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:

 

LAW at the ‘Biased Broadcasting Corporation’ lunchtime lobby, August 7

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Over 100 people attended a spirited lunchtime demonstration outside BBC Brodcasting House on August 7, which was called to protest against the ‘Biased Broadcasting Cooperation’ and particularly the way in which it has reported about the ‘anti-Semitism scandal’ in the Labour Party.

Glyn Secker, secretary of Jewish Voice for Labour, tried to hand in a letter to the BBC.An agreement had been made the day before for a delegation of four people to deliver this letter of protest and that someone from the BBC would meet the delegation in order to receive the letter. When it came to it however, a security guard took the letter outside the building, promising to hand it to another security guard who would then deliver it to the addressee.

The rally, which occasionally broke into chants of “BBC, shame on you!”, heard speeches by Glyn Secker, Mike Cushman (Free Speech on Israel), Tony Greenstein (Labour Against the Witchhunt), Sam Gisagara and Stan Keable, secretary of LAW and Labour Party Marxists. He said:

“Every appeasement, every apology by Corbyn is immediately followed by fresh right wing attacks. The witch-hunt is not about to end. It is not about anti-Semitism, it is about removing Corbyn, because he is an unreliable ally of the United States and Israel. The hypocrisy of Labour’s rightwing is breathtaking. Disciplinary action against Margaret Hodge has been dropped. So we want to see the charges against Jackie Walker dropped, we want Marc Wadsworth, Tony Greenstein and Cyril Chilson reinstated. We want Ken Livingstone invited to re-join the party.

“The purpose of the witch-hunt is to silence us. We don’t want Margaret Hodge silenced by disciplining her for saying “fucking” or for calling Jeremy Corbyn an anti-Semitic racist. We want her called to account by the Labour Party members in her Constituency Labour Party.”

Tony Greenstein, vice-chair of Labour Against the Witchhunt, said: “The BBC was born in the womb of the British state.  It’s attitude to the Palestinians is no different to its attitude to the Irish or workers strikes in this country.  It is a faithful spokesperson for the British Establishment and, as John Pilger said, it is the most effective propaganda organisation in the world.”

Report by Stan Keable

Has the Labour witch-hunt climaxed?

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We reproduce below an article about Sheffield Labour Party member Lee Rock, who is being investigated by Labour’s compliance unit for what might well be the most ridiculous charge we have yet come across. This investigation needs to be shut down – accompanied by a public apology and action taken against those who have made this vexatious complaint. The article first appeared on Labour Party Marxists’ website.

 

The witch-hunt against the left in the Labour Party has become even more absurd, reports Carla Roberts of Labour Party Marxists

All those who thought the witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party had reached its limits can think again. The recent arrival of leftwing general secretary Jennie Formby and in-house QC Gordon Nardell (a founding member of the Labour Representation Committee) are clearly no protection, when it comes to the party apparatus taking absolutely ludicrous decisions.

On Monday July 16, long-standing trade union activist and socialist Lee Rock received notice from the Labour Party’s “acting head of disputes”, Nareser Osei, that, “Allegations that you may have been involved in a breach of Labour Party rules have been brought to the attention of national officers of the Labour Party.” Continue Reading “Has the Labour witch-hunt climaxed?”

Reinstate Stan Keable!

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Around 30 people attended LAW’s lobby of  Hammersmith and City council’s meeting on July 16. Stan was sacked from his job at the council for 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. This had nothing to do with work. Stan was participating in the Jewish Voice for Labour counter-demonstration in support of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, called in opposition to the right-wing ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration. The conversation was secretly filmed by the BBC’s David Grossman, who put a 105-second video clip online.

This dismissal extends the McCarthyite witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party to the area of employment. We fear that Stan’s dismissal could be the first of many political sackings.

More details on Stan’s case are available here and a model motion is here. As his union is refusing to support him, Stan will have to pay for legal advice himself, which is why we ask you to support his crowdfunding campaign. 

 

 

Call for video testimonies!

