Jewish Voice for Labour condemns Marc Wadsworth’s expulsion

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Passed unanimously at Jewish Voice For Labour’s AGM on April 29:

JVL condemns the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth from the Labour Party, and the procedures that led up to it, on the back of a scurrilous campaign to damage his reputation by falsely branding him as an antisemite.  We fully support the campaign for his reinstatement.  We note that the decision to expel Marc was based on grounds not of antisemitism but on the convenient claim of bringing the Party into disrepute.  It is a bitter irony that what really does bring the party into disrepute are unprincipled campaigns to demonise members, in particular people of colour, and the failure by the hitherto entrenched bureaucracy to implement the processes to ensure natural justice proposed in the Chakrabarti report.
 
We demand justice for Marc and the rapid adoption of speedy, fair and transparent disciplinary procedures.

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.

Statement on Marc Wadsworth’s expulsion by Africans For JC Values

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Grassroots Labour activist group Africans For JC Values (AFJCV) notes with concern the ruling of the National Constitutional Committee (NCC) regarding Marc Wadsworth.

We condemn all forms of discrimination – discrimination against Africans (Afriphobia), discrimination against Asians, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, etc.

The mainstream media seems to have been deliberately tarring Wadsworth’s name by associating it with anti-Semitism. They have continued to make the link in the headlines reporting Wadsworth’s expulsion, when in actual fact there was no evidence of anti-Semitism against Wadsworth, a veteran anti-racism activist.

At the launch of the Chakrabarti Report, Marc Wadsworth raised the lack of ethnic representation at the event.  Ruth Smeeth MP, heckled him, whilst he had been given the microphone to ask his question.

It is worrying that instead of concluding that based on the evidence, there was no anti-Semitisim on the part of Wadsworth, the NCC decided to find him guilty of breaching the catch-all “prejudicial” Rule 2.1.8 of the Labour Party’s 2016 Rule Book in order to expel him from the Party. The perception is that the decision was taken to expel Wadsworth, regardless of the evidence.

Interestingly, Africans For JC Values brought the conduct of John Mann MP to the attention of the Party, when he was shown on TV shamefully hurling abuse at Ken Livingstone. His conduct brought the Party to disrepute, but to date no action has been taken. Very disappointing, as one expects MPs to be held to a higher standard of account.

We believe the decision to expel Wadsworth is unfair. The only recourse for him to clear his name and fight the expulsion is through the courts, and we are confident that when he and his legal team decide to take up this option, his supporters and those who believe in fairness and justice will provide the necessary support.

Awula Serwah

AFJCV Secretary

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. Continue Reading “LAW statement on the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth”

LAW model motion on the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth

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Feel free to change and amend. Please send us successfully passed motions to info@labouragainstthewitchhunt.org and we will publish them.

You can download the motion in Word format here. 

1. This branch/CLPs notes that:

1.1 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.

1.2 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). Continue Reading “LAW model motion on the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth”

Complaints and disciplinary procedures in the Labour Party 

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The motion below was passed unanimously by Ceredigion CLP on 27th April.

This CLP calls on the NEC to ensure:

1) that there are fair and transparent procedures and processes in relation to the suspension and expulsion of members from the party, including the right of appeal, and

2) similarly, that there are fair and transparent procedures and processes in relation to the suspension and partial suspension of CLPs and other party units.

We call for:

  • transparency both of the procedures in general and also of the processes in particular cases;
  • supportiveness within the process both for those who are bringing charges and also for those who are the subject of charges;
  • an initial presumption of innocence across the board;
  • clear statement of the exact nature of charges;
  • identification of those bringing charges;
  • reliance on verified, fact-based evidence;
  • reasonable time scales for dealing with cases including the right of challenge and reply;
  • and proportionality of disciplinary measures.

We recognise the need for the involvement and initiative of paid officials in order to encourage the speedy examination and resolution of difficult situations, but we call on the NEC to ensure that all decisions of paid officials are

  1. a) based on agreed and well-publicised procedures and values, and
  2. b) subject to supervision, review and revision by elected post-holders and elected bodies.

We call on the NEC to maintain and strengthen a diverse culture of responsible free speech, discussion and debate within the party.

Model motion on Anti-Semitism and the witch-hunt of Corbyn supporters 

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1. This branch/CLPs notes that:

1.1. The dramatic increase in suspensions and expulsions of Labour Party members without due process – especially those based on alleged anti-Semitism or “support for other organisations” using rule 2.1.4.B.

1. 2. Despite the growing number of fallacious allegations of anti-Semitism, initiated 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. The overwhelming majority of allegations have been baseless and politically motivated – attempts to purge or muzzle members who are critical of Israeli government policies and actions, particularly pro-Corbyn members on the left of the party.

