would impose a lifetime ban from membership for what the BoD refers to as “repeat offenders, such as Ken Livingstone or Jackie Walker.” However, Ken Livingstone resigned his membership; whereas Jackie was not found guilty of antisemitism, but “bringing the party into disrepute”. Clearly, neither of them has said or done anything antisemitic (defined as “hatred of Jews”). Not only is this crass harassment of two individuals who have fought against racism for their entire life, it allows an anti-Labour organisation to decide who should or should not be a member of our party.

Pledge 5: This states: “Any MPs, peers, councillors, members or CLPs who support, campaign or provide a platform for people who have been suspended or expelled in the wake of antisemitic incidents should themselves be suspended from membership.” This is gross censorship, which should be rejected by anybody who wants a critical, engaged and thinking membership. This pledge would make it impossible for members to campaign to right a wrong in the party; it could lead to the suspension and smearing of thousands of members who dare to question and criticise what they may perceive to be wrong decisions.

Pledge 6: The Labour Party’s NEC has already adopted the IHRA’s ‘definition’ of antisemitism with all its eleven examples, even though some of those conflate anti-Zionism with antisemitism. Making this “the basis for considering antisemitism disciplinary cases” is yet another insidious attack on free speech – exactly what the definition’s author, Kenneth Stern, has been warning about.

Pledge 7: This pledge seeks to hand the deliverance of “anti-racism training” to the Jewish Labour Movement, a pro-Zionist organisation that was revived in 2015 with the specific aim of undermining and attacking Jeremy Corbyn and the left. JLM (whose members don’t have to be Jewish or Labour Party members) have been instrumental in exaggerating and weaponising the very small number of antisemitic incidents in the Labour movement in order to smear Jeremy Corbyn and the left, by wilfully conflating anti-Zionism with Antisemitism.

We call on all on all socialists, anti-imperialists and Corbyn supporters to stay actively involved in the Labour Party and join us in this campaign against the BoD’s ‘10 Pledges’ and the ongoing witch-hunt against the left in the Labour movement.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN

Initial signatories include (all in personal capacity):

  • Moshé Machover, author and expert on Middle East
  • Leah Levane, Jewish Voice for Labour
  • Alexei Sayle, comedian
  • Jackie Walker, author, chair Labour Against the Witchhunt
  • Glyn Secker, Jewish Voice for Labour
  • Jo Bird, Wirral Labour councilor
  • Asa Winstanley, journalist
  • Roland Rance, Free Speech on Israel
  • Sam Gorst, Liverpool Labour councilor
  • Mike Cushman, Jewish Voice for Labour
  • Graham Bash, Labour Representation Committee, JVL, LAW
  • John Dunn, Orgreave Campaign
  • Tina Werkmann, vice-chair Labour Against the Witchhunt
  • Lee Rock, Sheffield Labour Left
  • Pam Bromley, Labour councilor Rossendale and Carven
  • Steve Jack, York Labour Representation Committee
    Peter Flack, chair Unite Community Branch Leicester
  • Ken Syme, Cheltenham Labour Left

Organisations in support:

  • Labour Against the Witchhunt
  • Sheffield Labour Left
  • Cheltenham Labour Left
  • York Labour Representation Committee

No, Rebecca Long-Bailey, you SHOULD NOT sign up to the 10 pledges by the ‘Board of Deputies’!

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No, Rebecca Long-Bailey, you SHOULD NOT sign up to the 10 pledges by the ‘Board of Deputies’!

These outrageous demands, pushed by a bunch of Tory-supporting, pro-capitalists, should not just be ignored by any candidate running for the leadership of the Labour Party – but rejected outright as inappropriate interference. Email Rebecca if you think she should change her view urgently: rebecca.longbailey.mp@parliament.uk

The worst of the 10 pledges are:

Pledge 2: Make the disciplinary process “independent”. Independent of whom? The members? Hand it over to the Jewish Labour Movement or the BoD, perhaps? No, Labour Party members should be judged by their peers only. Governance and Legal (formerly the Compliance Unit) – still staffed by many employees hired by witch-finder general Iain McNicol – should be abolished and replaced with a democratic and transparent body, elected by Labour Party members.

Pledge 3: Handing over confidential details of ongoing disciplinary cases to “Jewish representative bodies” – and they don’t mean the Jewish Voice for Labour, of course, which is referred to as “fringe organisations and invidividuals” in pledge 8.

Pledge 4: A lifetime ban from membership for “repeat offenders, such as Ken Livingstone or Jackie Walker.” Ken Livingstone incidentally resigned; whereas Jackie was not found guilty of anti-Semitism, but “bringing the party into disrepute”. Not that the BoD cares.

Pledge 5: “Any MPs, peers, councillors, members or CLPs who support, campaign or provide a platform for people who have been suspended or expelled in the wake of antisemitic incidents should themselves be suspended from membership.” This is pure censorship that should be rejected by anybody who wants a critical, engaged and thinking membership.

Pledge 7: Handing training on anti-Semitism to the Jewish Labour Movement, a Zionist organisation that has been instrumental in weaponsing the miniscule number of anti-Semitic incidents in order to smear Jeremy Corbyn and the left. They have purposely conflated anti-Zionism (criticism of Israel) with anti-Semitism (hatred of Jews).

Labour Left Alliance launch conference, February 22, Sheffield

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LAW is very proud to be part of this important new development – please get involved! Sign up your group or as an individual!

The LLA launch conference takes place on Saturday February 22 in Sheffield. Details are available here. Please attend one of the many pre-conference events taking place in order to be eligible to attend.

Ever since Jeremy Corbyn put his name forward to stand as leader of the Labour Party there has been a massive campaign to undermine and remove him by the Tories, elements of the establishment and the right in our own party, with backing from the overwhelming majority of the mainstream media. Of the numerous unfounded smears thrown at Corbyn – being too scruffy, not bowing deep enough, being a Czech spy etc – those around antisemitism have been one of the most consistent avenues of attack.

They have not had everything their own way – Moshé Machover was readmitted to the party after a major campaign and their attempts to move against Lisa Forbes, now the MP for Peterborough, before and after her election have not succeeded. Momentum nationally is no longer on the side of the left in these battles and this has become increasingly clear – as has its own lack of democracy.

There is an urgent need to take steps to unite the genuine, democratic Labour left. We are committed to making this process open, democratic and transparent. We want to involve as many principled local, regional and national Labour left organisations and union bodies as we can.

We are not saying anyone should resign from or disaffiliate from Momentum to participate. But one of our concerns is that if we don’t act now people who joined to support Corbyn will leave in disillusion. The need to move at pace must be balanced with the need to build in a democratic and sustainable way. Two national organisations (the Labour Representation Committee and Labour Against the Witchhunt) and a number of local groups have already signed up to this initiative and we are having positive discussions with many more.

We encourage all comrades not already members of local Labour Left groups to get involved in one or help set one up. We will gladly help you to find a speaker, advertise your meeting or assist in any other way we can.

Labour belongs to us – let’s unite and fight for our party!

Click here to read and sign up to the appeal!

Resolutions, statements and quotes in support of Chris Williamson MP

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So far, at least 29 CLPs, 9 Momentum branches and dozens of trade union bodies and left Labour organisations have come out in solidarity with Chris Williamson MP (we know of couple of other CLPs where it was decided not to publish the successful resolution). Each CLP has an average of 800 members, so you can calculate for yourself how that compares with the very few MPs who have demanded Chris’ scalp.

PLEASE  NOTE THERE IS NO BAN ON MOVING MOTIONS IN SUPPORT OF CHRIS: We hear that in a number of branches and CLPs, the chair has prevented the meeting from discussing motions in support of Chris because of apparent guidelines sent out by Labour HQ. We have produced detailed advice to show that this is not the case – click here for more info and details on  how to move a motion. Click here for a number of model motions.

Feel free to download, share and use our memes. Continue Reading “Resolutions, statements and quotes in support of Chris Williamson MP”

LAW statement on Chris Williamson’s court battle: “The battle is won. The war rages on”

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“The battle is won. The war rages on”.

This is how Chris Williamson has aptly summed up the High Court judgment, which was delivered at Birmingham’s Civil Justice Centre today, October 10 2019. The judge ruled that the Labour Party acted unlawfully in re-suspending Chris on 28 June, and “that there was no proper reason” for doing so.

The judge also confirmed that Chris’ ‘re-suspension’ must have been motivated by media hysteria. The judge said: “it is not … difficult to infer that the true reason for the decision in this case was that [NEC] members … were influenced by the ferocity of the outcry following the June decision.”

In fact, the party’s decision was so unfair as to be unlawful: Chris’ original suspension has been quashed, and all of the allegations presented in that suspension can no longer be pursued against him.

However, in what must be one of the most bizarre twists in Labour’s witch-hunt crisis, Chris remains suspended from the party! A double suspension! How much more Kafkaesque can this witch-hunt get? Continue Reading “LAW statement on Chris Williamson’s court battle: “The battle is won. The war rages on””

Proposed draft constitution for the Labour Left Alliance

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  • submitted by Labour Against the Witchhunt and Sheffield Labour Left
  • LLA’s rules will be discussed at LLA’s launch conference in January/February 2020, but we are keen to start a democratic and open debate on this issue and to hear what others think – this is only a draft and we are happy to incorporate changes we agree with. Please email info@labouragainstthewitchhunt.org
  • you can download this proposal as a PDF file here
The key for us is the attempt to give the LLA an effective, democratic and transparent basis. The current organising committee is, in our view, way too big (over 30 people) and way too slow to act quickly and efficiently. We believe that we should have a smaller team of officers/steering group members with clearly defined tasks who can make day-to-day decisions – and that this group is accountable to the bigger organising group (made up, as now, of representatives of all affiliated local and national groups). Which means, for example, that the OG should be able to recall and/or appoint any officers/members of the SC by simple majority at any time.

Continue Reading “Proposed draft constitution for the Labour Left Alliance”

The re-suspension of Chris Williamson is a travesty of justice

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Sign our open letter to the NEC here

The renewed suspension of Chris Williamson MP, two days after he was readmitted to the Labour Party, is deeply troubling. We are particularly concerned that Keith Vaz’ U-turn seems to have been motivated purely by the pressure coming from the right inside and outside the party. Sadly but unsurprisingly, that now includes Jon Lansman.

We presume Vaz initially judged the case by its merit and found – correctly – that Chris had not said or done anything that could be described as anti-Semitic or bringing the party into disrepute. Vaz quite rightly judged that the evidence did not warrant Chris’s ongoing suspension or his referral to the National Constitutional Committee (which is still dominated by the right).

But Vaz’s U-turn and Chris’s renewed suspension, following the deeply undemocratic and hysterical letter organised by Tom Watson, symbolise how unfair and one-sided the whole disciplinary process really is. The right is calling all the shots – and Labour HQ seems to always do exactly what they demand.

But the right will never be appeased. They will never accept Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, let alone prime minister. They will continue their campaign of sabotage, because he remains unreliable from the ruling class’s point of view, especially given his strong support for the rights of Palestinians.

It is high time that the Labour MPs better reflect the wishes of the local membership. We therefore urge Labour Party members to organise trigger ballots everywhere, particularly in order to deselect the 70 or so MPs who have signed Tom Watson’s letter (below).

Click here to see the long list of statements, resolutions and motions in support of Chris!

Sign our open letter to the NEC here

saboteurs

We welcome Chris Williamson’s reinstatement! Now use trigger ballots to get rid of the saboteurs!

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Today we are celebrating the long overdue reinstatement of Chris Williamson MP. The reality is that he should never have been suspended in the first place!

The allegation that Chris had downplayed anti-Semitism was totally unfounded. His comments, made at a Momentum meeting in Sheffield, were condemned in a deliberate attempt to ruin both the reputation of Chris and Jeremy Corbyn.

Chris Williamson MP actually said: “The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say, I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we’ve backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party.”

Handy list of saboteurs that should be targeted in trigger ballots

His comments were clearly neither anti-Semitic, nor denying the existence of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party (as in wider society). But he did quite rightly point to the fact that there has also been a political campaign to “weaponise” accusations of anti-Semitism.

Chris is a target because he is one of the very few Labour MPs who have openly stood up to the witch-hunt of Corbyn supporters and because he has campaigned tirelessly for the much-needed democratisation of the party.

