Open letter: No Jennie Formby, we will not be informers!

Like and share this post:

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 “complaints@labour.org.uk 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.

SIGN THIS OPEN LETTER HERE.


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!”

Has the Labour witch-hunt climaxed?

Like and share this post:

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?”

Marianne Tellier – suspended for an anti-DWP image

Like and share this post:

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:

https://azvsas.blogspot.com/2018/07/sam-matthews-labours-witch-finder.html?m=0

Brent Trade Union Council supports Stan Keable

Like and share this post:
To: Councillor Stephen Cowan
Leader of the Council
Hammersmith and Fulham Council Labour Group
Room 207
Hammersmith Town Hall
King Street
London
W6 9JU
Dear Brother Stephen Cowan,
Brent Trade Union Council passed the motion below at its meeting on 27 June and this is the letter we resolved to send to you and the Labour Group urging the reinstatement of Stam Keable.
You have sacked Stan for stating in a private discussion that the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazi regime – a well-documented historical fact.
On 26 March the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council organised a demonstration in Parliament Square to protest against antisemitism in the Labour Party. Stan was part of a counter-demonstration organised by Jewish Voice for Labour and others. As Stan went around handing out leaflets, he got into a conversation about the Holocaust with a Zionist and explained that it was not only caused by anti-Semitism (it is obvious that this is correct – it began with the extermination of the disabled, for instance). Stan also explained that Zionism held the view that Jews did not belong in the countries of their birth and because of that the Zionist movement had collaborated with the Nazis, who also wanted them out of Germany.
BBC Newsnight editor David Grossman secretly recorded the conversation and the result of this was that the quite innocuous conversation was headlines in papers like The Evening Standardand Jewish Chronicleand the Daily Mail. The next day local Tory MP Greg Hands sent out a tweet demanding action against Stan and he followed this up with a letter to Steve Cowan, leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Stan’s employer, demanding action.
David Ben-Gurion, the most prominent founder of the state of Israel and its first Prime Minister, famously said in a speech to Mapai’s central committee on December 9, 1938:
“If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only half of them by transporting them to Eretz Yisrael, then I would opt for the second alternative. For we must weigh not only the life of these children, but also the history of the people of Israel.”
On August 10, 1933 the German Zionist Federation and the Palestinian Jewish Agency signed an economic trade agreement, Ha’avara, with the Nazi state, that helped destroy the Jewish-led international boycott of Nazi Germany.
The allegation contained in Hammersmith and Fulham’s disciplinary investigation was that Stan had breached the Equality Act 2010. It is difficult to believe that trained ‘human resources’ professionals lawyers could come to such a conclusion with legal advice. The suggestion that debating an issue such as Zionism is a breach of the Equality Act is wrong. The introduction to the act is quite clear. Its purpose is:
“to reform and harmonise equality law … to prohibit victimisation in certain circumstances; to require the exercise of certain functions to be with regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and other prohibited conduct … to increase equality of opportunity; to amend the law relating to rights and responsibilities in family relationships; and for connected purposes.”
There is nothing in the act about restricting freedom of speech or disciplining people who have views which are unpopular with Britain’s right wing mass media. The key paragraph in the charges against Stan stated:
