Meet Tuvia Tenenbom, the man who secretly recorded Peter Willsman and leaked the audio to the press just as the latest coup against Jeremy Corbyn is hotting up… Watch the short clip below and then judge for yourself if this really is a “journalist” whose sound recording guy happened to have left the microphone on… or if this does not look like somebody who might organise a sting operation against the most outspoken Corbyn supporter on Labour’s NEC … kind of proving Pete’s point about “interference”?
Today’s expulsion of Jackie Walker from the Labour Party for “misconduct” – of which the Jewish Chronicle was informed before her solicitors – is a great injustice, though it does not come as a surprise. Although the panel took two days to come to their conclusion, the die had been cast long ago. The decision to charge her for a “pattern of behaviour” does not bode well for Chris Williamson MP, who has been accused of similar ‘offences’.
Jackie walked out on the first day of her hearing, because the panel did not allow her to read out a brief statement. This ruling once again emphasised the lack of fairness at the heart of the party’s disciplinary procedures: for example, the investigating officers added five new charges to their allegations a mere three working days before the hearing began, giving her no time to effectively challenge them and defend herself.
Clearly, walking out made no difference to the eventual outcome – but she was able to expose the lack of natural justice at the heart of her case with a spirited party with the well over 100 people who came to the Deptford Lounge in South London to support her.
Please read Jackie’s statement, in which she takes apart the charges against her and outlines the lack of natural justice and due process in the party’s disciplinary procedures against her.
This decision is a massive set back in the fight for the soul of the Labour Party – the right has been able to claim yet another scalp.
LAW stand in unequivocal solidarity with Jackie Walker and all those who have unfairly brandished as anti-Semites on trumped up and nonsense charges and those who have been expelled because they are supporting left-wing groups in the Labour Party. It is those kind of politicised decisions, designed to appease the right, that are bringing “the party into disrepute” – not our comrades Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Marc Wadsworth, Stan Keable and Chris Williamson.
What you can do:
- Sign Rebecca’s petition here
- Contribute to her legal fighting fund here
- Take either of the model motions here to your branch/CLP demanding Rebecca’s reinstatement
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.
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
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 !
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.
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.
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 ). 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 ).
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.
 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.
 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: email@example.com
This (union / branch / organization etc):
Strongly condemns the suspension of Paul Jonson by his employer, Dudley Council. Paul is a longstanding anti-racist activist and campaigner against fascism and antisemitism.
Paul’s suspension for a facebook post stating “Stand up for Palestine – Israel is a racist endeavor” constitutes an overt attack on trade unionists right to engage in political campaigning outside work and the right to free expression of political views.
His suspension constitutes an attack on trade unionists’ right to campaign over Palestinian rights. There is nothing antisemitic about the posting cited in the complaints about Paul.
We note that the IHRA definition of antisemitism and its illustrative examples cited in complaints against Paul, is highly controversial and according to the IHRA itself constitutes simply a “working definition” with no legal standing.
We believe Paul’s suspension poses a threat to every trade unionist right to campaign over human rights in general and Palestinian rights in particular.
We demand the lifting of Paul Johnson’s suspension and his immediate reinstatement.
We resolve to forward this resolution to:
- Chief Executive, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, Council House, Priory Road, Dudley, DY1 1HF. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Qadar Zada, Council Leader, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, Council House, Priory Road, Dudley, DY1 1HF. Email Cllr.Qadar.Zada@dudleymbc.org.uk
- [cc: own Union National Executive etc as appropriate]
- PLEASE SEND COPY OF RESOLUTION & MESSAGES OF SUPPORT TO: email@example.com
Labour Against the Witchhunt calls on Labour’s NEC to reject the allegations of anti-Semitism against Peter Gregson, condemns his suspension by the GMB trade union and calls for the immediate restoration of his full membership rights.
The principle ‘guilty until proved innocent’ threatens the rights of all members, chills discussion, damages democracy and invites malicious complaints against political opponents. We prefer the principle of working class solidarity: ‘An injury to one is an injury to all.’
Except in the most extreme circumstances, disciplinary sanctions should not be applied until due process has been concluded. Where low level sectionalist, nationalistic, xenophobic or racist ideas, including anti-Semitic ideas, are found in the workers’ movement, they are best countered by open discussion, patient education, inculcation of elementary class consciousness and by encouraging participation in joint struggles. The slogan ‘zero tolerance’ is ill-conceived and counterproductive.
We reject the International Holocaust Memorial Alliance’s unnecessarily complex, imprecise and self-contradictory definition of anti-Semitism, which conflates it with anti-Zionism.