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LAW is asking comrades who have been victims of the Labour witch-hunt to tell us about their experiences in short video clips: this can help to humanise those suffering from the witch-hunt, show how ridiculous many of the charges are, but will also go some way in helping victimised comrades to overcome their political isolation and collectivise their experience.
 
We want to hear from ALL pro-Corbyn victims of the witch-hunt: not just those on charges of anti-Semitism, but also those victimised by the right for ‘bullying’ and those expelled for their association with other organisations etc.
 
Here are some pointers on how to do it:
 
* We don’t have the capacity to film everybody properly, so we would ask you to film yourself or get a friend or another LAW supporter to do it. Mobile phone quality is perfectly sufficient
* Ideally, the clips should be about 3-4 minutes long, and no longer than 5 minutes
* If you want to stay anonymous, please ask somebody to film you from the back or in a dark room
 
Some pointers for the content:
1. Please state your name and branch/CLP – if you want. It’s perfectly fine to leave out either or both.
2. Describe what you have been suspended for – and when.
3. Describe the process: low points, high points, did you appeal, resign etc.
4. Describe the outcome, if known yet.
5. Describe the reactions of others – supportive, dismissive etc.
6. Describe your feelings: anger, depression, etc.?
 
Files of up to 2GB in size can be uploaded to www.wetransfer.com – please send us an email with the link to your file. We have a LAW Youtube channel where we can upload the clips.

Grassroots Black Left leaves LAW

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Regrettably, Marc Wadsworth and Deborah Hobson of Grassroots Black Labour have decided to part company with Labour Against the Witchhunt to concentrate on GBL. This comes after LAW organised a lobby of Marc’s disciplinary hearing and a very successful #Justice4Marc speaking tour in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Chester, Bristol, Swansea and Sheffield to protest against his unjust expulsion from the Labour Party on April 27.

We encourage all LAW supporters to continue to campaign against Marc’s expulsion (as against all other unjust expulsions and suspensions), for example by moving our model motion or similar motions in their branch and CLP. We are also happy to help with the organisation of local LAW meetings by providing speakers and administrative support – get in touch!

GBL’s statement announcing their withdrawal

Grassroots Black Left has decided to withdraw its representatives from the Labour Against the Witchhunt steering committee. GBL will continue to work with individuals and organisations in the fight against unjust Labour Party suspensions and expulsions, as long as they respect the important principles of black self-organisation and self-determination.

We will vigorously resist any attempts to make GBL subordinate to the will of individuals and groups who choose to misuse their power or positions. While recognising the good work LAW has done, particularly by its local activists who have helped GBL, Jewish Voice for Labour and the Labour Representation Committee make the #Justice4Marc national speaking tour a success, difficulties encountered on the LAW SC have made it impossible for us to stay on that body.

A broad-based, non-sectarian, mass campaign against the purge is desperately needed by all those comrades affected by it. GBL notes many of the victims have been black people, Muslims and Jews. They must therefore be at the heart of the fightback. GBL is totally opposed to anti-black racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. But we deplore the cynical weaponisation of false accusations of anti-Semitism, which have undermined the genuine fight against racism and support for the Palestinians. When the targets have been black, including GBL member Marc Wadsworth, this has damaged much-needed unity between black people and Jewish people.

We recognise the main objective of the right wing, who have been driving the purge, is to attack Jeremy Corbyn’s progressive leadership of the Labour Party. Appeasement and capitulation is not the best way to defeat them.

GBL will continue to work with JVL, LRC, Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, Red Labour, supportive LAW groups and others committed to stopping the purge, getting Marc reinstated by Labour and the Shami Chakrabarti report recommendations on the party’s disciplinary procedures implemented.

The LAW steering committee sent the following short reply

Dear GBL comrades,

We regret that Grassroots Black Left has decided, in its May 27 statement, to withdraw its representatives, Marc Wadsworth and Deborah Hobson, from the steering committee of Labour Against the Witchhunt. We hope that GBL and LAW can cooperate fully in campaigning against all unjust suspensions and expulsions of Labour Party members, including for the reinstatement of Marc Wadsworth.”

