Well over 100 people came to Deptford on Tuesday March 26 to support Jackie Walker in her disciplinary hearing. There was singing, there was dancing and there was disbelief over the fact that Jackie was not allowed to read out a statement to the three person panel of the National Constitutional Committee. Jackie therefore decided to withdraw from the hearing – her reasons are outlined in this press release.
Today Jackie Walker was forced to withdraw from a Labour Party disciplinary hearing when the panel due to pronounce on her case refused to allow her to make a short opening statement in her defence. This was essential given the party’s refusal last week to deal with urgent questions from her lawyers about alarming last minute additions to the charges against her.
Jackie Walker (a black Jewish Woman) was suspended from the Labour Party 2 ½ years ago for asking a Labour Party antisemitism trainer, at an antisemitism training event, for a definition of antisemitism. Since then she has been the subject of the most appalling and unrelenting racist abuse and threats, including a bomb threat.
Today Jackie Walker attended her long delayed Labour Party disciplinary hearing. She was accompanied by her defence witnesses and legal team; she had submitted over 400 pages of evidence in her defence but had been given no opportunity to respond to extra charges sent to her last week, along with a major revision to the basis on which allegations of antisemitism would be assessed. At the beginning of the hearing, the Chair advised Jackie Walker that this was to be an informal hearing and that she could address him by his first name. The Chair then invited procedural questions. Jackie asked to be allowed to make a brief opening address to the Chair and Panel. The team of Labour Party lawyers objected. The Chair adjourned the meeting to consider Jackie’s request to speak, and then ruled that she must remain silent. Jackie Walker had no alternative other than to withdraw from the hearing, as the panel’s decision demonstrated that she had no chance of a fair hearing in a process that has lacked equity and natural justice from the start.
Jackie Walker said:
“After almost three years of racist abuse and serious threats; of almost three years of being demonised, and now being ambushed by a batch of last minute changes, I was astounded that the Labour Party refused to allow me a few short moments to personally address the disciplinary panel to speak in my own defence. What is so dangerous about my voice that it is not allowed to be heard?”
All I have ever asked for is for equal treatment, due process and natural justice; it seems that this is too much to ask of the Labour Party.”
STATEMENT OF JACKIE WALKER
Today (26 March 2019) I (Jackie Walker) attended the long overdue Labour Party disciplinary hearing, before the Labour Party’s highest disciplinary panel (National Constitutional Committee). I was accompanied by my defence witnesses and legal team; I had submitted over 400 pages of evidence in my defence.
At the beginning of the hearing, the Chair advised me that this was to be an informal hearing and that I could address him by his first name. The Chair then invited procedural questions. Through my lawyer I asked to be allowed to make a brief opening address to the Chair and Panel. The large team of Labour Party lawyers objected. The Chair adjourned the meeting to consider my simple request to speak. Despite repeated requests from my lawyer that I be allowed to speak at the outset of my hearing, the Chair ruled that I remain silent. I therefore had no alternative other than to withdraw from the hearing, as it was clear to me that I would not receive a fair hearing.
It is vital to appreciate the astonishing background of the process that has been applied by the Labour Party apparatus to me.
On 25 September 2016, at the Labour Party (LP) Conference in Liverpool, I attended a LP training event entitled ‘Confronting antisemitism and engaging with Jewish voters’. The training session was co-hosted by the LP with the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), and was presented by the vice-chair of the JLM, Mike Katz. The session was open to all LP members attending the Annual Conference. As is normal practice the presenter encouraged and engaged in discussion and debate with attendees throughout the hour-long training session.
Towards the end session I put my hand up to speak and was invited by Mr Katz to ask a question/make a comment.
- I asked for a “definition of antisemitism”
- I commented “wouldn’t it be wonderful if Holocaust day was open to all people who experience holocaust”, and
- I asked about security matters relating to the Jewish community.
I was secretly filmed by an unknown person who released the film of my contribution at the meeting to the media and footage of the closed training event was published online by newspapers. On 29 September 2016 the LP suspended me and subsequently charged me that my words were:
- inappropriate; and
- undermined Labour’s ability to campaign against racism.
I am black. I am Jewish. I am a woman. I have spent my life fighting racism and inequality. My ethnicity, Jewish heritage and gender have brought me into direct conflict with those who abuse and threaten others on the basis of colour of skin, race, religion and gender. I abhor antisemitism. I abhor discrimination against black people. I abhor all discrimination. I abhor the differential treatment of women. I absolutely and vehemently reject the charges made against me by the LP. For 2 ½ years I have faced a grossly unfair disciplinary process that has now reached new heights of staggering unfairness.
