LAW statement: Oppose fast track expulsions!

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We urge all delegates at Labour Party conference to vote AGAINST the proposal coming from the NEC meeting of September 17 (this will probably be debated on Sunday). As we go to press, we have not seen the full text, but we understand that it will allow sub-panels of the NEC to swiftly expel members for any ‘hate crime’-type offence. This will presumably include transphobia, sexism, racism etc.

But we all know what the real purpose is: It is meant to be the magic bullet that finally puts an end to the anti-Semitism smear campaign in the party. But we have bad news for Labour HQ: This is not going to work! For starters, the Jewish Labour Movement has already complained – that is after all why they relaunched in 2015: to sabotage Jeremy Corbyn at every opportunity they get.

But, more seriously, this rule change has the potential to make the witch-hunt in the Labour Party even worse. Currently, the national constitutional committee (NCC) is the only body with the power to expel members, “having been created following a high court injunction against expulsions by the NEC in the 1980s”, as The Guardian puts it. “The court ruled that the NEC could not both investigate complaints and make a final ruling on complaints. However, as investigations are now carried out by party staff, the power to expel can be restored to the NEC.”

Certainly, the NCC quite rightly deserves its nickname of ‘national kangaroo court’ – most of its 24 members have been appointed by rightwing unions and affiliates and only 11 are elected by Labour Party members. But handing the power to expel members to the NEC – under current conditions – is no good thing. Contrary to what often appears in the media, the NEC is not dominated by the ‘left’.

The NEC already has the power to immediately suspend a member (and it has made full use of it). Plus, if the allegation is so serious as to warrant instant dismissal for racism, then surely this might be a police matter?

Then there is the question of what constitutes anti-Semitic “hate speech” and what is justified criticism of the actions of the state of Israel? This is, as supporters of this rule change know all too well, a hotly disputed issue. Chris Williamson MP remains suspended under anti-Semitism charges, when clearly all he did was to question the party’s response to the campaign orchestrated by the right in and outside the party.

Or take the evolution of the term ‘Zionism’. This is a label chosen by the Zionists themselves to describe their political ideology. Yet we have seen dozens of examples of Labour Party members being investigated simply for their use of the word – often merely in a descriptive fashion.

Rather than putting an end to the ‘anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ smear campaign in the party, this rule change would be making matters much, much worse – and is a real danger to the right of freedom of speech.

Please VOTE FOR the rule changes by Ceredigion CLP and Enfield Southgate CLP which would make the disciplinary process more transparent, enshrine the right to appeal and ensure that cases are dealt with in a timely fashion.

Model motions protesting against Chris Williamson’s re-suspension

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Labour Against the Witchhunt

We believe that the renewed suspension of Chris Williamson MP is a travesty of justice.

We are particularly concerned that Keith Vaz’ U-turn seems to have been motivated purely by the pressure coming from the right inside and outside the party. Sadly but unsurprisingly, that now includes Jon Lansman.

We presume Vaz initially judged the case by its merit and found – correctly – that Chris had not said or done anything that could be described as anti-Semitic or bringing the party into disrepute. Vaz quite rightly judged that the evidence did not warrant Chris’s ongoing suspension or his referral to the National Constitutional Committee (which is still dominated by the right).

But Vaz’s U-turn and Chris’s renewed suspension, following the deeply undemocratic and hysterical letter organised by Tom Watson, symbolise how unfair and one-sided the whole disciplinary process really is. The right is calling all the shots  – and Labour HQ seems to always do exactly what they demand.

But the right will never be appeased. They will never accept Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, let alone prime minister. They will continue their campaign of sabotage, because he remains an unreliable ally from the ruling class’s point of view, especially given his strong support for the rights of Palestinians.

There is very little chance that Chris will get a fair hearing from the NEC Disputes Panel, when several of those who will sit in judgment upon him have already torn his reputation to shreds on social media, without even having seen all the evidence.

