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.

Resolutions, statements and quotes in support of Chris Williamson MP

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So far, at least ten CLPs, six Momentum branches and dozens of trade union bodies and left Labour organisations have come out in solidarity with Chris Williamson MP (we know of couple of other CLPs where it was decided not to publish the successful resolution).

PLEASE  NOTE THERE IS NO BAN ON MOVING MOTIONS IN SUPPORT OF CHRIS: We hear that in a number of branches and CLPs, the chair has prevented the meeting from discussing motions in support of Chris because of apparent recent guidelines sent out by Labour HQ. We have produced detailed advice to show that this is not the case – click here for more info and details on  how to move a motion.

Feel free to download, share and use our memes.

Lowkey, musician

The Labour party has been targeted by a sophisticated campaign which seeks to misrepresent anti-racists as racists. The vast majority of those pushing this narrative of a crisis are not acting in good faith, how could they be when this so-called crisis is based on accusations levelled against only 0.1% of the membership? This campaign is seeking in an attritional way to manufacture consent for a coup against the leadership of the party. This policy of appeasement when under attack is frankly suicidal and will definitely fail in damming the flood. Chris Williamson has been done a great injustice with this suspension and be sure the real target here is Jeremy Corbyn and the dreams of millions he has come to represent.


Mike Leigh, director

To accuse a committed fighter for justice such as Chris Williamson of being a racist or an antisemite is as outrageous as it is profoundly insulting.

It is time for the witchhunters and finger-pointers on the right of the Labour Party to stop, think and reflect. This self-destructive nonsense must stop. It will serve only to fuel the toxic zeal of the real fascist hard right, which is dangerously on the rise.


Francesca Martinez, comedian, writer & campaigner

It must be possible to stand against all forms of antisemitism AND also challenge the misleading narrative that Labour is ‘institutionally antisemitic’. The latest stats show that only 0.08% of members have been involved in substantiated allegations since April 18, and data from YouGov shows that antisemitic attitudes within Labour have significantly reduced under Corybyn’s leadership. Most of the media have failed to report these facts.
I truly hope that all forms of racism drop to 0% within Labour. I also think it’s vital to be as accurate as possible about the nature and scale of the problem.
MPs such as life-long anti-racist campaigner, Chris Williamson, should be able to question media distortions, and call for others to do the same, without being suspended. Ironically, it’s politicians like Chris – who fight tirelessly against the inhumane politics that so often breed division, fear and prejudice – who have shown, through years of campaigning, their deep commitment to creating a world free from bigotry, hate and oppression.

John Pilger, journalist

Chris Williamson is a rare, principled and brave MP who has devoted his political life to standing up for the voiceless and justice. A Labour Party claiming to represent the mass of ordinary Britons ought to be proud to say that ‘Chris Williamson is one of us’. His suspension on a bogus charge, based on an equally bogus
issue, is outrageous, as is the cowardice of those who have failed to defend him.


Alexei Sayle, comedian

Chris Williamson is a brave and decent man dedicated to fighting injustice in all its forms. Those attacking him are going to give, self-obsessed, lying, right-wing egotists a bad name.


Professor Moshé Machover, Israeli socialist author and expert on Middle Eastern politics


The way Chris Williamson has been treated by the Labour Party leadership is, paradoxically, a vindication of his criticism. The leadership should stop capitulating to unfounded attacks. Chris should be reinstated forthwith!


Ken Loach, director

Chris Williamson is a principled anti-racist and a strong supporter of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Read in context, it is clear that his remarks are not antisemitic but reflect a widespread view in the party.  I support Chris’ immediate reinstatement.

We cannot tolerate a culture of fear in which members cannot speak their minds.  Those MPs determined to make anti-Semitism the predominant Labour issue are given the freedom of the airwaves and the press to give their views, unchallenged by serious questions.  On Radio 4’s Today programme, right wing MPs denouncing the Labour Party for rampant antisemitism are given such regular slots these now rival Thought for the Day.

When those under attack attempt to defend themselves they are told to keep quiet. Even an explanatory film is ordered not to be screened.  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.

The personality cult that is Tom Watson has finally been slapped down by the Party General Secretary, and not before time.   The fight against all racism has always been carried by the Left.

We must be absolutely committed to maintaining that tradition. All who are found guilty of antisemitism have no place in the Labour Party.

But we must be meticulous in ensuring due process.  All credible allegations of racism, including antisemitism, must be heard in open hearings, with evidence properly interrogated and with the judgements  open to scrutiny and appeal. Justice must be seen to be done.

There must be equality before the law, noticeably absent in cases where the party is brought into disrepute.  For example, Margaret Hodge’s foul mouthed abuse of Jeremy Corbyn was a disgusting display that should have led to immediate suspension.

Vexatious, trivial, or malicious allegations should also bring sanctions. And we should demand that all MPs, including the leadership, should defend the integrity of the members, say clearly that the party is not institutionally antisemitic nor full of racist bullies, and that those who make such wild allegations without evidence will be called to account. We have to change the narrative.

We cannot allow the great transformative project of Labour led by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell to be derailed. We must keep our eyes on the prize – a government that understands and represents the interests of the people.


Professor Norman Finkelstein

Chris Williamson is the latest victim of Labour’s Great Purge. However, unlike Stalin’s purge trials, Williamson has not issued a public confession and begged forgiveness. He has stood fast, his dignity intact, in the face of a hysteria concocted by Israel’s Fifth Column, on the one hand, and the beneficiaries of a status quo that impoverishes the many, on the other.

It is painfully obvious that the target of these purges is not anti-Semitism, but the threat posed by Jeremy Corbyn’s ascension. The revolting spectacle of Labour suspending and expelling one member after another, of Labour thought-police trawling the Web in search of deviations from the Party Line —  all this was inevitable once Labour capitulated to a gang of hooligans (who overwhelmingly didn’t even vote Labour) and adopted a definition of anti-Semitism that was in equal parts gibberish and a club to quash legitimate criticism of Israel. Williamson’s suspension should be a wake-up call: if his suspension is not reversed, free speech is dead in the Labour Party.


George Galloway


Leon Rosselson, singer and songwriter

Nothing Chris Williamson said is remotely antisemitic. But, of course, this isn’t about real antisemitism. It’s about using wild accusations of antisemitism to undermine Corbyn (who, unlike his accusers, has a track record of supporting justice for Palestinians) and those who support the Corbyn project. It is ironical that, in the main, those who make these false accusations are ideologically aligned with the racist state of Israel. If they win this one, we can say goodbye to the hope of a principled, socialist government in this country.


Asa Winstanley, The Electronic Intifada

Chris Williamson is the only MP who has had the bravery to publicly tell the truth about the fabricated ‘Labour antisemitism crisis’ witch hunt — even though there are others who know it but are too cowardly to speak out.

His suspension by Labour is a complete and utter betrayal, and shame to the entire Labour movement.

While right-wing, racist, lying MPs like Margaret Hodge and Ruth Smeeth have carte blanche to slander the leadership and the entire movement with impunity, our comrade Chris is punished for telling the truth and for standing up for us, the members. He must be immediately reinstated and apologised to. If we can’t even have solidarity with each other, we have nothing.


Kevin Higgins, poet

Chris Williamson has the sort of backbone that will be needed if a Corbyn Labour government is to face down the forces that will try to prevent it from carrying out its manifesto. It is a matter of life or death for the Corbyn project that Chris be reinstated. Because if they’re allowed to get Chris, they will come for many more.


Ian Hodson, National President, Bakers’, Food & Allied Workers Union

I was sorry to hear about the suspension of Chris Williamson MP someone who has attempted to stand up for grassroots Labour Party members. A rarity it appears with so many MPs in today’s Labour Party who choose to condemn all members without first carrying out an investigation.

It’s shameful that those that wanted to get Chris suspended also seemed to throw the local activists, members and supporters to the media wolf pack without consideration of the impact that would have on the lives of those who donate and campaign for a Labour government. It’s further disappointing to see Labour MPs coming out publicly to condemn their colleague who hasn’t had a hearing yet if the same process happened before a court hearing there would be an outcry quite rightly about the ability to get a fair hearing. Many Labour MPs have a legal background and they should know better and behave in a manner more fitting with a position of trust and power that being elected as an MP brings.

Everyone who knows or is aware of Chris Williamson MP knows he is not racist and has been a campaigner against all forms of discrimination in whatever form it takes. On the 16th March thousands will take to the streets to oppose racism here in the UK and around the world. I look forward to seeing all those that oppose racism on the demonstrations standing up for equality justice and ending all forms of racism that is being encouraged by the Tory policy of creating a Hostile Environment and a media campaign that targets minority’s to create hate and fear to keep us all divided.


Tosh McDonald, Labour councillor and former president of Aslef

Chris is a committed long time anti racist. As a comrade of Chris I can confirm that there is not one racist bone in his body. Anyone who listens to Chris’s speech in Sheffield must see that Chris was not being anti-Semitic, quite the contrary: he was defending our work combating it. I have been proud to share a platform with Chris on a number of occasions and will continue to do so. Solidarity with Chris Williamson a true socialist and anti-racist.


Steve Ashley, singer-songwriter

I’m proud to stand in solidarity with Chris Williamson. He has sought  to protect the good name of the Labour Party and defend the integrity of  members demonised by the slander that Labour is institutionally anti-semitic. He’s a decent man, a life-long anti-racist and a  forthright campaigner for greater democracy in Labour. We can’t afford  to lose his voice – even for a day. He must be reinstated as soon as possible.


Harborough CLP

This Constituency Labour Party notes with great concern the suspension of Chris Williamson MP for Derby North.

  • Chris has been falsely accused of anti-Semitism.
  • We note with concern that the establishment media and the right wing of the PLP continue to assert that the Labour Party is institutionally anti-Semitic.
  • The accusation of “institutional anti-Semitism” in the Labour Party is asserted as a fact, despite data released by the Party which show a 0.08% incidence of anti-Semitic behaviour by Party members over the last ten months.
  • The allegation that Chris is downplaying anti-Semitism is totally unfounded. His comments, made at a Momentum meeting in Sheffield, were taken out of context in a deliberate attempt to ruin both the reputation of Chris Williamson MP and Jeremy Corbyn.
  • Chris Williamson MP actually said: “The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say, I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we’ve backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party.”
  • His comments are clearly neither anti-Semitic, nor denying the existence of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party (as in wider society). But he does quite rightly point to the fact that there has also been a political campaign to “weaponise” accusations of anti-Semitism.
  • Chris is a target because he is one of the very few Labour MPs who have openly stood up to the witch-hunt of Corbyn supporters and because he has campaigned tirelessly for the much-needed democratisation of the party.