1.3. The Labour Party has only adopted the preambleof the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. It has not adopted the disputed list of examples, which conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people.

1.4. Yet we are witnessing members being publicly witch-hunted, suspended and expelled for using the word ‘Zio’; for criticising the ideology of Zionism; for comparing the actions of the state of Israel to those of the Nazis; or for pointing out, as Ken Livingstone did, that in 1933 the Zionist movement and the Nazis signed the Ha’avara agreement (breaking the non-Zionist Jewish-led call for an economic boycott of the Nazi regime). This is a historical fact and no one should be disciplined for alluding to it.

2. This branch/CLP demands that:

2.1. The Labour Party ends the practice of automatic, instant, expulsion or suspension of Labour Party members;

a) that all those summarily expelled or suspended from membership without due process be immediately reinstated;

b) that a member accused of a breach of rule be regarded as innocent until proven guilty and be given all the evidence submitted against them by their accuser

c) that membership rights must not be removed until disciplinary investigations and procedures have been completed;

d) that disciplinary procedures must be time limited. Charges not resolved within three months must be automatically dropped.

2.2. The Labour Party’s “Compliance Unit” should be abolished. Disciplinary decisions should be taken only by elected bodies, not by paid officials.

2.3. The first part of rule 2.1.4.B (‘Exclusions’) should be abolished: it bars from Labour Party membership anybody who “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the party” and has been exclusively used against left-wingers.

 

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”

Another must read: Jonathan Cook on the “anti-Semitism crisis”

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If you force me to choose – and tragically, the mischievious confection of an “anti-semitism crisis” in the Labour party does require me to choose, because it turns racism into a competition between worthier “victims” – Marc Wadsworth, a black activist and the founder of the Anti-Racist Alliance, is a much bigger victim of racism than Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth.

The proof is in the 50 Labour MPs who marched with her to an internal party hearing that they expect will expel Wadsworth. The MPs wanted to give the impression of serving as a bodyguard; in fact, they looked more like a lynch mob.

Wadsworth’s “crime” is his accusation at a meeting to unveil the Chakrabarti report nearly two years ago that Smeeth had been leaking stories to the rightwing press to harm Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

We can argue the facts about whether Wadsworth’s claim is true: whether Smeeth did indeed connive with the anti-Corbyn press. But even if he is wrong, that would not make his allegations anti-semitic.

Furthermore, the accusation itself is hardly far-fetched. The Blairite wing of the parliamentary party, of which Smeeth is very much a part, barely bothers any more to conceal its desire to oust Corbyn from the leadership.

In fact, the Blairites now seem determined to terminally wound not just Corbyn but their own party, as they did at the instigation of the Conservative government last week in a debate on anti-semitism. The opportunistic pummelling of Corbyn, jointly conducted by Labour and Conservative MPs, comes just days before local authority elections that were supposed to be Labour’s chance to seize the initiative from the government.

Smeeth and other Labour MPs have relied on personal anecdotes to argue that anti-semitism is far worse in Labour than any other party, and worse than in British society generally. That is the only possible meaning of the term “crisis”. But the actual statistics give the absolute lie to their claims.

Anti-semitism in Labour is so dire, so endemic, according to Smeeth and her allies, that the party must be eviscerated in public day after day, its energies sapped in the hunt to root out any traces of Jew hatred, and its political programme (and the chances of beating the Tories) set aside until the purges are complete.

But the Wadsworth case illustrates quite how sham the “anti-semitism crisis” is.

His attack on Smeeth was political, not racist. If she took offence, it should have been because she regarded his comments as a political insult, and an untrue one, not a racist insult.

But Smeeth preferred to mischaracterise the attack, not least because she would have been hard pressed to offer a political defence. Instead she weaponised anti-semitism to divert our attention from the real issue at the heart of the spat between herself and Wadsworth. She accused him of promoting “vile conspiracy theories about Jewish people”. Wadsworth pointed out that he did not even know Smeeth was Jewish until she brought the issue into play.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Smeeth believes, because she is Jewish, that any criticism of her is anti-semitic by definition. And she now has 50 MPs on her side, trying to bully Wadsworth out of the party – and by implication, not only him but anyone else who might try to unmask their McCarthyite tactics.

Smeeth, it should be remembered, is not a credible witness in the prosecution of Wadsworth. Unfortunately, I do not enjoy Smeeth’s parliamentary privilege, so I will have to be more circumspect in what I say than Smeeth makes a habit of being. But as I pointed out in an earlier post, at least one of her major claims cannot withstand the most cursory scrutiny, once it is fact-checked.

After her row with Wadsworth she claimed to have been inundated with anti-semitic abuse, some 25,000 messages, most of them on Twitter – though given her own inflated and egocentric ideas about what constitutes anti-semitism, she can hardly be viewed as a competent judge.