We are deeply concerned that anti-Corbyn right-wingers continue to smear and harass Chris, even after his reinstatement. Ruth Smeeth MP, chair of the rightwing Jewish Labour Movement’s parliamentary group, for example said that he had “demonstrated a pattern of behaviour over a period of many months, seemingly seeking to intentionally undermine, marginalise and harass the British Jewish community and Jewish Labour Party members, which has continually brought the Labour Party into disrepute”.

Despite the departure of Iain McNicol as general secretary, the witch-hunt of left-leaning party members continues. The main target of this campaign is, of course, Jeremy Corbyn himself. But thousands of Labour Party members have been investigated, suspended and expelled, often on spurious grounds. Like Chris Williamson, they are the collateral damage in this campaign to ‘get’ Corbyn.

We call on all Labour Party members to use trigger ballots to challenge saboteurs like Ruth Smeeth, Tom Watson and all those who continue to oppose the positive transformation of the Labour Party.

Here is a guide on how to go about it: http://www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org/model-motions/how-to-use-the-new-trigger-ballot-to-deselect-your-mp/

 

How to use the new trigger ballot to deselect your MP

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Labour Party conference 2018 voted to introduce two separate trigger ballots: one for all the Labour branches of a CLP, another one for all local affiliates (trade unions, socialist societies, cooperative organisations).

Here is how it works (please note that CLPs are still awaiting written guidelines – though MPs seem to have been sent a FAQ, see below):

1) On Monday June 25, general secretary Jennie Formby wrote to all sitting MPs, asking if they want to stand again in any new general election. They will have to let her know by July 8.

2) If the MP replies ‘yes’, the CLP will organise two trigger ballots:

  • Local party members will meet in their branches and are asked to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to retaining the sitting MP as the only candidate. A simple majority decides if the branches is counted as a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ vote.
  • Local affiliates (unions and other organisations) will probably not hold democratic elections, but also have one vote each.

3) If a minimum of 33 % of a CLP’s branches or 33 % of the CLP’s affiliates vote ‘no’ to retaining the sitting MP, a full selection process starts – ie, a democratic contest between different candidates, including the sitting MP. Please note that, according to a FAQ apparently sent to MPs by Jennie Formby at the beginning of July (see below), “the third of branches is calculated based only on the branches that do cast a vote” – which is excellent, if indeed this is how it will be implemented.

4) Only full Labour Party members have a vote in this stage of the process.

For example: A CLP has 10 branches and 10 affiliates. To start a full selection process, EITHER 4 LP branches OR 4 affiliated organisations have to vote ‘no’ when asked if they want to retain the sitting MP.

Click here for some background on trigger ballots and why they are so crucial to remaking the Labour Party. Also, remember that trigger ballots were only ever reformed to stop the much more democratic system of mandatory reselection going through at last year’s conference.

This FAQ was apparently sent to all MPs at the beginning of July (click on the picture to read it better)

 

 

Statement and model motion: Reinstate Pete Willsman!

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Labour Against the Witchhunt deplores the disciplinary action against NEC member Pete Willsman, who has been put under administrative suspension by general secretary Jennie Formby after “a number of complaints, including from NEC members, about Pete’s latest comments”.

Comrade Willsman insists that he made his comments to the American-Israeli author Tuvia Tenenbom “off the record”, which explains some of the clumsy formulations he used in the discussion. It is surely no coincidence that Pete’s comments, recorded in January, have been published at a time where the slow coup against Jeremy Corbyn is hotting up once again.

Nothing Pete Willsman said in these comments is anti-Semitic. He does, however, point to some uncomfortable truths exposed by the excellent Al Jazeera documentary The Lobby, which has been so willfully ignored by the mainstream media. The documentary reveals a systematic effort by the Israeli embassy to infiltrate the Labour Party and highlights the efforts by the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs to label critics of Israeli human rights abuses as anti-Semitic.

Letter sent by Corbyn to May asking for a public enquiry into Israeli interference in British politics… but nothing has happened.

This should be the subject of an overdue investigation rather than Pete Willsman’s role in drawing our attention to it. It is an outrage that Labour Party members are being disciplined for correctly stating that much of the anti-Semitism crisis has been manufactured, while anti-Corbyn MPs like Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman and Tom Watson insult, disrupt, make bogus accusations and work hand in glove with the capitalist media – with no repercussions coming their way. Those making false charges ought to face disciplinary action and should be held accountable for their actions.

A stalwart of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLDP), Pete Willsman has been serving on Labour’s NEC for many decades and is one of the few real allies of Jeremy Corbyn on that body. This is why he has been on the radar of those who will do anything to get rid of Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. We recall how he was secretly recorded at a meeting of the NEC in July 2018, where he can be heard angrily criticising all those who were responsible for so many false allegations of anti-Semitism in the party. His subsequent re-election to the NEC, despite being removed from Momentum’s slate at the behest of its owner, Jon Lansman, shows both his individual popularity and the widespread disillusionment with Momentum for its part in promoting the false ‘anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ narrative.

Pete Willsman’s suspension from the Labour Party should be lifted immediately.

Please use this model motion in your Labour Party branch, CLP, trade union or organisation.

Update: Meet Tuvia Tenenbom, the man who secretly recorded Peter Willsman and leaked the audio to the press just as the latest coup against Jeremy Corbyn is hotting up… Watch the short clip below and then judge for yourself if this really is a “journalist” whose sound recording guy happened to have left the microphone on… or if this does not look like somebody who might organise a sting operation against the most outspoken Corbyn supporter on Labour’s NEC … kind of proving Pete’s point about “interference”.

The Equality Commission’s Inquiry is part of the witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn

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It is unfortunately no surprise that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has opened an official investigation into the Labour Party.

Any kind of neutral body would have had to immediately dismiss the complaints lodged by the Jewish Labour Movement and the so-called Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. These organisations have no interest in fighting racism: their only purpose is to get rid of a certain Jeremy Corbyn. They have been blatant in their political opposition to the twice elected leader of the Labour Party – and have actively plotted against him from day one. (Click here for Tony Greenstein’s blog who looks at the reactionary politics of the CAA).

According to The Guardian, the EHRC will investigate “whether the party has unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people because they are Jewish” and if “the party and its employees have committed unlawful acts of discrimination or failed to respond to complaints of unlawful acts in an efficient and effective manner”.

If there has been unlawful discrimination by Labour against Jewish people, it is against Jewish anti-Zionists. Many of those, as well as black members, are involved in the struggle for Palestinian rights, which explains the disproportionate number of expulsions and suspensions of black and Jewish comrades.

However, the recent victory of Stan Keable in his employment tribunal shows what happens when these types of cases are put before a real judge: they are laughed out of court. Stan was fired for stating that in the 1930s the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazi regime – a well documented, if shameful, historical fact. The judge defended the right to express anti-Zionist views – even if they offend people.

Labour HQ should call this campaign what it is: part of the rightwing witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. The Labour leader remains an unreliable ally from the ruling class’s point of view, especially given his strong support for the rights of Palestinians.

The expulsion of Alistair Campbell, though welcome, does not change the overall picture. MPs like Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman and Tom Watson insult, disrupt, make bogus accusations and work hand in glove with the capitalist media – with no repercussions coming their way. Those making false charges ought to face justice at last.

Their outrageous behaviour goes unpunished because of the short-sighted and futile attempts to appease the right. This can only undermine the Corbyn leadership and play into the false ‘Anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ narrative.

Stan Keable: “Judgement defends the right to express anti-Zionist views”

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The judgement and reasons took more than two hours to deliver, and will be published online by the employment tribunal. It defends the right to freedom of speech – to express views in public, including anti-Zionist views, which may offend some people or many people. Much case law was quoted and elaborated. The judgement will provide an encyclopaedia of dismissal law and a protection of the human rights of employees to freedom of assembly (the right to demonstrate) and freedom of speech – a great product of a year’s hard work.
[Click here to read LAW’s brief report and for some background to the see case.]

 

THANKS

Thank to my solicitor, David Phillips of R&A Solicitors (Manchester), and pro bono barrister Iqbal Sram, who did a brilliant job. Thanks to H&F Unison steward Bruce Mackay, who represented me at the preliminary investigation hearing, and to Branch Secretary Patsy Ishmael, who accompanied me at the appeal hearing and insisted that my right to a trade union rep of my choice had been illegally denied. Thanks to barrister Dave Renton, who helped prepare me for the disciplinary hearing and Tony Greenstein, who represented me at the disciplinary hearing. Thanks to my witnesses – all Jewish: Hilary Russell, Professor Moshé Machover, Mike Cushman (Free Speech on Israel), Naomi Wimbourne-Idrissi (Jewish Voice for Labour), Pamela Blakelock (JVL), Glyn Secker (JVL). Thanks to my local comrades in Hammersmith CLP and Hammersmith & Fulham Momentum for not believing the nonsense that I was anti-Semitic. Thanks to my comrades in Labour Party Marxist and Labour Against the Witchhunt, who defended me throughout. And thanks to my Esperantist friends who knew that racist “Jew-hate” could not feature in my outlook.

www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org/uncategorized/stan-keable-has-won-his-employment-tribunal/

Stan Keable has won his employment tribunal

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We are very pleased to report that LAW secretary Stan Keable has today WON his employment tribunal against Hammersmith and Fulham council. The employment tribunal judge ruled that it was “an unfair dismissal, both procedurally and substantively.”

On April 21 2018, Stan was dismissed from his job with Hammersmith and Fulham Council after 17 years unblemished service as a housing officer, for having “brought the Council into disrepute”, by saying that the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazi regime – a well documented if shameful historical fact.

He said this on March 26, in a conversation in Parliament Square – nothing to do with work – while participating in the Jewish Voice for Labour demonstration in support of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, called in opposition to the rightwing ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration.

The BBC’s David Grossman tweeted a 105-second video clip of the conversation, retweeted by Tory MP Greg Hands to H&F Council Labour leader Stephen Cowan and then used by the Council to sack Stan.

Unison withdrew support because Stan rejected the bad advice of their regional organiser to plead guilty, throwing away the right to demonstrate and to freedom of speech.

This dismissal was clearly an extension of the McCarthyite witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party into the area of employment. Hopefully, this judgment will go some way to stop any more of such politically motivated sackings.

The remedy hearing is set for October 2, to determine possible reinstatement and the level of compensation.

Thank you to everybody who has supported Stan in this period!

Sign the petition: No to a national government! Implement the trigger ballot now!

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We are deeply worried about the delay to implement the trigger ballots, which Labour Party conference 2018 voted to reform. Trigger ballots are currently the only way in which Labour Party members can exercise some democratic control over their parliamentary representative.

This is particularly worrying with talks of a snap election or, worse, the formation of a national government. No doubt, Jeremy Corbyn would not be invited to join – let alone lead – such a national government, as the vast majority of MPs in the Parliamentary Labour Party have proven over and over again how deeply hostile they are to him and his politics.

The PLP must change and Labour Party members must be allowed to exercise the right to hold their representatives to account! Continue Reading “Sign the petition: No to a national government! Implement the trigger ballot now!”

Jeremy Corbyn’s letter is welcome, but very late

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We welcome Jeremy Corbyn’s fighting spirit in his letter to the Board of Deputies. As usual, the BoD reacted with fake outrage to the ‘news’ that Corbyn wrote a foreword to the hugely influential book ‘Imperialism – a Study’ by AN Hobson.

We particularly agree  with this paragraph:

This accusation is the latest in a series of equally ill-founded accusations of anti-Jewish racism that Labour’s political opponents have made against me. I note that the Hobson story was written by a Conservative Party peer in a newspaper whose editorial policy, and owner, have long been hostile to Labour. At a time when Jewish communities in the UK, and indeed throughout Europe, feel under attack, it is a matter of great regret that the issue of anti-Semitism is often politicised in this way.

John A Hobson did not only develop a theory of underconsumption to explain capitalism’s devastating cycles of boom and bust – but he was also the first writer to explain that capitalism, with its need to constantly expand, requires governments to constantly open up new markets to exploit: imperialism.

And while there is a now much-quoted paragraph in the 400 page work that does indeed reflect how anti-Semitism was prevalent and acceptable within the ruling class at the time, this hardly makes it a “deeply anti-Semitic book”, as The Times and The Guardian now claim. Incidentally, in 2011 The Guardian praised the work as “the definitive book on imperialism”. This just shows you how the political narrative around the issue of anti-Semitism has been utterly manipulated and changed in the last few years.

