Petition: Reinstate Paul Johnson!

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 The case of Paul Jonson is similar to that of LAW secretary Stan Keable, who was sacked from his job at Hammersmith & City council. The witch hunt has clearly permeated all areas of society – most worryingly the workplace. This has serious financial consequences for our comrades, which is why we hope you will speak out and pass these motions agains the sacking of Paul Dudley and Stan Keable in your Labour and union branches.

There will be a Dudley PSC silent protest at another Ian Austin MP surgery at 5 pm Friday  December 7, Dudley Library St James’ Road, Dudley, saying “Free Speech on Palestine”. Please go along if you can!

Defend trade unionists’ right to free speech! Defend employment rights!

Paul, a community safety officer in Dudley and a member of Unison, has been suspended by his employer, Dudley Council.

According to a report in the local press, Paul was suspended by Dudley Council for a Facebook post stating “Stand up for Palestine – Israel is a racist endeavor”.

Paul is a long-standing anti-racist activist and campaigner against antisemitism and all forms of racism. He is also an active campaigner for Palestinian rights.

Whatever one’s views on Israel or the nature of the Israeli state and its founding, there is nothing antisemitic about this statement.

Paul’s suspension is an attack on every trade unionist’s right to engage in political and human rights’ campaigns outside work; it is an attack on employees’ right to freedom speech and specifically an attack on the right to campaign over Palestinian rights.

The complaint against Paul cited the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

According to the IHRA’s own website, the “working definition” has no legal standing. This has been further confirmed in a robust legal opinion by Hugh Tomlinson QC, (see http://bit.ly/TomlinsonOpinion ).[1] The Ihra definition and examples have also bee subject to a thorough examination of its status and premises by former Appeal Court judge, Stephen Sedley (see http://bit.ly/Sedley-DefiningAntisemitism ).[2]

The proponents of the IHRA definition repeatedly gave assurances that it could not be used to suppress free speech on Israel and Palestine. These assurances appear to be empty in Paul Jonson’s case.

We are calling on all trade unionists and campaigners, whatever their views on Israel and Palestine, to sign this statement to demand Paul’s immediate reinstatement and that any disciplinary action by Dudley Council against him be dropped.

References
[1] Tomlinson, Hugh, 2017. In the matter of the adoption and potential application of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism. Legal Opinion, Hugh Tomlinson, QC, Matrix Chambers, 8 March.
[2] Sedley, Stephen, 2017. “Defining Antisemitism”, London Review of Books, Vol 39, No.9, 4 May.

Initial signatories (All signatories appear in a personal capacity)

Gail Mason, President of Dudley TUC & Joint Secretary, Dudley NEA (NUT Section)
Martin Lynch, President of Walsall TUC
Lisa Pearce, Joint Sec. Dudley NEA (NUT Section)
James Warner, Assistant Secretary, Dudley TUC and Officer, Dudley NEA (NUT Section)

For info – email: pauljcampaign@gmail.com

Petition online here

Model Motion: Reinstate Paul Johnson! Sacked for Palestine solidarity

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Model Motion for Trade Union / Labour Party branches / etc. to accompany above statement

This (union / branch / organization etc):Strongly condemns the suspension of Paul Jonson by his employer, Dudley Council. Paul is a longstanding anti-racist activist and campaigner against fascism and antisemitism.

Paul’s suspension for a facebook post stating “Stand up for Palestine – Israel is a racist endeavor” constitutes an overt attack on trade unionists right to engage in political campaigning outside work and the right to free expression of political views.

His suspension constitutes an attack on trade unionists’ right to campaign over Palestinian rights. There is nothing antisemitic about the posting cited in the complaints about Paul.

We note that the IHRA definition of antisemitism and its illustrative examples cited in complaints against Paul, is highly controversial and according to the IHRA itself constitutes simply a “working definition” with no legal standing.

We believe Paul’s suspension poses a threat to every trade unionist right to campaign over human rights in general and Palestinian rights in particular.

We demand the lifting of Paul Johnson’s suspension and his immediate reinstatement.

