Sheffield LAW ‘Justice4Marc’ meeting

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Labour Against the Witchhunt organised a fantastic meeting in Sheffield yesterday, as part of the national ‘Justice4Marc’ speaking tour with Marc Wadsworth. The meeting was packed, with around 80 people cramming into the wonderful DINA arts venue – and the staff working there last night got very involved, too! We heard from:

  • Jewish author Paul Kelemen (who exposed the agenda of the pro-Israel lobby);
  • Scott Shaw (who was expelled because of his association with Socialist Appeal);
  • Martin Mayer (who shared fascinating stories from his time on the Labour Party NEC and the many “bogus” claims of anti-Semitism he witnessed first hand);
  • Jackie Walker (who focused on the need to develop a comradely, but critical attitude towards Jeremy Corbyn and the NEC for not standing up to the witch-hunt: “If our leadership does not lead, then we have to lead our leaders”);
  • and of course Marc Wadsworth, who was expelled on April 27 from the Labour Party.

Unfortunately, there was a bit of friction at the start of the event as Marc Wadsworth objected to the locally agreed chair Lee Rock (who runs Sheffield Left List, which organises the Labour left across all six Sheffield CLPs and had about 30 supporters at the meeting). Marc insisted on a particular black member of Momentum Sheffield chairing instead.

However, myself, Jackie Walker and others objected to her, as at the January AGM she had been one of the instigators of a motion to exclude from Momentum Sheffield all non-Labour members – including, explicitly, those who had been expelled from the Labour Party for unjust reasons. The AGM motion was carried by a very small margin and now affects about a dozen former members. They can attend some (not all) meetings of Sheffield Momentum, but are not allowed to vote or be elected to any positions – i.e., they have no membership rights.

Huge credit to Jackie Walker, national chair of LAW, who pointed out very patiently how this local decision – which is almost unique among local Momentum groups – was in fact an integral part of the witch-hunt against the Labour left and that she would not accept any chair who had voted in favour of it. As a compromise, Lee Rock agreed to vacate his position and Jackie chaired the meeting instead. Marc decided at that point to leave the top table and made his contribution from the floor.

It was very heartening to hear so many speakers get up and make the connection between the rightwing witch-hunt of Corbyn supporters and the agenda of the pro-Israel lobby, both of which want to stop the transformation of the Labour Party into a democratic, anti-war party. Speakers criticised the party leadership’s policy of trying to appease those forces: “With every step back that we take, there will be a void. And the right is filling this void”, as comrade Shaw put it.

My favourite contribution came from John Dunn (a leading member of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign) who, in a rousing speech, ripped into Momentum owner Jon Lansman for not standing up to the witch-hunt in the Labour Party, fostering the lie that there is a huge problem with anti-Semitism in the party. Instead of offering solidarity to the thousands suspended and expelled, Lansman has become complicit in the witch-hunt.

In my own contribution, I mentioned the need for socialists to stand up to injustice, particularly in our own organisations. “When we see a rule that is clearly unjust, as with Momentum’s constitution, surely we do not simply accept it. As socialists, we fight against it and refuse to implement it” – something, that of course, most Momentum branches have done. Jewish Voice for Labour, too, does not recognise as legimitate the expulsions and suspensions from the Labour Party for political reasons and admits those affected as full JVL members.

Another comrade reported the huge strain her suspension had put her under. Her ‘crime’: she had shared a meme of a DWP job centre sign, where the words had been replaced with ‘Arbeit macht frei’ (the slogan above the Auschwitz concentration camp). It takes some mental contortion to see how this could be described as anti-Semitic. Clearly, it is a pointed criticism of the Tory government’s hounding of disabled and vulnerable people.

But of course, in today’s poisonous police state atmosphere, anything is possible. For example, another comrade reported on the case of Stan Keable, who this week was sacked from his job, after a private discussion with a Zionist at the ‘Enough is Enough’ protest in March had been filmed and published online: He tried to defend as historically accurate Ken Livingstone’s claim that the early Nazi regime did indeed work with the Zionists in trying to transfer Jews to Palestine.

Many speakers naturally brought up the unfortunate resignation of Ken Livingstone from the Labour Party. Marc Wadsworth suggested that Ken might have resigned in order to support Marc’s own campaign for reinstatement, but I am uncertain he convinced many people in the room of this theory. It seems far more likely that Livingstone has indeed been pressured and persuaded by Jeremy Corbyn to resign. After all, Corbyn immediately congratulated him on this decision – a very unhelpful political move, as many in the room felt, and lacking in solidarity.

Jackie Walker reminded comrades that in the 1980s, during the purge of Militant, an earlier incarnation of ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’ was chaired by no other than Jeremy Corbyn. “I think if he was not the party leader today, he would probably be sitting on this platform right now”, she said.

