LAW Statement: Lift suspension of Peter Gregson from GMB, stop investigation

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Labour Against the Witchhunt calls on Labour’s NEC to reject the allegations of anti-Semitism against Peter Gregson, condemns his suspension by the GMB trade union and calls for the immediate restoration of his full membership rights.

The principle ‘guilty until proved innocent’ threatens the rights of all members, chills discussion, damages democracy and invites malicious complaints against political opponents. We prefer the principle of working class solidarity: ‘An injury to one is an injury to all.’

Except in the most extreme circumstances, disciplinary sanctions should not be applied until due process has been concluded. Where low level sectionalist, nationalistic, xenophobic or racist ideas, including anti-Semitic ideas, are found in the workers’ movement, they are best countered by open discussion, patient education, inculcation of elementary class consciousness and by encouraging participation in joint struggles. The slogan ‘zero tolerance’ is ill-conceived and counterproductive.

We reject the International Holocaust Memorial Alliance’s unnecessarily complex, imprecise and self-contradictory definition of anti-Semitism, which conflates it with anti-Zionism.

The IHRA definition, which has been adopted by both the Labour Party and the GMB, will no doubt be the basis of investigations into the allegations made against Peter. We prefer the Oxford English dictionary definition, that anti-Semitism is ‘hostility to or prejudice against Jews.’

Peter is clearly not anti-Semitic: he does not harbour hostility, prejudice, hatred or ill-intent towards Jewish people as Jews. He is a campaigner for Palestinian rights, against the racist ideology of Zionism and the apartheid system and practices of Israel.

The investigation into Peter arose because he organised a petition, with now over 700 signatories, declaring – using the clumsy and obscure IHRA wording – that “the existence of Israel is a racist endeavour”. But even Jon Lansman, the Zionist self-appointed chair of Momentum, conceded, in an October 14 email to Peter, that “declaring Israel to be a racist endeavour and challenging the NEC to expel him alongside others who signed a petition he launched may not be anti-Semitic …” But Lansman continued: “… it is a deliberately provocative act which is most certainly prejudicial to the interests of the party and I therefore urge the General Secretary to take the appropriate action against you.”

These are weasel words. “Provocative” acts are the stuff of political debate. Lansman is effectively calling for the silencing of support for the Palestinian struggle against Zionism and Israel’s apartheid.

We understand from Peter’s November 8 statement that his suspension by the GMB is motivated by former Labour NEC member and GMB official Rhea Wolfson – an open Zionist, a member of the Jewish Labour Movement and a supporter of Israel as a Jewish state.

The Israeli state is inherently racist. Under its July 2018 Nation-State Law, Israel is defined as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” and Palestinian citizens are explicitly declared not to have any national rights. In the West Bank and Gaza – territories occupied since 1967 – while Jewish settlers enjoy full democratic rights as Israeli citizens, Palestinians live under military rule with no democratic rights, because they are not Jewish.

Although Peter’s petition is a good idea, challenging Labour’s NEC to revoke its adoption of the IHRA definition, we cannot support it. Firstly, we disagree with some of its wording – eg, before it adopted the full IHRA definition on September 4, Labour did not allow “full freedom of speech on Israel”. On the contrary, the witch-hunt was in full flow long before that. Secondly, some of the formulations in Peter’s supporting documents internalise the racism of Zionist ideology, failing to distinguish clearly between the Zionist movement and the Jewish population, and attributing a non-existent collective political identity to “the Jews”, eg, “the Jews have so much leverage here [in the UK]”.

The witch-hunt against Corbyn and the Labour left is part of the huge, unprecedented campaign over recent years to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism – hatched, crafted and skilfully promoted by the US right, the Israeli government and the UK establishment, designed to delegitimise criticism of Israel and to prepare public opinion for another imperialist war in the Middle East, after the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Tonbridge and Malling CLP: motion passed on Marc Wadsworth, June 2 2018

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This CLP notes that:  

  • Marc Wadsworth, a leading Black antiracist activist, was expelled from the Labour Party – with no right of appeal – on April 27, 2018, charged with bringing the Party into disrepute;
  • his expulsion followed 22 months of suspension from membership;
  • his expulsion was not for antisemitism, despite continuous prejudicial media coverage falsely accusing him of antisemitic abuse at the media launch of the Chakrabarti Report on June 30, 2016.

This CLP believes:

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

This CLP therefore:  

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

 

#Justice4Marc launch in London: Spotted hyenas and Labour right

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Queen’s Park branch

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

This branch notes that:

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

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

This branch believes:

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

This branch therefore:

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

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

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

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

LAW 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”

GBL on Marc Wadsworth’s expulsion

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NEWS RELEASE

April 27 2018

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

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

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

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

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

This Wednesday, April 25: We need your help!