The increasing instances of serious unfair process have become intolerable in the weeks leading up to this hearing. Unfair process had infected all aspects of the LP investigation and prosecution. My fundamental right to a fair hearing has been wholly compromised by the conduct of the LP.
- LP submission on what constitutes anti-Semitism
The definition of what is antisemitism (as opposed to legitimate criticism of the state of Israel) deserves serious respectful political debate, including controversial debate. It defies all logic, and threatens the essence of free speech, to be accused of antisemitism for simply asking the fundamental question: what is antisemitism?
The recent NEC Code of Conduct on Antisemitism was not in existence at the time of the training session in September 2016. The endorsement by the LP of the IHRA definition of antisemitism did not take place until after the Conference of 2016. The endorsement by the LP was the subject of significant debate. The endorsement is “to assist in understanding what constitutes antisemitism”. In fact during the training session Mike Katz referred not to the IHRA definition but to the European Union Monitoring Centre’s definition. The LP now submits that the test to be applied to an allegation of antisemitism against me “does not require the NCC to engage in a debate as to the proper definition of anti-Semitism” but rather whether an ‘ordinary person hearing or reading the comments might reasonably perceive them to be antisemitic’. That is an extraordinary dilution of the adopted test of “hatred towards Jews” which is a definition of antisemitism with which I wholeheartedly agree.
- LP relies on racist statements to prosecute me
It is beyond any sense of fair process that in prosecuting me for antisemitism for my asking a training session for a definition of antisemitism in September 2016, that the LP, astonishingly, has submitted racist and discriminatory statements made about my colour, gender, appearance, ethnicity and heritage, to support its misconceived case against me.
The LP relies on anonymous witnesses who have written:
“[JW is] a white middle-aged woman with dreadlocks”
“Walker- who claims to be part Jewish”
And also on the written witness evidence of Mike Katz who states:
“… JW uses her self-identification as a black woman and a Jew as cover to put her beyond criticism…”
There is no conceivable place in a fair disciplinary process for such statements to be allowed in evidence.
As a black person I have long campaigned for the proper recognition and memorialisation of those who died and suffered during the shameful period of the slave trade. During the training session I was making the point that it would be fitting to include the victims of the slave trade as well as other pre-Nazi genocides in the Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations. In prosecuting me for raising that comment, again astonishingly, the LP relies on an anonymous witness who writes:
“I am not at all happy regarding her obsession with African genocide and the holocaust”
I have repeatedly asked those conducting my disciplinary process for anonymous and racist evidence to be removed from the evidence presented by the LP. My applications have not been agreed.
That is unfair.
I applied to the Panel to adjourn my case to allow the reliance on racist material by the LP to be referred to the Equality and Human Rights Commission for investigation. My application was rejected.
That is unfair.
- Other racist and threatening remarks
I have been subjected to threatening, racist and abusive remarks throughout the time I have had to wait for the LP to carry out its disciplinary process. Some examples of the material sent to me have included:
“Jackie Walker is as Jewish as a pork pie, stop harassing Jews you fucking Nazi scum”
“Jackie Walker and her defenders can go hang”
“Jackie Walker’s Jewishness is a hastily constructed identity to protect her from the backlash of her antisemitic comments”
“Her father whom she barely knew apparently was Jewish so she isn’t Jewish…nothing to do with her colour”
“We should send people like you to the fucking gas chamber! Palestine does not exist, nor did it ever exist. Israel has been a Jewish homeland for 3,000 years! Moron”
“Was that thundercunt referring to you wanting to see Corbyn shove Jackie Walker into a burning bin? You didn’t mention ethnicity”
“God, what a fucking anti-Semite black Jewish working class female Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker is! Can’t think why Labour want rid”
The above examples were submitted by me as part of my documents in the disciplinary process yet the Panel hearing my case still did not allow my application to remove racist and discriminatory evidence being relied on by the LP.
That is unfair.
- Secret Panel to hear my case
Until this morning I had not been allowed to know the identities of those who are to sit in judgment on my case despite the LP presenter and the LP legal team being aware of the identities since last year.
Initially the LP claimed that it would not release details of the Panel to me or my solicitors, because of security concerns. The clear discriminatory inference is that I as a black person am prone to trouble and/or violence; that whenever black people and their supporters gather to object or protest there is a tendency to disorder causing a security risk. This is plain racist discriminatory negative stereotyping.