It was a boisterous meeting with a very healthy fighting spirit. At the end, Jackie encouraged everybody to not give up the fight. “I will not resign. I have had two years of shit being thrown at me, but it is hugely important that we all stay – or try to stay – in the party and fight.” She encouraged comrades to become conference delegates, stand for positions in their local branches and CLPs, get involved in Sheffield Labour Left List – and to join Labour Against the Witchhunt, of course.

Tina Werkmann

Message of support from Ken Loach

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Click here to download all messages of support in a PDF file: from Alexei Sayle, Ken Loach and Chris Williamson MP

I’m sorry not to be with you tonight – but very pleased to send a message of strong support to Labour Against The Witchhunt and Marc personally. No one wants a party that tolerates abuse or racism. But that’s not my experience of Labour meetings and I’m sure it’s not yours. If there are allegations, let the evidence be brought, scrutinised in an open hearing in front of an impartial panel, with all sides heard, witnesses allowed to speak and a right to appeal. In other words, due process in accordance with natural justice.

That does not appear to have happened in Marc’s case. The available information shows the evidence to be weak and the judgement faulty. Marc has an honourable record as a principled campaigner against racism and injustice. We should demand that his case be reopened.

Further, we cannot tolerate the abuse of the disciplinary procedure for political purposes, to remove good activists. The people who should face scrutiny are those MPs and their apologists who do their best to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, who supported the right wing policies of Blair, including his illegal war in Iraq, with the terrible consequences we see today.

The Labour Party is changing. Make certain the changes really happen.  Working class people need a party that will re-order society so that all may live with security and dignity. To transform society we have also to transform the party – this struggle is part of that transformation.

Solidarity,

Ken Loach

 

LAW statement on the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth

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“Victim of a politically motivated campaign against Jeremy Corbyn”

Labour Against the Witchhunt strongly condemns the outrageous decision to expel Marc Wadsworth after a two-day hearing in front of three right-wing members of Labour’s National Constitutional Committee.

Marc is the latest victim of the politically motivated witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. Marc Wadsworth, a lifelong campaigner against racism, has been smeared and his reputation tarnished, first by the vile and false allegations against him and now, to top it off, by this deeply unjust verdict. Following 22 months of trial-by-media, our comrade had very little chance of receiving a fair hearing – and he did not get one. Continue Reading “LAW statement on the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth”

LAW lobby: NEC members sneak in through the back door

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Intrepid opponents of the Labour purge of pro-Corbyn supporters braved freezing weather to be on a lobby of the party’s National Executive Committee today. They included members of Grassroots Black Left, the Labour Representation Committee, Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Party Marxists and Brighton and Hove Momentum. Organised by Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW), the high-spirited demo sighted party leader Corbyn, his political advisor Katy Clark and Campaign for Labour Party Democracy secretary Peter Willsman, an NEC member, going into the meeting at Labour’s Southside headquarters in central London. But, mysteriously, despite the people on the lobby being outside the office block an hour before the NEC meeting started, no more members of Labour’s 39-strong ruling body, where the Corbyn-backing Left recently took control, were seen – suggesting they may have slipped into the building from a back entrance to avoid being questioned. The campaigners chanted: “Stop the witch hunts”, “End the suspensions”, and “Implement Chakrabarti now”.

Former Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker, who has been suspended by Labour for almost two years, said: “We welcome the resignation of general secretary Iain McNicol and his replacement today by Jennie Formby, a Jeremy Corbyn supporter whom LAW has critically supported. Things are definitely changing in the party, but they are not changing fast enough for a lot of members who remain suspended or expelled based on trumped-up or false charges or simply because they are active supporters of Corbyn.”

Grassroots Black Left’s Marc Wadsworth, the veteran anti-racist campaigner suspended by Labour in June 2016 whose expulsion hearing is on April 25, was on the lobby with Walker and Tony Greenstein, who, despite being Jewish, has been expelled on a false charge of anti-semitism. Wadsworth said: “We demand that the recommendations of the 2016 Chakrabarti report in respect of natural justice and due process are implemented without any further delay. The NEC’s failure to so far make the long-overdue changes has brought the party, that prides itself on upholding justice for all, into disrepute. The divisive purge of Jeremy Corbyn supporters has prevented and discouraged new members from getting involved in party life, while costly Labour resources have been wasted in persecuting some of the most energetic and effective campaigners for social change.”

 

Statement on the February 18 expulsion of Tony Greenstein from the Labour Party

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“Labour Against the Witchhunt deplores the politically motivated expulsion from the Labour Party of Tony Greenstein (LAW’s vice-chair). It is a blatant example of how the right-wing who oppose Jeremy Corbyn, the democratically elected Labour leader, have cynically weaponised anti-Semitism to attack his supporters.