But Corbyn’s two-finger salute comes late, very late. Hundreds of Labour Party supporters have been suspended, expelled or remain under investigation for exactly the same kind of “politicised” and “ill-founded accusations of anti-Jewish racism”, among them Chris Williamson MP, Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Marc Wadsworth, Tony Greenstein and many, many more. Why won’t he come out in their defence, too? The charges against them have been just as ridiculous.

We also hope that Corbyn will criticise the Jewish Labour Movement in similarly strong terms. After all, they have – once again – used the opportunity to continue their campaign of sabotage: They have called on him to “consider his position” and accused him of having “endorsed antisemitic propaganda”. “Any other member would have been suspended after this. This is why JLM members overwhelmingly passed a motion of no confidence in him and his leadership at our AGM two weeks ago. A fish rots from the head.”

And the Jewish Labour Movement clearly is rotten through and through. For a start, it does not represent “Jewish members of the Labour Party”: you do not have to be Jewish to join it and you certainly do not have to be a member of the Labour Party. Adam Langleben, for example, the newly elected campaigns officer of the JLM, has left the Labour Party with much fanfare in February and is, we hear,  supporting Chuka Umunna’s Tinge Party.

Congratulations to Sam Gorst – under investigation, but elected Labour councillor!

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Congratulations to Sam Gorst, who has just been elected Labour Party councillor in Cressington – despite a nasty campaign against him.

In the run-up to the local and European Union elections rightwingers in and outside the Labour Party have been busy scrolling through the Facebook and Twitter accounts of Labour candidates in particular. Naturally, they have been hugely successful in discovering ‘problematic’, often historic, posts (that were not considered problematic at all a few short years back).

Sam Gorst, for example, is under investigation for alleged “anti-Semitism”, because it appears he tweeted something “in defence of former London mayor Ken Livingstone”. His accounts have been deleted, but if that is all, then clearly the compliance unit has once again massively overreached. After all, Livingstone resigned from Labour after the NEC decided to readmit him after a one-year-suspension. The right wing  – much emboldened by their success with the campaign to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism – freaked out and the Corbyn leadership was in agony over what to do with Livingstone. He resigned to spare Corbyn any more blushes – to no avail, of course. Because Corbyn and his allies have continuously given in to the witch-hunters rather than standing up to them, Livingstone is now ‘known’ to be an anti-Semite (as is Corbyn himself, of course).

Click here to read an article by Moshe Machover  on the ‘Ken Livingstone affair’: “The campaign [by the witch-hunters] has been remarkably successful and, of course, the biggest scalp so far is that of former London mayor and former NEC member, Ken Livingstone. What did he say that got him suspended? Hitler came to power in 1932 and “supported Zionism until he went mad”. Of course, he got the date wrong, Hitler came to power in 1933. It was also wrong to personalise the shift in policy. But the point he was making about the Nazi regime and Zionism is basically correct, as I shall demonstrate.”

Ken Livingstone is new honorary president of Labour Against the Witchhunt (alongside comrade Machover) – check out how LAW fought to extract a rare apology from the Mail on Sunday when it maliciously misreported our meeting with him and Jackie Walker on March 25.

Mail on Sunday finally apologises to Ken Livingstone!

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Thanks to everybody who complained to the Mail on Sunday about its malicious and misleading article about our meeting ‘Defend the Left’ on March 25. On April 4, the rag has finally apologised to Ken Livingstone (which was printed in the April 7 edition of the Mail on Sunday):

Ken Livingstone said: “A massive thank you to the 1000s of people who gave their support over the last few days & to those who complained to the Mail on Sunday regarding their complete distortion of my recent remarks.

The correction is welcome, but does not change the fact that 1000s of people saw – & other media outlets reprinted – these lies.

We must continue to challenge how parts of the media act, spreading lie after lie, with little regard for the truth, and not be deterred in our campaigning for a better society, for the many not the few.”

The Mail apology reads: “An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that Mr Livingstone had said it was not anti-Semitic to hate the Jews of Israel. In fact he told the meeting the claim he had said such a thing was one of the lies being spread about him. We apologise for this error.”


This is how we broke the story on Sunday March 31:

Continue Reading “Mail on Sunday finally apologises to Ken Livingstone!”

Support Chris Williamson: Seven things you can do

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  1. Use either of these draft motions  in your Labour Party branch/CLP. If successful, please send it to Jennie Formby and to LAW, so that we can publish it alongside other statements and resolutions here. Please note: We hear that in some branches and CLPs, the chair prevented the meeting from discussing motions in support of Chris, because of apparent recent advice by Labour HQ. Please note that there is NO BAN on discussing motions in support of Chris. We are dealing with the confusion on this matter in detail here. This is LAW’s statement on Chris’ suspension.
  2. Sign our petition demanding Chris’ reinstatement – and share it far and wide. There is another, simple one doing the rounds ‘Don’t Expel Chris Williamson’ and a good Open Letter to Jennie Formby from Labour Party members. Tony Greenstein has also produced a petition and there is another supportable petition online. Sign them all!
  3. If you’re on Twitter, use #IStandWithChrisWilliamson
  4. Put on a showing of ‘The Witchhunt’ documentary with Jackie Walker in your locality to better understand the background to this decision.
  5. Email Jennie Formby to protest against this decision.
  6. Join our March 26 protest party at the expulsion hearing of Jackie Walker (details to be confirmed, Facebook event here). Should Chris still be suspended, we will of course use the opportunity to demand his reinstatement.
  7. The first badge we’ve seen in solidarity with Chris is available here.

Paul Jonson reinstated!

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Paul Jonson had been suspended last month by Dudley council after having attended a protest outside the surgery of Ian Austin MP, who in July sent out a tweet stating “Hamas and the Palestinians were responsible for the deaths of 18 Gazans” during the Great Return March in May 2018. Comrade Jonson also published a post on Facebook declaring that “Israel is a racist endeavour” (in response to Labour NEC’s adoption of the ‘working definition’ of Anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance).

Read Paul’s full statement explaining his case here.

On December 19, the council found that comrade Jonson had “no case to answer” and he was allowed to  return to work with immediate effect.

This is an important victory in the fight against the highly politicised campaign that wants to label all criticism of Israel as ‘anti-Semitic’.

Do not cooperate with the ‘Antisemitism Monitoring Centre’!

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We call on all Labour Party members to stay well clear of the Jewish Labour Movement’s latest stunt. The JLM, which is the sister party of the Zionist Labor Party in Israel, has written to CLP secretaries, asking them to distribute their “survey” on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party to all local members. Many CLP secretaries have quite rightly moved this email directly into their Spam folder. If you have been unfortunate enough to have received the email, we urge you to do the same.

It is laughable to claim, as the JLM does, that it has “engaged, in good faith, with the Labour Party to try and solve the severe and ongoing crisis of Labour anti-Semitism”. The JLM has neither acted in “good faith”, nor has it got any interest in solving “the crisis of Labour anti-Semitism”. After all, the JLM has done tremendous work in making rare, isolated cases into a “crisis” in the first place. Hundreds, if not thousands, of supporters of Jeremy Corbyn have been witch-hunted in this campaign, which has nothing to do with fighting anti-Semitism – but everything with getting rid of Corbyn, a committed friend of the Palestinians.

We have seen people being suspended for using the word “Zio” or for expressing their outrage of the horrendous crimes committed by the state of Israel in a confused manner. The vast majority of these people are clearly not anti-Semitic. And yet, they have been publicly labeled as such by the JLM, the Board of Deputies and the despicable Jonathan Sachs, who has gone as far as calling Jeremy Corbyn an anti-Semite. We know that the JLM has reported many cases to Labour’s compliance unit, often causing great distress to the members concerned.

Socialists in the Labour Party should show up this “survey” for what it is – a clearly biased attempt to exacerbate the poisonous atmosphere of fear and suspicion in the party.

“They can fuck off”. Report of LAW’s first ever fringe meeting at LP conference

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Labour Against the Witchhunt held a successful fringe meeting at the Labour conference. Stan Keable reports

“There can be no greater injustice than anti-racists being accused of racism by racists,” the Scouse comedian Alexie Sayle told LAW’s packed fringe meeting on Sunday night. The potential for a “massive transformation” of the Labour Party and society opened up by “the miracle of Jeremy Corbyn” has overcome Alexei’s longstanding objection to voting. Having grown up in a communist family, he used to say: “Don’t vote, struggle against capitalism”. But, although Jeremy has changed all that, Alexei has not joined the Labour Party. A comedian needs to maintain their independence, he said, to be able to criticise any politician. The witch-hunters can’t expel me because I am not a member, he added, “so they can fuck off!” (The democracy we fight for, of course, includes the right of any Labour member, comedians included, to criticise all Labour leaders.)

Jewish Voice for Labour’s Jo Bird, newly elected four weeks ago as a councillor in Birkenhead, pointed out that she and her comrades had been canvassing for weeks, talking to people about all manner of issues, but “no-one raised the issue of anti-Semitism on the door”. She was appalled by Birkenhead MP Frank Field. He rounded on the rank-and-file party membership within his constituency. He invented accusations of anti-Semitism and bullying. To all those party members falsely suspended and expelled, she said: “You are owed a huge apology. On behalf of the party, I am very, very sorry.”

That moving apology became particularly poignant when 73-year-old Bob Walker, the youngest of the ‘Garston 3’, described how three disabled pensioners were expelled for merely attending a meeting of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition – to discuss socialism. Gerry Tyrell, Tony Lock and Bob were rewarded for their tireless work of knocking on doors and delivering leaflets in all weathers during the 2017 general election campaign by being expelled. They were not told the names of their accusers or the evidence against them. Nor was there any hearing or right of appeal. LAW demands due process before any disciplinary sanction is taken.

Ex-Liverpool councillor Tony Mulhearn called on Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell to stand up to the witch-hunters: “No more apologies, no more retreats. When you apologise, you are accepting you did something wrong.” He called out Andrew Marr for the bias he showed that morning while interviewing Corbyn, insistently cross-examining him about anti-Semitism allegations for more than 20 minutes. “Jeremy should have asked Marr who prepares such questions for him”, he said. Moreover, Corbyn should have asked: “Why don’t you show pictures of me on anti-racist demonstrations?” and “Why are Jews who support Jeremy never interviewed?” The smear campaign is “producing fear among Jewish people”, Mulhearn added.

Recalling the “ridiculously long list of charges” he faced in his own expulsion in 1986, comrade Mulhearn reminded us of how that earlier witch-hunt had been politically driven by the “bloated toad” Neil Kinnock. He insisted on getting people expelled regardless of the facts. “A witch-hunt is irrational”, said Tony, “because the decision has already been made”. At that time, John McDonnell had stood firm in his defence, but is now singing a different tune: “We need to be conciliatory, we are a broad church.” As LAW vice-chair Tony Greenstein commented: “Even the broadest church expels atheists. The ‘atheists’ in our party are those who are not, and never have been, socialists.”

Chairperson Annyana Ndukwe of Liverpool LAW and Grassroots Black Left read out a solidarity message from Asa Winstanley of Electronic Intifada, who was unable to join the panel of speakers:

Despite the new leftwing general secretary Labour has, the party bureaucracy is still disciplining members on entirely fallacious pretexts. One comrade in Brighton showed me a letter she received this very month from Labour’s head of complaints, Sophie Goodyear, warning her that several “provocative” tweets she’d allegedly written in 2016 had “caused offence” and that such “abuse” would “not be tolerated” in Labour … One of the three tweets cited was simply the comrade posting the headline and link to my April 2016 article, ‘How Israel lobby manufactured UK Labour Party’s anti-Semitism crisis’ without comment … it seems that at least some in Labour HQ are treating critical journalism like Electronic Intifada as banned publications. (Full text here)

Tony Greenstein, expelled in February 2018, told us how he had also been suspended from the party in 1992 by then general secretary Larry Whitty, now a Lord – “well rewarded for services rendered to the capitalist state”, as comrade Mulhearn put it. Comrade Greenstein emphasised that the witch-hunt is “not about anti-Semitism, it is about removing Corbyn as leader”.

Chris Williamson MP, introduced by comrade Ndukwe as “one of the few MPs who is a true socialist”, confronted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the party, declaring that he often describes Israel as an apartheid state. He compared Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to the fate of the Cherokees in America. Denouncing the “terrible injustice” being done to Jackie Walker, he condemned the way Marc Wadsworth had been “demonised as a bigot” for merely “asking a question at a press conference”.

Comrade Williamson, advocating mandatory reselection, quoted Ed Miliband’s advice: “If we trusted the members more, we would not have made so many mistakes”. And he laid into Neil Kinnock’s view that the party belongs to the MPs, not the members. As for those MPs who object to reselection on the grounds of employment rights: “It ain’t a job, mate! You are elected as a representative of the party and the people who elected you.”

