Support for Jackie Walker outside her hearing

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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.

Press release by Jackie Walker: denied right to speak in her own defence

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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.

Background

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.

Background

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.

  1. I asked for a “definition of antisemitism”
  2. I commented “wouldn’t it be wonderful if Holocaust day was open to all people who experience holocaust”, and
  3. 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:

  • antisemitic;
  • 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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”

Jackie Walker

Tuesday 26 March 2019

 

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Solidarity message from Ken Loach to ‘Defend the Left’ rally

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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.

Ken Loach

 

 

Solidarity message from Chris Williamson to ‘Hands Off the Left’ rally

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March 25 2019

I want to thank grassroots members from the bottom of my heart for the extraordinary solidarity they’ve shown since my suspension.

It’s been incredibly heart-warming and humbling to be the recipient of such an outpouring of support, and to witness the vicarious indignation felt by thousands as result of this decision.

But this isn’t just about me, it’s about all of us.

I’m proud of Labour’s record in standing up to racism and bigotry in all its forms throughout our history.

Whether it was standing shoulder to shoulder with the Jewish community in Cable Street against Oswald Mosely’s fascists, or confronting the fascist National Front via the Anti-Nazi League in the 1970s, Labour Party members have always been at the forefront.

Let’s remember it was people like Ken Livingstone, when he was the leader of the GLC, who were dismissed and disparaged as “Looney Lefties” for challenging casual racism in the 1980s.

That’s one of the reasons why we owe Ken a debt of gratitude.

He was in the vanguard of those challenging all forms of bigotry at that time, he played a huge role in shifting public opinion.

And let’s also remember that Jackie Walker has spent her life fighting racism, as well as being a target of it.

She helped to spearhead the efforts to stop Nigel Farage obtaining a parliamentary platform for his bigoted credo, when he stood as a parliamentary candidate in South Thanet in 2015.

Thank you, Jackie, for your tenacity and your bravery.

But there is of course more to do, which is why we need to unite to stand up to bigotry that manifests itself in racism, Islamophobia, misogyny and anti-Semitism.

So, let’s stand together and keep our eyes on the prize of a Corbyn-led Labour Government.

A government that will transform our country.

A government that will implement an irreversible shift in the balance of power in the interests of working people.

And a government that will implement a genuine ethical foreign policy.

That’s why we’re being subjected to unjustified, and unjustifiable, smears and attacks.

And that’s why my motto is that solidarity is crucial when it’s difficult, not just when it’s easy.

We’re not just trying to win an election, we’re in the process of changing the course of history.

So, let’s make history together.

 

Model motion: Tom Watson should stand down

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This model motion is currently doing the rounds in branches and CLPs.

This branch/CLP notes:

  1. Under Party Rules, Clause VII, section ix. “the Deputy Leader shall provide the Leader with advice and support in achieving the goals of the Party and deputise as requested.”
  2. That in her email of 1st March to Tom Watson, Jenny Formby, the General Secretary of the Party states “You have decided without consultation or regard to due process, to ask colleagues who raise complaints with me to forward them to your private email address as you will be ‘logging and monitoring’ all complaints. It is completely inappropriate for you to set up a vague parallel complaints monitoring system … The suggestion that you as an individual data controller should receive and store data related to complaints unrelated to your personal role as an MP … is completely unacceptable and exposes you, and the Party, to significant compliance risks. Furthermore you will undermine the work that my staff and I are doing and will confuse and pollute the existing formal process, compromising it and slowing it down.”
  3. In a series of media interviews Tom Watson has declared his intention to set up an organisation of MPs to challenge the policies of the Leader and the Shadow Cabinet.

This branch/CLP CLP believes that Tom Watson’s actions seek to undermine the Party Leader, twice overwhelmingly elected by party members, and are not compatible with his remit as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.

This branch/CLP calls for Tom Watson to either stand down as Deputy Leader or submit himself for re-election as Deputy Leader.

Bury Momentum letter to Jon Lansman: “Your unsubstantiated remarks can only give succour to Labour’s enemies”

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Jon Lansman, Chair, Momentum
Cc Laura Parker, Momentum National Coordinator
Bcc National Coordinating Group

19 March 2019

Jon,

As officers of Bury Momentum we are writing to express our dismay and anger at your recent comments on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme of 25 February when you said Labour had “a major problem with anti-Semitism” and that it was “now obvious we have a much larger number of people with hardcore anti-Semitic opinions…” Such sweeping and unsubstantiated remarks – making no mention of the findings so far on this by Labour General Secretary Jennie Formby nor to the Party’s robust disciplinary process – can only give succour to the Labour Party’s enemies.

