Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt: The latest victim of the witch-hunt

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The NEC refuses to endorse the Corbyn supporter in South Thanet – and it seems Momentum is complicit, writes Carla Roberts of Labour Party Marxists (the article first appeared on their website here)

In April 2018, Corbyn supporter Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt was selected as Labour’s parliamentary candidate for the “key marginal” seat of Thanet South. She beat the more ‘moderate’ local councillor, Karen Constantine, by 17 votes – despite the fact that the latter was backed by a rather unholy alliance of Unite, Unison, GMB and, somewhat strangely, Momentum.

We hear that Constantine had never been seen at a Momentum meeting and only started to back Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader once he was sure to win. On Twitter, she proudly declares that her “motto” is: “An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory”. Gordon-Nesbitt, on the other hand, is known as an outspoken Corbyn supporter and life-long socialist campaigner. So no real surprise then that local members chose the more leftwing candidate (as would probably be the case almost everywhere, if members were allowed to democratically select their prospective candidate via a system of mandatory reselection).

But clearly, not everybody was happy about the result. Two weeks after the local decision, the revolting Guido Fawkes published a take-down piece on Gordon-Nesbitt, who works as a researcher to, among others, Labour peer Lord Howarth of Newport. Fawkes published a small number of tweets released by the Centre for Cultural Change in 2016, to which Gordon-Nesbitt contributed.

As is unfortunately now the norm in the Labour Party, the tweets were – probably simultaneously – passed on to the compliance unit of the Labour Party, an investigation was opened and Labour’s national executive committee decided to put on hold the required endorsement of her candidacy – a highly unusual decision. Guido Fawkes seems to have had already had a good inkling of the result of the investigation even before it started: “Assume Gordon-Nesbitt will be deselected if Corbyn is really taking anti-Semitism seriously…”, he wrote in April.

And he was right. Still, it took the Labour Party bureaucracy a staggering eight months to look into those few tweets – three of which were authored by Gordon-Nesbitt:

“Accusations levelled at Jackie Walker are politically motivated.”

“Anti-Semitism has been weaponised by those who seek to silence anti-Zionist voices. See The Lynching, endorsed by Ken Loach, for elucidation.”

“Accusations of AS levelled in an attempt to discredit the left.”

Even the most biased bourgeois justice system would have laughed this ‘evidence’ out of court. Not so today’s Labour Party, unfortunately, which is cleaved apart by the ongoing civil war that began with the election of Corbyn. In July 2018, the NEC – even though it was now ostensibly dominated by the ‘left’ – voted to refer the case to its kangaroo court, the national constitutional committee (NCC). This is a crucial body in the party. It deals with all disciplinary matters that the NEC feels it cannot resolve and – given that the NCC is dominated by the right – the referral of a leftwinger usually results in expulsion from the party. Incredibly, even after its recent expansion from 11 to 25, only a minority are chosen by rank-and-file Labour members.

Gordon-Nesbitt describes how “months went by, but nothing happened”. She continued to be the officially selected candidate and campaigned with local party members. Six months after the referral to the NCC she was invited to an interview – not with the NCC, but with a panel of three NEC members.

Gordon-Nesbitt writes that she came to the hearing on December 18 “armed with a dozen endorsements from local party members, a respected rabbi, an Oxford University anti-Semitism expert and a sizeable group of parliamentary candidates from around the country, all of whom said in various different ways that neither I nor the tweets were anti-Semitic”.

Still, a few hours after the meeting, Gordon-Nesbitt received a letter stating that the NEC had “decided not to endorse my candidacy on the basis that: “In light of these posts your conduct does not meet the high standards that are expected of parliamentary candidates and has the potential to bring the party into disrepute.”

Her local Labour Party continues to support her: The CLP executive, its branches and the CLP women’s forum have all rejected the NEC’s decision. An emergency meeting of the CLP’s general committee is scheduled for later this week.

We understand that, worryingly, leftwinger Claudia Webbe was one of the three NEC members on the panel. In fact, she was the only one who was there in person – the other two were listening in via speakerphone. In July, Webbe replaced Christine Shawcroft as chair of the NEC’s disputes panel, having been nominated to the post by both Momentum’s Jon Lansman and Pete Willsman, secretary of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (Webbe also serves as chair of the CLPD). It is unusual for Lansman and Willsman to agree on anything these days – the former comrades who worked together for decades in the CLPD have fallen out spectacularly over the last 12 months or so, after Lansman falsely accused Willsman of anti-Semitism and dropped him from Momentum’s list of recommended candidates for the NEC (Willsman was elected anyway).