When pressed, the LP confirmed it has not received any threats relating to my case but still refused to let me know the identities of Panel members. I could not carry out any background checks on previous statements or connections of the Panel members to assess the risk of bias and lack of independence.
That is unfair.
- Secret venue
For personal reasons, of which the Panel is aware, I wanted to visit the hearing centre to familiarise myself with the venue. The LP refused to let me know where the hearing was to take place until 4 working days before the hearing which was too late for me to make a familiarisation visit.
That was unfair.
- Failing to put intended charges to me
I am also charged with bringing the Party into disrepute for pursing my legal rights against the LP for a serious breach of my personal data held by them. I am being charged for defending my rights. The charge was never put to me at the lengthy investigatory meeting I had with the LP investigator or at any other time during the almost 2 year long investigation stage of the process. I was never given an opportunity to explain my position before a one-sided decision was made by the LP to charge me. When I protested that it was a clear breach of natural justice to go straight to a charge without seeking my comment at the investigatory stage I was told by the LP that:
“Natural justice does not require that she [JW] also has the opportunity to respond at an investigatory stage”
Trade Unions built the LP. It is unthinkable that a trade union would accept a disciplinary process that completely by-passes the investigatory stage and goes straight to a disciplinary charge without any input or comment from the person to be charged. It is unthinkable that a police investigation would go straight to charge without interviewing the accused to seek comment.
Yet that is what the LP has done to me.
That is unfair.
- Lack or loss of investigatory records
When I pointed out that some of the evidence to be relied on by the LP at the hearing had never been put to me during the investigation interview, the LP admitted in writing that:
“The NEC wishes firstly to record that the precise details of the matters put to Ms Walker during the investigatory interview are not known to those now presenting the case, as the interviewer is no longer in post.”
It is incomprehensible that in such a serious case, where charges of antisemitism are being made against me, that an accurate and complete record has not been kept by the LP of their own investigation.
In light of my previous grave concerns about the unlawful handling of my personal data I am extremely concerned that there have been further breaches of Data Protection laws concerning the management by the LP of my personal data.
That is unfair.
- Late submission of evidence by LP
On 20 March 2019 the LP served more evidence on me that it intends to rely on at the hearing due to start today. I was not given time to consider the fresh evidence, assess the context of that evidence and to counter that evidence. An application for an adjournment of the hearing to allow me time to deal with the evidence in the nine new documents served so late was not allowed by the Panel.
That is unfair.
- Prejudicial public statements by Labour MPs
My case has attracted significant public interest and comment in the press, most of which has been ill-informed and biased. However I have also been subjected to significant negative prejudicial statements from Labour MPs making it impossible for me to have a fair hearing within the LP. I have made complaint of this and was told this would be discussed with the General Secretary however, this behaviour persisted. If this were in another setting the MPs could be found to be in contempt of court.
For example, on 27 February 2019 on House of Commons letterhead thirty-eight MPs, members of Labour Tribune, put their names to a letter written to the General Secretary of the Labour Party wherein I was clearly referred to and where it was said that I was:
“…someone who has been thrown out of the party for making antisemitic comments”.
Those MPs would have been aware that their letter, which was published online and in the press, would seriously prejudice my hearing due to take place within a month of their letter. They were giving a clear steer and signal to the Panel of what the outcome of my hearing is to be. They wrongly identified me as someone expelled from the LP and wrongly identified me as someone who has been found to be antisemitic by the LP.
On 22 March 2019 the MailOnline published an article entitled “Shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s ‘anti-Semitic’ ally must be expelled, or Labour ‘has no future ’MPs warn”. The article states:
“Her [JW] case will finally come before Labour’s disciplinary panel on Tuesday after two-and-a –half years of delay. Backbenchers said the party must ensure she is expelled- if Labour is to have any chance of proving it is not institutionally anti-Semitic.
Dame Margaret Hodge said: ‘It’s extraordinary that it has taken so long to bring her to an expulsion hearing. Tough action must be taken but one expulsion will not solve a far deeper cultural problem that has infected the party”
Backbenchers, and in particular Dame Margaret Hodge, have directly interfered in my right to a fair hearing. They have prejudiced a fair hearing by making such prejudicial statements only one working day before my hearing. Their aim is obvious. Hodge has given the clearest possible signal to the Panel of the outcome she wants and expects.