Bury Momentum discussed the latest developments in the attacks on Corbyn and the Partyat its recent meeting on Monday 11 March, including the suspension of Chris Williamson MP. Our members asked us to write to you and Momentum nationally expressing our unanimous support for Chris, our disappointment at Momentum’s failure to speak up for him and our feelings of let-down at your damaging comments to the media.

Part of Bury Momentum’s catchment area includes the second largest Jewish community in the country and in our two Bury CLPs your remarks are being used by our opponents to smear Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Left and Bury Momentum. It frankly beggars belief that the leader of Momentum can do such a disservice to its members’ campaigning efforts against austerity and our support for the Labour Manifesto, especially at such a critical time.

We call on you and National Momentum to defend Labour’s proud record as a democratic, anti-racist Party, stand in solidarity with Chris Williamson and other socialists who are being attacked, and apologise to Momentum members for demoralising and demobilising them by making unproven public statements. We expect your support.

There is NO BAN on moving motions in support of Chris Williamson MP!

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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 refuseto 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.
  • 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 (pages 67 and 68) in the Labour Party rule book 2018

Feel free to get in touch if you need some more detailed advice. Good luck! And please keep us updated!

Just say no to Jewish Labour Movement’s motion!

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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

This CLP:

– 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 calls for the removal of Jon Lansman from Momentum

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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.

In solidarity with Asa Winstanley, the latest victim of the witchhunt

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Labour Against the Witchhunt condems the suspension of Asa Winstanley, a journalist and associate editor of Electronic Intifada. Asa learnt this from a story in the Jewish Chronicle, which stated that he had been suspended for calling the Jewish Labour Movement a “proxy for the Israeli Embassy”.

The disciplinary measures against Asa Winstanley are a full frontal attack on freedom of speech. Asa has written a number of well-researched articles showing how the ‘anti-Semitism campaign’ in the Labour Party has been manufactured by pro-Zionist groups (for example, How Israel lobby manufactured UK Labour Party’s anti-Semitism crisisand Jewish Labour Movement was refounded to fight Corbyn).

The last two weeks have seen a worrying acceleration of the witch-hunt against pro-Corbyn members. It seems that general secretary Jennie Formby has reinstated automatic suspensions over the most minor accusations:

  • Councillor Stuart Porthouse, former mayor of Sunderland, was suspended for sharing an interview with George Galloway on Sky News.
  • Sean McCallum, mayoral candidate in Mansfield, has been suspended on the basis of two tweets questioning the origins of a meme that Naz Shah MP had posted.
  • Jo Bird, a Jewish councillor in the Wirral was suspended for telling jokes.
  • And Chris Williamson MP has been suspended for daring to question the party’s tactics over the campaign to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

None of the above are under investigation for anything remotely anti-Semitic.It has become an offence merely to question the very assertion that there is widespread anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. What we are now seeing is Orwellian. As Asa Winstanley said at a recent meeting: “They’re trying to defeat the man by demoralising, splitting and defeating the left movement supporting him.”

This campaign is, at the heart of it, a campaign to delegitimise any criticism of Israel and its racist policies towards non-Jews. As an outspoken supporter of the rights of the Palestinians, Jeremy Corbyn is an unreliable ally when it comes to the strategically important alliance of Britain with the USA and Israel. They will do anything to get rid of him as leader of the Labour Party. This campaign to paint his supporters as anti-Semites is an integral part of it.

We are outraged that once again, the compliance unit has leaked details of Labour’s disciplinary processes to the Jewish Chronicle and the press before the person themselves has been notified. This is in clear violation of the General Data Protection Regulations and is illegal. The compliance unit should be shut down. It is not fit for purpose.

We condemn the suspension of Jo Bird and the appointment of Lord Falconer

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UPDATE: Jo Bird’s suspension was lifted on March 15, though apparently she was given a ‘warning’ – for telling jokes!

Labour Against the Witchhunt unreservedly condemns the suspension from the Labour Party of Jewish councillor for Bromborough Jo Bird. At a Justice4Marc meeting last year in Manchester (in solidarity with Marc Wadsworth) she made a light-hearted comment, stating: “Jewish Voice For Labour is calling for disciplinary hearings to be paused until a due process has been established, based on principles of natural justice. What I call Jew process”.

Clearly, the context of that quote shows that her joke was not anti-Semitic at all – but the exact opposite.

Coming so soon after the suspension of Chris Williamson MP on equally baseless grounds, we are concerned that the small positive reforms of the disciplinary process introduced by general secretary Jennie Formby have been rolled back. We are seeing the return of automatic suspensions, even before an investigation has started. And again, they are used almost exclusively against left-wing supporters of Corbyn. Tom Watson, Margaret Hodge, Joan Ryan and Louise Ellman on the other hand get away with insulting and undermining Jeremy Corbyn and the party without any consequence. This is clearly not a fair process.