Of course, we do not actually know how Webbe voted. These hugely important decisions are kept secret, away from the membership. She certainly has not made her views on the matter public. But we know that she is an ally of Lansman, who, we have been told, is campaigning against attempts to allow the next full NEC meeting (January 22) to revisit the panel’s decision on Gordon-Nesbitt. Momentum locally and nationally has certainly not raised a finger to defend her or the democratic will of the local members.

NEC panels have the right to make decisions on behalf of the executive and those decisions do not have to be ratified by the full NEC. But, as Darren Williams explains, they can be “revisited” and overturned by the NEC. Williams seems to be the only NEC member who has come out publicly on this case, though we understand that he is not the only leftwinger on the NEC who is “unhappy” about the panel’s decision.5 We might find out more on January 22 – but isn’t it a pity that there are no official minutes of NEC meetings? We have to rely on the few reports produced by individual members (who only report on decisions they find interesting or important, of course).

This case does shed a rather worrying light on the state of the so-called ‘left’ on the NEC (and the wider party). Lansman has thrown himself with gusto into the campaign to equate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism – a campaign whose chief target is, of course, Jeremy Corbyn himself. While Lansman has always been a soft Zionist, he has certainly found his hard-core Zionist feet in recent months. He successfully campaigned for the NEC to adopt the ludicrously inaccurate and pro-Zionist ‘Definition of anti-Semitism’ published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, with all its disputed 11 examples.

Lansman and his close allies make up about half of the nine NEC members elected by party members on the slate pushed by the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance. Darren Williams, Pete Willsman and Rachel Garnham seem to be the only NEC members with at least half an occasional backbone. Even though Unite is run by Corbyn ally Len McCluskey, the numerous Unite members on the NEC tend to vote – in general – with the rest of the unions on Labour’s leadership body.

This is particularly worrying, as Jeremy Corbyn remains a prisoner of Labour’s MPs, who are far to his right and, of course, to the right of the majority of members. Refusing to endorse a candidate who would have been a very valuable ally of Corbyn makes you wonder on which side Jon Lansman and some of his allies on the NEC really stand.

Tony Mulhearn asks five pertinent questions on the case of Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt

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A panel of three NEC members decided on December 18 2018 not to endorse Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, who had been democratically selected to be the parliamentary candidate for South Thanet. More details on the case here.

  1. Who appointed this three-person panel?
  2. To whom are they accountable?
  3. Can they be named?
  4. How have they justified their irrational behaviour?
  5. Who is protecting them?

Tony Mulhearn
Liverpool councillor from 1984 to 1987, expelled from the Labour Party in 1986 as part as the Militant purges

Model motions: Support the reinstatement of Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt as parliamentary candidate for Thanet South

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LAW Statement

In what is a very unusual and highly politicised decision, a three-person panel of the Labour Party’s NEC has refused to endorse Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt as the parliamentary candidate for South Thanet. It has thereby undermined the democratic decision of local Labour Party members who had selected her over eight months earlier.

Just like many other Labour Party members, Rebecca is the victim of false accusations of anti-Semitism made against her. The following three Twitter messages by Rebecca constitute the whole ‘evidence’ against her:

  1. “Accusations levelled at Jackie Walker are politically motivated.”
  2. “Antisemitism has been weaponised by those who seek to silence anti-Zionist voices. See The Lynching, endorsed by Ken Loach, for elucidation.”
  3. “Accusations of AS levelled in an attempt to discredit the left.”

Ironically, the NEC panel’s disgraceful decision underlines the correctness of her statements. Clearly, none of these tweets are even vaguely anti-Semitic, but they prove that the witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters is very much ongoing.

Jackie Walker, chair of LAW and a member of South Thanet CLP, says:

“Clearly, this shows that the witch hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters is still in full swing. Rebecca is a life-long socialist and principled campaigner for the rights of the Palestinians. Nothing she said or wrote is even vaguely anti-Semitic. It is almost unheard of that the NEC does not endorse a candidate who has been selected democratically and transparently by local party members. This is a slap in the face of the local membership and it is no surprise that the NEC’s decision has been rejected by the Executive Committee of South Thanet Constituency Labour Party, its branches and its women’s forum.”