This Constituency Labour Party therefore agrees to: 


South Northants CLP

South Northants Constituency Labour Party notes:

1          The suspension of the whip of Chris Williamson, MP for Derby North, with great concern over allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ after a recording of Chris Williamson MP speaking at a Momentum meeting was released recently.

2          The allegations in question are unfounded, out of context and a deliberate attempt to ruin both the reputation of Chris Williamson MP and the Labour Party as a political party.

3          Chris Williamson MP actually said: “The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say, I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we’ve backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party.”

4          These comments are neither anti-Semitic, nor denying the existence of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. He is simply expressing a sentiment that many of us have that we should not be overly apologetic for something we have not done, and in this case we have actively, as a party, worked tirelessly to ensure that anti-Semitism and all other forms of racism and bigotry are purged from our party, our movement, and our society as a whole.

This Constituency Labour Party therefore moves to:

1               Write to Jenny Formby, the General Secretary, and the National Executive Committee with a copy of this motion and outlining our disappointment at this decision and expressing our wish that the disciplinary process is carried out in a transparent and fair manner. (jennie_formby@labour.org.uk)

2               Write a letter of support to Chris Williamson MP (chris.williamson.mp@parliament.uk)

3               Invite Chris Williamson to a local rally/meeting in support of his reinstatement


South Dorset CLP

The allegations in question concerning Chris Williamson are unfounded, out of context, and a deliberate attempt to ruin both the reputation of Chris Williamson MP and the Labour Party.


Lewisham West and Penge CLP

This motion demands the immediate reinstatement of Chris Williamson MP to the party.

The allegation that Chris is downplaying anti-Semitism is totally unfounded. His comments, made at a Momentum meeting in Sheffield, were taken out of context in a deliberate attempt to ruin both the reputation of Chris Williamson MP and Jeremy Corbyn.


Uxbridge and South Ruislip CLP

“Uxbridge and South Ruislip CLP call for the immediate lifting of the suspension of Chris Williamson MP.”


Sheffield Hallam CLP

Carried on February 28 2019, by approximately 40 votes to 1 with 0 abstentions:

This Constituency Labour Party notes with great concern the suspension of Chris Williamson MP for Derby North.
• Chris has been falsely accused of anti-Semitism. This is an excuse for Tom Watson and the anti-Corbyn wing of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) to demand his removal from the Party.
• We note with concern that the establishment media and the right wing of the PLP continue to assert that the Labour Party is institutionally anti-Semitic.
• The accusation of “institutional anti-Semitism” in the Labour Party is asserted as a fact, despite data released by the Party which show a 0.08% incidence of anti-Semitic behaviour by Party members over the last ten months.
• The allegation that Chris is downplaying anti-Semitism is totally unfounded. His comments, made at a Momentum meeting in Sheffield, were taken out of context in a deliberate attempt to ruin both the reputation of Chris Williamson MP and Jeremy Corbyn.
• Chris Williamson MP actually said: “The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say, I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we’ve backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party.”
• His comments are clearly neither anti-Semitic, nor denying the existence of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party (as in wider society). But he does quite rightly point to the fact that there has also been a political campaign to “weaponise” accusations of anti-Semitism.
• Chris is a target because he is one of the very few Labour MPs who have openly stood up to the witch-hunt of Corbyn supporters and because he has campaigned tirelessly for the much-needed democratisation of the party.

This Constituency Labour Party therefore agrees to:

• Write to Jennie Formby, the general secretary, and the National Executive Committee with a copy of this motion and demanding that Chris is reinstated immediately. (jennie_formby@labour.org.uk)
• Write a letter of support to Chris Williamson MP (chris.williamson.mp@parliament.uk)


Hackney North and Stoke Newington CLP

Motion passed by 45 votes against 35

This CLP notes with increasing alarm the acceptance of the ‘fact’ that the Labour Party is ‘institutionally anti-Semitic’, by not only the media, but the right wing in the CLP. The accusation of ‘institutional antisemitism’ in the Labour Party is asserted as a fact, despite data released by the party which shows a 0.08 per cent incidence of antisemitic behaviour by party members over the last 10 months.

This has become a daily feature of the political debate over the last couple of weeks. It is distracting people’s attention away from the calamitous consequences of the Tory government’s continuing austerity and its disastrous handling of the Brexit issue as it nears the March 29 deadline.

It is a scandal that we are allowing ourselves to be branded as a racist party. Meanwhile, figures like Tony Blair – who bear responsibility for the death and destruction of the Iraq war and who repeatedly, openly attack the democratically elected leadership of the party – are allowed to remain as Labour members. We completely reject such double standards.

Furthermore, we call upon the NEC to release a statement firmly rejecting the accusation that Labour is in any way ‘institutionally racist’, making it clear Labour and its current leader have a proud record of fighting racism and will continue to do so.

We must also be clear that to defeat racism, we have to fight the conditions that cause it. It is the capitalist system, and its relentless crises, unemployment, insecurity and unaffordable housing that foster racism. It is the apologists for it in the media and the Conservative party who promote racism.

We also call on the NEC to immediately trigger ballot procedures in all constituencies, in order to allow the party membership to decide who should represent them in parliament.

It is unacceptable to allow our representatives to slander the party and its members whilst we put them into office.


Hastings and Rye CLP

Click here for the PDF version of the motion, which was passed with 37 votes in favour and 1 against.

This CLP offers our full support for Chris Williamson MP and calls for his immediate, unconditional reinstatement to the party.

We note that:

  • Labour instigated the Royall and Chakrabarti enquiries, and
  • Appointed a new legal officer and extra staff dealing with complaints
  • On February 10 Jennie Formby released detailed findings as of then. Offenders against the tough new regime were a tiny fraction of Labour’s membership. After removing hundreds of non-members and dropping 220 complaints found to be “vexatious” and “exaggerated” that left 96 (0.01% of 1% of members) who were suspended; and just 12 were expelled (one 500ths of 1% of the membership).

Instead of welcoming these figures, some who “love the party” but protested against its alleged “institutional anti-Semitism” walked out, and their co-thinkers who stayed have launched outrageous slanders but have faced no charges for bringing the party into disrepute.

Chris Williamson rightly said that Labour had “done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any political party” and had nothing to apologise about. For that, he is suspended and will forthwith be marked out for slander.

This “crying wolf” could cause valid warnings of anti-Semitism to go unheard and does no service to Jews. Such cheap exploitation as a political football is also deeply shameful.

We believe that this orchestrated campaign now rising to a crescendo with staged resignations alongside Brexit and a general election, suggests that accusations of anti-Semitism are being criminally misused in an unscrupulous bid to destroy the Corbyn-led Labour Party.


Bristol East CLP

Click here for the PDF version

This Constituency notes with extreme concern the decision to suspend Chris Williamson from the party, and remove the whip.

We note also the statement in support of Chris from JVL, an organisation to which this constituency is affiliated, in which they, as Jewish members, make clear their belief that Chris has a long history of combatting anti-racism and anti-semitism and should not be regarded as an anti-Semite. We share their support for him.

This Constituency accepts that there is a level of genuine anti-semitism within the Labour Party, which must be rooted out, and the offenders dealt with appropriately. However, the figures recently released by Jennie Formby on the number of anti-semitism complaints received and the number proved to be well founded appear to support Chris Williamson’s position. They indicate that there are indeed people with anti-semitic views in the Labour Party, but they are statistically few and do not represent an all-encompassing problem.

Accordingly, this Constituency wishes to express its pride in the way that Jeremy Corbyn, Jennie Formby and other members of the NEC have acted in setup a process able to deal fairly with anti-Semitism complaints, and to resolve them within a reasonable time scale. We offer our whole hearted support for their efforts.

This constituency now calls on all members of the PLP to give recognition and praise to Jennie and members of the NEC for their work, acknowledge the level of Labour Party anti-Semitism discovered in objective reports and refrain from anecdotal hyperbole in their public pronouncements.


Whitstable branch, Canterbury CL

This branch notes that:

–  Chris Williamson, Labour MP for Derby North, has been suspended from the Labour Party pending an investigation following a speech to a meeting in Sheffield. Chris Williamson said: “The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say, I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we’ve backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party.”

–  These comments have been interpreted by the hostile media and members of the Parliamentary Labour Party hostile to the party leader, as being antisemitic.

This branch believes that:

–  Chris Williamson is a consistent and longstanding anti-racist, who abhors antisemitism along with all forms of racism.

–  Williamson’s comments were in no way antisemitic.

–  Williamson’s comments reflect a legitimate point of view: that accusations of antisemitism are being weaponised by the media and certain elements within the Labour Party in order to weaken the leadership.

–  Chris Williamson is a valued MP and party member.

This branch notes the procedures and resources that the Labour Party has put in place to deal with complaints of anti-Semitism that it has received, and the progress made by the general secretary and her team in dealing with these complaints.

In line with all the above, this branch/CLP instructs the CLP Executive Committee to write to the Labour Party General Secretary to request that the appropriate party committee/s lift Chris Williamson’s suspension at the earliest possible opportunity.


Ham branch, Richmond CLP

Don’t expel Chris Williamson MP from the Labour Party

This Meeting:
1. Notes the personal statement from Chris Williamson (February 27).
2. Is opposed to all forms of anti-Semitism and racism.
3. Does not believe Chris Williamson MP should be expelled from the Labour Party.


Park & Arbourthorne branch, Sheffield Heeley CLP

Passed February 28 2019 nem com

This Constituency (branch) Labour Party notes with great concern the suspension of Chris Williamson MP for Derby North.

The allegation that Chris is downplaying anti-Semitism is totally unfounded. His comments, made at a Momentum meeting in Sheffield, were taken out of context in a deliberate attempt to ruin both the reputation of Chris Williamson MP and Jeremy Corbyn.

Chris Williamson MP actually said: “The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say, I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we’ve backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party.”

His comments are clearly neither anti-Semitic, nor denying the existence of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party (as in wider society). But he does quite rightly point to the fact that there has also been a political campaign to “weaponise” accusations of anti-Semitism.

Chris is a target because he is one of the very few Labour MPs who have openly stood up to the witch-hunt of Corbyn supporters and because he has campaigned tirelessly for the much-needed democratisation of the party.