We therefore call on the NEC:

  •  to immediately reinstate Chris Williamson, as recommended by the NEC panel
  • to immediately open trigger ballots so that Labour Party members can choose a parliamentary candidate who actually reflects their wishes
  • to stop the practice of automatic suspensions and expulsions: members should be regarded as innocent until proven guilty

Labour Party Northern Ireland

1. We are opposed to the original suspension of Chris Williamson MP. Given that the opinion expressed was a reasonable one, we consider that there was insufficient evidence from the outset that his comments constituted conduct that justified withdrawal of the whip.

2. We are opposed to the second suspension of Chris Williamson on the grounds that it was arbitrary and unreasonable, being as it failed to adhere to Labour Party rules and procedures governing disciplinary matters.

3. We are opposed to the disciplining of any member who publicly states that the Labour Party does not have a particular problem with anti-semitism.

4. We call on the Labour Party leadership and on all members to robustly challenge the false narrative that the Labour Party is a racist and bigoted party.


Jewish Voice for Labour

This branch/CLP notes with alarm the unprecedented over-ruling of an NEC disciplinary panel decision to lift the suspension of Derby North MP Chris Williamson, as a result of a hostile public campaign led by members of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Disciplinary panels have delegated powers and make their decisions in the light of material presented to them by party staff and independent advice from qualified legal counsel. To our knowledge there is no previous case of a panel decision being referred back to the NEC. For this to happen as a result of partisan political lobbying is unacceptable interference in the processes the party has been struggling to make faster, more robust and more effective. It amounts to a violation of the natural justice that members have a right to expect in the party’s disciplinary procedures.

We call upon the NEC, meeting on July 9, to reject such interference and to uphold the decision of the June 27 panel lifting Chris Williamson’s suspension.

 


We note that:

  • Chris Williamson is a  well-respected and hardworking MP with great standing in his constituency and a strong record of anti-racist campaigning.
  • Our campaign for a Labour Government depends on the dedication and principled commitment of Chris Williamson and others like him.
  • Chris Williamson, Labour MP for Derby North, said ”The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. …[O]ur party has been partly responsible for that because… we have backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party.”
  • Following his initial suspension (27/02/19) Chris Williamson was tried according to procedure by the 3 member panel of the NCC and the suspension was lifted (26/06/19).
  • Following the lifting of his suspension, a hostile and personal campaign against him by the Media and sections of the PLP has resulted in unprecedented action to refer his case on to the NEC (28/06/19).

We believe that Chris Williamson’s comments are not anti-Semitic.

We strongly disagree with the actions of the members of the Parliamentary Labour Party who published a letter calling upon Jeremy Corbyn to overturn this decision on the basis that there has been, “political interference.”

Resolution:

This branch/ CLP reaffirms our support for Chris Williamson and we call on the NEC to reinstate Chris Williamson immediately.

Sign the open letter to the NEC: The renewed suspension of Chris Williamson MP is a travesty of justice

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SIGN BY CLICKING HERE

We, the undersigned, believe that the renewed suspension of Chris Williamson MP is a travesty of justice.

We will be protesting outside the NEC meeting on July 9 2019, which will in all likelihood decide to overturn the decision of the NEC panel and send Chris’ case to the National Constitutional Committee, which is still dominated by the right. A referral to this body usually leads to an expulsion. Please come along to show your solidarity with the only MP who has dared to stand up to the witch-hunters. The only one who has defended members wrongly accused of being anti-Semites. Now it’s our turn to stand with him! (Tuesday July 9, 9am, Labour Party HQ, 105 Victoria Street, Southside, London SW1)

We are particularly concerned that Keith Vaz’ U-turn seems to have been motivated purely by the pressure coming from the right inside and outside the party. Sadly but unsurprisingly, that now includes Jon Lansman.

We presume Vaz initially judged the case by its merit and found – correctly – that Chris had not said or done anything that could be described as anti-Semitic or bringing the party into disrepute. Vaz quite rightly judged that the evidence did not warrant Chris’s ongoing suspension or his referral to the National Constitutional Committee (which is still dominated by the right).