What you can do:

  • Sign Rebecca’s petition here
  • Contribute to her legal fighting fund here

  • Take either of the model motions below to your branch/CLP demanding Rebecca’s reinstatement

Model motion 1:

This branch/CLP is appalled at the decision of a three-person NEC panel not to endorse South Thanet Labour Party’s democratically elected parliamentary candidate, Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt. This decision is an affront to our democratic traditions and appears not to be accompanied by any supporting evidence nor any rationale detailing the decision-making process. This branch/CLP asks the NEC to review its decision in a way which fully respects the integrity of the NEC and the democratic wishes of the membership.

Model motion 2:

This branch/CLP notes:

  • That in December 2018, Labour Party’s NEC refused to endorse Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt as the parliamentary candidate for South Thanet, eight months after she was democratically selected by the local CLP.
  • That it is highly unusual for the NEC not to endorse a candidate selected locally.
  • That since her selection in April 2018, Rebecca has tirelessly campaigned for the local Labour Party, with the full support of the local members.

We further note:

  • That in April 2018, three tweets written by Rebecca for the Centre for Cultural Change twitter account were published out of context by Guido Fawke’s blog.
  • The three tweets read in full:
  1. “Accusations levelled at Jackie Walker are politically motivated.
  2. “Antisemitism has been weaponised by those who seek to silence anti-Zionist voices. See The Lynching, endorsed by Ken Loach, for elucidation.”
  3. “Accusations of AS levelled in an attempt to discredit the left.”
  • This led to an investigation by the Labour Party, which culminated in an interview with the NEC panel in December. Rebecca was told that:“In light of these posts your conduct does not meet the high standards that are expected of parliamentary candidates and has the potential to bring the Party into disrepute.”
  • This decision has been rejected by the Executive Committee of South Thanet Constituency Labour Party, its branches and its women’s forum.
  • Rebecca has no right to appeal this decision and is therefore considering taking legal action.

We believe:

  • That this decision is a serious blow to the democratic will of local Labour Party members
  • Rebecca’s tweets were not even vaguely anti-Semitic – but they do point to the very real and ongoing campaign by the right in the Labour Party to smear Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters as anti-Semitic.

We therefore call on the NEC:

  • To revisit this decision asap and to reinstate Rebecca as the Labour candidate for Thanet South.
  • To apologise to Rebecca and South Thanet CLP.

We further resolve to

  • Publicise this motion and send it to the CLP for discussion
  • Send this motion to the Labour Party NEC and general secretary Jennie Formby
  • Publicise the public petition demanding Rebecca’s reinstatement
  • Support Rebecca’s legal fighting fund with a donation of £___

Links

 

 

 

Don’t miss LAW’s first conference, February 2 2019

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Please make arrangements to come along to our first conference on Saturday February 2 in central London (venue to be announced closer to the date), 10.30 – 5pm.

We will be discussing the slow coup against Jeremy Corbyn and a motion clarifying the problems with the weaponised ‘definition’ of Anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. We will be agreeing on a constitution and there will be elections to the LAW steering committee.

Click here to read or download the two motions and the draft constitution prepared by the LAW steering committee. The deadline for amendments to these is Saturday January 26.

If you want to submit a motion, please do so by Saturday January 19 (and please submit the name of the mover and seconder, both of whom have to be paid up members of LAW).

We would also appreciate if nominations to the Steering Committee are made before conference, but we will accept nominations during conference.

We will be operating a pooled fare system (£10) to facilitate comrades from outside London attending.

Please note that this conference is only for full members of Labour Against the Witchhunt. You should have received your membership card in the post, please bring it along. Get in touch if you are unsure if you are a member. You can sign up online by clicking here.

Hope to see you there! Continue Reading “Don’t miss LAW’s first conference, February 2 2019”

Motions to LAW conference, Saturday February 2 2019

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1. The slow coup against Jeremy Corbyn – download PDF version here

2. Why LAW opposes the IHRA ‘Definition of Anti-Semitism’ download PDF version here

3. LAW draft constitution download PDF version here

The deadline for amendments to these is Saturday January 26 please email by midnight.

If you want to submit a motion, please do so by midnight, Saturday January 19 (and please submit the name of the mover and seconder, both of whom have to be paid up members of LAW).