This Constituency Labour Party therefore moves to:

  • Write to Jennie Formby, the general secretary, and the National Executive Committee with a copy of this motion and demanding that Chris is reinstated immediately. (jennie_formby@labour.org.uk)
  • Write a letter of support to Chris Williamson MP (chris.williamson.mp@parliament.uk)

Sutton Momentum

Sutton Momentum wish to express full solidarity with Chris Williamson, a great Labour MP who works tirelessly for socialism.


Bromley Momentum

We at Bromley Momentum are all in agreement that Chris Williamson should not have been suspended from the Labour Party for the comments he made at the Sheffield Hallam Momentum meeting and should be reinstated forthwith.   We believe Chris was right to say that “the Party that has done more to stand up to racism is now been demonised as a racist bigoted party”

We believe Chris was right to say “ I think our parties response has been partly responsible for that”   We also believe Chris was right when he said “We’ve backed off far too much! we’ve given too much ground! We’ve been too apologetic!”   We believe as Chris said “ We’ve done more to actually address the surge of antisemitism than any other political party” we would just add not only antisemitism but all forms of discrimination.

Can the Tories say the same when Theresa May was accused of ‘burying her head in the sand’ over ‘institutional Islamophobia’ in the party by former Tory chairman Baroness Warsi?  We think Chris is totally right to say that “we are apologising too much for antisemitism in the Labour Party”

We believe the attacks on the Labour party about anti-semtisim are not about rooting out racism in the party which we all agree with, but a way for the right of the Labour Party, the Tories and the establishment to attack Jeremy Corbyn – not because they think he or the Labour Party is racist – but because they don’t agree with the socialist manifesto the leadership put forward in 2017 and want to get rid of Corbyn as leader along with anybody else who supports him, including new members who joined enthused by Corbyn and his ideas.   While one case of racism in the Labour Party is one case too many, it is a tiny amount of the membership who have been expelled or have left for anti-semitism 0.01% ( Barry Gardiner on Sky News’ Ridge programme 25.2.19).

We at Bromley Momentum are very angry that some members of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and mainstream media (MSM) are misrepresenting our party as an Institutional racist party and crying wolf when the real wolf the far right is just around the corner!   At best it’s a distraction, at worst it’s a dereliction of duty, as right wing members of the PLP are attacking their own party, racism and the far right are on the rise in this country.  We might add we are disappointed that some leaders of Momentum do not speak for the members when they say antisemitism is a big problem in the Labour Party – our group utterly refute this. We think Barry Gardener got it right on the Sky News, Rudge program . https://skwawkbox.org/2019/02/25/video-gardiner-perfectly-quantifies-antisemitism-in-labour-and-partys-actions-to-deal-with-it/

Why can’t the Leadership of our party quote these figures and facts when they are asked by the MSM about antisemitism in the Labour Party  Bromley Momentum demand that the Labour Party lift the suspension on Chris who has been a fighter against racism all his life and was a former member of the Anti-Nazi League, he is an asset to the Party, the membership and the country, as he will fight to stamp out racism wherever he sees it! He will fight for a Socialist Labour government! And He will fight to implement the 2017 Labour party Manifesto! Which we all desperately need to see implemented after 10 years of austerity and cruel Tory rule.

Reinstate Chris Williamson to the Labour Party!


Ilford Momentum

The Ilford Branch of Momentum notes the Labour Party’s response to the allegations of antisemitism and its willingness to stamp out manifestations of this scourge. This is in contradiction to the responses of other parties, particularly the Tory Party, which has made common cause with anti-Semitic politicians in Eastern Europe and which makes no effort to investigate antisemitism or Islamophobia in their own party.

We note that however far the party goes in trying to placate those who stoke the furore over alleged antisemitism in the Party, more is still demanded. It is hard to see what will satisfy the accusers who choose to disregard the antisemitism in other parties, while attacking Labour at every opportunity. We stand implacably against all forms of racism including antisemitism and stand with Chris Williamson MP, a veteran anti racist. We deplore his suspension and believe that nothing he has said should be construed as racist or antisemitic. We therefore urge the party not to cave in to bullies and to rescind his suspension.

I hope senior members of central Momentum take our motion into consideration.

PLEASE share and promote amongst momentum activists.


Momentum Camden

In Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, the innocent Giles Corey is pressed to death by a large stone. As the stone is placed upon his chest, it is reported that Corey heroically calls for ‘more weight’ in order to make abundantly clear that he won’t admit any guilt in the face of spurious accusations that he had aided and abetted witchcraft.

Miller’s play is an allegory about McCarthyism. David Hearst, the Guardian’s former chief foreign leader writer, is surely right to say that the new McCarthyism is being mobilised to undermine Jeremy Corbyn. And now the witchhunt has claimed its latest victim in Chris Williamson, MP for Derby North.

This represents a clear and unprecedented escalation in the campaign of vilification and smears against Labour’s leadership and left-wing members. In truly Orwellian fashion, this latest ratcheting up of the smear campaign was set on foot because someone in Williamson’s office had booked a room for a parliamentary screening of Jon Pullman’s documentary film WitchHunt (endorsed by Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Peter Kosminsky and Prof. Avi Shlaim). None of those MPs and others who complained against the screening can yet have seen the film, and yet they are willing to censor it.

The confected complaint made against Williamson concerns a speech he made at a meeting of Sheffield Momentum. Nothing about that speech deserves the suspension of the Labour whip, let alone suspension from the party. Jewish Voice for Labour have rightly pointed out that Williamson’s suspension is unjust and have called for it to be rescinded. Camden Momentum adds its voice to that call.

We also call upon Momentum’s NCG to release a statement arguing for Williamson’s immediate reinstatement, and we invite other Momentum groups to do likewise by contacting us here: camdenmomentum@gmail.com.

If it is not yet clear to Momentum’s leadership (and associated ‘left’ commentators) that the attacks on Chris Williamson are part of a long-running and coordinated attempt to undermine Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, then we fear it never will be. We simply say: more weight.


Brighton and Hove Momentum

We would like to convey our solidarity to Chris Wiliamson MP.


Swansea Momentum

awaiting text


Swansea Labour Left

Swansea Labour Left disagrees with the decision to suspend Chris Williamson from The Labour Party. We believe that the complainant has misrepresented Chris Williamson’s intended message which supports Jewish members working for Socialist leadership. We challenge the false premise that The Labour Party is in any way an Anti-Semitic organisation and that it has not been strong enough in refuting this.

We call for the accusation to be dealt with speedily and transparently and for the reasons for any decision to be published in detail.

We further call for any accusations against elected members to be dealt with as a priority, as whilst under investigation they cannot stand in any election that may occur. This double jeopardy is an important concern.


Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign

The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign welcomes the Labour Party manifesto commitment to a full inquiry into the events at the Orgreave Coking Plant on 18th June 1984, which was part of the Thatcher governments attack upon the National Union of Mineworkers and the Trade Unions.

We recognise that only a socialist Labour Government can bring justice to, not only our comrades wrongly arrested and charged, but to all other campaigns fighting for justice.

We therefore call on all Labour MPs and Labour Party members to stand firm against the latest hysterical media campaign against the party, and in particular its leader Jeremy Corbyn. The purpose of these attacks is solely to prevent a Labour Government led by Jeremy Corbyn coming to power. If successful, the opportunity to bring about a fair and just society and to right the wrongs of the past will be lost and the Tories will be free to continue their attacks upon our people and communities.

Now is not the time to be attacking and scapegoating the best and most committed campaigners for justice, such as Chris Williamson MP, a comrade who has shown consistent and full support for our campaign and has a long proven record of fighting injustice in any form. The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, therefore calls for the immediate reinstatement of Chris Williamson.


To: Jennie Formby, General Secretary, the Labour Party
CC: Chris Williamson, MP Derby North
We are deeply concerned about the suspension of Chris Williamson MP for Derby North over allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ after a recording of him speaking at a Momentum meeting was released recently. We stand in solidarity with Chris, who we fully expect to be cleared as soon as possible by Labour’s investigation – in line with our Labour core values of fairness and natural justice.Many of the undersigned are members of Oxfordshire CLPs (Wantage, Henley, East Oxford and West Oxford & Abingdon).
We have been delighted to welcome Chris to two local meetings this year. He has fitted these events into a busy schedule, being generous with his time and knowledge, speaking on subjects ranging from the impact of austerity cuts, the role of local government in delivering for the many, the current rise of fascism and how we can combat it, developments in South America, animal rights and Brexit. Chris is very clearly a committed anti-racist, working to support all oppressed groups – locally and internationally – demonstrating our Labour Party core values and principles. He is engaging, knowledgeable and extremely hard working, making time to speak at local political education meetings as well as national events about Labour policy and wider international issues with insight and clarity. As such, he is a credit and an asset to the Labour party. (See also the support for Chris in a recent statement by the Secretary of Derby Trades Council – https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/a-statement-by-the-secretary-of-derby-trades-council-on-the-suspension-of-chris-williamson-mp-from-labour) Jeremy Corbyn recently said: “Chris Williamson is a very good, very effective Labour MP. He’s a very strong anti-racist campaigner. He is not anti-Semitic.” We agree with this description of Chris and believe that the allegations in question are unfounded and out of context.
Chris Williamson actually said: “The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say, I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we’ve backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party.”
These comments are neither anti-Semitic, nor denying the existence of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. He is simply expressing a sentiment that many of us have that we should not be overly apologetic for something we have not done, and in this case we have actively, as a party, worked tirelessly to ensure that anti-Semitism and all other forms of racism and bigotry are purged from our party, our movement, and our society as a whole.Context – the facts shared recently by General Secretary Jennie Formby (and correct at the time of writing 01.03.19)
• Approximately 1,100 complaints were lodged between April 2018 and January 2019, but 433 (nearly 40 per cent) were found to relate to non-Labour Party members, which brought it down to 673. (That still leaves a problem in wider society though.)
• Of those complaints there was no evidence of a case to answer in 220 cases. That still leaves more than 400 members (out of approximately 550,000 — so around 0.07 per cent) who had expressed views concerning Jews that were judged as requiring further investigation and disciplinary action. Some received suspensions, others formal/written warnings about their behaviour, while just 12 were expelled.
• There are 24 cases that have reached the highest panel that remain outstanding, so that expulsion figure may well rise but not dramatically.
• There were two other statistics that seem important from Formby’s exemplary response: one is that 44 members quit Labour while their hearing was pending. That suggests that Labour is not at all a hospitable or comfortable place for anti-semites. It is likely that some of them knew they would be found out and they jumped before being pushed out. The other statistic relates to Margaret Hodge — who has personally submitted 200 of the complaints, but these were not about 200 separate individuals.
In this context, Chris Williamson’s comments in Sheffield make sense – but the context and statistics have not been widely reported or have been mis-reported.We look forward to the Labour Party investigation moving speedily and expect that the outcome will lift his suspension and clear Chris’s name in good time for Chris to put his considerable energies and positivity into campaigning for Labour wins in the local elections in May.
In Solidarity!