But Vaz’s U-turn and Chris’s renewed suspension, following the deeply undemocratic and hysterical letter organised by Tom Watson, symbolise how unfair and one-sided the whole disciplinary process really is. The right is calling all the shots  – and Labour HQ seems to always do exactly what they demand.

But the right will never be appeased. They will never accept Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, let alone prime minister. They will continue their campaign of sabotage, because he remains an unreliable ally from the ruling class’s point of view, especially given his strong support for the rights of Palestinians.

There is very little chance that Chris will get a fair hearing from the NEC Disputes Panel, when several of those who will sit in judgment upon him have already torn his reputation to shreds on social media, without even having seen all the evidence.

We therefore call on the NEC:

  •  to immediately reinstate Chris Williamson, as recommended by the NEC panel
  • to immediately open trigger ballots so that Labour Party members can choose a parliamentary candidate who actually reflects their wishes
  • to stop the practice of automatic suspensions and expulsions: members should be regarded as innocent until proven guilty

SIGN BY CLICKING HERE

The re-suspension of Chris Williamson is a travesty of justice

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Sign our open letter to the NEC here

The renewed suspension of Chris Williamson MP, two days after he was readmitted to the Labour Party, is deeply troubling. We are particularly concerned that Keith Vaz’ U-turn seems to have been motivated purely by the pressure coming from the right inside and outside the party. Sadly but unsurprisingly, that now includes Jon Lansman.

We presume Vaz initially judged the case by its merit and found – correctly – that Chris had not said or done anything that could be described as anti-Semitic or bringing the party into disrepute. Vaz quite rightly judged that the evidence did not warrant Chris’s ongoing suspension or his referral to the National Constitutional Committee (which is still dominated by the right).

But Vaz’s U-turn and Chris’s renewed suspension, following the deeply undemocratic and hysterical letter organised by Tom Watson, symbolise how unfair and one-sided the whole disciplinary process really is. The right is calling all the shots – and Labour HQ seems to always do exactly what they demand.

But the right will never be appeased. They will never accept Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, let alone prime minister. They will continue their campaign of sabotage, because he remains unreliable from the ruling class’s point of view, especially given his strong support for the rights of Palestinians.

It is high time that the Labour MPs better reflect the wishes of the local membership. We therefore urge Labour Party members to organise trigger ballots everywhere, particularly in order to deselect the 70 or so MPs who have signed Tom Watson’s letter (below).

Click here to see the long list of statements, resolutions and motions in support of Chris!

Sign our open letter to the NEC here

saboteurs

We welcome Chris Williamson’s reinstatement! Now use trigger ballots to get rid of the saboteurs!

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Today we are celebrating the long overdue reinstatement of Chris Williamson MP. The reality is that he should never have been suspended in the first place!

The allegation that Chris had downplayed anti-Semitism was totally unfounded. His comments, made at a Momentum meeting in Sheffield, were condemned in a deliberate attempt to ruin both the reputation of Chris 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.”

Handy list of saboteurs that should be targeted in trigger ballots

His comments were clearly neither anti-Semitic, nor denying the existence of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party (as in wider society). But he did 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.

We are deeply concerned that anti-Corbyn right-wingers continue to smear and harass Chris, even after his reinstatement. Ruth Smeeth MP, chair of the rightwing Jewish Labour Movement’s parliamentary group, for example said that he had “demonstrated a pattern of behaviour over a period of many months, seemingly seeking to intentionally undermine, marginalise and harass the British Jewish community and Jewish Labour Party members, which has continually brought the Labour Party into disrepute”.

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.

We call on all Labour Party members to use trigger ballots to challenge saboteurs like Ruth Smeeth, Tom Watson and all those who continue to oppose the positive transformation of the Labour Party.