Calling on Corbyn and McDonnell to wake up and confront the rightwing witch-hunters, comrade Williamson said McCarthyism, like all bullying, only stopped when people stood up to it. “The monster is getting bigger. Stop feeding the beast!”


LAW has also been running a number of stalls in Liverpool, organised a successful emergency lobby of the NEC and the showing of Jackie Walker’s ‘The Lynching’ with actress Jo Martin taking over Jackie’s role.

Open letter: No Jennie Formby, we will not be informers!

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We, the undersigned, are greatly concerned about recent communication from Labour’s General Secretary Jennie Formby aimed at Facebook groups which have ‘Labour Party’ or ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ in their title (the full letter is below).

We are particularly outraged by the following passage which states “posts and conversations with antisemitic or otherwise discriminatory content” should be emailed to “complaints@labour.org.uk with screenshots and links […] if you believe the individual who has posted them may be a Labour member so that this can be investigated by the Party.

As Facebook users, we reject any attempt to make us informers to Labour’s dysfunctional disciplinary processes. Social media and Facebook are effective because they allow the exchange of ideas, even if at times clumsily expressed. Most Facebook groups police themselves adequately, without the assistance of a compliance unit, whose targets to date have almost exclusively been

  • on the left of the Party
  • supporters of Palestinian rights
  • critics of Israel and Zionism
  • and disproportionately black and Jewish

Given the Labour Party’s recent adoption of the ‘working definition’ of anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which in the words of the Jewish former Court of Appeal judge, Sir Stephen Sedley, is “calculatedly misleading” and the IHRA’s purposeful conflation of criticism of Israel and Zionism with anti-Semitism, we have no confidence that free speech to criticise Israel will be guaranteed, if this approach is accepted across social media.

What constitutes anti-Semitism remains disputed. The traditional definition, as per the Oxford English Dictionary is, “hostility to or prejudice against Jews”. The IHRA definition on the other hand takes up over 500 words, many of which refer to Israel.

For example, John McDonnell stated in a recent interview with Jewish News: “What we’re saying is it’s anti-Semitic to oppose a Jewish state”. We disagree. Opposing a state that systematically, and constitutionally, marginalises and demonises Palestinians while subjecting them to discrimination is by definition a form of apartheid. It is not ant-Semitism to state this fact.

Your letter, as an attempt to make Facebook users responsible for the conduct of other group members, displays the same method used by the media to smear Jeremy Corbyn when he did not speak up against (the very few) people posting nonsense in a group he happened to be a member of.

We believe the ongoing witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters is bringing the party into disrepute. Your email will yet again fan the flames of this toxic climate, leading to ever more malicious and vexatious allegations and complaints.

We believe that open and democratic debate, without fear of being reported, is the best way to educate people and fight prejudice and racism. This new intrusion on free speech can only undermine the extraordinary effectiveness of social media as a tool to support the leader and the left in the party.

We will oppose any attempt to outsource education on anti-Semitism to the Jewish Labour Movement, which is the British wing of the Israeli Labour Party and covertly filmed and leaked a video of Jackie Walker at a closed training event in order to damage the party.

  • We remain determined to eradicate all forms of discrimination from our Party.
  • When we see prejudice or hate, we always speak up.
  • When we see discrimination, we always oppose it.
  • When we are asked to behave unjustly, we always refuse.

SIGN THIS OPEN LETTER HERE.


Full communication from Jennie Formby:

I’m writing to you as I understand that you are an admin or moderator of a Facebook group which refers to the Labour Party or Jeremy Corbyn in its title. Continue Reading “Open letter: No Jennie Formby, we will not be informers!”

Statement on the September 4 decision to adopt the full IHRA

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The September 4 decision of Labour’s National Executive Committee to back the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is a gift to the right in party.

The intent of this document is not to define Anti-Semitism – after all, the Oxford English Dictionarymanages that in six words: “Hostility to or prejudice against Jews.” No, its sole purpose is to conflate criticism of Zionism and Israel with anti-Semitism. Most IHRA examples refer to Israel and the IHRA definition is labeling anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic.

In their identical front pages of July 25, the Jewish Chronicle, the Jewish Telegraphand Jewish Newsopenly stated that, “Had the full IHRA definition with examples relating to Israel been approved [by the NEC], hundreds, if not thousands, of Labour and Momentum members would need to be expelled.”

Including Jeremy Corbyn, of course. At long last, the witch-hunt in the Labour Party has reached its main target. For the last three years, vastly exaggerated claims that the Labour Party is awash with anti-Semites have been used to attack the left. But Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Tony Greenstein and hundreds of other Labour Party members were little more than collateral damage.

This vicious campaign, orchestrated by the pro-Zionist lobby and the right in the party, never had anything to do with fighting anti-Semitism – but everything with getting rid of Jeremy Corbyn. His pro-Palestinian views and socialist policies make him unacceptable to both.

And now the NEC – on paper dominated by the pro-Corbyn left – has given in once again. Momentum owner Jon Lansman has been lobbying for the adoption of the full IHRA – and he presumably was behind moves to stop even Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘personal statement’, which would have qualified some of the ‘examples’. But Corbyn was told that there “wasn’t a majority for it”.

But even this latest capitulation will not stop the campaign of the right, as Margaret Hodge has already proven: A day before the meeting, she said accepting the full IHRA definition, without any caveats, would not be enough to stop her and others from attacking Corbyn: “I think the moment has passed. The problem is that Jeremy Corbyn is the problem.”

One thing is for certain. The IHRA will not stop the fake anti-Semitism campaign. On the contrary the NEC’s decision has given it renewed strength.

It is time to take a principled stance. The joint demonstration on September 4 by Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Against the Witchhunt and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network was magnificent. Over 200 people turned up to show their opposition to the IHRA and to demonstrate their anger at the false accusations of anti-Semitism. A number of Momentum groups were present, as Lansman slunk in without saying a word. Click here for our report.

There is still time to bring this witch-hunt to an end. But Jeremy Corbyn and his allies have to stand up to the enemies of the democratic Labour left:

  • They have to reject the whole IHRA working definition and clearly say that the Labour Party is not riddled with anti-Semites.
  • All those summarily expelled or suspended from membership without due process should be immediately reinstated.
  • We need mandatory reselection of all Labour MPs. The right wing saboteurs in the PLP have to go.
  • Momentum has be radically democratised – or abolished.Instead of defending Corbyn, Momentum owner Jon Lansman has sided with the witch-hunters. He has thrown Jackie Walker and Pete Willsman to the wolves and is now ready to abandon Corbyn, too. He wants the term ‘Zionism’ banned. He runs Momentum like a dictator, having abolished all democratic structures.
But democracy and free speech are essential in the struggle to transform our party and society.

 

NEC lobby: no to IHRA, yes to freedom of speech!

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Labour Against the Witchhunt has been lobbying Labour’s NEC meetings since February, for its three basic aims – rejection of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism (because it conflates anti-Zionismm with anti-Semitism), abolition of Rule 2.1.4.B (which allows party apparatchiks to expel members without due process, and is arbitrarily used against the left), and abolition off the hated Compliance Unit (which implements arbitrary instant suspensions and expulsions). Today, September 4, the lobby of the NEC’s special meeting to deal with the so called anti-Semitism crisis in the party, was much enhanced as the lobby was also called by Jewish Voice for Labour, Free Speech on Israel, Camden Momentum, Labour Representation Committee and the recently formed ‘Back the NEC Code’ – launched in frustration at Momentum’s total failure to defend Corbyn from the rightwing anti-Semitism smear campaign. Continue Reading “NEC lobby: no to IHRA, yes to freedom of speech!”

Mass lobby on September 4: Say no to IHRA examples!

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On September 4, the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party will be discussing the adoption of ALL examples of the definition on Anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

Most of these examples are designed to conflate criticism of Israel with Anti-Semitism. If adopted, they would, for example, ban the description of Israel as a racist state. We believe that adopting these examples would be major defeat for the left.

That is of course what this whole campaign is about: to get rid of Corbyn and his supporters and to stop the transformation of the Labour Party into a vehicle for socialist change. For this, we need a culture of open debate and criticism, not a culture of fear and censorship. As socialists, we must defend the right to openly criticise the crimes and injustice committed against the Palestinians.

We call on NEC members to resist this pressure from the right in and outside the party. We are therefore joining other organisations and groups in calling for a mass protest outside Labour Party HQ.

Tuesday September 4, 9am
Labour HQ, Southside,
105 Victoria Street
London SW1E 6QT
Bring banners, posters and witches costumes!
Facebook event here

LAW’s leaflet for the event is available here in PDF format.

More background information:

 

Momentum drops Pete Willsman – support the comrade!

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Pete Willsman, stalwart of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD), is the latest Corbyn supporter in the crosshairs of the right in the Labour Party. Incredibly, in this witch-hunt they are supported by the likes of former left-winger Owen Jones, who calls on people not to vote for Willsman in the forthcoming NEC elections. To make matters worse, Momentum’s leadership has today (August 2) decided to withdraw support from comrade Willsman. It is bad enough dealing with the right in the party – but when the left gets involved in firing shots at its own side, we are in serious trouble!

Clearly, nothing Willsman said at the July NEC meeting was even vaguely anti-Semitic. He has been a staunch supporter of the left within the party for decades and deserves the full support of all genuine socialists and democrats in the Labour movement.

We urge all Labour Party members to vote for him in the current NEC elections. We find it more difficult to call for support for the other eight candidates put up by Momentum. But although we strongly criticise how undemocratically this slate has been put together and believe that quite a few of the candidates on the list have been supportive – or at least silent – on the ongoing witch-hunt, we cannot run the risk of giving the right another seat on the important leadership body.But clearly, the methods employed in choosing the candidates – and some of the candidates – stink to heaven.

If you are a member of Momentum, please send letters of protest to ncg@peoplesmomentum.com and laura.parker@peoplesmomentum.com

Below, a statement issued by Walter Wolfgang:

“I came to Britain as a refugee from Nazi Germany, with a strong and continuing commitment to Judaism, and still attend my synagogue regularly.  I have been a member the Labour Party for 70 years. As a former member of Labour’s National Executive Committee myself, I have served with Pete Willsman and know him to be a committed anti-racist and a strong supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. I am dismayed that Pete is under attack at the very time when the ballot for the NEC is taking place, and despite his deep and public apology. Pete Willsman is a staunch champion of party democracy. I will be voting for him, and urge Labour Party members to do likewise.”

  • There have also been renewed attempts to expel from the Labour Party Moshé Machover, LAW’s honorary president and distinguished author on Palestinian rights. When they last expelled him, the party had to reinstate the comrade within the month.
  • Similarly outrageous is the charge against Sheffield Labour Party member Lee Rock, who is currently being investigated by Labour’s compliance unit for what might well be the most ridiculous disciplinary charge we have yet come across. The reason for the investigation is“your participation in an extended debate on a Facebook group, in which you argued in favour of masturbation in workplaces”. We have reproduced an article about this on our website. Clearly, this investigation needs to be shut down – accompanied by a public apology and action taken against those who have made this vexatious complaint. Tony Greenstein also commented on the affair in his pointedly titled article, Labour’s War Against Wankers.

Muddying the water: LAW statement on Labour’s new Anti-Semitism Code of Conduct

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LAW Statement, July 9 2018:

Labour’s Anti-Semitism Code of Conduct

The Labour Party’s new Anti-Semitism Code of Conduct, issued last week, was clearly intended to put an end to the campaign of false allegations of anti-Semitism. Instead it has achieved the precise opposite. The Code has been the subject of a fierce attack by Zionist organisations and the mass media. It has also caused confusion amongst our allies, some of whom have welcomed it.

The campaign of false allegations is not driven by a failure to define anti-Semitism but is a politically motivated attack by the Right and supporters of Zionism. The Code will not prevent the weaponisation of anti-Semitism by those whose primary concern is defence of Israel, right or wrong. The expulsion of Tony Greenstein, Marc Wadsworth, Cyril Chilson and others was the product of a deliberate smear campaign aimed at the Corbyn leadership. Those who believe that the Code marks the end of the false anti-Semitism campaign against the Labour Party are sadly mistaken. Continue Reading “Muddying the water: LAW statement on Labour’s new Anti-Semitism Code of Conduct”

Support Stan Keable’s campaign for reinstatement!