The interference in the disciplinary process by these MPs has made it impossible for me to have a fair hearing.
That is unfair.
My decision to withdraw from this hearing
Faced with an inherently racist disciplinary process where the evidence of abusive racists is relied on by the LP to prosecute me; faced with multiple examples of a grossly unfair process in the investigation and prosecution of my case and the conduct of my case at the NEC and NCC Panel stages; faced with the discriminatory secrecy of the Panel appointed by the LP to hear my case; and faced with the prejudicial public statements by Labour MPs preventing my ability to have a fair hearing, I am left with no confidence whatsoever in the ability of the LP to conduct a fair disciplinary process.
I am expected to appear before an unfair Panel where the LP has ridden roughshod over my rights in its headlong blinkered hankering to expel me from the Party to satisfy the wishes of those who are not involved in the detail of my case but who have judged me unfairly and have already condemned me.
I have spoken of a lynching and a witch hunt. If I were in a fair, independent and unbiased court I would say “I rest my case”.
In such an unfair and biased process I do not now recognise the ability of the LP disciplinary process to investigate and try my case with the equality and blind fairness everyone should expect of a democratic process that recognises the primary importance of the rule of law and fair due process.
“As a result of the truly astonishing decision this morning to prevent me from even addressing the disciplinary panel at the outset in my own defence, I was left with no option but to withdraw from the disciplinary process”
Tuesday 26 March 2019
March 25 2019
The Left has always stood in solidarity against racism and alongside its victims. That will never change.
But allegations have to be proved, and the accused are entitled to due process at disciplinary hearings. This means open tribunals, where the evidence is interrogated and judgements are available to all – justice must be seen to be done: equality before the rule book – no special treatment for anyone, however venerable; and accusations that are considered to be vexatious should attract appropriate sanctions.
A respected member of the Jewish Socialist Group said, way back in 2017: “accusations of antisemitism are being weaponised to attack the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party”. That is the observation of a Jewish member of the Labour party.
The statistics that Jennie Formby has released are revealing. For example, of 1100 complaints received between April 2018 and January 2019, 433 related to people who were not Labour party members – nearly 40%.
200 complaints were submitted by one MP. They concerned 111 people. Of those, 91 were not Party members. 200 complaints – but only 20 party members.
And that is before evidence has been tested or defences made. The MP? None other than Margaret Hodge.
As a matter of urgency these figures should be re-examined and double checked. If it can be proved that 91 of those accused out of the 111 are not even Labour party members, why did Margaret Hodge submit the complaints? Was she careless, and did not carry out due diligence, or did she know they were not Labour party members? So what are her reasons? She too is entitled to a fair hearing, but we must demand answers given that mass allegations clearly bring the party into serious disrepute.
Calling the leader of the party a ‘f……g racist and antisemite’ also brings the party into disrepute. Why was Margaret Hodge not charged on that occasion? Equality before the law!
Chris Williamson has fought as hard as anyone to advance the party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. There is no way he is antisemitic. Read the speech in question, and it is obvious that he is talking about how we should respond to the present situation. Clearly there is no implication of antisemitism in what he has said.
Jackie Walker speaks with great honesty about how her own background demonstrates the history of racism. Again, there is no way Jackie is antisemitic.
And there are others who have been unfairly targeted.
Recent terrible events show the Far Right is on the march. They are the real racists. As ever, it is people like Chris and Jackie, and others in their situation, who will lead our fight back.
We have been contacted by dozens of people in the last few days, so we have put together this detailed article to assure you that there is NO BAN on moving motions in support of Chris Williamson in your branch/CLP – despite what you might have read in the media or been told by a regional official. But you should go into your meeting well prepared. Please find detailed guidelines below.
Remember, Chris did not say anything anti-Semitic: He was suspended merely for questioning if the party had responded correctly to the charge of being institutionally anti-Semitic! If we allow this suspension to stand – or even turn into an expulsion – this will not only be a great injustice to Chris, but to all of us!
Chris has been the only MP who has stood up for all those who have been witch-hunted on false or exaggerated allegations of anti-Semitism or ‘bringing the party into disrepute’. With his immensely popular ‘Democracy Roadshow’ he brought hope to many members that the party could be radically and democratically transformed to act in the interests of the many, not the few. That is why he has become a target.
He has stood up for us – now let’s stand up for him!