1. The slow coup against Jeremy Corbyn

Submitted by LAW’s steering committee, to be introduced at conference by Moshe Machover

  1. Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader on September 12 2015 was a body blow to the rightwing. It opened up the possibility of thoroughgoing democratisation and transformation of the Labour Party into a genuine party of the working class that would commit itself to fighting for global socialism.
  2. Corbyn’s longstanding record of backing strikes, opposing austerity and anti-war campaigning makes him totally unacceptable to Britain’s establishment. Above all Corbyn is considered a threat to the strategic alliance with the United States, symbolised by his critical attitude towards Israel and his solidarity with the Palestinians.
  3. The US has a particular interest in controlling the Middle East because of its oil and geopolitical position. That means shoring up the thoroughly corrupt Saudi Arabian regime and the barely disguised military dictatorship in Egypt. However, the most reliable strategic asset the US possesses in the Middle East is Israel. Israel’s ongoing settler-colonialism is inevitably opposed and bitterly resented by the Palestinian natives and the wider Arab nation. Consequently, the most important political question is security. The majority of the Israeli-Jewish population enthusiastically supports the country’s alliance with the US.
  4. The war of attrition against Corbyn as Labour leader, carried out by an alliance of the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party, the Party bureaucracy, the Israeli state, the pro-Israel lobby and the mainstream media, began even before he was elected. Corbyn was portrayed as a terrorist sympathiser, a security risk and an all-round danger to society.
  5. Thousands of socialists and leftwingers were investigated, suspended and expelled under former general secretary Iain McNicol. The charges leveled against these comrades were often trivial. Many were found guilty of supporting unaffiliated political groups. There was much talk of dangerous ‘reds under the beds’.
  6. However, the most potent weapon in the hands of Corbyn’s enemies proved to be false accusations of anti-Semitism. Anti-Zionism was equated with anti-Semitism. This approach worked not least because Corbyn and his allies allowed it to. Rather than standing up to the right and exposing the baselessness of allegations that the Labour Party is riddled with anti-Semitism, Corbyn chose to appease the Labour right and the Zionist lobby.
  7. The investigation run by Shami Chakrabarti was supposed to put an end to the allegations, but it was only a new stage. Every time Corbyn and his allies conceded a demand, every time they took a step back, the right wing and Zionist lobby were further emboldened. This culminated in the NEC’s adoption of the much-criticised International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism and all eleven of its illustrations (including the one which labels as anti-Semitic the description of Israel as a “racist endeavour”). But the IHRA definition conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism.
  8. This policy of appeasement has proven disastrous not just for Corbyn, but for many hundreds accused of being anti-Semites. The vast majority are no such thing. Social media accounts have been trawled, comments taken out of context and the forwarding of posts taken as evidence of agreement. As a result, reputations have been ruined, good leftwingers have been blocked from standing for positions and, just as importantly, the party as a whole has been brought into disrepute.
  9. Labour Against the Witchhunt has two main roles: Firstly, we are a campaigning organisation that fights to radically transform the disciplinary procedures in the Labour Party. We defend all those unjustly suspended, expelled or put under investigation. We welcome the ending of automatic and instant suspensions and expulsions by the new general secretary Jennie Formby – one of our founding demands. Nonetheless, the NEC’s adoption of the IHRA definition has massively expanded the grounds being used for false allegations of anti-Semitism.
  10. We call on the NEC to implement the proposals coming from Shami Chakrabarti’s report in regards to natural justice and due process. In particular, we call for the abolition of Appendix 6 of the party’s rulebook, which is the LP’s disciplinary code. We demand its replacement by a code that guarantees the rights of the accused and ensures that the whole disciplinary process is seen to be fair and above board. That anyone accused has the right to legal representation, especially if the Labour Party itself is represented legally. And that the LP should be paying for such representation if someone cannot afford to pay.
  11. We will continue to campaign for the abolition of the first part of rule 2.1.4.B, which bars from Labour membership anybody who “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the party” and has exclusively been used against left-wingers.
  12. We will continue to organise lobbies of Labour NEC meetings, organise our own events and meetings and – after a successful intervention at Labour Party conference 2018 – will plan for another intervention at the 2019 Labour conference.
  13. Secondly, and equally important, is the need to lay bare the role of the Labour right, the Israeli state and Zionist organisations in fabricating the anti-Semitism ‘crisis’ in the Labour Party.
  14. The best way of combating backward attitudes and political views – which undoubtedly exist in the Labour Party – is through political education, discussion and joint participation in campaigning. However, giving those with the most backward attitudes and political views prime responsibility for political education is a travesty. We therefore treat with contempt and reject the so-called ‘training sessions’ organised by the Jewish Labour Movement, an openly Zionist organisation. We do not accept that an organisation which supports a racist project of colonisation is capable of providing anti-racist education.
  15. Unity between the socialist left and the pro-capitalism right is illusory. The left must win the battle for freedom of speech and democracy – in the Labour Party, trade unions and society at large. Political ideas, including different attitudes towards Israel, must be debated freely, not silenced, not hedged with all manner of bureaucratic ifs and buts. We shall fight to end the current culture of fear and self-censorship.