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Please support Stan Keable’s campaign for reinstatement. Stan, secretary of Labour Against the Witchhunt, has been sacked for stating an historically verifiable fact. And now his union (Unison) has let him down too. He has been advised of how much a barrister would cost to represent him at an employment tribunal. Please give generously and spread this message. Thank you!

https://www.gofundme.com/ReinstateStanKeable

On April 21 2018, I was dismissed from my job with Hammersmith and Fulham Council after 17 years unblemished service as a housing enforcer, for having “brought the Council into disrepute”, by saying that the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazi regime – a well documented if shameful historical fact.

I said this on March 26, in a conversation in Parliament Square – nothing to do with work – while participating in the Jewish Voice for Labour demonstration in support of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, called in opposition to the rightwing ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration.

The BBC’s David Grossman tweeted a 105-second video clip of the conversation, retweeted by Tory MP Greg Hands to H&F Council Labour leader Stephen Cowan and then used by the Council to sack me.

Unison has withdrawn support because I rejected the bad advice of their regional organiser to plead guilty, throwing away the right to demonstrate and to freedom of speech – so I need funds for a barrister and potential legal costs to challenge my political victimisation at an employment tribunal, as well as for campaigning for reinstatement.

My dismissal extends the McCarthyite witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party to the area of employment. Don’t let me be the first of many political sackings.

Please give generously. Any surplus funds will be passed to Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW) for campaigning.

Read more:

My open letter to H&F Councillors:
http://www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org/campaigns/stan-keables-open-letter-to-hammersmith-fulham-labour-councillors-and-party-members/

Mike Cushman – ‘How talking about Zionism can lose you your job’:
http://freespeechonisrael.org.uk/keable-sacking/#sthash.ueizxvgU.xeBSvgDw.dpbs

Tony Greenstein – ‘No criticism permitted’:
https://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1203/no-criticism-permitted/

LAW statement: Corbyn was wrong to pressurise Ken Livingstone into leaving the Labour Party

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It is clear from reports such as John Rentoul in The Independent that Ken Livingstone’s resignation was not voluntary but the result of pressure exerted by Jeremy Corbyn and his close associates. We refer in particular to Shami Chakrabarti’s disgraceful attack on Livingstone on BBC’s Sunday Politics (May 13),when she threatened she would quit the Labour front bench if Livingstone was not expelled. Chakrabarti has not only ignored her own recommendations on natural justice and due process but she has also destroyed her own reputation, as a former Director of Liberty, for a belief in freedom of expression.

Nothing Livingstone was alleged to have done could in any way be described as anti-Semitic.  His remark that “Hitler supported Zionism” is confirmed by a host of Holocaust historians.  If he gave offence to supporters of Israel and Zionism it is because of the appalling record historically of Zionism when it comes to fighting real anti-Semites. Continue Reading “LAW statement: Corbyn was wrong to pressurise Ken Livingstone into leaving the Labour Party”

Mike Cushman: How talking about Zionism can lose you your job

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Mike Cushman reports how Stan Keable (LAW secretary) has been sacked by Hammersmith and Fulham Council for a private conversation when he attended the Jewish Voice for Labour Parliament Square rally on 26 March. This article first appeared on Free Speech on Israel. 

Stan engaged in a discussion with a Zionist during the Parliament Square rally, a conversation that happened to be recorded by the BBC and broadcast. During the one on one discussion Stan talked about the historically undisputed collaboration between the Nazis and the German Zionist leadership. At no time did Stan make any, even remotely, antisemitic.

Hammersmith and Fulham Tory MP Greg Hands circulated the video of the conversation, publicised on Twitter and then referred it to the New Labour Leader of the Council. That letter, which was the first public association of Greg with the Council was made public. This linking of Greg with the Council was the sole basis of the charge of ‘bringing the council into disrepute’. Hands publicised Stan’s link with the Council and then this publicising was, itself, used as the basis for dismissal. An offence that only existed because the complainant had caused it to exist. Continue Reading “Mike Cushman: How talking about Zionism can lose you your job”

LAW statement on the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth

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“Victim of a politically motivated campaign against Jeremy Corbyn”

Labour Against the Witchhunt strongly condemns the outrageous decision to expel Marc Wadsworth after a two-day hearing in front of three right-wing members of Labour’s National Constitutional Committee.

Marc is the latest victim of the politically motivated witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. Marc Wadsworth, a lifelong campaigner against racism, has been smeared and his reputation tarnished, first by the vile and false allegations against him and now, to top it off, by this deeply unjust verdict. Following 22 months of trial-by-media, our comrade had very little chance of receiving a fair hearing – and he did not get one. Continue Reading “LAW statement on the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth”

In solidarity with Marc Wadsworth!

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Great turnout today at the Labour Party expulsion hearing of anti-racism campaigner Marc Wadsworth outside Church House. Credit to Chris Williamson MP who spoke as a witness on behalf of Marc, while Ruth Smeeth MP was ‘accompanied’ into the hearing by a number of right-wing MPs.

Protestors appealed for due process to be applied – which would have to lead to Marc being totally exonerated and reinstated to full membership. He is one of the many victims of the witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn supporters. Solidarity, comrade Marc! His hearing is scheduled to last two days.

Click here for a report in The Guardian.

Sign this open letter to Jeremy Corbyn and the left on the NEC

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As socialist members and Labour Party supporters, we are firm opponents of all forms of racism, fascism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all other kinds of oppression. Many of us have been actively campaigning against them for many years, often alongside you, John McDonnell and other comrades.

We know anti-Semitism exists in society and needs to be combatted. But we are seriously worried about the current climate in the Labour Party, where anycriticism of the actions of the state of Israel is now immediately conflated with anti-Semitism. But anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism.

Continue Reading “Sign this open letter to Jeremy Corbyn and the left on the NEC”

LAW lobby: NEC members sneak in through the back door

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Intrepid opponents of the Labour purge of pro-Corbyn supporters braved freezing weather to be on a lobby of the party’s National Executive Committee today. They included members of Grassroots Black Left, the Labour Representation Committee, Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Party Marxists and Brighton and Hove Momentum. Organised by Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW), the high-spirited demo sighted party leader Corbyn, his political advisor Katy Clark and Campaign for Labour Party Democracy secretary Peter Willsman, an NEC member, going into the meeting at Labour’s Southside headquarters in central London. But, mysteriously, despite the people on the lobby being outside the office block an hour before the NEC meeting started, no more members of Labour’s 39-strong ruling body, where the Corbyn-backing Left recently took control, were seen – suggesting they may have slipped into the building from a back entrance to avoid being questioned. The campaigners chanted: “Stop the witch hunts”, “End the suspensions”, and “Implement Chakrabarti now”.

Former Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker, who has been suspended by Labour for almost two years, said: “We welcome the resignation of general secretary Iain McNicol and his replacement today by Jennie Formby, a Jeremy Corbyn supporter whom LAW has critically supported. Things are definitely changing in the party, but they are not changing fast enough for a lot of members who remain suspended or expelled based on trumped-up or false charges or simply because they are active supporters of Corbyn.”

Grassroots Black Left’s Marc Wadsworth, the veteran anti-racist campaigner suspended by Labour in June 2016 whose expulsion hearing is on April 25, was on the lobby with Walker and Tony Greenstein, who, despite being Jewish, has been expelled on a false charge of anti-semitism. Wadsworth said: “We demand that the recommendations of the 2016 Chakrabarti report in respect of natural justice and due process are implemented without any further delay. The NEC’s failure to so far make the long-overdue changes has brought the party, that prides itself on upholding justice for all, into disrepute. The divisive purge of Jeremy Corbyn supporters has prevented and discouraged new members from getting involved in party life, while costly Labour resources have been wasted in persecuting some of the most energetic and effective campaigners for social change.”

 

LAW welcomes Jon Lansman’s decision to withdraw

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March 11 2018

Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW) welcomes Jon Lansman’s decision to finally listen to his party comrades, including Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, and withdraw as a candidate for the General Secretary post.

We are mystified as to why Lansman, who purports to back the greater representation of women at all levels of the Labour Party, ran against Unite’s Jennie Formby in the first place. LAW critically supports Formby for the job. We are concerned about her record on Labour’s NEC  where it appears she has, as recently as last week, failed to oppose the witch hunting of Jeremy Corbyn supporters by right-wingers who have weaponised false claims of anti-semitism despite Formby herself being the target of such smears. Nobody in the Labour Party can truly be a socialist if they support the purge and that includes the future general secretary.

Lansman, given his record in abolishing all democratic structures within Momentum and imposing a new constitution, is unfit to be Labour General Secretary.

He got rid of the right of Momentum’s “liberation strands”, such as Momentum Black Connexions/Caucus, to have direct representation on the leading national bodies of Momentum.  More recently, he closed down Momentum’s youth group. This demonstrates his serious lack of commitment to the self-organisation of oppressed and disadvantaged groups in the Labour Party.

Labour Against the Witchhunt believes that Lansman lacks the democratic credentials necessary to become general secretary of the Labour Party, especially in view of previous General Secretary Iain McNicol’s purge of thousands of pro-Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party members and the particularly those as a result of false accusations of anti-semitism and others based on members’ alleged “support for other organisations” using rule 2.1.4.B.

The Labour Party now needs a General Secretary who will put a decisive stop to the witch-hunt who will make sure that all disciplinary charges are dealt with fairly, swiftly, transparently and with the presumption of “innocent until proven guilty”.

Jackie Walker was suspended from Labour membership on trumped-up charges of anti-semitism, following Lansman’s pre-emptive action in removing her as Momentum’s vice-chair, and, at the time, making plain his sympathies with the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement who have championed the witchhunt in order to purge the party of Corbyn-supporting anti-Zionists.

Lansman’s constitution for Momentum bars from membership all those expelled by the Labour Party’s compliance unit. This rule that has been used exclusively against left-wingers. Lansman has since come out in support of keeping the rule (2.1.4.B) in Labour’s constitution.

He has also opposed our demands for the abolition of the Compliance Unit. We believe that all disciplinary matters should be dealt with by elected representatives.

Labour’s next general secretary should ensure the NEC immediately implements the recommendations on the party’s disciplinary procedure made by the Shami Chakrabarti Report of June 30 2016.

We believe that Unite’s Jennie Formby would be the best choice for general secretary. As a supporter of the rights of the Palestinians people we think her election would send a powerful political signal. We hope that her tenure would mark the beginning of the end of the witch-hunt.

Steering Committee
Labour Against the Witchhunt

 

Why we cannot support Jon Lansman’s Labour Party general secretary bid

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Some of us are members of Momentum, some have never joined – and some of us left the organisation after January 2017, when its leader Jon Lansman abolished all democratic structures and imposed a new constitution, riding roughshod over the organisation’s members.

It should be noted that, as part of this coup, Lansman abolished the right of Momentum’s “liberation strands” to have direct representation on the leading national bodies of the organisation. Among the consequences of this was the breaking up of Momentum Black Connexions/Caucus. More recently, he closed down Momentum’s youth group. This demonstrates his serious lack of commitment to the self-organisation, self-determination and autonomy of disadvantaged groups in society.

Wes Stressing MP: new friend of Jon Lansman’s

As a consequence of Lansman’s behaviour, Labour Against the Witchhunt believes he lacks the democratic credentials to become the kind of general secretary that the Labour Party now needs in order to heal the wounds inflicted by Iain McNicol’s divisiveness. As general secretary, McNicol was directly in charge of the discredited compliance unit and thereby responsible for the purge of thousands of pro-Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party members. The automatic and instant expulsions and suspensions overseen by McNicol – especially those based on alleged anti-semitism and those based on members’ alleged “support for other organisations” using rule 2.1.4.B – have brought the party into disrepute. They have prevented and discouraged new members from getting involved in party life, while valuable resources have been wasted in persecuting some of the most energetic and effective campaigners for social change. Continue Reading “Why we cannot support Jon Lansman’s Labour Party general secretary bid”

Ken Loach: “This witch-hunt is a complete nonsense”

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Filmmaker Ken Loach addressed spirited meeting of Labour Against the Witchhunt in London on January 29

More than 70 people crammed into London’s Conway Hall last night (January 29) to discuss the ongoing witch-hunt against the left in the Labour Party and what can be done to stop it. Hundreds of left-wing and pro-Palestinian members remain expelled or suspended, for example on trumped up charges of anti-Semitism.
For videos from the event, click here.