Here is a guide on how to go about it: http://www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org/model-motions/how-to-use-the-new-trigger-ballot-to-deselect-your-mp/

 

The expulsion of Jackie Walker is a great injustice

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Today’s expulsion of Jackie Walker from the Labour Party for “misconduct” – of which the Jewish Chronicle was informed before her solicitors – is a great injustice, though it does not come as a surprise. Although the panel took two days to come to their conclusion, the die had been cast long ago. The decision to charge her for a “pattern of behaviour” does not bode well for Chris Williamson MP, who has been accused of similar ‘offences’.

Jackie walked out on the first day of her hearing, because the panel did not allow her to read out a brief statement. This ruling once again emphasised the lack of fairness at the heart of the party’s disciplinary procedures: for example, the investigating officers added five new charges to their allegations a mere three working days before the hearing began, giving her no time to effectively challenge them and defend herself.

Click on the picture to watch a great little film of the protest produced by Jon Pullman.

Clearly, walking out made no difference to the eventual outcome – but she was able to expose the lack of natural justice at the heart of her case with a spirited party with the well over 100 people who came to the Deptford Lounge in South London to support her.

Please read Jackie’s statement, in which she takes apart the charges against her and outlines the lack of natural justice and due process in the party’s disciplinary procedures against her.

This decision is a massive set back in the fight for the soul of the Labour Party – the right has been able to claim yet another scalp.

LAW stand in unequivocal solidarity with Jackie Walker and all those who have unfairly brandished as anti-Semites on trumped up and nonsense charges and those who have been expelled because they are supporting left-wing groups in the Labour Party. It is those kind of politicised decisions, designed to appease the right, that are bringing “the party into disrepute” – not our comrades Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Marc Wadsworth, Stan Keable and Chris Williamson.

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

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March 25 2019

The Left has always stood in solidarity against racism and alongside its victims.  That will never change.

But allegations have to be proved, and the accused are entitled to due process at disciplinary hearings.  This means open tribunals, where the evidence is interrogated and judgements are available to all – justice must be seen to be done: equality before the rule book – no special treatment for anyone, however venerable; and accusations that are considered to be vexatious should attract appropriate sanctions.

A respected member of the Jewish Socialist Group said, way back in 2017: “accusations of antisemitism are being weaponised to attack the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party”. That is the observation of a Jewish member of the Labour party.

The statistics that Jennie Formby has released are revealing.  For example, of 1100 complaints received between April 2018 and January 2019, 433 related to people who were not Labour party members – nearly 40%.

200 complaints were submitted by one MP.  They concerned 111 people.  Of those, 91 were not Party members.‎ 200 complaints – but only 20 party members.

And that is before evidence has been tested or defences made.  The MP? None other than Margaret Hodge.

As a matter of urgency these figures should be re-examined and double checked.  If it can be proved that 91 of those accused out of the 111 are not even Labour party members, why did Margaret Hodge submit the complaints?  Was she careless, and did not carry out due diligence,  or did she know they were not Labour party members?  So what are her reasons?  She too is entitled to a fair hearing, but we must demand answers given that mass allegations clearly bring the party into serious disrepute.

Calling the leader of the party a ‘f……g racist and antisemite’ also brings the party into disrepute. Why was Margaret Hodge not charged on that occasion? Equality before the law!

Chris Williamson has fought as hard as anyone to advance the party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. There is no way he is antisemitic.  Read the speech in question, and it is obvious that he is talking about how we should respond to the present situation. Clearly there is no implication of antisemitism in what he has said.

Jackie Walker speaks with great honesty about how her own background demonstrates the history of racism.  Again, there is no way Jackie is antisemitic.

And there are others who have been unfairly targeted.

Recent terrible events show the Far Right is on the march. They are the real racists.  As ever, it is people like Chris and Jackie, and others in their situation, who will lead our fight back.

Ken Loach

 

 

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

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March 25 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A government that will transform our country.

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

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

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

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

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

So, let’s make history together.

 

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 

LAW model motion on the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth

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

You can download the motion in Word format here. 

1. This branch/CLPs notes that:

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

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