#Justice4Marc launch in London: Spotted hyenas and Labour right

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Message of support from Chris Williamson MP

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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

 

 

Message of support from Ken Loach

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

I’m sorry not to be with you tonight – but very pleased to send a message of strong support to Labour Against The Witchhunt and Marc personally. No one wants a party that tolerates abuse or racism. But that’s not my experience of Labour meetings and I’m sure it’s not yours. If there are allegations, let the evidence be brought, scrutinised in an open hearing in front of an impartial panel, with all sides heard, witnesses allowed to speak and a right to appeal. In other words, due process in accordance with natural justice.

That does not appear to have happened in Marc’s case. The available information shows the evidence to be weak and the judgement faulty. Marc has an honourable record as a principled campaigner against racism and injustice. We should demand that his case be reopened.

Further, we cannot tolerate the abuse of the disciplinary procedure for political purposes, to remove good activists. The people who should face scrutiny are those MPs and their apologists who do their best to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, who supported the right wing policies of Blair, including his illegal war in Iraq, with the terrible consequences we see today.

The Labour Party is changing. Make certain the changes really happen.  Working class people need a party that will re-order society so that all may live with security and dignity. To transform society we have also to transform the party – this struggle is part of that transformation.

Solidarity,

Ken Loach

 

Ecclesall branch: motion on Marc Wadsworth

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Motion on the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth from the Labour Party, passed on May 14 2018

1. Ecclesall branch (Hallam Sheffield CLP) notes that

  • On April 27 2018 Marc Wadsworth was expelled from the Labour Party for “bringing the party into disrepute”.
  • Ruth Smeeth MP claimed that, at the launch of the Charkrabarti report in June 2016, Marc Wadsworth was being anti-Semitic by criticising her for “working hand in hand” with a reporter from the Daily Telegraph, who had passed a press release to her.
  • Ruth Smeeth stated at the expulsion hearing that she “felt” Marc Wadsworth was being anti-Semitic. That was sufficient for Labour’s National Constitutional Committee (NCC) to uphold this charge.
  • Marc Wadsworth is a veteran anti-racist campaigner. As chair of the Labour Party Black Sections (1986-1988), he helped four of its members to get elected as MPs in 1987. He founded the Anti-Racist Alliance in 1991 and helped the parents of Stephen Lawrence set up their campaign for justice and introduced them to Nelson Mandela.
  1. Ecclesall branch believes that:
  • Nothing that Marc Wadsworth did or said at the launch of the Chakrabarti report was even vaguely anti-Semitic.
  • The fact that somebody “feels” they have experienced anti-Semitism, or any other form of prejudice, is not enough. The NCC’s decision not to require any proof or evidence sets a dangerous precedent for the acceptance of politically motivated allegations.
  • Chris Williamson MP was right to call thedecision to expel Marc Wadsworth “perverse”. He was also right to criticise the “weaponisation of anti-Semitism for political ends”, namely the purging or muzzling of members who are critical of Israeli government policies and actions.
  • Despite the growing number of fallacious allegations of anti-Semitism (by a group of anti-Corbyn MPs in cooperation with the mainstream media) the number of cases of anti-Semitism among Labour Party members upheld remains tiny.
  1. Ecclesall branch demands:An end to the practice of automatic, instant expulsion or suspension of Labour Party members (apart from in exceptional circumstances:
  • A member accused of a breach of rule must be regarded as innocent until proven guilty and be given all the evidence submitted against them by their accuser
  • Membership rights must not be removed until disciplinary investigations and procedures have been completed;
  • Disciplinary procedures must be time limited. Charges not resolved within three months must be automatically dropped.
  • Disciplinary decisions should be taken only by elected bodies, not by paid officials.

Alexei Sayle: I stand with Marc Wadsworth!

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

I stand with Marc Wadsworth.

The Labour Party has – on the flimsiest of pretexts – expelled him from the Labour Party.

Marc is a veteran activist and anti-racist campaigner. He contributed to the Party through the Black Sections, co-founded the Anti-Racist Alliance, fought against the National Front and the BNP, was a leading supporter of the Stephen Lawrence Campaign: the list of his achievements in the field of fighting for racial equality and justice goes on and on.

And this is the man the Labour Party dares to say has “brought the party into disrepute”! The Party should walk over broken glass to beg people of Marc’s calibre to work with them – they are very few and Marc is one of the best. There is a battle going on to destroy and reverse the unexpected and amazing gains the left has made in the last three years. Marc is a casualty in that battle and I am joining the fight to see him re-instated to the front line.

I never believed we would see the prospect of a socialist Labour Party taking power in this country and the right, with their allies in the Israel Lobby, is doing everything it can to stop that. Marc has been victimised by them and that can’t be allowed to stand. Everyone on the Left – whether in or out of the Labour Party – needs to back Marc in this struggle.

Thank God I’m not in the Labour Party so I can say that all the Ruth Smeeths and Wes Streetings who are trying to destroy the prospect of a Socialist Labour Party taking power in Britain can fucking fuck off: I’m backing Marc Wadsworth!