We resolve to forward this resolution to:

Chief Executive, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, Council House, Priory Road, Dudley, DY1 1HF. Email sarah.norman@dudley.gov.uk

Qadar Zada, Council Leader, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, Council House, Priory Road, Dudley, DY1 1HF. Email Cllr.Qadar.Zada@dudleymbc.org.uk

[cc: own Union National Executive etc as appropriate]

PLEASE SEND COPY OF RESOLUTION & MESSAGES OF SUPPORT TO: pauljcampaign@gmail.com

LAW Statement: Lift suspension of Peter Gregson from GMB, stop investigation

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Labour Against the Witchhunt calls on Labour’s NEC to reject the allegations of anti-Semitism against Peter Gregson, condemns his suspension by the GMB trade union and calls for the immediate restoration of his full membership rights.

The principle ‘guilty until proved innocent’ threatens the rights of all members, chills discussion, damages democracy and invites malicious complaints against political opponents. We prefer the principle of working class solidarity: ‘An injury to one is an injury to all.’

Except in the most extreme circumstances, disciplinary sanctions should not be applied until due process has been concluded. Where low level sectionalist, nationalistic, xenophobic or racist ideas, including anti-Semitic ideas, are found in the workers’ movement, they are best countered by open discussion, patient education, inculcation of elementary class consciousness and by encouraging participation in joint struggles. The slogan ‘zero tolerance’ is ill-conceived and counterproductive.

We reject the International Holocaust Memorial Alliance’s unnecessarily complex, imprecise and self-contradictory definition of anti-Semitism, which conflates it with anti-Zionism.

The IHRA definition, which has been adopted by both the Labour Party and the GMB, will no doubt be the basis of investigations into the allegations made against Peter. We prefer the Oxford English dictionary definition, that anti-Semitism is ‘hostility to or prejudice against Jews.’

Peter is clearly not anti-Semitic: he does not harbour hostility, prejudice, hatred or ill-intent towards Jewish people as Jews. He is a campaigner for Palestinian rights, against the racist ideology of Zionism and the apartheid system and practices of Israel.

The investigation into Peter arose because he organised a petition, with now over 700 signatories, declaring – using the clumsy and obscure IHRA wording – that “the existence of Israel is a racist endeavour”. But even Jon Lansman, the Zionist self-appointed chair of Momentum, conceded, in an October 14 email to Peter, that “declaring Israel to be a racist endeavour and challenging the NEC to expel him alongside others who signed a petition he launched may not be anti-Semitic …” But Lansman continued: “… it is a deliberately provocative act which is most certainly prejudicial to the interests of the party and I therefore urge the General Secretary to take the appropriate action against you.”

These are weasel words. “Provocative” acts are the stuff of political debate. Lansman is effectively calling for the silencing of support for the Palestinian struggle against Zionism and Israel’s apartheid.

We understand from Peter’s November 8 statement that his suspension by the GMB is motivated by former Labour NEC member and GMB official Rhea Wolfson – an open Zionist, a member of the Jewish Labour Movement and a supporter of Israel as a Jewish state.

The Israeli state is inherently racist. Under its July 2018 Nation-State Law, Israel is defined as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” and Palestinian citizens are explicitly declared not to have any national rights. In the West Bank and Gaza – territories occupied since 1967 – while Jewish settlers enjoy full democratic rights as Israeli citizens, Palestinians live under military rule with no democratic rights, because they are not Jewish.

Although Peter’s petition is a good idea, challenging Labour’s NEC to revoke its adoption of the IHRA definition, we cannot support it. Firstly, we disagree with some of its wording – eg, before it adopted the full IHRA definition on September 4, Labour did not allow “full freedom of speech on Israel”. On the contrary, the witch-hunt was in full flow long before that. Secondly, some of the formulations in Peter’s supporting documents internalise the racism of Zionist ideology, failing to distinguish clearly between the Zionist movement and the Jewish population, and attributing a non-existent collective political identity to “the Jews”, eg, “the Jews have so much leverage here [in the UK]”.

The witch-hunt against Corbyn and the Labour left is part of the huge, unprecedented campaign over recent years to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism – hatched, crafted and skilfully promoted by the US right, the Israeli government and the UK establishment, designed to delegitimise criticism of Israel and to prepare public opinion for another imperialist war in the Middle East, after the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Labour NCC elections: Four questions to left candidates

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We have written to all left candidates. We will publish all answers online as soon we receive them so that our members and supporters can decide who to nominate from their CLP and who to vote for when elections commence in November. Feel free to contact the candidates, too.