2. Why LAW opposes the IHRA ‘Definition of Anti-Semitism’

Submitted by LAW’s steering committee, to be introduced at conference by Tony Greenstein

This conference rejects the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism in its entirety.

 

We note that:
  1. The IHRA ‘definition’ reads:
    “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
  1. This definition was originally published, together with its 11 examples, in 2005 on the website of the European Union’s European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), although it was never adopted by that body. But after heavy criticism, it was removed by the EUMC’s successor body, the Fundamental Rights Agency, in November 2013.
  2. In May 2016, it was resurrected and adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, a group of 32 countries. But, far from being the “internationally recognised definition”, according to IHRA the definition has been adopted by only 10 countries: the UK, Romania, Lithuania, Slovakia, Austria, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Germany, the Netherlands and, of course, Israel.
  3. On December 12 2016, the UK Tory government was the first of the IHRA countries to endorse the IHRA definition. Shamefully, on the very same day the Labour Party endorsed the definition, albeit without its 11 examples. The European Parliament’s May 29 2017 acceptance of the IHRA definition was spearheaded by the Austrian government, in particular the neo-Nazi or far-right Freedom Party, one of the two coalition partners.
  4. The definition is by the IHRA’s own admission not legally binding.
  5. Kenneth Stern of the American Jewish Committee, who first drafted the definition, has stated that the original idea for it arose from Dina Porat of Tel Aviv’s Kantor Centre.
This conference believes:
  1. The IHRA’s “definition” is no such thing. It is a model of ambiguity, open ended and raises a number of questions:– What is a “certain perception” and in whose eyes
    – Is anti-Semitism merely a perception? What about discrimination?
    – If anti-Semitism “may be expressed as hatred towards Jews” what else might it be expressed as? Anti-Zionism?
    – Why are “non-Jewish individuals” included in a definition of anti-Semitism?
    – Why is special mention made of Jewish “community organisations”? Is this a pseudonym for Zionist organisations like the Board of Deputies of British Jews?
    – Why do seven of the 11 examples accompanying the definition refer to the state of Israel and not Jews?
  2. The Oxford English Dictionarydefines anti-Semitism in far fewer words – and yet is far more precise: “Hostility to or prejudice against Jews”. Brian Klug defines it as “a form of hostility to Jews as Jews, where Jews are perceived as something other than what they are.”
  3. This ambiguity in the IHRA definition is not accidental: It is designed to allow any criticism of the actions of the state of Israel to be dismissed as ‘anti-Semitism’. The definition’s real purpose is to defend the Israeli state from its critics – not Jews from anti-Semitism. This becomes particularly clear in the eleven examples that have been published with the definition.
  4. LAW is not alone in its critique. The definition has been subject to searing criticism by a number of academic and legal scholars, for example:

* Professor David Feldman(vice-chair of the Chakrabarti Inquiry and director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism) has described the definition as “bewilderingly imprecise”.

* Sir Stephen Sedley, the Jewish former Court of Appeal judge, has written that the IHRA “fails the first test of any definition: it is indefinite”.

* Hugh Tomlinson QC has warned that the IHRA definition had a “chilling effect on public bodies”

* Geoffrey Robertson QC has explained that, “The definition does not cover the most insidious forms of hostility to Jewish people and the looseness of the definition is liable to chill legitimate criticisms of the state of Israel and coverage of human rights abuses against Palestinians.”

* Tony Lerman, a prominent Jewish academic, wrote that “it’s not fit for purpose, but it also has the effect of making Jews more vulnerable to antisemitism, not less, and exacerbating the bitter arguments Jews have been having over the nature of contemporary antisemitism for the last 20 to 25 years.”