Alexei will be speaking alongside Marc Wadsworth at the London launch of our national #Justice4Marc speaking tour – come along!

Queen’s Park branch

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On 10 May 2018  the Queen’s Park branch of the Labour Party (in Hampstead & Kilburn CLP) adopted the motion below nem con and with one abstention:
________________________

This branch notes that:

·         Marc Wadsworth, a leading Black antiracist activist, was expelled from the Labour Party – with no right of appeal – on April 27, 2018, charged with bringing the Party into disrepute;
·         his expulsion followed 22 months of suspension from membership;

·         his expulsion was not for antisemitism, despite continuous prejudicial media coverage falsely accusing him of antisemitic abuse at the media launch of the Chakrabarti Report on June 30, 2016.

This branch believes:

·         that the party has indeed been brought into disrepute, not by Marc Wadsworth’s non-abusive remark at the Report launch, but by the actions of PLP members publicly denouncing him as an antisemite; by the adherence of the entrenched party bureaucracy to a disciplinary system which was not fit for purpose; and by its failure to put in place a system conforming with principles of natural justice, which should be automatic in any labour movement organisation.

This branch therefore:

·         supports Marc Wadsworth’s campaign to clear his name of the antisemitism slur and for reinstatement as a member of the Labour Party;
·         calls on the new General Secretary to:
o   speedily implement Chakrabarti’s recommendations designed to reform flawed party rules and structures to ensure prompt, fair and transparent handling of disciplinary complaints against members, with right of appeal and including presumption of innocence and fact-based judgements that do not rely on guilt by association

Marc Wadsworth’s expulsion – what you can do about it

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The expulsion of Marc Wadsworth from the Labour Party was a politically motivated outrage – read our statement. Here’s what you can do about it:

  1. Support the national speaking tour #Justice4Marc, which is co-sponsored by LAW, Jewish Voice for Labour, the Labour Representation Committee and Grassroots Black Left. We are raising funds to help cover the transport costs involved – please chip in if you can. 
  2. Read up on the caseJewish Voice for Labour had a good background article; Grassroots Black Left had their statement published in The Voice.
  3. Write to newspapers who publish false and misleading articles about the case. For example, Marc did not “heckle” Ruth Smeeth MP, he did not launch “a verbal attack” on her, berate or abuse her or use, as she later claimed, a “traditional trope” of Jews owning the media.
  4. Use our model motion (online here) in your branch and CLP asap.The quicker you can get it through, the more pressure it will bring on Labour’s NEC to act. Once it has passed, send it to us so we can publish it online.
  5. Contribute to Marc’s crowdfunding campaign to help pay for his lawyers (please note that these funds are for his legal team only and cannot be used for any campaigning work)
  6. Join Labour Against the Witchhunt online here and get your branch/CLP to affiliate.
  7. Sign our Open Letter to Jeremy Corbyn and the left of the Labour leadership (online here) they need to take action now to bring the witch-hunt to an end. More than 5,700 have already signed it.
  8. Attend our conference that we are planning to hold in June – details to follow soon.

LAW statement on the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth

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“Victim of a politically motivated campaign against Jeremy Corbyn”

Labour Against the Witchhunt strongly condemns the outrageous decision to expel Marc Wadsworth after a two-day hearing in front of three right-wing members of Labour’s National Constitutional Committee.

Marc is the latest victim of the politically motivated witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. Marc Wadsworth, a lifelong campaigner against racism, has been smeared and his reputation tarnished, first by the vile and false allegations against him and now, to top it off, by this deeply unjust verdict. Following 22 months of trial-by-media, our comrade had very little chance of receiving a fair hearing – and he did not get one.

Ruth Smeeth MP claimed that at the launch of the Charkrabarti report in June 2016, veteran anti-racist campaigner Marc Wadsworth was being “anti-Semitic” for criticising her as “working hand in hand” with a reporter of the Daily Telegraph – a fallacious claim that was repeated in almost every newspaper.

An all-white, three person panel of the National Constitutional Committee of the Labour Party, however, did not uphold this charge. They expelled Marc Wadsworth on April 27 2018 under the catch-all phrase of “bringing the party into disrepute” (point 2.1.8 in Labour’s 2016 rulebook).

It is not Marc who has brought the party “into disrepute” – it is the “shameless smears” of the “Corbyn-hating” MPs (Len McCluskey in the New Statesman), who have worked tirelessly to undermine Jeremy Corbyn at every opportunity since his election as Labour leader in 2015.

Chris Williamson MP got it exactly right when he called this decision“perverse”. He has quite rightly criticised the “weaponisation of anti-Semitism for political ends”. We warmly welcome his courageous support for Marc at the hearing and the support of Clive Lewis MP, who supplied a witness statement and said: “I’ve known him for 20 years. He’s an anti-racist campaigner. I watched that video and I don’t think that warranted being expelled from Labour.”