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Secretary of Derby Trades Council

Throughout Derby Chris Williamson is known as someone who stands up for working-class people, whatever their origins and ethnicity. We are proud to have him as our MP.

Chris has proven himself to be a fierce opponent of all forms of racism, including anti-semitism. He is outspoken and brave in this. As a young man in the 1970s he was an active member of the Anti-Nazi League, confronting the racists and anti-semites of the National Front wherever they raised their vile heads, and he has maintained the same position and active opposition to racism, anti-semitism and fascism ever since.

We should remember that Chris worked hard to spearhead the efforts to ensure Derby was one of the first local authorities to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

What Chris said in Sheffield was that the evils of racism, anti-semitism and Islamophobia need to be fought and beaten wherever and whenever they appear, and that the Labour Party has done more than any other parliamentary party — and therefore should be not so apologetic about its performance in this regard — though of course there is always more to be done.

It is this that has been misinterpreted — deliberately so — by some who seek a stick to beat him with.

It is an absolute absurdity and vile travesty to level the charge of anti-semitism at Chris and everyone in Derby knows it. As secretary of the Derby Area Trades Union Council I urge fair-minded Derby people to speak up for him, just as he speaks up bravely for all of us.

Chris stands for unity, solidarity and community cohesion. Those members of the Labour Party, particularly those MPs, who oppose the restoration of socialism in the leadership of the party have failed in their many attempts to reverse this.

So they have increasingly turned to distortions and smears against the leadership — including Chris Williamson, who is their target of the day. It is they who should apologise for their defamation of a decent man and an MP who really cares for his people, whatever their heritage and background.

Moz Greenshields
Secretary, Derby Area Trade Union Council


Plymouth Trades Council

This Trades Council condemns the decision of the Labour Party to suspend Chris Williamson MP for his remarks at a Sheffield Momentum meeting.

The allegation that Chris is downplaying anti-Semitism is totally unfounded. His comments, made at the meeting in Sheffield, were taken out of context in a deliberate attempt to ruin both the reputation of Chris Williamson MP and Jeremy Corbyn.
• Chris Williamson MP actually said: “The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say, I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we’ve backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party.”
• His comments are clearly neither anti-Semitic, nor denying the existence of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party (as in wider society). But he does quite rightly point to the fact that there has also been a political campaign to “weaponise” accusations of anti-Semitism.

We note with concern that the establishment media and the right wing of the PLP continue to assert that the Labour Party is institutionally anti-Semitic.
• The accusation of “institutional anti-Semitism” in the Labour Party is asserted as a fact, despite data released by the Party which show a 0.08% incidence of anti-Semitic behaviour by Party members over the last ten months.
• The flood of exaggerated claims of antisemitism make it harder to deal with any real instances of antisemitism. The credibility of well-founded allegations is undermined by the less credible ones and real perpetrators are more likely not to be held to account. Crying wolf is dangerous when there are real wolves around the corner.

This country needs the policies of a truly socialist Labour government more than ever, whilst we have low wage growth, more and more people relying on food banks, growing child poverty, and inequality we need investment for creation of decent jobs, proper funding for the NHS and our schools, and all the infrastructure for a country that has endured years of austerity.  All of the above actions will make this less and less of a reality.


Burnley Unite branch

Burnley Unite branch agreed on this resolution, which will go forward to the next meetings of Burnley CLP and Pendle CLP:

This CLP notes that:

– Chris Williamson, Labour MP for Derby North, has been suspended from the Labour Party pending an investigation into a “pattern of behaviour”.

– This suspension occurred in the light of comments made by Williamson to the effect that Labour’s response to accusations of entrenched antisemitism has been unnecessarily defensive.

– These comments have been interpreted by certain media and political figures as being anti-Semitic

This CLP believes that:

– Chris Williamson is a consistent and longstanding anti-racist, who abhors antisemitism along with all forms of racism. Williamson’s comments were in no way antisemitic. Williamson’s comments reflect a legitimate point of view: that accusations of antisemitism are being weaponised by the media and certain elements within the Labour Party in order to weaken the leadership.

– Chris Williamson is a valued MP and party member. The Labour Party has put in place procedures and allocated significant resources to deal with allegations of antisemitism that it has received

This CLP calls on the Labour National Executive Committee to:
– Immediately lift Chris Williamson’s suspension

This CLP resolves to:
– write a letter of support to Chris Williamson.


Tees Valley Unite Community

Tees Valley Unite Community Branch notes with concern the use of the term (as attributed in the media to a Labour spokesman) “downplaying” anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

We believe that of course the Labour Party should have zero tolerance for all forms of racism.

However, accusations of “downplaying” anti-Semitism (or worse placing it on a par with anti-Semitism itself) have the potential to inhibit the freedom of all Labour Party members to discuss the issues relating to racism in the Party. They should for example be able to:

  • Challenge the assertion that the Labour Party is institutionally anti-Semitic. This has been repeated so many times that it has become established fact, despite the conclusions of the Chakrabati report and an all-party Home Affairs Select Committee that anti-Semitism and other types of racism are not endemic within Labour
  • Question whether the characterisation of the Labour Party as a racist organisation is fair or even in some cases politically motivated
  • Judge based on the data the extent of antisemitism in the Labour Party and whether the Party’s procedures and actions are effective and proportionate
  • Discuss whether the Party’s adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is appropriate
  • Speak out on cases of injustice within the Labour Party
  • Resist any curbs on legitimate freedom of speech and any move towards a culture of denunciation

Tees Valley Unite Community Branch therefore moves to:

  • Write to Jennie Formby (Labour Party General Secretary) and Shami Chakrabarti (Shadow Attorney General) with a copy of this motion to express our solidarity with their efforts to counter all forms of racism in the Labour Party but to also to convey our concerns regarding the freedom to debate the issues.
  • Submit this motion to local Constituency Labour Parties as necessary

East London Unite Community

passed with one abstention and nobody opposing:

This branch notes that:
Chris Williamson, Labour MP for Derby North, has been suspended from the Labour Party pending an investigation into a “pattern of behaviour”.

This suspension occurred in the light of comments made by Williamson to the effect that Labour’s response to accusations of entrenched antisemitism has been unnecessarily defensive.

These comments have been interpreted by certain media and political figures as being antisemitic.

This branch believes that:
Chris Williamson is a consistent and longstanding anti-racist, who abhors antisemitism along with all forms of racism. Williamson’s comments were in no way antisemitic. Williamson’s comments reflect a legitimate point of view: that accusations of antisemitism are being weaponised by the media and certain elements within the Labour Party in order to weaken the leadership.

Chris Williamson is a valued MP and party member. The Labour Party has put in place procedures and allocated significant resources to deal with allegations of antisemitism that it has received.

This branch calls on the Labour National Executive Committee to:
Immediately lift Chris Williamson’s suspension.

This branch resolves to:

  • write a letter of support to Chris Williamson
  • submit this motion to Labour Party GCs to which we are affiliated

Birmingham Unite Community

The branch voted for two motions:

1. This branch notes with disappointment the suspension of Chris Williamson MP from the Labour Party.

Chris Williamson has been falsely accused of anti-Semitism. This is an excuse for a section of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), a section that has never accepted the Corbyn Leadership or the popular socialist policies put forward by that leadership, supported by the majority of the membership and for which Chris has campaigned tirelessly around the country, to demand his removal from the Party.

We therefore call upon the NEC to immediately reinstate Chris Williamson’s membership of the Labour Party.

2. Model Motion in support of equitable anti-discriminatory practice and real political accountability

This branch notes:

  • the grave effect that discrimination and false allegations have on victims of each
  • the welcome collation of statistics on complaints of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party set in place by Jennie Formby
  • the absence of similar statistics on complaints of other forms of racism and discrimination within the Labour Party, including Islamophobia
  • the evidence from independent opinion polls and surveys which shows antisemitism declining in the Labour Party since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Leader
  • the continued overstatement of antisemitism in the Labour Party by those including a section of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), a section that has never accepted the Corbyn Leadership or the popular socialist policies put forward by that leadership
  • the growing concern that complaints of anti-Semitism are being used as weapons against political opponents, particularly MPs and members who support the leadership and the policies championed by that leadership
  • the recent attempt by the Deputy Leader to institute his own parallel process which threatened to undermine and prejudice the formal process and which was in grave risk of breaching the law in the form of the GDPR
  • the concern expressed by a grass roots Jewish member accusing the Deputy Leader of undermining the party by his actions (http://bit.ly/LRBTW1)
  • the welcome rebuke from the General Secretary to the Deputy Leader spelling out in no uncertain terms the position of the party

We believe that

  • all forms of discrimination are to be actively opposed wherever they occur
  • all forms of discrimination should be treated equally
  • alleged victims and alleged perpetrators should be supported and treated equally until a case is concluded
  • false claims of discrimination devalue real claims and the equalities agenda as a whole
  • false claims and complaints of discrimination must attract disciplinary action
  • all cases should be treated equitably and expeditiously
  • victims of discrimination and of unfounded claims of discrimination should be apologised to and supported by the party
  • all witch hunts should be opposed from wherever they emanate
  • wilfully overstating the existence of any prejudice or discrimination should be a disciplinary offence and should be countered by a public statement by the party clarifying the evidence
  • MPs should be subject to the same disciplinary rules as all other members
  • MPs should not grandstand and attempt to bypass the constituted Labour Party processes
  • potential candidates in internal selections and elections must not be unduly if at all prevented from participation by contrived claims
  • political debate should be encouraged over administrative gagging as a way of dealing with political disagreements
  • universal trigger ballots would definitively settle the question of whether it is the socialist policies of the leadership or the failed policies of those in the current PLP who are opposed to the leadership that best represent the view and values of Labour members.