The IHRA definition, which has been adopted by both the Labour Party and the GMB, will no doubt be the basis of investigations into the allegations made against Peter. We prefer the Oxford English dictionary definition, that anti-Semitism is ‘hostility to or prejudice against Jews.’
Peter is clearly not anti-Semitic: he does not harbour hostility, prejudice, hatred or ill-intent towards Jewish people as Jews. He is a campaigner for Palestinian rights, against the racist ideology of Zionism and the apartheid system and practices of Israel.
The investigation into Peter arose because he organised a petition, with now over 700 signatories, declaring – using the clumsy and obscure IHRA wording – that “the existence of Israel is a racist endeavour”. But even Jon Lansman, the Zionist self-appointed chair of Momentum, conceded, in an October 14 email to Peter, that “declaring Israel to be a racist endeavour and challenging the NEC to expel him alongside others who signed a petition he launched may not be anti-Semitic …” But Lansman continued: “… it is a deliberately provocative act which is most certainly prejudicial to the interests of the party and I therefore urge the General Secretary to take the appropriate action against you.”
These are weasel words. “Provocative” acts are the stuff of political debate. Lansman is effectively calling for the silencing of support for the Palestinian struggle against Zionism and Israel’s apartheid.
We understand from Peter’s November 8 statement that his suspension by the GMB is motivated by former Labour NEC member and GMB official Rhea Wolfson – an open Zionist, a member of the Jewish Labour Movement and a supporter of Israel as a Jewish state.
The Israeli state is inherently racist. Under its July 2018 Nation-State Law, Israel is defined as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” and Palestinian citizens are explicitly declared not to have any national rights. In the West Bank and Gaza – territories occupied since 1967 – while Jewish settlers enjoy full democratic rights as Israeli citizens, Palestinians live under military rule with no democratic rights, because they are not Jewish.
Although Peter’s petition is a good idea, challenging Labour’s NEC to revoke its adoption of the IHRA definition, we cannot support it. Firstly, we disagree with some of its wording – eg, before it adopted the full IHRA definition on September 4, Labour did not allow “full freedom of speech on Israel”. On the contrary, the witch-hunt was in full flow long before that. Secondly, some of the formulations in Peter’s supporting documents internalise the racism of Zionist ideology, failing to distinguish clearly between the Zionist movement and the Jewish population, and attributing a non-existent collective political identity to “the Jews”, eg, “the Jews have so much leverage here [in the UK]”.
The witch-hunt against Corbyn and the Labour left is part of the huge, unprecedented campaign over recent years to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism – hatched, crafted and skilfully promoted by the US right, the Israeli government and the UK establishment, designed to delegitimise criticism of Israel and to prepare public opinion for another imperialist war in the Middle East, after the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The witch-hunt of Labour Party socialists has taken a new disturbing turn in Scotland, with the Campaign for Socialism’s (CfS) executive committee taking the lead. Despite criticisms of the Momentum leadership’s handling of the witch-hunt and their lack of support for its victims, Jon Lansman’s organisation, to date, has preferred to let others do the actual witch-hunting. Not so CfS, Momentum’s counterpart in Scotland. In August, CfS launched its own witch-hunt against two of its members, Sandy McBurney and Colin Deans. The former’s crime was sharing an article in the CfS members Facebook group authored by the Jewish left-wing antizionist writer Robert Cohen titled The Jewish establishment’s ‘War Against Corbyn’ risks bringing real antisemitism to Britain, an article widely shared on social media by the group Jewish Voice for Labour. The latter was accused of antisemitism for stating in the same Facebook group that Jehovah’s Witnesses, Slavs, Communists and Trade Unionists, among others, were murdered alongside Jews during the holocaust. In neither case was any external pressure exerted on the CfS EC to instigate disciplinary proceedings – in fact, both cases appear to have been initiated by the leadership themselves.
At present, CfS has no agreed disciplinary processes or code of conduct. An attempt to pass such a code at the CfS AGM in March failed after members rejected its strange and vague formulations – including, in an inversion of basic democratic principle, the stipulation that local groups are accountable to the CfS EC and that members can be expelled for ‘jeopardising’ CfS’s relationship with the Labour Party, or indeed CfS’s ‘reputation’, whatever that means. Undeterred, the EC decided to de facto adopt the rejected code – though even that was modified on an ad hoc basis as events progressed – and suspended Colin and Sandy at an EC meeting on the 4thof August, appointing a three-person panel and setting disciplinary hearings for September the 15that the Unite offices in Glasgow.
In one of the many contraventions of natural justice, the accused were denied access to the CfS members Facebook group and therefore the evidence of their alleged misdeeds, though it turns out that the offending posts were long deleted. In Sandy’s case, the secretary could not even tell Sandy which website the link was posted from and consistently used the wrong title for the article, claiming it was titled The Jewish War on Corbyn. At no point was there any suggestion that the article itself was antisemitic, the charge related purely to the title and so its misrepresentation is of some significance.