It was signed by remaining SC members Tony Greenstein, Stan Keable, Steve Price, Jackie Walker and Tina Werkmann (SC members are elected as individuals, not as delegates, by voting at membership meetings).

Sacked for being an anti-Zionist: Stan Keable’s open letter

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Open letter to Hammersmith & Fulham Labour councillors and party members

Dear Comrades,

Shame on Hammersmith and Fulham Council. The decision to sack me on April 21, after 17 years of unblemished service as a housing enforcer (Public Protection and Safety Officer), for expressing my political views – namely, anti-Zionism – on the March 26 Jewish Voice for Labour demonstration in Parliament Square, has brought the Council, and the Labour Party, into disrepute, and rubbished its own much vaunted anti-racist reputation.

Does the H&F Labour council really want to forbid criticism of Zionism – the official ideology of the racist Israeli state? Does the council support the ethnic cleansing of the 1948 Nakba (“Disaster’ – the forced removal of some 750,000 Palestinians), the discriminatory treatment of Palestinian Israeli citizens, and the ongoing ethnic cleansing on the West Bank?

At the very moment when the Zionist Israeli apartheid state is massacring its own Palestinian citizens – imprisoned, impoverished and starved in the siege of Gaza – H&F Council forbids the criticism of Zionism, becoming the first Council to extend the “Anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism” charade from the suspension and expulsion of pro-Corbyn Labour Party members to the dismissal of employees, opening the way for the introduction into the UK of the notorious West German practice of Berufsverbort– the wholesale sacking of socialist teachers and civil servants under the 1972 ‘anti-radical decree’. Presumably, logically, all job applicants should now be asked the question: ‘Are you an anti-Zionist?”

My dismissal letter is entitled “Strictly private and confidential”, but the attempt of a Labour council to ditch freedom of speech and assembly is a threat to the employment rights of millions and a matter of public concern. Freedoms have always been fought for and won in public.

I can remember, in slightly more rational times, when serious disciplinary cases, those involving “serious misconduct” and possible dismissal, were heard by Councillors, not paid officers. It is ridiculous today that an employee, the Director of Environment, who is no doubt competent in dealing with environmental issues, should be tasked with resolving a political issue that has nothing to do with work, while the elected Labour politicians can wash their hands of the matter, like Pontius Pilot.

I shall, of course, be submitting an appeal, and/or taking the matter to an employment tribunal, where I feel sure the rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, including the right to express views which are irritating or offensive to the public or the state, are more likely to be upheld. Freedom of speech is nothing if it does not include the right to offend.

Stan Keable
keablestan@icloud.com
07817 379568

Further details of my disciplinary case are available online:

 I urge those who wish to offer support and solidarity to me and others affected by the anti-Corbyn campaign to join Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW) and/or sign up to receive LAW’s email newsletter. 

Sheffield LAW ‘Justice4Marc’ meeting

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Labour Against the Witchhunt organised a fantastic meeting in Sheffield yesterday, as part of the national ‘Justice4Marc’ speaking tour with Marc Wadsworth. The meeting was packed, with around 80 people cramming into the wonderful DINA arts venue – and the staff working there last night got very involved, too! We heard from:

  • Jewish author Paul Kelemen (who exposed the agenda of the pro-Israel lobby);
  • Scott Shaw (who was expelled because of his association with Socialist Appeal);
  • Martin Mayer (who shared fascinating stories from his time on the Labour Party NEC and the many “bogus” claims of anti-Semitism he witnessed first hand);
  • Jackie Walker (who focused on the need to develop a comradely, but critical attitude towards Jeremy Corbyn and the NEC for not standing up to the witch-hunt: “If our leadership does not lead, then we have to lead our leaders”);
  • and of course Marc Wadsworth, who was expelled on April 27 from the Labour Party.