* Even Kenneth Sternhas acknowledged that the IHRA is being used to restrict free speech. Stern has warned dabout how the IHRA “was being employed in an attempt to restrict academic freedom and punish political speech”. In testimony to the House of Representatives in November 2017, Stern explained that: “The definition was not drafted, and was never intended, as a tool to target or chill speech on a college campus. In fact, at a conference in 2010 about the impact of the definition, I highlighted this misuse, and the damage it could do.”

This conference believes that:

  1. The adoption of the IHRA definition and all eleven examples by the Labour Party’s NEC in 2018 has not brought an end to the ongoing claims that the Labour Party is riddled with anti-Semites. As LAW warned, the opposite has occurred.
  2. The Labour Party’s decision was an outright victory for the right inside and outside the party. While Jennie Formby has halted the automatic and instant suspensions of Corbyn supporters, the adoption of the IHRA definition has massively expanded the grounds being used for false allegations of anti-Semitism.
  3. This pressure on the Labour Party to adopt the IHRA definition was always part and parcel of the slow coup against Jeremy Corbyn. This campaign might currently experience a ‘Brexit lull’, but it will no doubt be switched on again once a general election has been called. The right, the establishment and the Zionist lobby will do anything to prevent Jeremy Corbyn, an outspoken supporter of the rights of the Palestinians, to become prime minister: He cannot be relied upon to run capital in their interests.
  4. Some people ostensibly on the left of the party (such as Jon Lansman and John McDonnell) were therefore seriously misguided when they publicly supported the NEC’s adoption of the definition.
This conference therefore resolves:
  1. To campaign for the Labour Party NEC to reverse its decision and ditch the IHRA definition.
  2. To campaign for the government, councils and other public and private bodies who have already adopted the IHRA definition to reverse their decision and to campaign to stop any more bodies from adopting it.
  3. To campaign for freedom of speech, which includes the right to call out Israel’s actions as racist, discriminatory and oppressive.

LAW Draft Constitution

1. Aims

Labour Against the Witchhunt was founded in October 2017 to oppose the purge of pro-Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party. We have three main aims:

1. The Labour Party must end the practice of automatic, instant, expulsion or suspension of Labour Party members:

  • All those summarily expelled or suspended without due process should be immediately reinstated.
  • An accused member should be given all the evidence submitted against them and be regarded as innocent until proven guilty. Legal representation costs to be paid by the party.
  • 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.
  • 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” and has exclusively been used against left-wingers.

2. The Labour Party should reject the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which in its list of examples conflates anti-Semitism with anti- Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people. Instead, the Labour Party should adopt a simple, straightforward, definition of anti-Semitism, such as by Professor Brian Klug: “Anti-Semitism is a form of hostility to Jews as Jews, where Jews are perceived as something other than what they are”.

3. The Compliance Unit should be replaced with a new body which will deal with complaints along the lines of the recommendations in the Chakrabarti Report, allowing all members appropriate due process.

2. Membership and affiliates

Labour Against the Witchhunt is a Labour Party campaign. We urge all members who oppose the witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters and critics of Israel/Zionism to stay in the Party and fight. LAW welcomes the participation of LP members/ excluded comrades/people who support our three key aims and pay the annual membership fee.

Organisations (Labour branches and CLPs, TU branches, Momentum groups, etc) can affiliate to LAW. At membership meetings, an affiliated organisation is entitled to one delegate with one vote.

Those who promote the false anti-Semitism smear, who conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and who promote the myth of a ubiquitous left anti- Semitism, are not welcome in LAW.

Those who promote the “socialism of fools” – the view that imperialism’s support for Zionism and Israel is because of the influence of Jews – are also not welcome in LAW.

3. Organisation and structures

We urge all members to get involved in local and/ or regional branches, which are autonomous and raise their own funds for activities.

Decisions are taken by simple majorities of members voting in any properly constituted meeting (excluding abstentions).

Members have the right – individually or with others – to submit their views to the Steering Committee for discussion.

The national all-members meeting (including conference) is the highest decision-making body of LAW and it elects the Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee is the highest decision- making body between all-members meetings. It elects its own officers and sub-committees and can appoint new SC members. Branches can send delegates to meetings of the SC.