We call upon the NEC to bring forward rule changes to reflect all of the above including:

  • to ensure as soon as possible the implementation of equitable treatment of all forms of discrimination, equal support for complainant and respondent throughout the disciplinary process and support and apologise to victims when a case is concluded
  • to urgently bring forward processes to protect candidates in selections and elections
  • to immediately implement trigger ballot procedures in all constituencies, in order to allow the Party membership to decide who should represent them in Parliament

Welsh Labour Grassroots

Statement agreed by Steering Committee of Welsh Labour Grassroots at a meeting on Sunday 3rd March, 2019.

The Welsh Labour Grassroots (WLG) Steering Committee is concerned by the suspension of Chris Williamson and by much of the public discussion of his case. We accept that the party needed to investigate the issues that gave rise to the complaint against him but we believe that the suspension and withdrawal of the whip was unfair and unnecessary and that much of the commentary by Labour politicians and media commentators misinterprets Chris Williamson’s comments and misrepresents his attitude towards anti-Semitism.

Chris Williamson has been accused of suggesting that Labour has apologised too readily to people in the Jewish community who may have experienced anti-Semitism. It seems clear to us, however, that this was not his intent; rather, he was seeking to argue that Labour politicians have often been too quick to accept questionable claims about the scale of the problem and ill-informed criticism of its handling of it, rather than accurately quantifying the incidence of reported cases* and acknowledging the party’s positive record in challenging racism, while admitting that more could still be done.

One may agree or disagree with this view, or feel that Chris Williamson should have taken greater care in the way he expressed it (as he himself appears to accept in his public apology) but it is surely well within the scope of legitimate debate. No significant Labour officer or elected representative has disputed that anti-Semitism is abhorrent or sought to deny that it exists within the Labour party. But to seek to close down any discussion about the prevalence of anti-Semitism or the best way of fighting it is to undermine Labour’s best traditions of healthy debate and to hamper efforts to root out prejudice and address the conditions that allow it to develop. The conduct of some commentators also risks creating a “hostile environment” in which anyone defending Palestinian rights and criticising the Israeli state fears being tarnished as “anti-Semitic”.

Chris Williamson has a long record of actively opposing racism and fascism in all their forms – indeed, a more impressive record in this respect than many of his detractors can claim. Like Jeremy Corbyn, he has distinguished himself by speaking his mind fearlessly on a range of issues, from Labour’s housing policy to the campaign to undermine the elected government of Venezuela. Unlike many other MPs, he has been a strong advocate of democratisation within the party and a loyal supporter of our elected Leader.

We find the ‘trial by media’ to which Chris has been subjected deeply unedifying; those who object to his comments and actions are, of course, within their rights to submit formal complaints but to air their grievances so loudly and publicly can only undermine Labour at a time when we should be united in holding the Tory government to account and risks denying Chris Williamson a fair hearing.

We note that the Labour NEC decided some time ago to abandon the automatic use of administrative suspension pending the outcome of a disciplinary complaint, in all but the most serious cases (such as when the member in question poses some sort of ongoing threat to others). We see no justification for suspending Chris Williamson and call for his suspension to be ended and the whip restored.

WLG remains implacably opposed to anti-Semitism, along with all other forms of racism, such as Islamophobia, and bigotry and prejudice of any kind. We offer our unconditional solidarity to all those who encounter such hatred, regardless of whether we otherwise agree with them politically. We believe that all cases of anti-Semitic abuse should continue to be dealt with through the party’s disciplinary procedures and we applaud the steps taken under Jeremy Corbyn and Jennie Formby to implement the Chakrabarti recommendations, including the expansion of the NCC to deal with cases more quickly, as well as the efforts made to educate our members about the issue.

We believe, however, that the tone of public discussion on this issue often militates against the kind of frank and serious discussion needed to develop effective solutions. The strident calls for punitive action against Chris Williamson are an unhealthy symptom of this problem and we believe he deserves our support in seeking a fair hearing.

ENDS.

*Statistics published by the General Secretary reveal that, over the last ten months, complaints received have led to 453 members being investigated for anti-Semitism; it has been pointed out that this amounts to 1/12th of 1% of the total party membership.


Brent Trades Council

This Trades Council condemns the decision of the Labour Party to suspend Chris Williamson MP for his remarks at a Sheffield Momentum meeting.
We do not believe that what Chris Williamson said was antisemitic and while insisting on opposition to actual antisemitism we believe that allegations are often used to smear critics of Israel and supporters of the Palestinians.

Labour Against the Witchhunt

The suspension of Chris Williamson MP is an absolute disgrace. We stand in full solidarity with Chris, who must be cleared as soon as possible by Labour’s “investigation” – though judging by how Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Tony Greenstein, Ken Livingstone and many, many more Corbyn supporters have been thrown under the bus, we have very little confidence that he will receive a fair one.

He is the latest victim of the witch-hunt by the right in the party whose main target is, of course, Jeremy Corbyn himself.

Jeremy Corbyn recently said: “Chris Williamson is a very good, very effective Labour MP. He’s a very strong anti-racist campaigner. He is not anti-Semitic.” Corbyn was right. He should finally stand up and tell people like Jon Lansman and John McDonnell to stop joining in the witch-hunt – but support the thousands of left-wingers who have been investigated, suspended and expelled, many of them on false accusations of anti-Semitism.

This campaign to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism will only get worse, the closer we get to a general election. Trying to appease the right clearly does not work. If you fight, you might loose – but if you don’t fight, you have already lost.


Jewish Voice for Labour

We are shocked at the suspension from the Labour Party of Derby North MP Chris Williamson, despite his apology.

As a Jewish organisation we condemn antisemitism unreservedly. And, of course, we support robust measures to deal with any instances.

Like Chris Williamson we stand in a long tradition of opposition to all forms of racism, including antisemitism. We support the statement in which he apologised to anyone hurt by his words.   But we agree with him that the number of instances of antisemitism in the Labour Party, though small relative to its size, is still too high. Any antisemite in the Party is one too many.

Williamson based his statement on the official statistics published by the General Secretary of the Party, Jennie Formby. They confirm that over the last 10 months complaints received led to 453 cases being investigated for antisemitism. This represents 1/12th of 1% of the membership. There is no wave of antisemitism in the Party.

The existence of antisemitism in the Party, as everywhere in society, is not in doubt. It needs to be contested, and the Party’s beefed up disciplinary processes are doing just that. But these figures, and the experience of the hundreds of our Jewish members in the Labour Party, give the lie to the false narrative that the Party is rife with antisemitism. Such a description bears no resemblance to reality.

The flood of exaggerated claims of antisemitism make it harder to deal with any real instances of antisemitism. The credibility of well-founded allegations is undermined by the less credible ones and real perpetrators are more likely not to be held to account. Crying wolf is dangerous when there are real wolves around the corner.

This was the reality that Chris Williamson was drawing attention to. His suspension from the party is unjust and should be rescinded.


Labour Party Marxists

Suspending Chris Williamson MP is an outrage, writes Carla Roberts. You might have thought that the retreats and concessions to the right from the Labour leadership could not get any worse, but what happened on February 27 surely takes the biscuit.

Chris Williamson MP was suspended by general secretary Jennie Formby over “remarks about the party’s handling of anti-Semitism”, as the BBC put it. So what exactly did he say? Speaking at a meeting of Sheffield Momentum, he had ventured the opinion that “we have backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic”. Labour has been “demonised as a racist, bigoted party”, when, in reality, “we’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any political party”.

If anything, Williamson himself was “too apologetic”. Labour has not been hit by any “scourge of anti-Semitism”: what we have seen is a concerted witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters and the left, in which ‘anti-Semitism’ has been weaponised and equated with anti-Zionism. Several high-profile figures have been accused of anti-Semitism, but in none of their cases has the accusation been upheld. It is true that some clearly anti-Jewish comments from people claiming to be Labour members have featured on social media, but only 12 have been expelled (including a Jewish comrade who simply refused to cooperate with the kangaroo court). Even if we assume that all 12 were actually guilty, why should we describe this as a “scourge”? (full article here)


Labour Representation Committee

By Jay Blackwood (“The LRC agrees with Jay 100%”)

Following a fiery speech at a Momentum event in Sheffield, MP Chris Williamson is once again in the sights of the Blairites and their appeasers on the soft left of the party. The BBC sums up the latest attacks against him as follows:

Veteran Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge said “nothing less” than suspending the MP would do, while ex-leader Ed Miliband suggested it was a “test” for the party about how serious it was about dealing with the issue of anti-Semitism within its ranks.

Tom Watson has predictably joined the feeding frenzy, following Hodge’s demand that Chris is immediately suspended from the party.

One would think, reading these and similar attacks, that Chris is a proven antisemite. You know, in much the same way that Boris Johnson’s comments about “picaninnies” and letter-boxes prove that he is an unrepentant racist – something for which he continues to get a free pass in the media and the Tory Party.

So what is the latest evidence that Chris is an antisemite (or a “fucking antisemite” as Hodge called her own party leader last year, for which she escaped without any disciplinary sanction whatsoever)? According to the Yorkshire Post, which reported on the event, Chris’s offending comments were as follows:

The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that, because in my opinion…we have backed off too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic.

The reality is that most Labour Party members – include this blogger – would wholeheartedly agree with Chris’s words. I have not seen a single shred of evidence from his speech to justify the vile slurs now being thrown in his direction. Condemning the party’s supine response to the campaign of vilification conducted by the Blairites, the Israel lobby and the mainstream media is not in any way antisemitic.

In fact, Chris made his feelings on antisemitism crystal clear in August last year, describing it as “utterly repugnant and a scourge on society, which is why I stand in absolute solidarity with anyone who is subjected to antisemitic abuse”. That is about as forthright and unambiguous as you can get. But of course it’s not enough to satisfy Tom Watson, Margaret Hodge and the like.

I have seen nothing to support the accusation that Chris Williamson is an antisemite, and much to support the proposition that he is a consistent, principled opponent of racism in all its forms.

But of course the attacks on Williamson have nothing to do with genuine concern about genuine antisemitism, which is on the rise across the world and spreading across social media like a disease. It is rather all about ensuring that the focus remains on Labour’s supposed ‘internal problems’, rather than on the murderous Tory regime of austerity.

So it was no surprise to see a large segment of today’s politics show on the BBC given over to a friendly discussion between Laura Kuenssberg and a Labour Shadow Cabinet minister about how severely Williamson should be punished for openly questioning the Labour/antisemitism narrative. In this context Chris’s apology, doubtless extorted from him by the usual suspects, was just more grist to the mill.