Continue Reading “Ken Loach: “This witch-hunt is a complete nonsense””

LAW’s lobby of the Labour Party NEC

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Around 40 supporters (and a few witches) showed up today, January 23, to help us lobby the Labour Party NEC to demand an end to the witch-hunt against left-wing and pro-Palestinian Labour members. Expelled and suspended members (amongst them Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth and Tony Greenstein) spoke to NEC members and lots of press. Continue Reading “LAW’s lobby of the Labour Party NEC”

Launched on October 21 2017, LAW is already celebrating a success

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Launched on October 21 2017, LAW is already celebrating a success – pressure from members, Branches and CLPs CLPs led to the reversal of the expulsion of emeritus professor Moshé Machover, one of a long line of socialists and Corbyn supporters expelled or suspended on bogus charges of anti-Semitism. He is now honorary president of Labour Against the Witchhunt.

The claim that anti-Semitism is rife in the Labour Party is untrue. It is a weapon the Right has consistently used against the Left. The ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign and witchhunt is used to block criticism of Israel’s settler-colonialism, its persecution of the Palestinians and its racist, apartheid practices. False anti-Semitism accusations are used to bolster support for Israel’s role in the Middle East. Israel receives more military aid from the USA than all the other countries in the world put together, over $4 billion a year. Continue Reading “Launched on October 21 2017, LAW is already celebrating a success”

Free speech on Palestine!

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Emergency motion to Labour Left Alliance conference
submitted by Labour Against the Witchhunt

Conference notes:

1) The circular emailed on August 12 2020 to Constituency Labour Parties by General Secretary David Evans, states that certain subjects are “not competent business for discussion by local parties” – including the so-called definition of antisemitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the forthcoming report of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the outrageous settlement payment made to former employees of the Labour Party who participated in the dreadfully one-sided BBC Panorama programme by John Ware, who now co-owns the Jewish Chronicle.The full text of the email is available here.

Conference further notes:

2) Labour party members have NOT been banned from discussing the IHRA mis-definition of antisemitism, the EHRC report or Starmer‘s settlement. The phrase “not competent business” is meant to intimidate and self-censor us, but it is merely hot air.

3) Left wing barrister Duncan Shipley Dalton explains:

“The NEC and therefore the GS has no authority in the rules to dictate what is ‘competent business’ for a CLP to discuss. The only authority is in Chap 1, VIII, 3.E: ‘The NEC shall from time to time, issue guidance and instructions on the conduct of meetings…’ Conduct not content. Conduct is a noun meaning ‘the manner in which an activity is managed or directed.’ That is not the same as the content or subject the meeting deals with. The NEC can issue guidance on how a meeting can be run/organised but not dictate what motions are competent business.”

4) That NEC member Rachel Garnham has stated that the NEC knew nothing about this supposed instruction.

5) Shamefully, Jennie Formby also used the formulation “not competent business” to stop branches coming out in support of Chris Williamson MP. She failed – and dozens of branches and CLP passed motions in support of Chris! No disciplinary action was taken against any of them.

Conference believes:

6) That the ‘leaked report’ quite clearly shows that there was an organised and concerted campaign by right-wingers in the party to undermine and sabotage Jeremy Corbyn and the left. Some of those actively involved in the campaign have now been paid off by Keir Starmer. This is a clear misuse of party funds and an insult to all Labour members and the former employees have brought the party into disrepute. With his email, David Evans clearly wants to shut down debate on this and other important issues.

7) The Labour Party was wrong to adopt the ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), as part of the futile attempt to appease the right and the pro-Israel lobby in- and outside the party. It is designed to conflate antisemitism and anti-Zionism in its list of eleven examples and is an integral part of the witch-hunt against the left.

8) These are clearly important issues that must remain legitimate subjects for debate at Labour branch and CLP meetings. The witch-hunt against the left was one of the main reasons for the defeat of the Corbyn movement, and Keir Starmer is intent on further expanding it. Thousands of left-wingers have been hounded, smeared, vilified and wrongly accused of being antisemites during the last five years, while the number of suspensions and expulsions has massively increased in recent weeks. Standing by is not an option for us. Are

Conference resolves:

9) The Labour Left Alliance will urgently produce a model motion for Labour Party branches and CLPs on this issue. This shall also express no confidence in Keir Starmer and David Evans.

10) The LLA shall seek to build a united campaign with Labour branches, CLPs, trade union branches and other organisations around the slogan ‘Free Speech on Palestine’.

The campaign shall also seek cooperation with the initiative on ‘Free Speech’ initiated by Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Chris Williamson and Marc Wadsworth, which has held a couple of excellent online debates.

Some of the initiatives the campaign could organise:

  • days of action where we protest outside local Labour Party offices and/or Labour Party HQ
  • a campaigning website
  • model motions

 

There is no ban on discussing IHRA and other issues!

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Please note that Labour party members have NOT been banned from discussing the IHRA mis-definition of antisemitism!

The phrase “not competent business”, contained in Labour Party general secretary David Evans’s latest email (full text below), is nothing but hot air. It means precisely nothing. Find below scathing response from left wing barrister Duncan Shipley Dalton.

We have been through exactly this before, when Jennie Formby used the formulation to stop branches coming out in support of Chris Williamson. She failed – and dozens of branches and CLP passed motions in support of Chris!

Worst case scenario, the general secretary and/or the NEC might not discuss any motions passed on those issues. But surely, that is not the main point about them anyway.

That point is the need to stand up to the ongoing witch-hunt! Thousands of left-wingers have been smeared, vilified and wrongly hounded as antisemites during the last five years. The futile attempt to appease the right – rather than openly take them on and defeat them politically – has led to the defeat of Corbyn and the left. Surely this is the main lesson we have to learn from the last five years.

Standing by it is not an option. There is little point in staying in the Labour Party under Starmer, if you are not prepared to fight.

Model motions against IHRA are available on our website: http://www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org/



Response from left-wing barrister Duncan Shipley Dalton

https://twitter.com/baronvonduncs/status/1293651998886199296?s=21

The NEC and therefore the GS has no authority in the rules to dictate what is ‘competent business’ for a CLP to discuss. The only authority is in Chap 1, VIII, 3.E-“The NEC shall from time to time, issue guidance and instructions on the conduct of meetings…” CONDUCT not CONTENTConduct is a noun meaning ‘the manner in which an activity is managed or directed.’ That is not the same as the content or subject the meeting deals with. The NEC can issue guidance on how a meeting can be run/organised but not dictate what motions are competent business.

Secondly, the idea discussing the IHRA will “…undermine Labour’s ability to campaign against any form of racism…” is so absurd as to be in the realms of irrationality. As previously stated the NEC/GS has no authority in the rules to dictate this. If what is being threatened.

is disciplinary punishment for breaching the code of conduct in Appendix 9, this is incorrect. The codes are not part of the rules, they are not directly enforceable. They are considered per Chap 2.I.8/9. Exactly what underlying breach of 2.I.8 occurs if a CLP discusses a motion requesting the NEC to reverse its decision on the IHRA? Is the GS suggesting that such a request “is prejudicial, or in the opinion of the NEC is grossly detrimental to the Party” REALLY! The absurdity just piles up at times.


Full text of the email from David Evans:

FAO: CLP secretaries & chairs

As CLPs and branches are now able to meet online, I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on a few pertinent issues. This will ensure that the business your local party is conducting is appropriate, minimises any challenge to its decisions and does not leave the party – locally and nationally – or its officers open to potential legal liabilities. Apologies for the length of this email, but I hope you will agree it covers some very important issues.

NEC nominations – voting procedures

We have received a number of requests for further clarity on the voting systems that are to be used for the nomination of NEC candidates. Nominations should be made by secret ballot, not by a show of hands.

• Where a voting system is specified in your CLPs standing orders, this is the system that should be used to make your nominations;

• Where a voting system is not specified in your CLP standing orders, you should rely on previous custom and practice from your CLP.

We would usually expect that to be either multi-member First Past The Post (‘Approval Voting’ on Choice Voting) or Single Transferable Vote (‘Electoral Reform Society 97 STV’ on Choice Voting). CLPs should not be devising new voting systems of their own.

We advise that wherever possible nominations are taken by email in advance of the meeting to allow the ballot to be set up before the meeting. Any such email nominations would only be valid if the member making the nomination is in attendance at the subsequent meeting. Should there be fewer nominations than, or an equal number to, the total positions available, there is no need to progress to a ballot.

Panorama settlement

The Labour Party recently agreed a settlement with seven former members of staff who appeared on an edition of the BBC’s Panorama programme, as well as with the journalist who hosted that programme. Those settlements included an unreserved apology and a withdrawal of the allegations previously made by the Party about those individuals. The withdrawal and apology are binding on the party and any motions which seek to undermine or contradict them will create a risk of further legal proceedings for both the national party and local parties. As such, motions relating to these settlements and the circumstances behind them are not competent business for discussion by local parties.

CLP officers have an important responsibility to ensure that they and other members conduct themselves in a respectful and comradely manner. We therefore take this opportunity to reiterate to local Labour Parties and officers that they should be aware of the potential liabilities to them should the allegations that have now been withdrawn by the national party be repeated.

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report

On Monday 13 July 2020 the party announced that it had received the EHRC’s draft report into allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party. This draft report has been provided to the party by the EHRC on a confidential basis as part of its investigation.

When we are able to provide more information about the EHRC’s report we will do so. Until that time speculation as to the contents of the report is not helpful. It is therefore not competent business for CLPs to discuss.

IHRA definition of antisemitism

We are aware that some CLPs and branches have had motions tabled to “repudiate” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. The IHRA definition of antisemitism and its examples was properly adopted by the Labour Party in September 2018. CLPs and branches have no powers to overturn this decision. Furthermore, such motions undermine the Labour Party’s ability to tackle racism. Any such motions are therefore not competent business for CLPs or branches.

As per the previous general secretary’s instruction, any discussion about ongoing disciplinary cases remains prohibited.

Thanks,

David Evans

General Secretary

 

Our attitude to the ‘Forde enquiry’ into Labour’s leaked report

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Motion agreed by LAW’s conference, July 4 2020

We note:

1) That Keir Starmer set up the ‘Forde enquiry’ to investigate the so-called ‘leaked Labour report’. This was supposed to report back on July 15 2020.

2) That on June 25, the day that Rebecca Long-Bailey was sacked from Labour’s front bench in the latest round of the witch-hunt against left-wingers in the Labour Party, the ‘Forde enquiry’ buried the news that it will “not meet the deadline of July 15” to present its findings. Instead, it is aiming for “September”. It is inviting submissions of evidence along its ‘terms of reference’ by 5pm, Friday July 24 via email to info@fordeinquiry.org.

3) That the ‘terms of reference’ are:

  1. “The truth or otherwise of the main allegations in ‘the Report’ (the Panel shall determine which are the most significant allegations which require investigation but they shall include the extent of racist, sexist and other discriminatory culture within Labour Party workplaces, the attitudes and conduct of the senior staff of the Labour Party, and their relationships with the elected leadership of the Labour Party)”;
  2. “The background and circumstances in which the Report was commissioned”
  3. “The structure, culture and practices of the Labour Party organisation including the relationship between senior party staff and the elected leadership of the Labour Party”.

4) That at the same time, the leaked report has led to the following, separate investigations:

“- An investigation by the UK Information Commissioner into possible breaches of data and privacy law resulting from the leak of the Report; and

– An internal investigation by the Labour Party into the leaking and content of the Report.” (https://www.fordeinquiry.org/news-and-resources/)

We believe:

5) That any report(s) produced by the Forde enquiry will in all likelihood be a whitewash of the current leadership and its supporters on the right of the party (who are responsible for the vile misogyny and racism on display in the report). It is also likely that the report will attempt to blame Corbyn and his allies for the leak of the report, as well as the destructive internal culture that is evident from it. At most, we expect that a couple of Labour Party employees might be thrown the wolves in an attempt to ‘move on’.

6) The enquiry however does not deal with the most important aspect of the leaked report, namely the campaign to weaponise antisemitism and equate it with anti-Zionism – and how the Corbyn leadership dealt with it.

7) That the leaked report was produced by supporters of the Corbyn leadership and Momentum in order to prove that they did everything in their power to ‘eradicate antisemitism’, but were actively hindered by the right in the party.

8) However, the leaked report underlines the many mistakes made by Corbyn and his allies: They decided to support the lie that the Labour Party is overrun by antisemites. They sought to appease the Israel advocacy groups and the self-appointed leadership of “the Jewish community” and behaved as though they believed this lie. In the process they displayed an inability to recognise real antisemitism, while eagerly trying to get rid of activists like Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson, none of whom can be accused of even a trace of antisemitism.