Unfortunately, there was a bit of friction at the start of the event as Marc Wadsworth objected to the locally agreed chair Lee Rock (who runs Sheffield Left List, which organises the Labour left across all six Sheffield CLPs and had about 30 supporters at the meeting). Marc insisted on a particular black member of Momentum Sheffield chairing instead.

However, myself, Jackie Walker and others objected to her, as at the January AGM she had been one of the instigators of a motion to exclude from Momentum Sheffield all non-Labour members – including, explicitly, those who had been expelled from the Labour Party for unjust reasons. The AGM motion was carried by a very small margin and now affects about a dozen former members. They can attend some (not all) meetings of Sheffield Momentum, but are not allowed to vote or be elected to any positions – i.e., they have no membership rights.

Huge credit to Jackie Walker, national chair of LAW, who pointed out very patiently how this local decision – which is almost unique among local Momentum groups – was in fact an integral part of the witch-hunt against the Labour left and that she would not accept any chair who had voted in favour of it. As a compromise, Lee Rock agreed to vacate his position and Jackie chaired the meeting instead. Marc decided at that point to leave the top table and made his contribution from the floor.

It was very heartening to hear so many speakers get up and make the connection between the rightwing witch-hunt of Corbyn supporters and the agenda of the pro-Israel lobby, both of which want to stop the transformation of the Labour Party into a democratic, anti-war party. Speakers criticised the party leadership’s policy of trying to appease those forces: “With every step back that we take, there will be a void. And the right is filling this void”, as comrade Shaw put it.

My favourite contribution came from John Dunn (a leading member of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign) who, in a rousing speech, ripped into Momentum owner Jon Lansman for not standing up to the witch-hunt in the Labour Party, fostering the lie that there is a huge problem with anti-Semitism in the party. Instead of offering solidarity to the thousands suspended and expelled, Lansman has become complicit in the witch-hunt.

In my own contribution, I mentioned the need for socialists to stand up to injustice, particularly in our own organisations. “When we see a rule that is clearly unjust, as with Momentum’s constitution, surely we do not simply accept it. As socialists, we fight against it and refuse to implement it” – something, that of course, most Momentum branches have done. Jewish Voice for Labour, too, does not recognise as legimitate the expulsions and suspensions from the Labour Party for political reasons and admits those affected as full JVL members.

Another comrade reported the huge strain her suspension had put her under. Her ‘crime’: she had shared a meme of a DWP job centre sign, where the words had been replaced with ‘Arbeit macht frei’ (the slogan above the Auschwitz concentration camp). It takes some mental contortion to see how this could be described as anti-Semitic. Clearly, it is a pointed criticism of the Tory government’s hounding of disabled and vulnerable people.

But of course, in today’s poisonous police state atmosphere, anything is possible. For example, another comrade reported on the case of Stan Keable, who this week was sacked from his job, after a private discussion with a Zionist at the ‘Enough is Enough’ protest in March had been filmed and published online: He tried to defend as historically accurate Ken Livingstone’s claim that the early Nazi regime did indeed work with the Zionists in trying to transfer Jews to Palestine.

Many speakers naturally brought up the unfortunate resignation of Ken Livingstone from the Labour Party. Marc Wadsworth suggested that Ken might have resigned in order to support Marc’s own campaign for reinstatement, but I am uncertain he convinced many people in the room of this theory. It seems far more likely that Livingstone has indeed been pressured and persuaded by Jeremy Corbyn to resign. After all, Corbyn immediately congratulated him on this decision – a very unhelpful political move, as many in the room felt, and lacking in solidarity.

Jackie Walker reminded comrades that in the 1980s, during the purge of Militant, an earlier incarnation of ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’ was chaired by no other than Jeremy Corbyn. “I think if he was not the party leader today, he would probably be sitting on this platform right now”, she said.

It was a boisterous meeting with a very healthy fighting spirit. At the end, Jackie encouraged everybody to not give up the fight. “I will not resign. I have had two years of shit being thrown at me, but it is hugely important that we all stay – or try to stay – in the party and fight.” She encouraged comrades to become conference delegates, stand for positions in their local branches and CLPs, get involved in Sheffield Labour Left List – and to join Labour Against the Witchhunt, of course.