I have consistently argued on this blog that no amount of appeasement will satisfy the MPs who are using the antisemitism issue to undermine the party. Making concessions simply plays into their hands, providing them with more publicity and more material from which to spin their bizarre narrative. Sadly, Corbyn and McDonnell have set the tone on this, with cringe-worthy displays of hand-wringing contrition around an issue which has largely been invented by the mainstream media.

The anti-Corbyn wing of the Parliamentary Labour Party will not be satisfied till Jeremy and his supporters have been hounded from office. They would rather see Labour out of power for ten years than countenance the election of a Corbyn government – even if that means ten more years of grinding poverty for working class people. Failing that, they want at the very least to see Corbyn and his inner circle firmly brought to heal.

For the anti-Corbyn MPs, the antisemitism ‘issue’ is just a useful weapon in their campaign to undermine Corbyn’s newly radicalised party.

If I was facing real antisemites on the street I know who I’d rather have fighting alongside me. It wouldn’t be useful idiots like Hodge, Watson or Miliband. It would be real anti-racists like Chris Williamson and Marc Wadsworth.

We cannot continue to play along with the fiction that antisemitism is a major problem inside the Labour Party. We have to call that out, as Chris Williamson has done, while continuing to oppose real antisemitism wherever we find it – just as we consistently oppose all forms of racism. We need to end the witch hunts, and reinstate Marc Wadsworth, who is currently having to pursue his case through the courts.

We need to stand up and support – loudly and proudly – good anti-racist MPs and activists like Chris Williamson, Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth when they’re slandered by the mainstream media. And we need to break, once and for all, from the foolish strategy of appeasement that has led us down this suicidal path.


Campaign for Labour Party Democracy

1. CLPD exposes all forms of antisemitism and racism

2. CLPS notes the personal statement from Chris Williamson MP.

3. CLPD does not believe Chris Williamson MP should be expelled from the Labour Party.

4. CLPD will circulate that statement at bit.ly/dontexpelchriswilliamson

 


Socialist Appeal

Left-wing Labour MP Chris Williamson has become the latest victim of the Blairite witch hunt. The Derby North MP was suspended from the party yesterday, following an hysterical outcry from the right wing of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).

Rank-and-file members of the labour movement must rally to defend Williamson against these slanderous attacks. We cannot allow this smear campaign against the left to continue any longer. Enough is enough. (full statement here)


Sheffield Labour Left

Sheffield Labour Left stands in full solidarity with Chris Williamson MP.

Any allegations that Chris is enabling or minimising anti-Semitism are not only unfounded, but part of a hostile and anti-democratic campaign. As Jeremy Corbyn recently said: “Chris Williamson is a very good, very effective Labour MP. He’s a very strong anti-racist campaigner. He is not anti-Semitic.”

Of course, allegations of anti-Semitism should be dealt with, but this should follow due process. Any false and trumped up allegations to score political points against Corbyn and his supporters, however, must also come to an end.

Solidarity with Chris! For Socialism!

Sign the open letter: Reinstate Chris Williamson MP!

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SIGN THE PETITION HERE 

Open letter: Reinstate Chris Williamson MP!

We, the undersigned, believe that the suspension of Chris Williamson MP is an outrage.

The allegation that Chris is downplaying anti-Semitism is totally unfounded. His comments, made at a Momentum meeting in Sheffield, were taken out of context in a deliberate attempt to ruin the reputation of both Chris Williamson and Jeremy Corbyn.

He actually said: “The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say, I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we’ve backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party.”

His comments are clearly neither anti-Semitic, nor denying the existence of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party (or wider society). But he has quite rightly pointed to the fact that there has also been a political campaign to “weaponise” accusations of anti-Semitism.

Chris is a target because he is one of the very few Labour MPs who have openly stood up to the witch-hunt of Corbyn supporters and because he has campaigned tirelessly for the much-needed democratisation of the party.

Despite the departure of Iain McNicol as general secretary, the witch-hunt of left-leaning party members continues. The main target of this campaign is, of course, Jeremy Corbyn himself. But thousands of Labour Party members have been investigated, suspended and expelled, often on spurious grounds. Like Chris Willamson, they are the collateral damage in this campaign to ‘get’ Corbyn.

We call on the Labour Party to immediately reinstate Chris Williamson MP and to apologise to him!

SIGN THE PETITION HERE 

Model Motions: Reinstate Chris Williamson MP!

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THERE IS NO BAN! We hear that in a number of branches and CLPs, the chair has prevented the meeting from discussing motions in support of Chris, because of apparent recent advice by Labour HQ. We have produced detailed guidelines on this issue here.


Model motion 1

Don’t expel Chris Williamson MP from the Labour Party

This Meeting:
1. Notes the personal statement from Chris Williamson (February 27, published in full below).
2. Is opposed to all forms of anti-Semitism and racism.
3. Does not believe Chris Williamson MP should be expelled from the Labour Party.

APPENDIX/NOTE: Chris Williamson’s personal message.

The Labour Party is an anti-racist party. It is the only party that has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with religious and ethnic minorities in their decades-long fight against racism, discrimination and prejudice in the United Kingdom.

On a personal level, I have been an anti-racist all my life. As a former member of the Anti-Nazi League. I participated in direct action to confront foul anti-Semites in the streets. I reject racism ethically and morally. It has no place in the Labour Party or in our country.

It pains me greatly, therefore, that anyone should believe that it is my intention to minimise the cancerous and pernicious nature of anti-Semitism.

I deeply regret, and apologise for, my recent choice of words when speaking about how the Labour Party has responded to the ongoing fight against anti-Semitism inside of our party. I was trying to stress how much the party has done to tackle anti-Semitism.

Our movement can never be “too apologetic” about racism within our ranks. Whilst it is true that there have been very few cases of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party – something I believe is often forgotten when discussing this issue – it is also true that those few are too many.

It is precisely because of our party’s historic struggle against racism that we have taken it upon ourselves to strengthen our rules, to improve our disciplinary procedures and to redouble our efforts to take on anti-Semites. We have held ourselves to a higher standard than any other political party when it comes to anti-racism – and rightly so.

I am therefore sorry for how I chose to express myself on this issue within our party. This is a fight that I want to be an ally in.

In future, I will take it upon myself to be more considered in my remarks. and ensure they reflect the Labour Party’s unswerving and unfaltering commitment to anti-racism and the fight against anti-Semitism.


Model motion 2

This Constituency Labour Party notes with great concern the suspension of Chris Williamson MP for Derby North.

  • The allegation that Chris is downplaying anti-Semitism is totally unfounded. His comments, made at a Momentum meeting in Sheffield, were taken out of context in a deliberate attempt to ruin both the reputation of Chris Williamson MP and Jeremy Corbyn.
  • Chris Williamson MP actually said: “The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say, I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we’ve backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party.”
  • His comments are clearly neither anti-Semitic, nor denying the existence of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party (as in wider society). But he does quite rightly point to the fact that there has also been a political campaign to “weaponise” accusations of anti-Semitism.
  • Chris is a target because he is one of the very few Labour MPs who have openly stood up to the witch-hunt of Corbyn supporters and because he has campaigned tirelessly for the much-needed democratisation of the party.
  • Despite the departure of Iain McNicol as general secretary, the witch-hunt of left-leaning party members continues. The main target of this campaign is, of course, Jeremy Corbyn himself. But thousands of Labour Party members have been investigated, suspended and expelled, often on spurious grounds. Like Chris Williamson, they are the collateral damage in this campaign to ‘get’ Corbyn.

This Constituency Labour Party therefore moves to:

  • Write to Jennie Formby, the general secretary, and the National Executive Committee with a copy of this motion and demanding that Chris is reinstated immediately. (jennie_formby@labour.org.uk) 
  • Write a letter of support to Chris Williamson MP (chris.williamson.mp@parliament.uk)
  • Invite Chris Williamson to a local rally/meeting in support of his reinstatement
  • Support the key aims of Labour Against the Witchhunt: 1) An end to automatic suspensions and expulsions. 2) Rejection of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people. 3) Abolition of Labour’s ‘compliance unit.’ (http://www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org/contact/)
  • Affiliate to Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW) at the soonest possible opportunity and include a statement of support for LAW on this CLP’s social media channels and website. (Cost £25 pa)
  • Campaign to reverse the NEC’s decision to adopt the disputed ‘definition of anti-Semitism’ published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)
  • Work to arrange a local screening of the “The Witchhunt” documentary https://witchhuntfilm.org)

Model motion 3

This branch/CLP notes with concern the use of the term (as attributed in the media to a Labour spokesman) “downplaying” anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

We believe that of course the Labour Party should combat all forms of racism.

However, accusations of “downplaying” anti-Semitism (or worse placing it on a par with anti-Semitism itself) have the potential to inhibit the freedom of all Labour Party members to discuss the issues relating to racism in the Party. They should for example be able to:

  • Challenge the assertion that the Labour Party is institutionally anti-Semitic. This has been repeated so many times that it has become established fact, despite the conclusions of the Chakrabati report and an all-party Home Affairs Select Committee that anti-Semitism and other types of racism are not endemic within Labour
  • Question whether the characterisation of the Labour Party as a racist organisation is fair or even in some cases politically motivated
  • Judge based on the data the extent of antisemitism in the Labour Party and whether the Party’s procedures and actions are effective and proportionate
  • Discuss whether the Party’s adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is appropriate
  • Speak out on cases of injustice within the Labour Party
  • Resist any curbs on legitimate freedom of speech and any move towards a culture of denunciation

This branch/CLP  therefore moves to:

  • Write to Jennie Formby (Labour Party General Secretary) and Shami Chakrabarti (Shadow Attorney General) with a copy of this motion
  • Submit this motion to local Constituency Labour Parties as necessary

Why LAW opposes the IHRA ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism

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“It is designed to allow any criticism of the actions of the state of Israel to be dismissed as ‘anti-Semitism’”

As agreed unanimously at LAW’s conference on February 2 2019

This conference rejects the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism in its entirety.

We note that:

  1. The IHRA ‘definition’ reads:
    “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
  2. This definition was originally published, together with its 11 examples, in 2005 on the website of the European Union’s European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), although it was never adopted by that body. But after heavy criticism, it was removed by the EUMC’s successor body, the Fundamental Rights Agency, in November 2013.
  3. In May 2016, it was resurrected and adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, a group of 32 countries. But, far from being the “internationally recognised definition”,  according to IHRA the definition has been adopted by only 10 countries: the UK, Romania, Lithuania, Slovakia, Austria, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Germany, the Netherlands and, of course, Israel.
  4. On December 12 2016, the UK Tory government was the first of the IHRA countries to endorse the IHRA definition. Shamefully, on the very same day the Labour Party endorsed the definition, albeit without its 11 examples. The European Parliament’s May 29 2017 acceptance of the IHRA definition was spearheaded by the Austrian government, in particular the far-right Freedom Party, one of the two coalition partners.
  5. The definition is by the IHRA’s own admission not legally binding.
  6. Kenneth Stern of the American Jewish Committee, who first drafted the definition, has statedthat the original idea for it arose from Dina Porat of Tel Aviv’s Kantor Centre.