The Steering Committee determines the level of membership dues and affiliation fees.

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’.

Model TU/Labour motion: Reject IHRA, end IHRA-related disciplinaries

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Model TU/Labour motion: Reject IHRA, end IHRA-related disciplinaries

Motion: Objection to the [add your organisation’s name]’s adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and call for an end to disciplinary actions against any affected Member, Shop Steward, Labourist or Employee accused of anti-Semitism under this definition. 

This branch of [add your organisation’s name] that trade unionists, workers and Labour Party members are being disciplined around free speech on Israel.

We call upon the Executive Council of the [add your organisation’s name] to rescind the adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and replace it with the OED definition that states anti-Semitism is simply “hostility to or prejudice against Jews”

In addition, we call for an end to disciplinary actions against any affected Member, Shop Steward, Labourist or Employee accused of anti-Semitism under the IHRA definition. Also for the dismissal of any charges that they have brought the union into disrepute by their campaigning against investigations on anti-Semitic charges.

Statement by Paul Jonson, suspended by Dudley council

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I have been an employee of DUDLEY COUNCIL for 30 years, working as an HOUSING Officer, Homeless Project Manager and currently in the Community Safety Team.

On 6 July 2018 the local DUDLEY Palestine Solidarity Group called a lobby of DUDLEY North MP Ian Austin’s Surgery because of a tweet he sent out – then deleted – stating “HAMAS and the Palestinians were responsible for the deaths of18 Gazans ” during the Great Return March in May 2018.

At this lobby Austin twice asked “are you Paul Jonson who works for DUDLEY Council?”. My response   –  ”  my day job is irrelevant so please dont try and intimidate me. I’m not here in any capacity regarding DMBC”.

On 5th October 2018 I posted on Facebook “STAND WITH PALESTINE – STATE OF ISRAEL IS RACIST ENDEVOUR” –  support the lobby at Buffery Park DUDLEY 6th October 2018 at11am.

On the 18th October 2018 I was called to an urgent meeting with DMBCs HR and a Senior Manager stating they had received a complaint via the Campaign Against Anti Semitism . I was asked 22 questions relating to the IHRA. I was instructed to refrain from attending work until the Council had received further legal advice on the matter .

On Wednesday 31st October 2018 I was called to a 2nd meeting – my UNISON rep was present – and advised I was suspended until further notice whilst further “legal advice”was sought. The matter is with UNISON Regional Office.

Apparently DMBC adopted the IHRA 12 months ago -Staff were not advised or any briefings/training undertaken.

To date some 130 local authorities have adopted the non legal IHRA .A document which out of 195 countries only 31 have adopted and only 7 with the controversial examples. Over 40 Jewish Groups have voiced their opposition to the examples ,   particularly  –   is criticism of Israel tantamount  to anti semantism. The author of the IHRA  Kenneth Stern has also withdrew his support stating ” it was not his intention for the IHRA to be used as a political tool to close down debate on Israel/Palestine’ but an Educative document regarding  the Holocaust  and to collect data on anti semitism.

To cite Palestinian Solidarity action for Human Rights Justice and Equality to be in conflict with Employment Rights and to be  anti Semitic in ìntent  –  is both unacceptable and an insult to the memory of all Holocaust victims.

FOR THE IHRA TO BE USED IN THIS WAY MUST BE RESISTED !

SOLIDARITY

Paul Jonson

What you can do:

  • Click here to sign the petition against his suspension
  • Model Motion: Reinstate Paul Johnson! Sacked for Palestine solidarity

  • 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!
  • The case of Paul Jonson is similar to that of LAW secretary Stan Keable, who was sacked from his job at Hammersmith & Fulham 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 this motion against the sacking of Stan Keable in your Labour and union branches.

Israeli Academics and Artists Warn Against Equating anti-Zionism With anti-Semitism

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Their open letter ahead of a conference in Vienna advises against giving Israel immunity for ‘grave and widespread violations of human rights and international law’

Full article here

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israeli-professors-warn-against-equating-anti-zionism-with-anti-semitism-1.6674309?fbclid=IwAR3H5h5E8MtQL8P-58WFFYdL9BAsHWPqAdVAlFpx9m4MiSkXGZD6PKba7Wg

Petition: Reinstate Paul Jonson!

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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 & Fulham 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 Jonson 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! Click here to read Paul’s statement, explaining his case. 

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