Veteran Black, Jewish and other party members have been targeted as part of this witch-hunt. Greenstein is a Jewish anti-racist who has campaigned ceaselessly against the Zionist Israeli government’s appalling treatment of Palestinians and has played a leading role in exposing how children, like jailed Ahed Tamini, have been caught up in this cycle of oppression. He is not Anti-semitic. It is shameful that anti-Semitism has been cynically weaponised by the right-wing to purge Labour of Corbyn supporters, while much more prevalent anti-black racism and, until Jeremy Corbyn spoke out against it, Islamophobia, have been ignored by the party.

We call on the Labour leadership to use its left-wing majority on the party’s ruling National Executive Committee to reinstate Greenstein and stop the witch-hunt; it is an expression of the ongoing civil war in the party that serves no other purpose than to damage the party’s chances of winning the next general election.

The NEC must, without further delay, implement the recommendations of the party’s own Chakrabarti Report recommendations on disciplinary procedure based on natural justice and due process. It is astonishing that almost two years have gone by without these vital changes being brought in so that party members are treated fairly rather than made victims of the purge.”

LAW’s steering committee includes Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth, both of whom remain suspended on trumped-up charges of anti-Semitism. Please support Marc’s crowdfunding appeal – he is next in the firing-line. His hearing has been set for April 25 in London – LAW will be supporting him with a protest outside backed by members of Grassroots Black Left, the Indian Workers’ Association and Jewish Voice for Labour.

Ken Loach: “This witch-hunt is a complete nonsense”

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Filmmaker Ken Loach addressed spirited meeting of Labour Against the Witchhunt in London on January 29

More than 70 people crammed into London’s Conway Hall last night (January 29) to discuss the ongoing witch-hunt against the left in the Labour Party and what can be done to stop it. Hundreds of left-wing and pro-Palestinian members remain expelled or suspended, for example on trumped up charges of anti-Semitism.
For videos from the event, click here.

Continue Reading “Ken Loach: “This witch-hunt is a complete nonsense””

NEC should put an end to the years in limbo

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Stan Keable, secretary of Labour Against the Witchhunt, reports on a successful lobby of Labour’s NEC

(this report also appeared in the Weekly Worker)

Around 40 Labour Party left-wingers and Corbynistas gathered in London on January 23 outside the posh Labour headquarters at 105 Victoria Street. We were there for Labour Against the Witchhunt’s lobby of the party’s national executive committee. The NEC was meeting for the first time with a clear pro-Corbyn majority, following the election of Jon Lansman and two other Momentum and Campaign for  Labour Party Democracy-backed comrades, Yasmine Dar and Rachel Garnham.

We are demanding an end to the rightwing witch-hunt against the left. And among us were quite a few ‘witches’ – those suspended or expelled from the party, some for simply being socialists, some on fake charges of anti-Semitism. Activists from Grassroots Black Left joined supporters of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, Jewish Voice for Labour and Free Speech on Israel to drive home the message that opposing Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism.

A message was read out from LAW honorary president Moshé Machover, who was unwell and unable to attend. I am “with you in spirit”, he said. Comrade Machover himself had been expelled in October 2017, but following a huge outcry by Labour branches up and down the country, was then reinstated. An important victory.

NEC members are responsible for the witch-hunt still being carried out by party officials. Although the independently elected national constitutional committee (NCC) hears disciplinary cases referred to it, ‘automatic’ expulsions are effected instantly by paid officials acting on the authority of the NEC, using the bureaucrat’s catch-all dream of rule 2.1.4.B – a member or ‘supporter’ of any political organisation which is not affiliated to Labour and is not a party unit can be instantly expelled, with no right of appeal. Would that include CND? Or Stop the War Coalition? Continue Reading “NEC should put an end to the years in limbo”

Jackie Walker on the Daily Politics show

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Labour Against the Witchhunt chair Jackie Walker was interviewed on the Daily Politics today (January 23). Despite being constantly interrupted by the presenter, she managed to demand a swift end of the witch-hunt against left-wing and pro-Palestinian members. She also clarified that the witch-hunt is not orchestrated by Jeremy Corbyn, but is a campaign by the right AGAINST him and his supporters.

Click here to see the clip on Youtube.