We believe an active approach to candidates is much better than simply endorsing one or the other slate. The work of the National Constitutional Committee goes to the heart of LAW’s campaigning work – it deals with all disciplinary cases that the NEC feels it cannot resolve. Currently, a referral usually results in expulsion from the party. That’s why it is very important to choose candidates who will genuinely fight for members’ rights.

Four Questions for NCC candidates

1. ‘Working definition’ on Anti-Semitism, published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)

We believe that this document has many shortcomings. Most seriously, we believe that some of the examples listed are conflating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people. For example, one of the examples labels as anti-Semitic the description of Israel as a “racist endeavour”. We disagree. Opposing and criticising a state that systematically, and constitutionally, marginalises and demonises Palestinians while subjecting them to discrimination is by definition a form of apartheid. In our view, it is not anti-Semitism to state this fact.

We would much prefer if the Labour Party adopted a simple definition of anti-Semitism, like in the Oxford Dictionary (“Hostility to or prejudice against Jews”) and the very clear submission to Labour’s Code of Conduct on Antisemitism by Jewish Voice for Labour and Free Speech on Israel: https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/blog/antisemitic-misconduct/

What is your attitude to the IHRA document, which, as you know, is so controversial that not all members of the NEC, including Jeremy Corbyn, wanted to adopt it in full? We note that the annual conference of the Green Party has also just rejected it.


2. Disciplinary process

Do you think the disciplinary process in the Labour Party should be radically reformed? If so, what is your attitude towards LAW’s following suggestions:

  1. that a member accused of a breach of rule be informed of who their accuser is
  2. that a member accused of a breach of rule be given all the evidence submitted against them by their accuser;
  3. that a member accused of a breach of rule be regarded as innocent until proven guilty;
  4. that membership rights must not be removed until disciplinary investigations and procedures have been completed (there might be valid exceptions in cases of serious bullying/harassment);
  5. that disciplinary procedures must include consultation with the accused member’s CLP and Branch;
  6. that disciplinary procedures must be time limited. Charges not resolved within three months should be dropped (unless there are serious, unavoidable reasons for the delay)
  7. that the cases of all those who have been summarily expelled or suspended from membershipwithout due process within the last three years be reviewed for possible immediate reinstatement.


3. Compliance unit/Complaints department

We believe that all disciplinary decisions should be taken only by elected bodies, not by paid officials. We therefore believe that the ‘compliance unit’ (Complaints department/Disputes) should be abolished. What is your attitude towards this body?


4. Exclusions
 

We believe that the first part of rule 2.1.4.B (‘Exclusions’) should be abolished: it bars from Labour Party membership anybody who “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the party”. This rule has exclusively been used against left-wingers and Corbyn supporters.

Almost 25% of delegates at Labour’s conference 2018 voted in favour of abolishing this rule. What is your attitude to it?

Many thanks in advance for taking the time in answering our questions. You can email your reply to info@labouragainstthewitchhunt.org

CLGA candidates for NCC elections

Cecile Wright
Khaled Moyeed
Annabelle Harle
Susan Press
Stephen Marks
Gary Heather

Antisemitic misconduct – what it is and what it is not

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ANTISEMITIC MISCONDUCT

What it is – and what it is not

This document has been prepared by Jewish Voice for Labour and Free Speech on Israel as a contribution to the Labour Party’s consultation on its Code of Conduct on Antisemitism but has a wider significance. LAW fully supports this excellent contribution to the debate.

You can download this statement here.

_____________

There has been extended controversy over the adoption by the Labour Party of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism. It has been widely recognised that the wording of that definition is so loose that it requires extensive interpretation if it is to be even potentially helpful for disciplinary purposes.

Our submission is based on an understanding of the nature of antisemitism which we believe avoids the obscurities and ambiguities of the IHRA working definition:

Antisemitism is a form of racism. It consists in prejudice, hostility or hatred towards Jews as Jews. It may take the form of denial of rights; direct, indirect or institutional discrimination; prejudiced-based behaviour; verbal or written statements; or violence. Such manifestations draw on stereotypes – characteristics which all Jews are presumed to share.

We believe that the following comments will be helpful to those drawing up Labour’s disciplinary code, and perhaps more widely.

_____________

Implications of taking this view of antisemitism

1. Stereotypes

Racism commonly stereotypes groups as inferior in ways that enable discrimination against them. Such stereotypes function by scapegoating a targeted group, deflecting blame for society’s problems from their real causes. Antisemitic stereotyping has historically been used to dehumanise Jewish people, giving licence to treat them in ways not otherwise acceptable. Use of such stereotypes is unarguably antisemitic conduct.