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According to a report in the Skwawkbox, Wes Streeting MP, who recently verbally attacked Diane Abbott, is organising anti-Corbyn MPs, peers and others people to protest outside the Labour Party disciplinary hearing against veteran black anti-racism campaigner Marc Wadsworth this Wednesday, April 25.

Streeting claims that his “march” from Westminster Hall to Church House (which will also be attended by Labour First’s Luke Akehurst) is in “support of Ruth Smeeth MP”, who will give evidence against Marc, as “there will be a protest against her”.

Campaigners, including, Labour Against the Witchhunt, Grassroots Black Left, Jewish Voice for Labour and members of the Windrush generation, are not organising a protest against Smeeth but a lobby in support of Marc.  We demand that the false charges against him are dropped and that he is fully reinstated to Labour Party membership. What we are protesting about is the attempted frame-up of Marc. Labour bosses are demanding his expulsion from the party.

Streeting calls Marc “the guy who abused her [Ruth Smeeth] at the [Shami Chakrabarti] antisemitism inquiry launch”.

In fact the Chakrabarti report was about anti-semitism and all forms of racism, including the anti-black racism and Islamophobia, which have been ignored. What abuse is Wes Streeting talking about? Marc Wadsworth actually said at the report launch, after being goaded by Daily Telegraph political report Kate McCann:

“I saw that the Telegraph handed a copy of a press release to Ruth Smeeth MP so you can see who is working hand in hand. If you look around this room, how many African, Caribbean and Asian people are there? We need to get our house in order, don’t we?”

Of course, anti-semitism exists in society, just like other forms of racism and prejudice and this is reflected in the Labour Party. But, just like Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Tony Greenstein and many other Labour members suspended and expelled by the party in the last two years, Marc is no anti-semite and nothing he did or said was even vaguely anti-semitic.

In truth, the right-wing in the Labour Party want to claim another scalp in their campaign to smear Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters.

LAW will be showing their support to Marc and all those people unjustly suspended and expelled without due process. We demand the yet to be implemented Chakrabarti rules be applied to all cases, that have been referred to Labour’s draconian National Constitution Committee, including Marc’s.

Please come along to show your support!
Wednesday April 25, 9.30am
Church House, Great Smith St, Westminster

London SW1P 3NZ

Please bring witches costumes and placards (though we are also having some printed). Please also note that we are asking all protesters to wear a ‘gag’ – a sticky tape or similar over their mouths – and keep a silent protest. No doubt the right-wingers present will try and provoke us.Marc also needs help covering his legal costs – please contribute to his crowdfunding campaign.

On the case of David Watson: Open letter to the NEC, Compliance Unit and Constitutional Committee

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To the NEC, Compliance Unit and Constitutional Committee

Sisters and Brothers

23 January 2018

We have waited for 19 months for the Chakrabarti Enquiry’s recommendations to be put into practice, and give our party the fair disciplinary procedures it needs and deserves. We hope that the NEC will make a start today by clearing David Watson of unfounded charges and letting him return to Walthamstow where he was a valued officer.

We have seen so many good comrades across the Labour Party suspended on the basis of anonymous accusations, and still waiting to be reinstated. There have been waves of factional purges which are shameful in a democratic party. First members were accused of being Green, then trade union militants, then antisemites and then transphobic. Accusations seem to have come down most heavily on people of colour, thus further excluding them from our party which we say that we want to reflect the society we live in. Continue Reading “On the case of David Watson: Open letter to the NEC, Compliance Unit and Constitutional Committee”

Solidarity with Moshé Machover – the labour movement speaks out!

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(please not that this article first appeared on the website of Labour Party Marxists – all links refer to that site)

The expulsion of long-standing Israeli socialist Moshé Machover from the Labour Party (expulsion letter here) caused shockwaves throughout the labour movement. We feature the motions and statements in support of Moshé and against the ongoing witch hunt by the right in the party. 

On October 5, Moshe received a second explusion letter, which states that “These allegations [of anti-Semitism] are not subject to an investigation as you are not currently a member of the Labour Party.” They will probably be kept on file, should his expulsion based on his “clear support” for LPM be overturned. This is arbitrary, to say the least.

Clearly, the mass protests against the outrageous decision worked: On October 30, they were forced to – very reluctantly – reverse their own decision and Moshé has now been reinstated to full membership.

Click here to read the correspondence between comrade Machover and Sam Matthews, “head of disputes”.

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