This is in stark contrast to the cynical PR stunt orchestrated by Wes Streeting MP, who has made no secret of his severe dislike for Jeremy Corbyn and his policies. Ruth Smeeth did not need to be ‘protected’ on her way into Church House. LAW’s lobby outside the expulsion hearing was always planned as a protest in support of Marcand not in opposition to Smeeth. If Smeeth, who has been funded by the Israeli lobby even since becoming an MP,cannot deal with walking past a couple of dozen protestors, maybe she (or the members in her Constituency Labour Party) should reconsider if being an MP is the right profession for her.

We call on Jeremy Corbyn, general secretary Jennie Formby and the National Executive Committee to finally put an end to this ongoing witch-hunt against the left in the party. The right-wing will demand more and more scalps. But the history of appeasement in politics teaches us they will never be satisfied. Capitulation to their unscrupulous demands is not the answer. They can never have enough suspensions, enough expulsions, enough compromised principles, including Corbyn’s lifelong support for the rights of the Palestinians.

This campaign against ‘Anti-Semitism’ has become the new anti-communism. We are in a period of new McCarthyism in the Labour Party. It is to be greatly regretted that Jeremy Corbyn, who in the 1980s was the secretary of Labour Against the Witchhunt, seems to be going along with this witch-hunt.

The number of cases of anti-Semitism among Labour Party members upheld remains tiny. The overwhelming majority of allegations have been baseless and politically motivated – used to purge or muzzle members who support Corbyn and those who are critical of Israeli government policies and actions.

We are witnessing the development of a chilling culture of fear, self-censorship, of members afraid to openly ask questions and learn, particularly on social media. We have seen many good Corbyn-supporting comrades being thrown to the wolves of the Tory Party and their supporters in the mainstream media. They are publicly smeared as Holocaust deniers, anti-Semites, racists – and have no way of fighting back against such vile accusations. These smears have ruined lives. Labour’s broken disciplinary procedure is not fit for purpose. It has actually resulted in suicides.

We call for an end to the expulsions and suspensions of Labour Party members for their political views. All those summarily expelled or suspended from membership without due process, or as part of the anti-Corbyn witch-hunt, should be immediately reinstated – and that includes Marc Wadsworth, Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Stan Keable, Tony Greenstein and Cyril Chilson.

We agree with the statement by Jewish Voice for Labour, according to which Marc’s “treatment has been a travesty of the transparent, fair and equitable procedures one would expect from a labour movement organisation. It is a further irony that his summary suspension followed by 22 months in limbo would not have been possible if the relevant recommendations of the Chakrabarti Report had been implemented.”

GBL on Marc Wadsworth’s expulsion

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NEWS RELEASE

April 27 2018

Today’s expulsion by Labour of veteran black anti-racist activist

There will be a press conference today at 1.15pm at Abbey Green, outside Parliament.

 Present will be Marc Wadsworth, Deborah Hobson and Noami Wimborne-Idrissi of Jewish Voice For Labour

Grassroots Black Left (GBL) is appalled by the expulsion of its member Marc Wadsworth, a life-long anti-racist. This decision brings the party into disrepute and we will fight besides Wadsworth to help him clear his name and get reinstated.

The National Constitutional Committee hearing was based on a disciplinary process that newly appointed general secretary Jennie Formby has declares “is not fit for purpose”. Continue Reading “GBL on Marc Wadsworth’s expulsion”

In defence of LAW secretary Stan Keable

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On March 27, the day after he attended the counter demonstration in Parliament Square, organised by Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Against the Witchhunt’s secretary Stan Keable was suspended from work by Hammersmith and Fulham council. The suspension letter states that there are “serious allegation(s) which, if substantiated, could constitute gross misconduct under the council’s disciplinary procedure” and which “could result in your dismissal from the council’s service”.

Stan, who is secretary of Labour Party Marxists, has not yet been informed of the exact nature of the alleged “inappropriate comments”. However, it seems very likely that they relate to a short video clip tweeted by BBC Newsnight editor David Grossman. It seems that Grossman – without asking for permission – filmed Stan on his mobile phone while he was talking to a supporter of the anti-Corbyn demonstration.

Like other LPM comrades, Stan had approached the Zionists with the intention of engaging with them. He handed out Labour Against the Witchhunt leaflets and spoke to numerous people. Most discussions were friendly, if a little one-sided: “People on the ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration were a mixture of Tories, Labour Party members and ex-members,” says Stan. “They told me they were there because of the ‘huge problem’ of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, but when I asked if they themselves had experienced discrimination, they could not give me any concrete examples.”

The conversation in question was several minutes long “and the guy and I shook hands afterwards”. The 105 seconds that Grossman has published – again, without even asking for permission – are entitled: “Anti-Semitism didn’t cause the holocaust and Zionists collaborated with the Nazis”. As we show in the transcript below, this is seriously misleading. But, as you would expect from such a headline in the current climate, the short clip has caused quite a stir on social media.

Continue Reading “In defence of LAW secretary Stan Keable”