2. Expressions of antisemitism

Certain words and phrases that refer to Jews in a derogatory way are unquestionably antisemitic. Terms which associate Jews with malevolent social forces clearly fall into this category. Extreme examples are the blood libel (that Jews kill Christian children to use their blood in religious ceremonies), and the claimed existence of a powerful but secret Jewish cabal that controls the world.

Seemingly neutral or positive terms can also be used in antisemitic ways. For example, assertions that Jews are unusually clever or especially ‘good with money’ make the unwarranted assumption that all Jews share similar characteristics. Commonly, there is a negative, antisemitic edge to such views.

3. Terminology

Jews, Israelis and Zionists are separate categories that are too frequently conflated by both supporters and critics of Israel. This conflation can be antisemitic. Holding all Jews responsible for the actions of the Israeli government is antisemitic. Many Jews are not Zionist. The majority of Zionists are not Jewish but fundamentalist Christian Zionists. Over 20 percent of Israeli citizens are not Jewish.

4. Political discourse

Free speech is legally protected. Within these legal limits political discourse can be robust and may cause offence. There is no right not to be offended. The fact that some people or groups are offended does not in itself mean that a statement is antisemitic or racist. A statement is only antisemitic if it shows prejudice, hostility or hatred against Jews as Jews.

The terms ‘Zionism’ and ‘Zionist’ describe a political ideology and its adherents. They are key concepts in the discussion of Israel/Palestine. They are routinely used, approvingly, by supporters of Israel, but critically by campaigners for Palestinian rights, who identify Zionist ideology and the Zionist movement as responsible for Palestinian dispossession. Criticising Zionism or Israel as a state does not constitute criticising Jews as individuals or as a people, and is not evidence of antisemitism.

There have been claims that any comparison between aspects of Israel and features of pre-war Nazi Germany is inherently antisemitic. Similar objections have been raised to likening Israel’s internal practices to those of apartheid South Africa. Drawing such parallels can undoubtedly cause offence; but potent historical events and experiences are always key reference points in political debate. Such comparisons are only antisemitic if they show prejudice, hostility or hatred against Jews as Jews.

5. Boycott, divestment and sanctions

A common focus for allegations of antisemitism is the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) targeted on Israel. The three elements of BDS are internationally recognized as legitimate and non- violent strategies for securing political change. So advocating for BDS would only be antisemitic if accompanied by evidence that it is motivated not by this purpose but by racially-based hostility towards Jews.

6. When Antisemitism Is Alleged

As with any allegations of racism, accusations of antisemitism must be taken seriously and investigated. But principles of natural justice and due process must be respected and applied: the person accused should be accorded the normal presumption of innocence until the case is resolved. Allegations do not constitute proof.

Antisemitic attitudes may be more or less intense.* Some people are deeply antisemitic, others less so. Yet others whom it would be unreasonable to class as antisemitic may nevertheless hold some attitudes, in dilute form, which will make some Jews uncomfortable. Following a finding of antisemitism there remains a decision to be made about whether discussion and education, rather than a formal disciplinary approach, is more appropriate.

Indirect discrimination could inadvertently occur, where actions have the effect of selectively disadvantaging Jewish people even though no hostile motive towards Jews is present. Once a case of such discrimination comes to light, those responsible should take all reasonable steps possible to eliminate the problem. Unwillingness to take such steps would be evidence of antisemitism.

The systematic murder of millions of Jews (and so many others) is exhaustively documented. It is therefore inconceivable that Holocaust denial or expressions of doubt over its scale could be motivated by genuine investigatory scepticism. The implication of antisemitic intent is, for practical purposes, inescapable.

* See Institute of Jewish Policy Research report Antisemitism in Contemporary Great Britain, 2017

7. Overview

The understanding of antisemitism on which this analysis is based reaffirms the traditional meaning of the term. This is important in the light of attempts to extend its meaning to apply to criticisms often made of the state of Israel, or to non-violent campaigns such as BDS. A charge of antisemitism carries exceptional moral force because of the negative connotations rightly attaching to the term. It is illegitimate to make such claims to discredit or deter criticism, or to achieve sectional advantage. To do so is to devalue the term.

To be clear: conduct is antisemitic only if it manifests ‘prejudice, hostility or hatred against Jews as Jews’.