We are also greatly concerned with the plan to appoint Lord Falconer to “re-investigate” cases of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. As an ally of Tony Blair, a member of his war cabinet and the lawyer whose legal advice helped to break up the National Union of Mineworkers, we believe he is most certainly not the right man for the job. His interview in the Sunday Times shows that he is also far from impartial on this issue: “The most frightening thing is the profound and almost universal sense within the Jewish community that the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn are anti-Semitic. They feel they are not safe … because the potential prime minister and the main opposition party are anti-Semitic.”

This is nonsense. Firstly, there is no hegemonic “Jewish community”. There are pro-Zionist Jews and there anti- or non-Zionist Jews – those like Jo Bird, Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein and the thousands organised in groups like Jewish Voice for Labour, Jewish Socialist Group etc. They certainly do not feel “unsafe” in the Labour Party. It is a story spun by the right-wing in the Labour Party, in cahoots with non-Labour organisations like the Board of Deputies and the Israeli embassy – who are united in their desire to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party.

We believe these recent, bad decisions of the Labour leadership are the direct consequence of the formation of the so-called The Independent Group. Eager to stop any more right-wingers from splitting from the party, the leadership is bending over backwards once more. We are even hearing that the reformed trigger ballots are being put on hold to avoid any challenges to sitting MPs –despite the fact that this policy was agreed at Labour Party conference 2018.  But the last three and a half years show: Appeasement does not work. Every time the leadership takes a step back, the right makes two steps forward.

As Ken Loach, one of LAW’s sponsors said: “If it looks like a witch hunt and behaves like a witch hunt – it may well be just that. This is intolerable and must end now.”

Kevin Higgins’ poem, censored by the Morning Star

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Listening Exercise
after John McDonnell

When you paint hatred on my garden wall
and front door, I will read your words
with great interest.

When you try to burn my house down
I will listen to what the flames are saying.

Every lie you tell against me
I’ll help you spread
by earnestly, and in detail, answering your questions
about it over and over again.

When you burst through my living room door
with a chainsaw intended for me,
I’ll pour you a nice cup of tea
and say: let’s talk about this.

When the tumours come for me
I’ll know their opinion must be taken
absolutely on board.

And when the beetles and bacilli
begin to consume me,
I’ll realise I’ve long seen
their point of view.

Kevin Higgins

On Thursday, Kevin Higgins’ poem ‘Listening Exercise’ (above) – concerning the ‘massive listening exercise’ called for by UK Shadow chancellor John McDonnell amid accusations of antisemitism against the British Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn – was published on Broadsheet, on the UK based site Culture Matters, and online in The Morning Star newspaper.

It was also to appear in the Morning Star‘s print edition last Saturday.

Before some high level politics intervened.

1) E-mail received from Cliff Cocker (Arts Editor of the Morning Star) Thursday, February 28.

Hi Kevin

Timely and spot-on. Will try and get online asap and in paper on Sat.

Cheers

Cliff

2) E-mail received from Cliff Cocker (Arts Editor of the Morning Star) Friday, March 1st, 9.17am

Hi Kevin

Here it is, in print tomorrow. Cheers C

3) Email received from Ben Chacko (editor of the Morning Star) March 1, 1:04pm

Dear Kevin,

I’m afraid I’ve pulled this poem because things are on a knife-edge in the shadow cabinet and at the moment our friends there advise exacerbating divisions would make things worse.

I do appreciate the poem and the many biting poems that you have written for us, but the sensitivities right now mean publishing it in the Morning Star would in our view feed the divisions that the right are trying to exploit.

That doesn’t mean we will stop fighting back against bogus accusations and we will be continuing a robust defence of Chris Williamson and attacks on the so-called Independent Group, but we just feel targeting John in this way now is not the right approach for us.

I hope you aren’t too angry that this time I want to hold back and that you are OK with continuing to publish poetry in the paper.

Solidarity and all the best,

Ben Chacko

Kevin says:

“It is great to know that my poems are being read by member’s of Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet. This poem was intended as friendly advice for Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, albeit that it is satirically delivered, as is my way.

I understand the pressures people are under at the moment, and am in no way angry at the editors of The Morning Star for the action they felt they had to take here. I plan to continue published poems in The Morning Star, as I have since they asked me for my satire on Tony Blair in 2015.

I do stand over the poem which I wrote while eating lunch last Friday week in the Arabica Coffee Shop on Dominick Street, immediately before one of my poetry workshops at Galway Arts Centre…”

Kevin Higgins

Support Chris Williamson: Seven things you can do

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  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. If you’re on Twitter, use #IStandWithChrisWilliamson
  4. Put on a showing of ‘The Witchhunt’ documentary with Jackie Walker in your locality to better understand the background to this decision.
  5. Email Jennie Formby to protest against this decision.
  6. 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.
  7. The first badge we’ve seen in solidarity with Chris is available here.