Continue Reading “Why LAW opposes the IHRA ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism”

Asa Winstanley: Fake Labour accounts fueling “anti-Semitism crisis”

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Please check out this excellent article by Asa Winstanley that appeared in the Electronic Intifada.

From the start, reporting of the “anti-Semitism crisis” in the UK’s Labour Party has been characterized by dishonesty, exaggeration and outright fabrication.

The real target of this manufactured crisis is not genuine anti-Semites, but Jeremy Corbyn and the wider Palestine solidarity movement.

But now additional evidence has come to light of a disturbing trend which has been fueling the fire lit since Corbyn’s first leadership victory in September 2015.

An investigation by The Electronic Intifada has documented 10 fake Twitter profiles posing as Corbyn supporters who have been posting virulent anti-Semitism.

The accounts share sufficient similarities to indicate that the same person – or group – is running them.

Without police involvement or a court case, it’s impossible to know for sure who is behind this troll network.

But whoever it is, they are clearly attempting to smear Labour as an anti-Semitic party.

Culprits?

It is well established that Israel has been running both covert and overt efforts against Jeremy Corbyn since he became leader.

Anti-Palestinian groups working in coordination with Israel are running covert social media campaigns.

A recent example was revealed in the suppressed undercover Al Jazeera investigation, The Lobby – USA.

As that film showed, The Israel Project is running a campaign to infiltrate pro-Israel narratives into popular, and otherwise innocuous, Facebook pages.

“There are also things that we do that are completely off the radar,” the lobby group’s managing director told Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter.

Last month, another covert operation was revealed after its documents leaked – this one run by the British state.

The so-called Integrity Initiative was launched in 2015 and is directed by British military intelligence officials.

Its documents suggest it is involved in what it calls “infowar techniques.”

The UK government conceded after the leak that the initiative is being funded by both its foreign and defenseministries – over $3 million to date.

Among the shadowy group’s targets has been Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Deception

The network of Twitter accounts investigated by The Electronic Intifada uses a series of fake names and profile photos.

Their followers lists also include many dubious looking accounts, strongly suggestive of bought fake followers.

All 10 accounts have engaged in a pattern of deception, presenting as Labour activists while engaging in anti-Semitism.

Most have also posted violent incitement and death threats, often against Jews.

All 10 posted their most violent and anti-Semitic content as replies to other tweets.

This means that many times, a cursory look at the accounts’ profile pages is unlikely to reveal anything immediately objectionable.

Most of the accounts’ more public-facing tweets are legitimate Labour Party or other political material. Two of the accounts have also posted legitimate Palestine material.

Because they are posted as replies, the anti-Semitic tweets would usually only be seen by those mentioned in them – or by enemies actively looking at those replies for evidence of “Labour anti-Semitism.”

The targets of the troll network have often been high-profile Israeli, pro-Israel or Labour accounts. They have included Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right-wing Labour MP Yvette Cooper and Jeremy Corbyn himself.

Fake Labour

All 10 accounts present themselves as belonging to Labour Party supporters, activists or even staffers.

Reverse Google Image searches confirm that seven of the 10 profile images are stolen photos – the other three are likely screen grabs from videos.

Six of the 10 profiles present as ostensibly Muslim – it is these profiles that have posted some of the most disturbing anti-Semitism, including direct calls for violence against Jews.

These accounts have Arabic names including “Abu Hussein” and “Abu Omar” while using stolen photos, some of actual or alleged Islamists or Islamic extremists.

One such photo is of Muhammad Qutb, the late brother of influential Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb.

Surviving Twitter evidence shows the troll network dates back to at least November 2015.

The network

The 10 fake Labour accounts posting anti-Semitism analyzed by The Electronic Intifada are:

Three of the 10 were first exposed by Labour news site The Skwawkbox in 2017 and 2018.

The troll network’s tweets appear intended to provoke an outraged response at “Labour anti-Semitism,” thus fueling the crisis.

There have been several reported instances of just such outraged responses, from right-wing Labour lawmakers, and even in one case an Israeli government spokesperson.

An example of how the troll network helped drive the crisis took place on the final day of Labour’s 2016 annual conference. At the time, there was a media uproar about supposed Labour anti-Semitism.

This resulted in Black Jewish anti-Zionist activist Jackie Walkerbeing suspended by Labour after she disagreed with Israel’s preferred definition of anti-Semitism at a supposedly private training session.

In this febrile atmosphere, the @dgrintz1 account tweeted that “A good Zionist is a dead one” at Tal Ofer – a British-Israeli member of the pro-Israel Jewish Labour Movement, a group that has driven the “Labour anti-Semitism” narrative from early on.

This reply-tweet was subsequently retweeted by Jeremy Newmark – then the JLM’s chairperson, though he was later forced to resign in disgrace.

The JLM has intimate ties with the Israeli embassy.

Violent anti-Semitism

Another typical example occurred in March 2018, during a renewed media frenzy over the supposed crisis.

A new account, “Abu Hussein,” began retweeting Corbyn, his senior Labour ally John McDonnell and other popular Labour accounts.

But a closer look at @AbuHusseinLab’s profile revealed a disturbing picture.

In a reply targeting Corbyn’s and McDonnell’s official Twitter accounts, “Abu Hussein” threatened “Jihad” against “Jews,” alongside a bloody graphic of a knife.

But the account had stolen its profile photo from a dating site.

“Abu Hussein” was reported to Twitter for violent racism by this writer and other Twitter users.

But the troll network simply opened more accounts – at least four of its supposedly Muslim accounts began tweeting in April 2018.

That same month the crisis over alleged anti-Semitism continued to rage in the party.

And Israel’s ostensibly opposition Labor Party openly drove it, generating headlines by suspending relations with Corbyn’s office over his “hatred of the policies of the government of the state of Israel” and alleged anti-Semitism.

In October 2018, a new fake Labour account began tweeting: @DeanBrownLab.

“Dean Brown” claimed to be a “former Labour party staffer” and a member of Momentum – a group which emerged from the campaign to elect Corbyn as Labour leader.

On 27 October, the day of the Pittsburgh massacre in the US, the account tweeted to Israel’s prime minister: “YOU BROUGHT THIS ON YOURSELVES.”

Neo-Nazi Robert Bowers has since been charged with the murder of 11 Jewish worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue that day. He reportedly told police he wanted “all Jews to die.”

The account promptly disappeared. The goal of smearing Labour activists as anti-Semites had been achieved.

But as The Skwawkbox soon revealed, Labour sources emphasized that no Dean Brown has ever worked for Jeremy Corbyn. Momentum also confirmed it had no membership record of any Dean Brown.

The profile photo the account used was of someone totally innocent and was stolen from a local press report.

Fabricated

This troll network shows how easy it is for an individual or small group of people to convey a false impression on social media.

Despite there being no evidence that “Wesley Brown,” “Abu Hussein” or any of the rest even existed – let alone that they were Labour members – the troll network fooled several high-profile politicians.

This was easy to do, since the fake profiles fit into a preconceived narrative that anti-Semitism is rife within Labour, especially in the pro-Corbyn left.

Those who created the fake accounts also exploited Islamophobic prejudice that anti-Semitism is endemic among Muslims, including activists within Labour.

When the dominant media narrative is so often based on fabricated evidence, a serious reappraisal and extreme caution about future claims are overdue.

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and an associate editor with The Electronic Intifada.

Model motions: Support the reinstatement of Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt as parliamentary candidate for Thanet South

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LAW Statement

In what is a very unusual and highly politicised decision, a three-person panel of the Labour Party’s NEC has refused to endorse Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt as the parliamentary candidate for South Thanet. It has thereby undermined the democratic decision of local Labour Party members who had selected her over eight months earlier.

Just like many other Labour Party members, Rebecca is the victim of false accusations of anti-Semitism made against her. The following three Twitter messages by Rebecca constitute the whole ‘evidence’ against her:

  1. “Accusations levelled at Jackie Walker are politically motivated.”
  2. “Antisemitism has been weaponised by those who seek to silence anti-Zionist voices. See The Lynching, endorsed by Ken Loach, for elucidation.”
  3. “Accusations of AS levelled in an attempt to discredit the left.”

Ironically, the NEC panel’s disgraceful decision underlines the correctness of her statements. Clearly, none of these tweets are even vaguely anti-Semitic, but they prove that the witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters is very much ongoing.

Jackie Walker, chair of LAW and a member of South Thanet CLP, says:

“Clearly, this shows that the witch hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters is still in full swing. Rebecca is a life-long socialist and principled campaigner for the rights of the Palestinians. Nothing she said or wrote is even vaguely anti-Semitic. It is almost unheard of that the NEC does not endorse a candidate who has been selected democratically and transparently by local party members. This is a slap in the face of the local membership and it is no surprise that the NEC’s decision has been rejected by the Executive Committee of South Thanet Constituency Labour Party, its branches and its women’s forum.”

What you can do:

  • Sign Rebecca’s petition here
  • Contribute to her legal fighting fund here

  • Take either of the model motions below to your branch/CLP demanding Rebecca’s reinstatement

Model motion 1:

This branch/CLP is appalled at the decision of a three-person NEC panel not to endorse South Thanet Labour Party’s democratically elected parliamentary candidate, Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt. This decision is an affront to our democratic traditions and appears not to be accompanied by any supporting evidence nor any rationale detailing the decision-making process. This branch/CLP asks the NEC to review its decision in a way which fully respects the integrity of the NEC and the democratic wishes of the membership.

Model motion 2:

This branch/CLP notes:

  • That in December 2018, Labour Party’s NEC refused to endorse Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt as the parliamentary candidate for South Thanet, eight months after she was democratically selected by the local CLP.
  • That it is highly unusual for the NEC not to endorse a candidate selected locally.
  • That since her selection in April 2018, Rebecca has tirelessly campaigned for the local Labour Party, with the full support of the local members.