We therefore agree the following:

9) To postpone our planned ‘Counter-conference’ to September, so that it coincides with the release of the results of the leaked report and can present our counter argument. This counter-conference will deal with what we believe are the real issues arising from the leaked report:

– The futility of trying to appease the right;
– The difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism;
– The need to stand up for free speech on Palestine;
– The need to fight against the attempt to create ‘unpersons’ that should be shunned and not invited to our meetings

Confirmed participants so far include Chris Williamson, Jackie Walker, Prof David Miller, Moshe Machover, Greg Hadfield and Tony Greenstein and we will also hear from less prominent cases.

10) The new LAW steering committee shall attempt to prepare a submission focusing on our own ‘terms of reference’ as described above – ie, the need to expose the campaign to weaponise antisemitism and equate it with anti-Zionism. We have no doubt that this will be ignored by the enquiry, but we shall publish it far and wide.

Future of Labour Against the Witchhunt

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Motions agreed at LAW conference July 4 2020 on the future of Labour Against the Witchhunt

1. Submitted by the LAW Steering Committee

1. The anti-socialist witch-hunt is not only about the Labour left. It afflicts the whole of society: workers have been dismissed for speaking against Israel and Zionism; academics are being bullied into self-censorship. The anti-Semitism smear is its main weapon, but it is not about eradicating anti-Semitism. It is about undermining opposition to imperialist war, inhibiting a resurgence of the anti-war movement and ensuring that the UK remains loyal to the US and its ally Israel in their next military adventures.

2. Israel is an expansionist settler-colonial state which bases itself on the racist ideology of Zionism. Zionist colonisation of Palestine, from the 1890s, sought imperial sponsorship from the kaiser and the tsar, and gained British backing in the 1917 Balfour Declaration. The ethnic cleansing of the 1948 Nakba continues today in Israel’s discriminatory and oppressive laws and practices, its treatment of the people of Gaza, and Netanyahu’s proposed annexation of much of the Jordan Valley.

3. The big lie in condemning critics of Israel and Zionism as anti-Jewish racists cannot be overcome by logical arguments against the deliberate non-definition of anti-Semitism. That has been done exhaustively. The search for electability, the willingness to be bribed, the lure of high office, ensures that career politicians uphold the big lie and align themselves with US foreign policy.

4. Labour Against the Witchhunt’s launch meeting on October 21 2017, set out three key demands on our party:
* An end to automatic suspensions and expulsions – no disciplinary action without a hearing;
* Rejection of the false IHRA ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism, which conflates anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism; and
* Abolition of the compliance unit – disciplinary action must be taken by elected bodies, not paid officials.

5. LAW has a proud record of campaigning, which must continue. Since our first conference on February 2 2019 we held a series of lobbies of Labour Party NEC meetings and organised a successful intervention at the 2019 Labour conference in Brighton. In the following months, our efforts were more limited. As well as campaigning for Labour in the December general election, much of our energy was put into initiating and building the Labour Left Alliance, and organising its February 22 launch conference. In March campaigning was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, which prevented physical meetings and lobbies. Despite this the steering committee has decided our second conference must go ahead using an online platform.

6. Although its prime target was the removal of Jeremy Corbyn as party leader, the belief that the anti-socialist witch-hunt would end with his removal was an illusion. This was confirmed by the craven endorsement of the Board of Deputies’ ‘Ten Commandments’ by all of the candidates for the leadership position, and by the surge of new suspensions and the first wave of ‘fast-track’ expulsions by Labour’s national executive committee – without a hearing – since Keir Starmer took office on April 4.

7. Starmer’s dishonest promise to “remove the stain of anti-Semitism” from the party can only be fulfilled by mass expulsions of the left, or by its taming, its self-silencing, its moving to the right. Starmer’s declaration of war on the left shows the futility of Corbyn’s failed strategy of appeasement of the right. We must resist the temptation for the left to go quiet on the witch-hunt.

8. The witch-hunt will not go away until it is openly confronted and defeated politically, and that means calling out those on the left who have been complicit. Corbyn and McDonnell are both guilty of misleading the left into the strategy of appeasement, failing to challenge the right’s false ‘anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ narrative. A year before LAW was launched, Momentum joined the witch-hunt explicitly by removing Jackie Walker as vice-chair in response to Zionist slurs. Recently, the party’s own leaked report on the handling of anti-Semitism complaints confirms the enthusiasm of Corbyn’s team to ramp-up the witch-hunt. The false complaints made against the Wavertree Four, suspended on May 29, were made by local Momentum activists.

9. A witch-hunt functions to silence dissent, to make us afraid to speak out. It generates self-censorship, self-policing – and the policing of others. It is the enemy of free speech and closes down democratic debate.

10. Solidarity is the key principle of working class struggle: an injury to one is an injury to all. Silence is complicity.LAW must continue to assist victims to fight suspensions and expulsions. We must organise and publicise campaigns to highlight the false accusations and unfair processes.

11. LAW accepts as members those wrongly suspended and expelled by the Labour Party. We also understand and accept as members those who decide to leave the party rather than suffer the indignity of a degrading disciplinary process. But we urge comrades to stay in and fight, if they can. The anti-socialist witch-hunt must be defeated.

 

2.  Submitted Tony Greenstein

  1. The dismissal of Rebecca Long-Bailey proves that Starmer is no centrist as he portrayed himself in the leadership elections, but a hardline Zionist.
  2. The witchhunt that Jeremy Corbyn enabled, through his introduction of the fast-track procedures for ‘egregious’ cases is being used for every ‘anti-Semitism’ case. None are going to the NCC, which is almost defunct. This is a rule violation and therefore a breach of law.
  3. The reaction of the Socialist Campaign Group was well summed up by the Jewish Chronicle of June 26: ‘Left-wing Labour MPs restrained in response to Long-Bailey’s sacking.’
  4. It is clear that any criticism of Zionism or Israel now falls under the category of ‘anti-Semitic trope’, which is itself anti-Semitic.
  5. We need a plan of activity for the next year.  It is essential that we reverse the membership decline of LAW.
  6. We reject all of the 10 Board of Deputies pledges (’10 Commandments’) which RBL and Starmer adopted but it is clear that the most pernicious of these is no. 5 which effectively no platforms anyone who is suspended or expelled.  It creates a category of banned persons.
  7. We should campaign to get groups, within and without the Labour Party to reject this Commandment and to explicitly defy it. We agree to set up a LAW sub-committee to campaign inside Labour and outside of it, to reject the 10 pledges and explicitly defy them, particularly by means of LLA approved publications, analyses and resolutions.
  1. We note that certain groups on the left, in particular the SWP and Counterfire, in pursuit of their ‘united front’ strategies in SUTR and StWC, are unofficially complying with the 5th Commandment in order to retain the support of their patrons. We must demand that ALL groups that are on the socialist left do not comply with this demand.
  2. We instruct the Steering Committee to organise, in conjunction with other groups such as JVL, PSC etc. a large picket of Labour Party headquarters with the demands ‘No to the IHRA’, ‘No to the 10 Commandments’.
  3. We instruct the Steering Committee to organise, in conjunction with the ad-hoc Freedom of Speech group webinars involving prominent Labour Movement personalities prepared to speak out against compliance with the BOD commands.

 

NEC elections 2020

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Emergency motion agreed at LAW conference, July 4 2020

NEC elections 2020

1. The change of the NEC electoral system from first past the post to single transferable vote is clearly an attack on the left membership. It makes it almost impossible for a full ‘left’ slate to ever win again all nine seats in the section elected by the members.

2. The Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance is dead. It should have died a lot sooner. It has always been characterised by bad compromises, backroom deals and the lowest common denominator. Many of its candidates throughout the last decades cannot be described as ‘left’, or even soft left. Ann Black for example served for decades on the NEC, thanks to being backed by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD). Even under Corbyn’s leadership, the vast majority of the nine NEC members failed to speak out or stand up to the witch-hunt and a number of them even fully participated in it – chiefly Jon Lansman and his supporters.

3. There is a chance that – after the victory of the Forward Momentum slate in the Momentum NCG elections – there will be efforts to revive the CLGA. But even without Jon Lansman in the driving seat of the negotiations, this method of divvying up candidates that are deemed ‘acceptable’ to all groups involved in the CLGA backroom deals is deeply apolitical and undemocratic. Instead, it should be the politics of the candidates that decide if they deserve support or not.

4. The new electoral system opens up the possibility to concentrate our fire on one or two candidates who are prepared to stand on a principled political platform, which in our view must include the commitment to:

a) Publish regular reports of NEC meetings, including details of how they and other NEC members have voted.

b) Campaign for the Labour Party’s complaints and disciplinary procedures to be overhauled so that disciplinary procedures are carried out in accordance with the principles of natural justice, and be time-limited: charges not resolved within three months should be automatically dropped. An accused member should be given all the evidence submitted against them and be regarded as innocent until proven guilty. Abolish fast-track expulsions.

c) Campaign for all disciplinary cases processed during the last five years to be re-examined in an unbiased way. The leaked report proves that the Corbyn leadership, in the hope of appeasing the right, displayed an inability and unwillingness to recognise real antisemitism, while eagerly trying to get rid of activists like Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson, none of whom can be accused of even a trace of antisemitism.

d) Campaign for Labour to:

– overturn the party’s commitment to the so-called definition of antisemitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which conflates anti-Zionism with antisemitism in a number of its examples;

– oppose attempts to label the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign as antisemitic;

– oppose the party implementing the Board of Deputies’ 10 Pledges.

5. We should make a choice of which candidates to support based on their record of resistance to the witch hunt.

We do not support candidates who do not commit to oppose the IHRA.

That any candidates commit to opposing the fast track procedures.  They were introduced to deal with ‘egregious’ cases.  They are being used to deal with EVERY case of ‘antisemitism’

Steering Committee Report for LAW conference, July 4 2020

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Please note that information about our current membership figures, details of our funds, decisions taken by the steering committee and other internal matters are only available to LAW members. If you join before midnight on July 2 2020, you may attend conference. Details here

In the last 12 months, we have assisted numerous Labour Party members who have been suspended or expelled. We looked through dozens of ‘evidence packs’ and found that in the overwhelming number of cases, comrades have been suspended for anti-Zionism rather than antisemitism. There are however a few problematic posts we have seen, where a member for example wrote “Jews” when they should have clarified that they meant “Zionists”. We spoke to members about those posts and hopefully helped to avoid such problematic posts in future. We also helped to draft a few responses to their suspension letters. But, in the vast majority of cases – even the most absurd ones – this has been unsuccessful, because this witch-hunt is not about eradicating antisemitism, but getting rid of the left.

A famous exception is the case of NEC candidate Jo Bird, who was suspended (along with Mo Azam and a number of other candidates) in the middle of the March 2020 NEC by-election. Together with the Labour Left Alliance, we campaigned for her reinstatement and urged our supporters to vote for her despite her suspension. She was reinstated within days. Click here and here.

LAW was one of the three founding organisations of the Labour Left Alliance in 2019 and we remain centrally involved. As part of the LLA, we have campaigned for the fight against the witch-hunt to take centre-stage in NEC elections, and in the Momentum NCG elections, by asking all candidates a range of questions on the subject of the witch-hunt, with some interesting answers – click here and here.

Most recently,

– We drew up a petition in support of and in cooperation of the Wavertree 4, who have been unjustly suspended in May 2020 – click here

– We published a petition, urging ‘Solidarity with Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy and all those unjustly expelled’ after the two MPs were criticised for speaking at a meeting organised by ‘Don’t leave, Organise’, which was also attended by Tony Greenstein and Jackie Walker – click here

We intervened in the Labour leadership election campaign and wrote a petition, which urged Rebecca Long-Bailey to distance herself from the Board of Deputies 10 Demands, which has been signed by almost 5,000 people – click here

We responded to Keir Starmer’s announcement that he would implement the Board of Deputies’ 10 Demands – click here.

We produced a joint statement with the Labour Left Alliance on the ‘leaked Labour Party report, demanding that all disciplinary cases of the last five years should be reviewed – click here.