“The question as to whether or not Stan Keable’s comments breach the Equalities Act may hinge on an interpretation of what constitutes ‘belief’ under the terms of the act … One of these [protected] characteristics is “religion and belief”. Zionism is not a religion, although it is closely related to Judaism, but it is a belief in the right of the Jewish people to have a nation-state in the ‘Holy Land’, their original homeland. Legal advice, obtained as part of this investigation, states that case law has established that the definition of belief can extend to political beliefs. If Zionism constitutes a ‘belief’ under the terms of the Equality Act then the statements by Stan Keable that the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazis and that it accepted that “Jews are not acceptable here” might be deemed to have breached the Equality Act.”
It is nonsense to claim Israel/Palestine is the “original homeland”, back to 135 AD with the crushing of the Bar Kokhba revolt by the Romans when Judea lost its name?  Zionism may be a philosophical belief under section 10 of the Equality Act. But then so is anti-Zionism. However, it is not the protected characteristics of those Stan was arguing with which are relevant, but those of Stan! Stan is not their employer! Just because someone might be classified as having a protected characteristic in certain situations – mainly employment – does not mean that if you disagree with, for example, a gay person you are therefore guilty of discrimination!
‘Protected characteristics’ are not a free-floating cause of action: they are tied to specific acts, such as direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation. The definition of direct discrimination (section 13.1) says: “(i) A person (A) discriminates against another (B) if, because of a protected characteristic, A treats B less favourably than A treats or would treat others.”
It should be obvious to anyone – though clearly not to those leading Hammersmith and Fulham’s investigation – that debating a topic in a public space does not infringe his adversaries’ protected characteristics. Put bluntly, debate is not discrimination. No-one is being discriminated against when it is stated that the Nazis and Zionists collaborated. Neither was Stan in any contractual or employment relationship with his adversaries.
However, in suspending and seeking to dismiss Stan, the council is almost certainly breaching the Equality Act, because it is Stan whom they are discriminating against on the grounds of his belief. The failure to understand this simple but obvious point is quite staggering.
The council’s investigation report (paragraph 5.6) stated:
“in attending the counter-demonstration at Westminster on March 26 and in making the comments that subsequently appeared on social media, Mr Keable has failed to avoid any conduct outside of work which may discredit himself and the council.”
In other words, Stan’s offence was, in part at least, attending a demonstration! Under ‘recommendations’ (paragraph 7.1) we get:
“That, in attending a counter- demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament on March 26, 2018, Stan Keable knowingly increased the possibility of being challenged about his views and subsequently proceeded to express views that were in breach of the council’s equality, diversity and inclusion policy and the council’s code of conduct (‘Working with integrity’ and ‘Working with the media’).”
This is an outrageous infringement of Stan’s civil liberties in attending a demonstration. Stan “knowingly increased the possibility of being challenged about his views …”! Stan’s sacking means a mere attendance at a demonstration will be a potential breach of one’s employment contract.
Article 10, ‘Freedom of expression’, states:
Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.
Article 11, ‘Freedom of assembly and association’, begins: “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.” Closely allied to these is article 9 on ‘Freedom of thought, conscience and religion’.
There is little doubt that Stan will win his legal, because not even the most conformist and timid tribunal will accept that attending a demonstration and airing one’s views in public constitute a breach of the Equality Act or one’s contract. H&H Labour Council should now call a halt to these proceedings by reinstating Stan Keable.
Yours Roger Cox – Sec Brent Trade Union Council