Have you missed ‘The Lobby’?

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The Lobby – A Four-Part Investigation  

In the first of a four-part series, Al Jazeera goes undercover inside the Israel Lobby in Britain. We expose a campaign to infiltrate and influence youth groups, including the National Union of Students, whose president faces a smear campaign coordinated by her own deputy and supported by the Israel Embassy.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceCOhdgRBoc&list=PLzGHKb8i9vTzCgnbENCKuz7fqU12xNBce&index=1

In part two of The Lobby, our undercover reporter joins a delegation from the Israeli Embassy at last year’s Labour Party Conference. The programme reveals how accusations of anti-Semitism were made against key Labour Party members – and how a former official at the Israeli Embassy was upset when her background was revealed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vuk1EhkEctE&index=2&list=PLzGHKb8i9vTzCgnbENCKuz7fqU12xNBce

In part three of The Lobby, our undercover reporter travels to the Labour Party Conference, revealing how accusations of anti-Semitism by group within Labour targeted Israel critics and saw some investigated.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3dn-VV3czc&list=PLzGHKb8i9vTzCgnbENCKuz7fqU12xNBce&index=3

In part four of The Lobby, the senior political officer at the Israeli Embassy in London discusses a potential plot to ‘take down’ British politicians – including a Minster of State at the Foreign office who supports Palestinian civil rights.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pddH2sfNKNY&list=PLzGHKb8i9vTzCgnbENCKuz7fqU12xNBce&index=4

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.

LAW Twitter account

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Statement, LAW steering committee

The steering committee of Labour Against the Witchhunt deplores some of the tweets that have been issued in our name. The LAW Twitter account had been used outside of our control. We have only just been informed of the content of some of the tweets and wish to distance LAW from them in the strongest possible terms.

We have now been able to access and delete that Twitter account and set up a new one, with the handle @LAW_witchhunt.

The person responsible for the tweets has offered his resignation, which the steering committee has accepted.

Documentary: The Political Lynching of Jackie Walker

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The world preview of this documentary by Jon Pullman in Liverpool had to be halted after a hoax bomb threat. There are forces that are clearly unhappy about the documentary’s exposure of the right-wing campaign that has led to Jackie’s suspension from the Labour Party. But they have only achieved the opposite: Plenty of people asked us at conference when and how they could see the film! We are therefore part of a major campaign bringing the film and its message to a wide audience:

– The preview will take place before an invited audience at a location in London. Please get in touch if you are interested in attending.

– More information will be widely circulated as part of publicity for a nationwide tour with director Jon Pullman, Jackie Walker and others. Dates and venues to be announced. Again, let us know if you are interested in putting on a showing locally.

– Following the tour, the film will be made available on DVD for use by CLPs, trade unions and other groups.

Campaign for Socialism witch-hunts two members on absurd charges

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The witch-hunt of Labour Party socialists has taken a new disturbing turn in Scotland, with the Campaign for Socialism’s (CfS) executive committee taking the lead. Despite criticisms of the Momentum leadership’s handling of the witch-hunt and their lack of support for its victims, Jon Lansman’s organisation, to date, has preferred to let others do the actual witch-hunting. Not so CfS, Momentum’s counterpart in Scotland. In August, CfS launched its own witch-hunt against two of its members, Sandy McBurney and Colin Deans. The former’s crime was sharing an article in the CfS members Facebook group authored by the Jewish left-wing antizionist writer Robert Cohen titled The Jewish establishment’s ‘War Against Corbyn’ risks bringing real antisemitism to Britain, an article widely shared on social media by the group Jewish Voice for Labour. The latter was accused of antisemitism for stating in the same Facebook group that Jehovah’s Witnesses, Slavs, Communists and Trade Unionists, among others, were murdered alongside Jews during the holocaust. In neither case was any external pressure exerted on the CfS EC to instigate disciplinary proceedings – in fact, both cases appear to have been initiated by the leadership themselves.

At present, CfS has no agreed disciplinary processes or code of conduct. An attempt to pass such a code at the CfS AGM in March failed after members rejected its strange and vague formulations – including, in an inversion of basic democratic principle, the stipulation that local groups are accountable to the CfS EC and that members can be expelled for ‘jeopardising’ CfS’s relationship with the Labour Party, or indeed CfS’s ‘reputation’, whatever that means. Undeterred, the EC decided to de facto adopt the rejected code – though even that was modified on an ad hoc basis as events progressed – and suspended Colin and Sandy at an EC meeting on the 4thof August, appointing a three-person panel and setting disciplinary hearings for September the 15that the Unite offices in Glasgow.