– We have also begun to gather witness statements, analysis, reports, CLP statements on the ‘leaked report’ click here

– We are currently planning a counter-conference to coincide with the publication of the so-called ‘investigation’ into the report. Confirmed speakers include Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Moshe Machover, Chris Williamson, David Miller and many more – registration and more details here

In the last year, we also fought and campaigned on:

– the unjust suspension of Pete Willsman click here

– the overdue launch of trigger ballots, with an explanation of how CLPs can use them – click here. We also drew up a petition, warning of the dangers of a national government (which some Labour lefties had urged) – click here.

– the investigation of the Equality and Human Right’s Commission into the Labour 
Party, which we identified as being an integral part of the witchhunt – click here

– We helped to organise various dates of the showing of the excellent documentary ‘The Witchhunt’ with Jackie Walker.

– We also published model motions on a range of other issues – click here

Chris Williamson

Chris Williamson was the only MP who was prepared to campaign with us against the witch-hunt – which is of course exactly what he was eventually suspended for.

– We produced a motion Chris’ (very brief) reinstatement (click here) and his subsequent, outrageous re-suspension click here

–  We also organised an Open letter to the NEC on the issue, which has been signed by almost 5,000 people – click here and a statement on Chris’ court case on October 10 – click here

– We also collated all CLP motions and supportive statements in Chris’ support and organised and produced memes with quotes by Noam Chomsky, Mike Leigh, Lowkey and many others – click here.

– We researched and published guidance on why “there is no ban on motions in support of Chris Williamson” to counter the entirely false reporting in the media. We also published detailed guidelines on on how to move motions  in support of Chris and how to overturn a hostile chair – click here.

AOB 

We also organised a very successful intervention at Labour Party conference 2019 (as in 2018), with two stalls every day, signing up people and informing them of our fringe meeting which took place on the last day: over 250 crammed in the space to hear Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Chris Williamson, Asa Winstanley and Mike Cushman.

LAW’s first conference, on February 2 2019, elected five comrades to the Steering Committee, and adopted four resolutions and a Constitution, after debate and amendment:

– Resolution1: The slow coup against Jeremy Corbyn – here
– Resolution 2: Why LAW opposes the IHRA ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism – here
– Resolution 3: LAW support to activists
– Resolution 4: Model motion – Objection to the Labour Party’s [Union’s] adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism – here

The May 4 2019 All Members’ Meeting (AMM) elected an additional four SC members and adopted three resolutions – here:
– Resolution 1: Proposal to expel Pete Gregson from LAW
– Resolution 2: Fighting the witch-hunt as key part of building the foundations for an independent, democratic Labour left
– Resolution 3: George Galloway and the EU elections

__________

LAW Steering Committee, June 26 2020
LAW, BM Box 1488, London WC1N 3XX
www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org

 

LAW Conference, Saturday July 4 2020, 11am online

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All members will have received an invite to register for our Zoom conference. If you have not received it and think you are a paid-up members, please email us: info@labouragainstthewitchhunt.org

Detailed agenda tbc once we know how many motions we have received.

We particular appreciate motions and initiatives around the following questions and issues:

  • How can we campaign against the newly ratcheted up witch-hunt in the party? We know of dozens of Palestine campaigners and left-wingers who have recently received their letter of suspension/notice of investigation.
  • How will LAW’s campaigning priorities have to change, now that the party is run by an outright centrist?
  • Considering that the witch-hunt has been rapidly spreading into wider society (witness a number of politically motivated sackings; councils imposing the IHRA definition on antisemitism etc), how should that find reflection in our campaigning work?
  • Should those who have now left the Labour Party be eligible for LAW membership? The Steering Committee believes they should be, but there are probably differences of opinion on the matter.

Pre-conference timetable

Sat June 20 = Conference minus 2 weeks
Deadline for motions and amendments to LAW’s constitution. Mover and Seconder must be paid up members.
Draft agenda to be published.

Sat June 27 = Conference minus 1 week
Deadline for amendments to motions. Mover and Seconder must be paid up members.
Deadline for nominations to Steering Committee.

Sat July 4 = Conference, 11am start
Further nominations for the Steering Committee accepted during conference.

Steering Committee motion

  1. The anti-socialist witch-hunt is not only about the Labour left. It afflicts the whole of society: workers have been dismissed for speaking against Israel and Zionism; academics are being bullied into self-censorship. The anti-Semitism smear is its main weapon, but it is not about eradicating anti-Semitism. It is about undermining opposition to imperialist war, inhibiting a resurgence of the anti-war movement and ensuring that the UK remains loyal to the US and its ally Israel in their next military adventures.
  2. Israel is an expansionist settler-colonial state which bases itself on the racist ideology of Zionism. Zionist colonisation of Palestine, from the 1890s, sought imperial sponsorship from the kaiser and the tsar, and gained British backing in the 1917 Balfour Declaration. The ethnic cleansing of the 1948 Nakba continues today in Israel’s discriminatory and oppressive laws and practices, its treatment of the people of Gaza, and Netanyahu’s proposed annexation of much of the Jordan Valley.
  3. The big lie in condemning critics of Israel and Zionism as anti-Jewish racists cannot be overcome by logical arguments against the deliberate mis-definition of anti-Semitism. That has been done exhaustively. The search for electability, the willingness to be bribed, the lure of high office, ensures that career politicians uphold the big lie and align themselves with US foreign policy.
  4. Labour Against the Witchhunt’s launch meeting on October 21 2017, set out three key demands on our party:
    * An end to automatic suspensions and expulsions – no disciplinary action without a hearing;
    * Rejection of the false IHRA ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism, which conflates anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism; and
    * Abolition of the compliance unit – disciplinary action must be taken by elected bodies, not paid officials.
  1. LAW has a proud record of campaigning, which must continue. Since our first conference on February 2 2019 we held a series of lobbies of Labour Party NEC meetings and organised a successful intervention at the 2019 Labour conference in Brighton. In the following months, our efforts were more limited. As well as campaigning for Labour in the December general election, much of our energy was put into initiating and building the Labour Left Alliance, and organising its February 22 launch conference. In March campaigning was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, which prevented physical meetings and lobbies. Despite this the steering committee has decided our second conference must go ahead using an online platform.
  2. Although its prime target was the removal of Jeremy Corbyn as party leader, the belief that the anti-socialist witch-hunt would end with his removal was an illusion. This was confirmed by the craven endorsement of the Board of Deputies’ ‘Ten Commandments’ by all of the candidates for the leadership position, and by the surge of new suspensions and the first wave of ‘fast-track’ expulsions by Labour’s national executive committee – without a hearing – since Keir Starmer took office on April 4.
  3. Starmer’s dishonest promise to “remove the stain of anti-Semitism” from the party can only be fulfilled by mass expulsions of the left, or by its taming, its self-silencing, its moving to the right. Starmer’s declaration of war on the left shows the futility of Corbyn’s failed strategy of appeasement of the right. We must resist the temptation for the left to go quiet on the witch-hunt.
  4. The witch-hunt will not go away until it is openly confronted and defeated politically, and that means calling out those on the left who have been complicit. Corbyn and McDonnell are both guilty of misleading the left into the strategy of appeasement, failing to challenge the right’s false ‘anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ narrative. A year before LAW was launched, Momentum joined the witch-hunt explicitly by removing Jackie Walker as vice-chair in response to Zionist slurs. Recently, the party’s own leaked report on the handling of anti-Semitism complaints confirms the enthusiasm of Corbyn’s team to ramp-up the witch-hunt. The false complaints made against the Wavertree Four, suspended on May 29, were made by local Momentum activists.
  5. A witch-hunt functions to silence dissent, to make us afraid to speak out. It generates self-censorship, self-policing – and the policing of others. It is the enemy of free speech and closes down democratic debate.
  6. Solidarity is the key principle of working class struggle: an injury to one is an injury to all. Silence is complicity.LAW must continue to assist victims to fight suspensions and expulsions. We must organise and publicise campaigns to highlight the false accusations and unfair processes.
  7. LAW accepts as members those wrongly suspended and expelled by the Labour Party. We also understand and accept as members those who decide to leave the party rather than suffer the indignity of a degrading disciplinary process. But we urge comrades to stay in and fight, if they can. The anti-socialist witch-hunt must be defeated.

David Rosenberg on his friend Hazuan Hashim, one of the Wavertree 4

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Hazuan Hashim is one of four officers of Liverpool Wavertree Constituency suspended from the Labour Party very recently. He was the BAME officer for the constituency. Other officers suspended include the Chair, Secretary and Women’s Officer. I don’t know them personally but I do know Haz.

Back in 2011 I was part of the committee that organised the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street , celebrating the day that communities of the East End came together in huge numbers to repulse an invasion by a menacing antisemitic, fascist movement that would have terrorised the mainly Jewish streets of the East End. In 2011 there was a march and an indoor festival and several events in the days that followed, one of which was the premiere of a brilliant film called “From Cable Street to Brick Lane” pulling together the struggles against antisemitism and fascism of the 1930s East End with the struggles in the 1970s and 1990s of the Bangladeshi community against the violent threat from the National Front and later the BNP.

The film-makers were Hazuan Hashim and Phil Maxwell, two individuals I have known over many years, whose documentation of the fight against racism and bigotry of all kinds has been central to their life’s work. Part of the film includes very moving reflections by multi-ethnic school students about their experience of racism in the present and how they relate to difference and nationalism. I pop up a few times on screen – they filmed my Anti-Fascist Footprints walk – to tell some of the narrative. I helped them much more behind the scenes. The film features Jewish witnesses and participants in the struggles of the 1930s. It is made with real love as well as rock solid anti racism politics.

It was also made under great stress as Phil was battling a life-threatening illness, with Hazuan not only his collaborator, but also partner and carer – two complete mentshen (human beings).

I was very sad that some years back they moved out of the East End to settle in Liverpool. Our loss but Liverpool’s gain – and they picked up where they left off continuing to make films that aid the fight for a better world – and also continuing as Labour Party members to fight for social justice. Their new constituency was Liverpool Wavertree, served by Luciana Berger, a right wing Labour MP who was parachuted in and who struggled to hold wider support among local members. She has now left the the Labour Party having played a leading role in the factional war against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Having left, she joined Change UK and then the LibDems and stood unsuccessfully in Barnet where she was parachuted in again to replace the Lib Dem candidate who had already been chosen to contest that seat. In the run up to the General Election her rhetoric against Labour as a Lib Dem was little different from what she had been saying for years as a Labour member and MP.

There is no doubt that she also suffered hostility from an entirely different source in Liverpool for different reasons. She was targeted by far right activists for being Jewish, something that was condemned by all anti-racists and local LP members, who offered and gave their solidarity, but she allowed, and very much encouraged a mythology to develop that blurred these disgusting attacks from the far right with criticism from the left of the Labour Party that was made on entirely legitimate, democratic, political grounds. She dishonestly portrayed herself as a victim of anti-Semitism and thuggishness from local LP members.

When she stood down she was replaced by Paula Barker – a socialist MP with a strong trade union background. Phil and Haz worked with Paula and made films to support her campaign at the General Election.

Recently though they were among many local members dismayed by some particular comments within an article that Paula Barker wrote for the local Jewish newspaper which was ostensibly trying, quite rightly, to mend fences between the Labour Party and the Jewish community that had been strained and got mixed in nationally with a war by the Tories and the establishment in general against Corbyn and the Labour left. In that article she wrote about Luciana Berger: “Luciana leaving the Labour Party was a shock to many and I find it deeply regrettable that she felt she could no longer stay” – a comment which seems to give credence to the very unfair factional spin that Luciana Berger put on events in Liverpool.

Four Liverpool Wavertree CLP officers (Chair, Secretary, Women’s Officer and BAME officer – Hazuan) wrote a carefully worded letter in an internal CLP members forum expressing their praise for many actions that Paula Barker had done since becoming MP, but also registering their surprise that Barker “given the opportunity this article afforded … failed to clearly and unequivocally defend Wavertree CLP from the slanders thrown at us over the last two years. Our disappointment is especially acute because we believed we now had an MP who could offer sincere support for Liverpool’s Jewish communities alongside a principled defence of the political integrity of the members of the CLP and the constituency which she represents.”

That letter was made public not by those who wrote it. The four officers who signed it have now been suspended by the Labour Party.

A report on the matter by the Jewish Chronicle claims that the four “had criticised their own MP as she tried to reach out to the local Jewish community,” and quotes a Labour party spokesperson on the matter saying that the Party treats “all complaints of anti-Semitism extremely seriously.”

Anti-Semitism! If my caring, socialist, anti-racist, anti-fascist film-maker friend Hazuan Hashim is an antisemite, I’m Dominic Cummings.

By David Rosenberg.