 


 

Dear Comrades,

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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’.
  3. 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.
  4. This dismissal opens up the possibility of more sackings based on political opinion.

We resolve to:

  1. Call on Hammersmith and Fulham Labour Council to reinstate Stan Keable.
  2. Donate to Stan’s defence campaign.
  3. Affiliate to Labour Against the Witchhunt.
  4. Write Unison’s London regional organiser, Steve Terry, to enquire why Unison had not supported Stan in his disciplinary case.
  5. Support the Reinstate Stan Keable! LAW lobby of Hammersmith & Fulham Council meeting on 16 July 17:00 – 19:15 at Hammersmith Town Hall.

 

Suspended by the Labour Party? Read this.

Like and share this post:

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. 

BEN TIMBERLEY·WEDNESDAY, 27 JUNE 2018

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.

Continue Reading “Suspended by the Labour Party? Read this.”

Support Stan Keable’s campaign for reinstatement!

Like and share this post:

Please support Stan Keable’s campaign for reinstatement. Stan, secretary of Labour Against the Witchhunt, has been sacked for stating an historically verifiable fact. And now his union (Unison) has let him down too. He has been advised of how much a barrister would cost to represent him at an employment tribunal. Please give generously and spread this message. Thank you!

https://www.gofundme.com/ReinstateStanKeable

On April 21 2018, I was dismissed from my job with Hammersmith and Fulham Council after 17 years unblemished service as a housing enforcer, for having “brought the Council into disrepute”, by saying that the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazi regime – a well documented if shameful historical fact.

I said this on March 26, in a conversation in Parliament Square – nothing to do with work – while participating in the Jewish Voice for Labour demonstration in support of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, called in opposition to the rightwing ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration.

The BBC’s David Grossman tweeted a 105-second video clip of the conversation, retweeted by Tory MP Greg Hands to H&F Council Labour leader Stephen Cowan and then used by the Council to sack me.

Unison has withdrawn support because I rejected the bad advice of their regional organiser to plead guilty, throwing away the right to demonstrate and to freedom of speech – so I need funds for a barrister and potential legal costs to challenge my political victimisation at an employment tribunal, as well as for campaigning for reinstatement.

My dismissal extends the McCarthyite witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party to the area of employment. Don’t let me be the first of many political sackings.

Please give generously. Any surplus funds will be passed to Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW) for campaigning.

Read more:

My open letter to H&F Councillors:
http://www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org/campaigns/stan-keables-open-letter-to-hammersmith-fulham-labour-councillors-and-party-members/

Mike Cushman – ‘How talking about Zionism can lose you your job’:
http://freespeechonisrael.org.uk/keable-sacking/#sthash.ueizxvgU.xeBSvgDw.dpbs

Tony Greenstein – ‘No criticism permitted’:
https://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1203/no-criticism-permitted/

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

Like and share this post:

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. 

Mike Cushman: How talking about Zionism can lose you your job

Like and share this post:

Mike Cushman reports how Stan Keable (LAW secretary) has been sacked by Hammersmith and Fulham Council for a private conversation when he attended the Jewish Voice for Labour Parliament Square rally on 26 March. This article first appeared on Free Speech on Israel. 

Stan engaged in a discussion with a Zionist during the Parliament Square rally, a conversation that happened to be recorded by the BBC and broadcast. During the one on one discussion Stan talked about the historically undisputed collaboration between the Nazis and the German Zionist leadership. At no time did Stan make any, even remotely, antisemitic.

Hammersmith and Fulham Tory MP Greg Hands circulated the video of the conversation, publicised on Twitter and then referred it to the New Labour Leader of the Council. That letter, which was the first public association of Greg with the Council was made public. This linking of Greg with the Council was the sole basis of the charge of ‘bringing the council into disrepute’. Hands publicised Stan’s link with the Council and then this publicising was, itself, used as the basis for dismissal. An offence that only existed because the complainant had caused it to exist. Continue Reading “Mike Cushman: How talking about Zionism can lose you your job”

#Justice4Marc launch in London: Spotted hyenas and Labour right

Like and share this post:

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.

Message of support from Chris Williamson MP

Like and share this post:

Click here to download all messages of support in a PDF file: from Alexei Sayle, Ken Loach and Chris Williamson MP

Please accept my apologies that I can’t be with you tonight, but I would like to express my support for and solidarity with Marc’s campaign to clear his name.

I attended Marc’s hearing and spoke on his behalf, which is why I know that the National Constitutional Committee’s decision was inconsistent with the evidence before them.

As I said immediately after the outcome was announced, the decision has all the hallmarks of predetermination and tramples on the Labour Party’s record of standing up for fairness.  The NCC has besmirched the reputation of a veteran anti-racist campaigner and their decision cannot be allowed to stand.

Marc deserves the support of everyone who believes in natural justice, democracy and the progressive agenda that delivered two landslide leadership victories for Jeremy Corbyn, and Labour’s biggest vote share increase since 1945.

As Martin Luther King Jr once said: “It is always the right time to do the right thing.” And the right thing to do now is help Marc to right the terrible wrong that has been done to him.

Best wishes,

Chris Williamson MP