 

LAW’s lobby of the Labour Party NEC

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Around 40 supporters (and a few witches) showed up today, January 23, to help us lobby the Labour Party NEC to demand an end to the witch-hunt against left-wing and pro-Palestinian Labour members. Expelled and suspended members (amongst them Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth and Tony Greenstein) spoke to NEC members and lots of press. Continue Reading “LAW’s lobby of the Labour Party NEC”

LAW in the media

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On our lobby in support of Marc Wadsworth at his expulsion hearing, April 25 2018:

Sky News April 3

I newspaper April 3
Corbyn comrades being ‘thrown to the wolves’ (see right)

The Sun April 3
Labour forced to suspend a council candidate who shared Holocaust denial posts

Huffington Post April 3
Pro-Corbyn Group Momentum Says Anti-Semitism Claims ‘Cannot Be Dismissed As Simply Right-Wing Smears’

Daily Mail March 18 2018
Race to become Labour’s next general secretary hit by anti-Semitism row as ‘stop witch-hunt’ activists back Corbyn’s choice

 

RT February 24 2018
George Galloway interviews Tony Greenstein
About Tony’s expulsion from the Labour Party; Jeremy Corbyn’s role and the future of the Labour Party

 

Jewish Chronicle February 21 2018
Naz Shah and Clive Lewis among Labour MPs who attended event organised by activists facing antisemitism claims
On the parliamentary launch of Grassroots Black Left, which was attended by leading LAW members

The Electronic Intifada February 17 2018
Labour apparatchiks smear Black activist in “anti-Semitism” witch hunt
On Marc Wadsworth’s case

Daily Mail February 4 2018
Boyfriend of Labour MP is accused of sending ‘abusive and racist’ tweet to Jackie Walker
“Labour Against The Witchhunt, a group chaired by Ms Walker, tweeted: ‘Hi Stella. What do you think about this troll and his racist outburst. We believe he is your partner?’”

The Times
 February 2 2018

Labour’s antisemitism is worse than it looks
“At a meeting of Labour Against The Witch-Hunt this week, the filmmaker Ken Loach said that Emily Thornberry, shadow foreign secretary, “didn’t distinguish herself” when she praised Israel as a beacon of freedom.”

The Times January 31 2018
George Galloway to sue Momentum founder Jon Lansman in Israel spat 
“The row erupted after the film director Ken Loach criticised Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, for praising Israel. He was appearing on a panel alongside Labour Party members suspended over alleged antisemitism. At the meeting of Labour Against the Witch-hunt, which defends the left wing of the party, on Monday in London, Loach, 81, said that “sadly, Emily Thornberry didn’t distinguish herself” when she praised Israel last autumn as a beacon of freedom.”

Daily Politics show, BBC2, January 23 2018
Interview with Jackie Walker, chair of LAW (Youtube clip)
Despite being frequently interrupted by the presenter, Jackie managed to demand a swift end of the witch-hunt against left-wing and pro-Palestinian members. She also clarified that the witch-hunt is not orchestrated by Jeremy Corbyn, but is a campaign by the right in the Labour Party AGAINST him and his supporters.

Jewish Chronicle, January 23 2018
MP accuses Jackie Walker of ‘fantasy’ over claim she is being targeted by Israel
‘Report’ of our NEC lobby on January 23 2018

 

Spectator blog, January 22 2018
Labour Against the Witchhunt welcome Corbynista’s appointment as chair of Disputes Panel

Jewish Chronicle January 19 2018
“Hard left power grab spark new Labour fear”
Click here for the PDF

Jewish Chronicle January 19 2018
“Labour hearing into activist who abused Jewish MP postponed indefinitely” (on the case of LAW supporter Marc Wandsworth)

Jewish Chronicle, January 19 2018
Claims of a witch-hunt or smear campaign are a ‘new threat’ to combating Jew-hate in the party

Weekly Worker January 18 2018
“Democratise the party”
The election of Christine Shawcroft as chair of Labour’s disputes panel gives some hope that Jeremy Corbyn and his allies might finally put an end to the witch-hunt, says Carla Roberts of Labour Party Marxists

Daily Mail January 17 2018
“Labour anti-semitism probes could be axed as far-left takes control”

January 18 2018 House of Commons Hansard (in the speech of Tory MP Andrew Percy:
“… We have to be honest that we have a new threat: the new smear that anti-Semitism is being used as a cover for other things or as part of a witch hunt. I do not wish to step into party politics too much, but it is important that in debates like this we call out campaigns such as Labour Against the Witchhunt, which has called for

“the immediate lifting of all suspensions and expulsions from Labour Party membership which were…connected to the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign.”

This is a minority—the vast majority of Labour party members and people in politics throughout the country have no truck with any of this—but let us remember what some of those suspensions have been for. They have been for people who have claimed that Judaism is not a religion but a crime syndicate; people who have called holocaust education in schools a holocaust indoctrination programme; people who have questioned what good Jews have done; and people who have claimed that the Jews financed the slaved trade and who attacked Holocaust Memorial Day—the very day we are debating and respecting today. We have to guard against those who seek to spread this new smear against anti-Semitism, in the strongest way we can.”