Why it’s not a ban
1.) There is some dispute if this is actually newly distributed communication or if it has been taken from an old email that was then re-distributed by an overly eager London regional officer. This would certainly explain why nobody seems to have seen the actual email from Jennie Forby (instead, it’s always the same brief snippet) and why many CLPs and branches have not received this communication.
2.) But in any case, it’s certainly not an instruction – and it’s not a ban! This becomes even clearer from a recent email that an employee at Labour HQ sent in reply to a CLP member asking for advice on motion regards Chris: “Unfortunately this motion is not deemed competent business as it relates to an ongoing disciplinary matter. As you will appreciate for reasons both of confidentiality and law, we are unable to discuss individual disciplinary cases.” All this email says is that ‘Labour HQ will not deal with your resolution.’ It clearly does not state that branches/CLPs are not allowed to discuss the motion. Quite clearly though, there is room for interpretation in the HQ’s stance on this issue, which reflects of course the struggles that are currently going on in the party.
3.) Also, once a case has been in the public domain as much as Chris’ has, it cannot in any way be considered as a “confidential” issue and is therefore clearly “competent business” for branches and CLPs to discuss.
4.) It is always up to the members of any meeting to decide what they want to discuss. All Labour Party meetings are entitled to discuss any issues they choose. Your resolution might not be “discussed by the NEC” (how many of them do?), but it will certainly be published on our website and elsewhere.
5.) Remember, every single statement and resolution will add to the pressure to get Chris reinstated. His case is absolutely crucial in the ongoing fight for the soul of the Labour Party. If he were to be expelled, that would be a massive defeat not just for Chris, but also the whole Corbyn project. It would be a huge victory for the right-wingers now so neatly assembled in Tom Watson’s ‘Future Britain’.
But if we can get Chris reinstated, this would give the left in the party a major boost – and it might help us in our fight to finally get natural justice and due process implemented in the party’s disciplinary process. And, of course, to get one of our few allies in the Parliamentary Labour Party back on board!
How to move a motion in support of Chris
Make sure to send us any resolutions and statements so that others can take courage and inspiration from them. We have collated all successful resolutions and statements here. Some model motions are available here.
1.) Ideally, submit as a ‘normal’ motion. They have to be submitted to the secretary of your Labour Party branch in writing 14 days before a meeting (unless it says something different in your local standing orders). Normal motions have to go through a branch first before they can be presented to the CLP – though please note that this is not the case with emergency motions.
2.) Emergency motions can be submitted anytime before the meeting of your branch or CLP (but as soon as feasible) – again, in writing to your secretary. The rule states that emergency business “may be accepted by the majority of the meeting on the recommendation of the Chair, who shall interpret the term ’emergency’ in a bona fide manner”. That means your chair has a lot of power and can “recommend” not to accept your motion. Please note that your chair cannot refuse to even table the motion (this is against the rules, though of course many try to do it nevertheless).
3.) If your chair rules against accepting the emergency motion (or refuses to put it on the agenda), you can try to overturn the decision:
- Firstly, you will need to raise a point of order, which must be heard. Then you need to explain why in your view the matter is indeed an emergency (for example, “because it only just happened”). Do not yet talk about the context of the motion, only why it is an emergency. Get somebody to call “seconded” straight away. This challenge needs to be supported by “no less than four members” at the meeting. The “challenge shall be put to the meeting without discussion” by the chair. If anybody tries to intervene and speak against your challenge, remind them of the rules.
- If 2/3 of eligible members at the meeting vote in favour of your challenge, the motion must be heard.
- You can then move the motion to the meeting. If a simple majority votes in favour of the motion, it is passed and becomes the agreed resolution.
4.) Always bring enough copies of your emergency motion and hand them out before the meeting – that will make it very difficult for the chair to try and stop your motion from even being tabled. You should also try and get as many people as possible behind the motion beforethe meeting so that they are prepared to back you up. And print out the relevant bits from the rule book, just in case!
Reference for further info on these rules: model procedural rules (page 73) in the Labour Party rule book 2019
Feel free to get in touch if you need some more detailed advice. Good luck! And please keep us updated!
We understand that the Jewish Labour Movement is pushing for the motion below to be discussed and voted through by all CLPs. It might appear harmless, but the devil is very much in the detail. The motion urges support for a deeply dishonest letter of solidarity with the JLM, which “recognises JLM, who have been affiliated with the Labour Party for 99 years, as the legitimate and long-standing representative of Jews in the Labour Party.”