As the 15thapproached, comrades outraged at the ECs blatant contempt for the membership and disregard for basic democratic principles began organising, in the best tradition of the labour movement, for a solidarity demonstration outside the hearings. The demonstrations were to be silent and placards were to include only slogans supportive of the two comrades, with no explicit criticism of CfS. Three days prior to the hearing, the venue was switched ‘due to unforeseen circumstances’ to Govanhill Baths, a community venue in the south of the city. Later that day, the accused received emails informing them that, ‘You will be aware we have now had to cancel two potential venues for your disciplinary panel. The venues in both cases have expressed concern about the nature of the planned protest which you have endorsed, and the effect it could have on others using the building.’ Neither were in fact aware of this, nor – at least in the case of Govanhill Baths – is this true. In truth, the Baths declined to play host to the witch-hunt of two Labour Party socialists on point of principle. The argument that picket lines are intimidating and cause ‘stress and anxiety’ is, of course, a favourite of the right-wing press. In this case, it is absurd given that the silent picket was to show support for two CfS members and had nothing at all to do with the venues.
The comrades were informed that unless they could confirm that the picket would not go ahead – which they could not, given they had not themselves organised it – the hearing would be held in their absence and in secret. The decision of the panel would be ‘based solely on the evidence available’ – which is to say, based on nothing given there was no actual evidence – to which the accused would be allowed to add a written statement.
In the end, a series of questions were sent to both comrades. Both provided written responses: Colin providing sources for his post, including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration; Sandy including statements in his defence by Robert Cohen and Jewish Voice for Labour explaining that there was no antisemitic content or intent in respect to the title of the article in question. The questions themselves were leading, rambling, vague and, in some cases, contained basic factual errors – for example, the title of the article shared by Sandy was incorrect yet again. They were reminiscent of the sort of questioning levelled during a workplace disciplinary – with that toxic mix of officiousness, pettiness, ineptitude and self-satisfaction, usually resulting from the knowledge that the outcome is already determined. And sure enough, on September the 19th Sandy and Colin were informed that the panel had unanimously voted for their expulsion from CfS, a decision that had been ratified by the EC. There would be no right of appeal. Both remain full and active members of the Labour Party.
Members of the recently formed Labour Briefing Scotland group have called for an EGM to reject the expulsions and condemn the EC for acting unconstitutionally and well beyond its authority. In a sign of the depths of bureaucratism to which the EC has sunk, despite gathering sufficient signatures from the membership to force an EGM the secretary maintained that no EGM would be held until each signatory had personally emailed him with proof of their membership of CfS. This will be simple enough to arrange but once again demonstrates the EC’s shameless readiness to make the rules up as they go along.
To the outside observer this sorry tale will appear ridiculous and bizarre, largely because it is. There is simply no way that Sandy or Colin – both socialists with a long track record of antiracist activity – have behaved in an antisemitic manner, or that the disciplinary process was anything other than a farce. In fact, the CfS witch-hunt is almost certainly an attempt by the leadership to get rid of two – and presumably this is just the beginning – of their most vocal left-wing critics. CfS has not called a members’ meeting since the AGM in March, despite being required to hold at least four a year, and is increasingly little more than a career network for aspiring Labour movement full-timers. Ordinary members are viewed at best as little more than phone-bank and door-knocking fodder who exist only to support the career aspirations of their leaders, and at worst a liability to be gotten rid of, with no regard to democracy or natural justice. However, with over 1000 members, socialists in CfS should stay and fight back, working to transform the organisation into a democratic, members-led, socialist movement capable of defending Corbyn, fighting for the democratisation of the Labour Party, and winning a Labour government capable of implementing pro-working class reforms at the next general election.
We, the undersigned, are greatly concerned about recent communication from Labour’s General Secretary Jennie Formby aimed at Facebook groups which have ‘Labour Party’ or ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ in their title (the full letter is below).
We are particularly outraged by the following passage which states “posts and conversations with antisemitic or otherwise discriminatory content” should be emailed to “firstname.lastname@example.org with screenshots and links […] if you believe the individual who has posted them may be a Labour member so that this can be investigated by the Party.”