Tina Werkmann

#Justice4Marc launch in London: Spotted hyenas and Labour right

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The chair of the meeting, Deborah Hobson, began by calling for a minute’s silence in honour of the 58 Palestinians killed and thousands injured in the latest Israeli atrocity. An atrocity defended and excused by Donald Trump, Binyamin Netanyahu … and Labour Friends of Israel.

Mike Cushman (Jewish Voice for Labour) was not alone in pointing out that there can be fewer more eloquent testimonies to the nature of the Israeli state than the harrowing events in Gaza. Certainly, it exposes the foul apologetics of the Labour right and their Zionist allies, and destroys the notion that Israel attracts the huge amount of condemnation that is does because the left – its most trenchant critics – is ‘anti-Semitic’. Far from being a source of strength, the Labour right’s support for the Zionist state – and the United States’ reactionary strategic goals in the region – can be turned into a huge weakness for this scab faction in our ranks.

While the top table was perhaps a little heavy with speakers (of varying degrees of quality and political acumen, it should be noted) – there was a real energy and combative confidence. This was perhaps displayed best in Jackie Walker’s defiant anecdote about her rejoinder to a characteristically stupid tweet from the wretched Wes Streeting MP. Apparently, he challenged her to meet him in debate in any synagogue in north London. OK, she told him – where and where then, Wes? Predictably, however, the man has gone very quiet …

Moshé Machover reminded us of the almost comically irrational nature of the provocations coming from the Labour right, their allies in the mainstream media and various apparatchiks in the Israeli state. He posed a “trick question”: “Are there anti-Semites in the Labour Party?”

Well, yes, given the current numbers in our organisation (570,000-plus) from all sorts of backgrounds, there must be. The comrade (a renowned mathematician, let us not forget), stated that it would be statistically “astounding” if there were not. The party will also have its statistically ‘fair’ share of paedophiles. The point being that if the Labour right and its venal allies thought it could gain political traction by smearing the left as a herd of paedophiles, they would. The right gives “fuck all” for truth, principle or any other such annoying impediment, comrade Machover stated.

Moshé illustrated this same observation via a sideways detour. There is – apparently – a tiny number of spotted hyenas in Norway (in zoos). However, if you hear of a spotted hyena trackers’ expedition – organised with an extravagant disregard for the huge amount of time, energy and money expended – a rational conclusion to draw might be that these people have a thing about Norway, rather than the spotted hyenas.

It was a fun way to set the tone for the meeting. And the atmosphere of aggressive levity was added to by comedian Alexi Sayle’s amusing introductory spiel for Marc – he does seem to be getting some of his political mojo back via this battle; the unhinged accusations against the left must be providing the bloke with material for years to come. Many speakers also ridiculed the laughably flimsy charges against Marc Wadsworth and other comrades, such as Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein.

A recurrent theme during the regrettably short space allocated for questions and contributions from the floor was the need for Labour Against the Witchhunt to become a mass campaign that can rally not dozens, but thousands, outside Labour’s Victoria Street HQ. That means building local organisations.

There were some gently regretful criticisms of Corbyn’s and the core LP left leadership’s passivity to – even accommodation with – this witch-hunt. This generosity was not all-encompassing – on the strength of this meeting and others I have attended over the last year or more, there are now very few on the left with any compunction about laying into Momentum nationally. The local groups can be good, even very good, but the national organisation and its ‘CEO’, Jon Lansman are deeply discredited.

Speaking tour: Reinstate Marc Wadsworth!

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We demand the immediate reinstatement of Marc Wadsworth and all those suspended and expelled on trumped up and false charges and allegations! Read LAW’s statement on the issue here.

#Justice4Marc national speaking tour

LAW, Jewish Voice for Labour, the Labour Representation Committee and Grassroots Black Left are sponsoring a national speaking tour with Marc Wadsworth. The dates: Continue Reading “Speaking tour: Reinstate Marc Wadsworth!”