This is clearly an attempt to undermine the excellent work that our comrades in Jewish Voice for Labour are doing. Just like Israel claims to be the homeland of all Jews, so the JLM claims to the homeland of all Jews in the Labour Party. Both claims are palpably untrue. JLM very much organises pro-Zionists, but none of the many thousands of secular and anti-Zionist Jews.
The ‘letter of solidarity’ also states: “We know Labour has let our Jewish supporters and members down by failing to eradicate the anti-Semitism in our ranks”.
No, we do not know that, actually. We know, however, that the JLM has been doing everything in its power to weaponise false and exaggerated charges of anti-Semitism in order to undermine Jeremy Corbyn.
We also know that the JLM was revived in 2015 – explicitly in order to battle Jeremy Corbyn. You don’t have to be Jewish to join the JLM – you don’t even have to be a member of the Labour Party. This is why anti-Corbyn campaigners like Adam Langleben – who left the party last year and has vowed to campaign against Labour– can hold a leading position as campaign officer. The JLM’s leaders (among them Ella Rose, Louise Ellman, Mike Katz and, until recently, the disgraced Jeremy Newmark) are virulently anti-Corbyn and helped to organise the March 26 2018 ‘Enough is enough’ demonstration outside parliament.
We also know that the JLM is an openly Zionist grouping with close links to the Israeli embassy (watch The Lobby for proof). The JLM is affiliated to the World Zionist Organisation and the sister party of the racist Labor Party of Israel (whose leader Isaac Herzog quite openly stated that “we are not Arab lovers”).
We call on all Labour Party members to not only vote down this motion, but try and get their CLP affiliated to Jewish Voice for Labour and Labour Against the Witchhunt.
This is the text of the motion:
“Motion to welcome the Jewish Labour Movement’s decision to remain affiliated to the Labour Party
– Welcomes the decision of the Jewish Labour Movement earlier in March to remain affiliated to the Labour Party. For almost 100 years, JLM has been an integral part of the Labour movement. We recognise that this was a difficult decision for JLM, given recent cases of anti-Semitism within the party. However, we strongly welcome their decision to affiliate, hope that they continue to feel able to do so, and commit to fighting alongside JLM to drive anti-Semites out the Labour Party.
– Calls on Edinburgh Labour councillors to sign the letter of solidarity with JLM. Already over 150 councillors have signed the letter of solidarity, coming from all wings and traditions within the Labour movement. We also call on MSPs, the MP, and parliamentary candidates covering our constituency to sign the letter of solidarity.
– Commits to standing alongside JLM in the fight to ensure anti-Semitism is driven from the Labour Party, and to rebuilding trust among British Jews that the Labour Party welcomes them, respects them, and will stand up for them when they suffer racist attacks. We call on all parts of the party – local, Scottish and UK, elected and official – to step up the fight against anti-Semitism within Labour.”
Camden Momentum resolution – re Jon Lansman. Passed overwhelmingly, 10 March 2019
At this time when Labour MPs who don’t agree with the Labour manifesto are leaving the party, Jon Lansman has made contentious and inappropriate remarks about antisemitism, effectively siding with those who have made unfounded allegations against the party, its members and its leadership:
– In the Evening Standard (front page, headline, 25 Feb) he is quoted as saying that “Labour has a major problem” with antisemitism;
– He recently said that it was a matter of time before the Derby North MP, Chris Williamson, “does something which results in a complaint being made which will then have to be investigated”, legitimising his subsequent suspension
– that “the most influential antisemitism-deniers, unfortunately, are Jewish anti-Zionists”
– and that “[JVL] is an organisation which is not just tiny but has no real connection with the Jewish community at all.”
Momentum was created out of the movement for Jeremy Corbyn to be elected as leader, to elect a Labour government, and to act as a bridge between the Party and the movement.
Jon Lansman’s remarks have undermined both Momentum and the Labour Party.
Camden Momentum therefore calls on the NCG (National Co-ordinating Group) to remove Jon Lansman from the chair of Momentum.
- Use either of these draft motions in your Labour Party branch/CLP. If successful, please send it to Jennie Formby and to LAW, so that we can publish it alongside other statements and resolutions here. Please note: We hear that in some branches and CLPs, the chair prevented the meeting from discussing motions in support of Chris, because of apparent recent advice by Labour HQ. Please note that there is NO BAN on discussing motions in support of Chris. We are dealing with the confusion on this matter in detail here. This is LAW’s statement on Chris’ suspension.