But you don’t need to rely on my scepticism. The Community Security Trust, a British Jewish lobby group ever-vigilant about anti-semitism, has discredited her claims too, even if in their case they did so inadvertently. Their study of anti-semitic activity on Twitter for a year-long period that included the few days in which Smeeth was supposedly overwhelmed with abuse found only 15,000 anti-semitic tweets – in a whole year, for the whole of the UK. Smeeth’s self-serving figures simply don’t add up.

But if Labour is now committed to witchhunts, as it seems to be, then it needs pointing out that there are more serious problems of racism in Labour than the current “anti-semitism crisis”?

How about Labour launching an investigation into its “anti-black racism crisis”? It should not be hard to identify. It is being led by the Blairite wing of the party, which has been using anti-semitism as a pretext to hound out of the party black anti-racism activists like Wadsworth and Jackie Walker who support Corbyn, also a lifelong anti-racism activist.

These targets are concerned about racism in all its guises, and about real victims in all their shades of colour. Not opportunists like Smeeth who have hijacked racism narrowly to serve their political cause.

Equally serious is Labour’s real anti-semitism crisis – the one no one talks about. That is being led by an unholy alliance of Labour’s Blairite MPs, rightwing Jewish establishment bodies like the Board of Deputies, and the corporate media to vilify individual Jews and Jewish organisations like Jewish Voice for Labour and Jewdas because they dare to be critical of Israel.

Again unmentioned, Jews are being hounded out of the party on the ridiculous pretext that they are anti-semites – just ask Moshe Machover, Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker (black and Jewish!), Glyn Secker, Cyril Chilson and others.

The disturbing implication is that these are not “proper” Jews, that their voices not only don’t count but their arguments are dangerous and must be shunned. And further, that those who “consort” with them, as Corbyn has done, are contaminated and guilty by association.

Ruth Smeeth is not a victim of the Labour party “anti-semitism crisis”, because that crisis does not exist. It is a political construct. There are doubtless examples of anti-semites and other racists who are members of the Labour party, as there are in all walks of life, but there is no crisis.

Real victims of racism suffer because they are isolated, vulnerable and easily vilified. The Labour party should stand with such people. Instead it is allowing privileged MPs and party bureaucrats to promote the demonisation, abuse and persecution of black activists like Marc Wadsworth and anti-Zionist Jews like Cyril Chilson. We are living through a truly shameful period in Labour’s history.

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A must read: Len McCluskey’s counter-attack

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https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2018/04/corbyn-ultimatum

The Corbyn ultimatum

“Corbyn-hating” MPs must end their shameless smears – or face the consequences

Here are two truths about the state of the Labour Party today. First, there are a small number of members expressing entirely unacceptable anti-Semitic views and attitudes, especially on social media. The second is that this issue has joined a line of others in being used by a group of backbench Labour MPs to attack and undermine Jeremy Corbyn and the progressive leadership of the party.

The first issue is in a way easier to deal with. People holding anti-Semitic views have no place in the party, and they should be dealt with under rule as rapidly as possible. With Labour Party headquarters now under new management, I believe that this will at long last be done – that the backlog of complaints will be speedily addressed and that the Chakrabarti report will finally be implemented in full.

We should also see the high-profile cases such as that of Ken Livingstone, whose remarks linking Hitler with Zionism caused so much understandable offence, resolved. And a new political education programme will help members understand and identify anti-Semitism whenever it rears its head in future.

 Let me say that I accept there are anti-Semites in the Labour Party – few in number for sure, but any is too much – and that raising the issue of combating their views is not merely legitimate, but essential. When I said that I had never encountered such attitudes in my 47 years of party membership I was speaking the truth, but of course I accept that others, and Jewish members in particular, may well have had different experiences.

There is no doubt the advantages of social media in combating the right-wing media also carry with it the darker side of cowardly individuals feeling able to use vile insults with impunity – the sooner they are routed out the better. Certainly, cleansing Labour of any trace of anti-Semitism is critical. No party committed to equality can play host to this virus. I have fought anti-Semitism and anti-Semites all my life, including physically on the streets on occasion, and I need no lectures from anyone else on the subject. I am not sure that some of the voluble backbench critics of Jeremy Corbyn can say as much: just as it is legitimate to raise and combat anti-Semitic views, it is also legitimate to contextualise the attacks of right-wing MPs without being accused of minimalising or denying anti-Semitism.

That leads on to the second issue we have to grapple with – the activity of a few dozen Labour MPs who appear to wake up each morning thinking only: “how can I undermine Jeremy Corbyn today?”

I do not doubt they are sincere in their opposition to anti-Semitism, but they need to understand that if you attack your party leader about everything, it devalues your criticisms concerning anything in particular.