In one of the many contraventions of natural justice, the accused were denied access to the CfS members Facebook group and therefore the evidence of their alleged misdeeds, though it turns out that the offending posts were long deleted. In Sandy’s case, the secretary could not even tell Sandy which website the link was posted from and consistently used the wrong title for the article, claiming it was titled The Jewish War on Corbyn. At no point was there any suggestion that the article itself was antisemitic, the charge related purely to the title and so its misrepresentation is of some significance.

As the 15thapproached, comrades outraged at the ECs blatant contempt for the membership and disregard for basic democratic principles began organising, in the best tradition of the labour movement, for a solidarity demonstration outside the hearings. The demonstrations were to be silent and placards were to include only slogans supportive of the two comrades, with no explicit criticism of CfS. Three days prior to the hearing, the venue was switched ‘due to unforeseen circumstances’ to Govanhill Baths, a community venue in the south of the city. Later that day, the accused received emails informing them that, ‘You will be aware we have now had to cancel two potential venues for your disciplinary panel. The venues in both cases have expressed concern about the nature of the planned protest which you have endorsed, and the effect it could have on others using the building.’ Neither were in fact aware of this, nor – at least in the case of Govanhill Baths – is this true. In truth, the Baths declined to play host to the witch-hunt of two Labour Party socialists on point of principle. The argument that picket lines are intimidating and cause ‘stress and anxiety’ is, of course, a favourite of the right-wing press. In this case, it is absurd given that the silent picket was to show support for two CfS members and had nothing at all to do with the venues.

The comrades were informed that unless they could confirm that the picket would not go ahead – which they could not, given they had not themselves organised it – the hearing would be held in their absence and in secret. The decision of the panel would be ‘based solely on the evidence available’ – which is to say, based on nothing given there was no actual evidence – to which the accused would be allowed to add a written statement.

In the end, a series of questions were sent to both comrades. Both provided written responses: Colin providing sources for his post, including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration; Sandy including statements in his defence by Robert Cohen and Jewish Voice for Labour explaining that there was no antisemitic content or intent in respect to the title of the article in question. The questions themselves were leading, rambling, vague and, in some cases, contained basic factual errors – for example, the title of the article shared by Sandy was incorrect yet again. They were reminiscent of the sort of questioning levelled during a workplace disciplinary – with that toxic mix of officiousness, pettiness, ineptitude and self-satisfaction, usually resulting from the knowledge that the outcome is already determined. And sure enough, on September the 19th Sandy and Colin were informed that the panel had unanimously voted for their expulsion from CfS, a decision that had been ratified by the EC. There would be no right of appeal. Both remain full and active members of the Labour Party.

Members of the recently formed Labour Briefing Scotland group have called for an EGM to reject the expulsions and condemn the EC for acting unconstitutionally and well beyond its authority. In a sign of the depths of bureaucratism to which the EC has sunk, despite gathering sufficient signatures from the membership to force an EGM the secretary maintained that no EGM would be held until each signatory had personally emailed him with proof of their membership of CfS. This will be simple enough to arrange but once again demonstrates the EC’s shameless readiness to make the rules up as they go along.

To the outside observer this sorry tale will appear ridiculous and bizarre, largely because it is. There is simply no way that Sandy or Colin – both socialists with a long track record of antiracist activity – have behaved in an antisemitic manner, or that the disciplinary process was anything other than a farce. In fact, the CfS witch-hunt is almost certainly an attempt by the leadership to get rid of two – and presumably this is just the beginning – of their most vocal left-wing critics. CfS has not called a members’ meeting since the AGM in March, despite being required to hold at least four a year, and is increasingly little more than a career network for aspiring Labour movement full-timers. Ordinary members are viewed at best as little more than phone-bank and door-knocking fodder who exist only to support the career aspirations of their leaders, and at worst a liability to be gotten rid of, with no regard to democracy or natural justice. However, with over 1000 members, socialists in CfS should stay and fight back, working to transform the organisation into a democratic, members-led, socialist movement capable of defending Corbyn, fighting for the democratisation of the Labour Party, and winning a Labour government capable of implementing pro-working class reforms at the next general election.