- Sign our petition demanding Chris’ reinstatement – and share it far and wide. There is another, simple one doing the rounds ‘Don’t Expel Chris Williamson’ and a good Open Letter to Jennie Formby from Labour Party members. Tony Greenstein has also produced a petition and there is another supportable petition online. Sign them all!
- If you’re on Twitter, use #IStandWithChrisWilliamson
- Put on a showing of ‘The Witchhunt’ documentary with Jackie Walker in your locality to better understand the background to this decision.
- Email Jennie Formby to protest against this decision.
- Join our March 26 protest party at the expulsion hearing of Jackie Walker (details to be confirmed, Facebook event here). Should Chris still be suspended, we will of course use the opportunity to demand his reinstatement.
- The first badge we’ve seen in solidarity with Chris is available here.
SIGN THE PETITION HERE
Open letter: Reinstate Chris Williamson MP!
We, the undersigned, believe that the suspension of Chris Williamson MP is an outrage.
The allegation that Chris is downplaying anti-Semitism is totally unfounded. His comments, made at a Momentum meeting in Sheffield, were taken out of context in a deliberate attempt to ruin the reputation of both Chris Williamson and Jeremy Corbyn.
He actually said: “The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say, I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we’ve backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party.”
His comments are clearly neither anti-Semitic, nor denying the existence of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party (or wider society). But he has quite rightly pointed to the fact that there has also been a political campaign to “weaponise” accusations of anti-Semitism.
Chris is a target because he is one of the very few Labour MPs who have openly stood up to the witch-hunt of Corbyn supporters and because he has campaigned tirelessly for the much-needed democratisation of the party.
Despite the departure of Iain McNicol as general secretary, the witch-hunt of left-leaning party members continues. The main target of this campaign is, of course, Jeremy Corbyn himself. But thousands of Labour Party members have been investigated, suspended and expelled, often on spurious grounds. Like Chris Willamson, they are the collateral damage in this campaign to ‘get’ Corbyn.
We call on the Labour Party to immediately reinstate Chris Williamson MP and to apologise to him!
SIGN THE PETITION HERE
But now additional evidence has come to light of a disturbing trend which has been fueling the fire lit since Corbyn’s first leadership victory in September 2015.
An investigation by The Electronic Intifada has documented 10 fake Twitter profiles posing as Corbyn supporters who have been posting virulent anti-Semitism.
The accounts share sufficient similarities to indicate that the same person – or group – is running them.
Without police involvement or a court case, it’s impossible to know for sure who is behind this troll network.
But whoever it is, they are clearly attempting to smear Labour as an anti-Semitic party.
It is well established that Israel has been running both covert and overt efforts against Jeremy Corbyn since he became leader.
Anti-Palestinian groups working in coordination with Israel are running covert social media campaigns.
A recent example was revealed in the suppressed undercover Al Jazeera investigation, The Lobby – USA.
“There are also things that we do that are completely off the radar,” the lobby group’s managing director told Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter.
Last month, another covert operation was revealed after its documents leaked – this one run by the British state.
Its documents suggest it is involved in what it calls “infowar techniques.”
The network of Twitter accounts investigated by The Electronic Intifada uses a series of fake names and profile photos.
Their followers lists also include many dubious looking accounts, strongly suggestive of bought fake followers.
All 10 accounts have engaged in a pattern of deception, presenting as Labour activists while engaging in anti-Semitism.
All 10 posted their most violent and anti-Semitic content as replies to other tweets.
This means that many times, a cursory look at the accounts’ profile pages is unlikely to reveal anything immediately objectionable.
Because they are posted as replies, the anti-Semitic tweets would usually only be seen by those mentioned in them – or by enemies actively looking at those replies for evidence of “Labour anti-Semitism.”
The targets of the troll network have often been high-profile Israeli, pro-Israel or Labour accounts. They have included Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right-wing Labour MP Yvette Cooper and Jeremy Corbyn himself.
All 10 accounts present themselves as belonging to Labour Party supporters, activists or even staffers.
Reverse Google Image searches confirm that seven of the 10 profile images are stolen photos – the other three are likely screen grabs from videos.
Six of the 10 profiles present as ostensibly Muslim – it is these profiles that have posted some of the most disturbing anti-Semitism, including direct calls for violence against Jews.
One such photo is of Muhammad Qutb, the late brother of influential Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb.