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If you look at the list of MPs who rebel on one issue after another you see the same names. There is, to say the least, a marked overlap between those who backed Theresa May in risking a new bloody intervention in the Middle East, and those who work overtime trying to present the Labour Party as a morass of misogyny, anti-Semitism and bullying.

How dare they try to toxify the Labour Party that has been the voice and hope of millions of ordinary working people for generations, including the nearly 13 million people who voted for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour in 2017? His critics enjoyed dramatic increases in their own votes – and I have to advise them that this was down to Corbyn’s campaign and his radical manifesto, not their own personal charisma.

Of course, they have a right to express their own views, a right Jeremy Corbyn exercised in his backbench days; but you would have to go back a long way to find such a sustained smearing by MPs of their own leader and their own party as we are seeing now. MPs such as Chris Leslie, Neil Coyle (my own MP), John Woodcock, Wes Streeting, Ian Austin, and others, have become a dismal chorus whose every dirge makes winning a Labour government more difficult.

Just recently Angela Smith MP moved seamlessly from not supporting Labour’s whip on the democratic issue of giving parliament a vote before government commits the country to war to rallying to the defence of the rip-off private water industry, attacking the manifesto commitment to renationalise on which she stood last June.

Their determination to divide the party into pro- and anti-Corbyn factions, despite the huge increase in Labour’s vote secured last year under Corbyn’s leadership, ultimately pollutes everything it touches. That includes the work against anti-Semitism, which is not helped by the frenzied hostility to the party leadership that is often displayed, when calm counsel would be the better option.

Take, for example, the utterly outrageous letter to Corbyn from the leader of the Israeli Labour Party, Avi Gabbay, severing relations with the Labour leader’s office. Gabbay denounced Jeremy Corbyn for “the hostility that you have shown to the Jewish community and the anti-Semitic statements and actions you have allowed”.

If no one else will say it, I will: Gabbay is guilty of a cynical and outrageous smear. The idea that Corbyn has ever shown hostility towards the Jewish community, or allowed anti-Semitic actions, is a disgusting libel of which Gabbay should be ashamed. In my view, withdrawing those remarks is essential for any resumption of normal relations with the Israeli Labour Party.

Yet I have not heard a single one of the Labour leader’s critics on this issue, including my friends in the Jewish Labour Movement, acknowledge that Gabbay had gone too far. It would seem that hostility to the party leadership trumps all other considerations, even to the point of allowing a malicious attack which could poison Labour’s standing among Jewish men and women to go unchallenged. For anyone to blame Corbyn for some vile comment made by a so-called Corbyn supporter is an affront to natural justice.

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Let me declare here my support for the Israeli state on the 1967 borders. But let me also say without hesitation that I oppose the most right-wing Israeli government in the same way I oppose all right-wing governments around the world. And I have much admiration for those Jewish socialists inside Israel who fight against their government and for peace and justice.

This all fits a pattern in which no attack on Jeremy Corbyn is considered too wild or outlandish to suffer even the mildest rebuke. I didn’t hear any criticism of outgoing general secretary, Iain McNicol, for not implementing the Chakrabarti Report – which was his responsibility. No, it was easier to blame Corbyn.

I didn’t hear any criticism over the EU referendum of Alan Johnson who was responsible for Labour’s Remain campaign. No, it was easier to blame Corbyn (even though Corbyn attended more Remain meetings than anyone).

I didn’t hear anyone question Margaret Hodge who, in the wake of the referendum, blamed Corbyn and moved a vote of no confidence against him when her own constituency, Barking, voted overwhelmingly to leave – one of only three London constituencies to do so – and whose actions were repudiated by 40 per cent of the British electorate at the first opportunity.

I am personally not in favour of mandatory reselection; I believe our present procedures for holding MPs to account are quite sufficient. However, I lost that argument overwhelmingly with the Unite executive council and at our policy conference in 2016 in the wake of the misjudged and cowardly coup against Corbyn by most of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).

I look with disgust at the behaviour of the Corbyn-hater MPs who join forces with the most reactionary elements of the media establishment and I understand why there is a growing demand for mandatory reselection.

I had hoped, after the great advances in last year’s general election under Jeremy’s leadership – advances that obviously stunned much of the PLP, even as they enjoyed their highest-ever votes in most cases – the issue could fade away. It seems I was wrong.

To watch as these so-called social democrats tried to demean and attack, in front of our enemy, a decent and honourable man who has fought racism and anti-Semitism all his life and who has breathed life and hope back into the hearts of millions, especially the young, made my stomach churn. To see Tory MPs cheer and applaud them was shameful.

Promiscuous critics must expect to be criticised, and those who wish to hold Corbyn to account can expect to be held to account themselves.

Len McCluskey is general secretary of Unite.