As Facebook users, we reject any attempt to make us informers to Labour’s dysfunctional disciplinary processes. Social media and Facebook are effective because they allow the exchange of ideas, even if at times clumsily expressed. Most Facebook groups police themselves adequately, without the assistance of a compliance unit, whose targets to date have almost exclusively been
- on the left of the Party
- supporters of Palestinian rights
- critics of Israel and Zionism
- and disproportionately black and Jewish
Given the Labour Party’s recent adoption of the ‘working definition’ of anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which in the words of the Jewish former Court of Appeal judge, Sir Stephen Sedley, is “calculatedly misleading” and the IHRA’s purposeful conflation of criticism of Israel and Zionism with anti-Semitism, we have no confidence that free speech to criticise Israel will be guaranteed, if this approach is accepted across social media.
What constitutes anti-Semitism remains disputed. The traditional definition, as per the Oxford English Dictionary is, “hostility to or prejudice against Jews”. The IHRA definition on the other hand takes up over 500 words, many of which refer to Israel.
For example, John McDonnell stated in a recent interview with Jewish News: “What we’re saying is it’s anti-Semitic to oppose a Jewish state”. We disagree. Opposing a state that systematically, and constitutionally, marginalises and demonises Palestinians while subjecting them to discrimination is by definition a form of apartheid. It is not ant-Semitism to state this fact.
Your letter, as an attempt to make Facebook users responsible for the conduct of other group members, displays the same method used by the media to smear Jeremy Corbyn when he did not speak up against (the very few) people posting nonsense in a group he happened to be a member of.
We believe the ongoing witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters is bringing the party into disrepute. Your email will yet again fan the flames of this toxic climate, leading to ever more malicious and vexatious allegations and complaints.
We believe that open and democratic debate, without fear of being reported, is the best way to educate people and fight prejudice and racism. This new intrusion on free speech can only undermine the extraordinary effectiveness of social media as a tool to support the leader and the left in the party.
We will oppose any attempt to outsource education on anti-Semitism to the Jewish Labour Movement, which is the British wing of the Israeli Labour Party and covertly filmed and leaked a video of Jackie Walker at a closed training event in order to damage the party.
- We remain determined to eradicate all forms of discrimination from our Party.
- When we see prejudice or hate, we always speak up.
- When we see discrimination, we always oppose it.
- When we are asked to behave unjustly, we always refuse.
Full communication from Jennie Formby:
I’m writing to you as I understand that you are an admin or moderator of a Facebook group which refers to the Labour Party or Jeremy Corbyn in its title. Continue Reading “Open letter: No Jennie Formby, we will not be informers!”
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?”
Work sets you free – this is the image that Marianne Tellier shared online and which got her suspended.
LAW vice-chair Tony Greenstein has written the following article about the disgraceful decision to suspend Marianne from Labour Party membership:
Brent Trade Union Council passed the following motion nem. con. at its meeting on 27 June 2018. We agreed to donate £25.00 to Stan’s legal defence fund and to affiliate to Labour Against the Witchhunt at £25. RMT BTUC delegate Carol Foster was agreed as the BTUC delegate to LAW.
Gerry Downing, Assistant Secretary BTUC
This branch notes with great concern:
- the dismissal of Stan Keable by Hammersmith and Fulham Labour Council on 21 April 2018 after 17 years’ service. He was dismissed for allegedly bringing the Council into disrepute by saying, at a demonstration in Parliament Square called by Jewish Voices for Labour, that the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazi Party. This was said on 26 March 2018 in a private conversation out of work hours and had no connection with work at all. The conversation was secretly filmed by the BBC reporter David Grossman, who put a 105 second video clip online.
- That the Council justified the dismissal by alleging that by attending the JVL demonstration he ‘knowingly increased the possibility of expressing views that were in breach of the Council diversity and inclusion policy’.
- This is an attack on the right of this Councils employees to attend demonstrations in a democratic society. Freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are rights guaranteed in the European Convention of Human Rights.
- This dismissal opens up the possibility of more sackings based on political opinion.
We resolve to:
- Call on Hammersmith and Fulham Labour Council to reinstate Stan Keable.
- Donate to Stan’s defence campaign.
- Affiliate to Labour Against the Witchhunt.
- Write Unison’s London regional organiser, Steve Terry, to enquire why Unison had not supported Stan in his disciplinary case.
- Support the Reinstate Stan Keable! LAW lobby of Hammersmith & Fulham Council meeting on 16 July 17:00 – 19:15 at Hammersmith Town Hall.
This Kafkaesque account of his suspension has been published by Ben Timberley on Facebook – we republish it here for all those who are not on FB and to allow easy access.
As you’ll see in the story below, suspended or expelled Labour party members face a gruelling task to prove their innocence or to provide a justifiable context to their alleged ‘crimes’. It is considered ‘normal’ by right-wing party staff and elected officials for party members to be smeared with the label of ‘suspension’ or ‘expulsion’ with all of the social stigma that these labels carry.