We further note:

  • That in April 2018, three tweets written by Rebecca for the Centre for Cultural Change twitter account were published out of context by Guido Fawke’s blog.
  • The three tweets read in full:
  1. “Accusations levelled at Jackie Walker are politically motivated.
  2. “Antisemitism has been weaponised by those who seek to silence anti-Zionist voices. See The Lynching, endorsed by Ken Loach, for elucidation.”
  3. “Accusations of AS levelled in an attempt to discredit the left.”
  • This led to an investigation by the Labour Party, which culminated in an interview with the NEC panel in December. Rebecca was told that:“In light of these posts your conduct does not meet the high standards that are expected of parliamentary candidates and has the potential to bring the Party into disrepute.”
  • This decision has been rejected by the Executive Committee of South Thanet Constituency Labour Party, its branches and its women’s forum.
  • Rebecca has no right to appeal this decision and is therefore considering taking legal action.

We believe:

  • That this decision is a serious blow to the democratic will of local Labour Party members
  • Rebecca’s tweets were not even vaguely anti-Semitic – but they do point to the very real and ongoing campaign by the right in the Labour Party to smear Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters as anti-Semitic.

We therefore call on the NEC:

  • To revisit this decision asap and to reinstate Rebecca as the Labour candidate for Thanet South.
  • To apologise to Rebecca and South Thanet CLP.

We further resolve to

  • Publicise this motion and send it to the CLP for discussion
  • Send this motion to the Labour Party NEC and general secretary Jennie Formby
  • Publicise the public petition demanding Rebecca’s reinstatement
  • Support Rebecca’s legal fighting fund with a donation of £___

Links

 

 

 

Model Motion: Reinstate Paul Johnson! Suspended for Palestine solidarity

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Model Motion for Trade Union / Labour Party branches

This (union / branch / organization etc):

Strongly condemns the suspension of Paul Jonson by his employer, Dudley Council. Paul is a longstanding anti-racist activist and campaigner against fascism and antisemitism.

Paul’s suspension for a facebook post stating “Stand up for Palestine – Israel is a racist endeavor” constitutes an overt attack on trade unionists right to engage in political campaigning outside work and the right to free expression of political views.

His suspension constitutes an attack on trade unionists’ right to campaign over Palestinian rights. There is nothing antisemitic about the posting cited in the complaints about Paul.

We note that the IHRA definition of antisemitism and its illustrative examples cited in complaints against Paul, is highly controversial and according to the IHRA itself constitutes simply a “working definition” with no legal standing.

We believe Paul’s suspension poses a threat to every trade unionist right to campaign over human rights in general and Palestinian rights in particular.

We demand the lifting of Paul Johnson’s suspension and his immediate reinstatement.

We resolve to forward this resolution to:

  • Chief Executive, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, Council House, Priory Road, Dudley, DY1 1HF. Email sarah.norman@dudley.gov.uk
  • Qadar Zada, Council Leader, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, Council House, Priory Road, Dudley, DY1 1HF. Email Cllr.Qadar.Zada@dudleymbc.org.uk
  • [cc: own Union National Executive etc as appropriate]
  • PLEASE SEND COPY OF RESOLUTION & MESSAGES OF SUPPORT TO: pauljcampaign@gmail.com

Antisemitic misconduct – what it is and what it is not

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ANTISEMITIC MISCONDUCT

What it is – and what it is not

This document has been prepared by Jewish Voice for Labour and Free Speech on Israel as a contribution to the Labour Party’s consultation on its Code of Conduct on Antisemitism but has a wider significance. LAW fully supports this excellent contribution to the debate.

You can download this statement here.

_____________

There has been extended controversy over the adoption by the Labour Party of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism. It has been widely recognised that the wording of that definition is so loose that it requires extensive interpretation if it is to be even potentially helpful for disciplinary purposes.

Our submission is based on an understanding of the nature of antisemitism which we believe avoids the obscurities and ambiguities of the IHRA working definition:

Antisemitism is a form of racism. It consists in prejudice, hostility or hatred towards Jews as Jews. It may take the form of denial of rights; direct, indirect or institutional discrimination; prejudiced-based behaviour; verbal or written statements; or violence. Such manifestations draw on stereotypes – characteristics which all Jews are presumed to share.

We believe that the following comments will be helpful to those drawing up Labour’s disciplinary code, and perhaps more widely.

_____________

Implications of taking this view of antisemitism

1. Stereotypes

Racism commonly stereotypes groups as inferior in ways that enable discrimination against them. Such stereotypes function by scapegoating a targeted group, deflecting blame for society’s problems from their real causes. Antisemitic stereotyping has historically been used to dehumanise Jewish people, giving licence to treat them in ways not otherwise acceptable. Use of such stereotypes is unarguably antisemitic conduct.

2. Expressions of antisemitism

Certain words and phrases that refer to Jews in a derogatory way are unquestionably antisemitic. Terms which associate Jews with malevolent social forces clearly fall into this category. Extreme examples are the blood libel (that Jews kill Christian children to use their blood in religious ceremonies), and the claimed existence of a powerful but secret Jewish cabal that controls the world.

Seemingly neutral or positive terms can also be used in antisemitic ways. For example, assertions that Jews are unusually clever or especially ‘good with money’ make the unwarranted assumption that all Jews share similar characteristics. Commonly, there is a negative, antisemitic edge to such views.

3. Terminology

Jews, Israelis and Zionists are separate categories that are too frequently conflated by both supporters and critics of Israel. This conflation can be antisemitic. Holding all Jews responsible for the actions of the Israeli government is antisemitic. Many Jews are not Zionist. The majority of Zionists are not Jewish but fundamentalist Christian Zionists. Over 20 percent of Israeli citizens are not Jewish.

4. Political discourse

Free speech is legally protected. Within these legal limits political discourse can be robust and may cause offence. There is no right not to be offended. The fact that some people or groups are offended does not in itself mean that a statement is antisemitic or racist. A statement is only antisemitic if it shows prejudice, hostility or hatred against Jews as Jews.

The terms ‘Zionism’ and ‘Zionist’ describe a political ideology and its adherents. They are key concepts in the discussion of Israel/Palestine. They are routinely used, approvingly, by supporters of Israel, but critically by campaigners for Palestinian rights, who identify Zionist ideology and the Zionist movement as responsible for Palestinian dispossession. Criticising Zionism or Israel as a state does not constitute criticising Jews as individuals or as a people, and is not evidence of antisemitism.

There have been claims that any comparison between aspects of Israel and features of pre-war Nazi Germany is inherently antisemitic. Similar objections have been raised to likening Israel’s internal practices to those of apartheid South Africa. Drawing such parallels can undoubtedly cause offence; but potent historical events and experiences are always key reference points in political debate. Such comparisons are only antisemitic if they show prejudice, hostility or hatred against Jews as Jews.

5. Boycott, divestment and sanctions

A common focus for allegations of antisemitism is the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) targeted on Israel. The three elements of BDS are internationally recognized as legitimate and non- violent strategies for securing political change. So advocating for BDS would only be antisemitic if accompanied by evidence that it is motivated not by this purpose but by racially-based hostility towards Jews.

6. When Antisemitism Is Alleged

As with any allegations of racism, accusations of antisemitism must be taken seriously and investigated. But principles of natural justice and due process must be respected and applied: the person accused should be accorded the normal presumption of innocence until the case is resolved. Allegations do not constitute proof.

Antisemitic attitudes may be more or less intense.* Some people are deeply antisemitic, others less so. Yet others whom it would be unreasonable to class as antisemitic may nevertheless hold some attitudes, in dilute form, which will make some Jews uncomfortable. Following a finding of antisemitism there remains a decision to be made about whether discussion and education, rather than a formal disciplinary approach, is more appropriate.

Indirect discrimination could inadvertently occur, where actions have the effect of selectively disadvantaging Jewish people even though no hostile motive towards Jews is present. Once a case of such discrimination comes to light, those responsible should take all reasonable steps possible to eliminate the problem. Unwillingness to take such steps would be evidence of antisemitism.

The systematic murder of millions of Jews (and so many others) is exhaustively documented. It is therefore inconceivable that Holocaust denial or expressions of doubt over its scale could be motivated by genuine investigatory scepticism. The implication of antisemitic intent is, for practical purposes, inescapable.

* See Institute of Jewish Policy Research report Antisemitism in Contemporary Great Britain, 2017

7. Overview

The understanding of antisemitism on which this analysis is based reaffirms the traditional meaning of the term. This is important in the light of attempts to extend its meaning to apply to criticisms often made of the state of Israel, or to non-violent campaigns such as BDS. A charge of antisemitism carries exceptional moral force because of the negative connotations rightly attaching to the term. It is illegitimate to make such claims to discredit or deter criticism, or to achieve sectional advantage. To do so is to devalue the term.

To be clear: conduct is antisemitic only if it manifests ‘prejudice, hostility or hatred against Jews as Jews’.

Do not cooperate with the ‘Antisemitism Monitoring Centre’!

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We call on all Labour Party members to stay well clear of the Jewish Labour Movement’s latest stunt. The JLM, which is the sister party of the Zionist Labor Party in Israel, has written to CLP secretaries, asking them to distribute their “survey” on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party to all local members. Many CLP secretaries have quite rightly moved this email directly into their Spam folder. If you have been unfortunate enough to have received the email, we urge you to do the same.

It is laughable to claim, as the JLM does, that it has “engaged, in good faith, with the Labour Party to try and solve the severe and ongoing crisis of Labour anti-Semitism”. The JLM has neither acted in “good faith”, nor has it got any interest in solving “the crisis of Labour anti-Semitism”. After all, the JLM has done tremendous work in making rare, isolated cases into a “crisis” in the first place. Hundreds, if not thousands, of supporters of Jeremy Corbyn have been witch-hunted in this campaign, which has nothing to do with fighting anti-Semitism – but everything with getting rid of Corbyn, a committed friend of the Palestinians.

We have seen people being suspended for using the word “Zio” or for expressing their outrage of the horrendous crimes committed by the state of Israel in a confused manner. The vast majority of these people are clearly not anti-Semitic. And yet, they have been publicly labeled as such by the JLM, the Board of Deputies and the despicable Jonathan Sachs, who has gone as far as calling Jeremy Corbyn an anti-Semite. We know that the JLM has reported many cases to Labour’s compliance unit, often causing great distress to the members concerned.

Socialists in the Labour Party should show up this “survey” for what it is – a clearly biased attempt to exacerbate the poisonous atmosphere of fear and suspicion in the party.