Surviving Twitter evidence shows the troll network dates back to at least November 2015.
The 10 fake Labour accounts posting anti-Semitism analyzed by The Electronic Intifada are:
- Five now-removed accounts: @WesleyBrownLab, @AbuOmarLab, @AbdulMahdiLab, @LabSaleh and @DeanBrownLab.
- Two now-removed accounts which The Electronic Intifada was able to take first-hand screenshots of while still operational: @AbuHusseinLab and @CharlesBrownLab.
- Three still operational accounts: @LabAbuHussein, @LabAbuYami and @dgrintz1. The latter was posting as recently as December.
The troll network’s tweets appear intended to provoke an outraged response at “Labour anti-Semitism,” thus fueling the crisis.
An example of how the troll network helped drive the crisis took place on the final day of Labour’s 2016 annual conference. At the time, there was a media uproar about supposed Labour anti-Semitism.
This resulted in Black Jewish anti-Zionist activist Jackie Walkerbeing suspended by Labour after she disagreed with Israel’s preferred definition of anti-Semitism at a supposedly private training session.
In this febrile atmosphere, the @dgrintz1 account tweeted that “A good Zionist is a dead one” at Tal Ofer – a British-Israeli member of the pro-Israel Jewish Labour Movement, a group that has driven the “Labour anti-Semitism” narrative from early on.
A new account, “Abu Hussein,” began retweeting Corbyn, his senior Labour ally John McDonnell and other popular Labour accounts.
But a closer look at @AbuHusseinLab’s profile revealed a disturbing picture.
In a reply targeting Corbyn’s and McDonnell’s official Twitter accounts, “Abu Hussein” threatened “Jihad” against “Jews,” alongside a bloody graphic of a knife.
But the account had stolen its profile photo from a dating site.
“Abu Hussein” was reported to Twitter for violent racism by this writer and other Twitter users.
But the troll network simply opened more accounts – at least four of its supposedly Muslim accounts began tweeting in April 2018.
And Israel’s ostensibly opposition Labor Party openly drove it, generating headlines by suspending relations with Corbyn’s office over his “hatred of the policies of the government of the state of Israel” and alleged anti-Semitism.
In October 2018, a new fake Labour account began tweeting: @DeanBrownLab.
“Dean Brown” claimed to be a “former Labour party staffer” and a member of Momentum – a group which emerged from the campaign to elect Corbyn as Labour leader.
On 27 October, the day of the Pittsburgh massacre in the US, the account tweeted to Israel’s prime minister: “YOU BROUGHT THIS ON YOURSELVES.”
Neo-Nazi Robert Bowers has since been charged with the murder of 11 Jewish worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue that day. He reportedly told police he wanted “all Jews to die.”
The account promptly disappeared. The goal of smearing Labour activists as anti-Semites had been achieved.
But as The Skwawkbox soon revealed, Labour sources emphasized that no Dean Brown has ever worked for Jeremy Corbyn. Momentum also confirmed it had no membership record of any Dean Brown.
The profile photo the account used was of someone totally innocent and was stolen from a local press report.
This troll network shows how easy it is for an individual or small group of people to convey a false impression on social media.
Despite there being no evidence that “Wesley Brown,” “Abu Hussein” or any of the rest even existed – let alone that they were Labour members – the troll network fooled several high-profile politicians.
This was easy to do, since the fake profiles fit into a preconceived narrative that anti-Semitism is rife within Labour, especially in the pro-Corbyn left.
Those who created the fake accounts also exploited Islamophobic prejudice that anti-Semitism is endemic among Muslims, including activists within Labour.
When the dominant media narrative is so often based on fabricated evidence, a serious reappraisal and extreme caution about future claims are overdue.
Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and an associate editor with The Electronic Intifada.
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.
- Who appointed this three-person panel?
- To whom are they accountable?
- Can they be named?
- How have they justified their irrational behaviour?
- Who is protecting them?
Liverpool councillor from 1984 to 1987, expelled from the Labour Party in 1986 as part as the Militant purges
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).
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’.
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:
- that a member accused of a breach of rule be informed of who their accuser is
- that a member accused of a breach of rule be given all the evidence submitted against them by their accuser;
- that a member accused of a breach of rule be regarded as innocent until proven guilty;
- 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);
- that disciplinary procedures must include consultation with the accused member’s CLP and Branch;
- 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)
- 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?
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 email@example.com
CLGA candidates for NCC elections
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.