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

LAW statement: Corbyn was wrong to pressurise Ken Livingstone into leaving the Labour Party

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It is clear from reports such as John Rentoul in The Independent that Ken Livingstone’s resignation was not voluntary but the result of pressure exerted by Jeremy Corbyn and his close associates. We refer in particular to Shami Chakrabarti’s disgraceful attack on Livingstone on BBC’s Sunday Politics (May 13),when she threatened she would quit the Labour front bench if Livingstone was not expelled. Chakrabarti has not only ignored her own recommendations on natural justice and due process but she has also destroyed her own reputation, as a former Director of Liberty, for a belief in freedom of expression.

Nothing Livingstone was alleged to have done could in any way be described as anti-Semitic.  His remark that “Hitler supported Zionism” is confirmed by a host of Holocaust historians.  If he gave offence to supporters of Israel and Zionism it is because of the appalling record historically of Zionism when it comes to fighting real anti-Semites. Continue Reading “LAW statement: Corbyn was wrong to pressurise Ken Livingstone into leaving the Labour Party”

LAW statement on the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth

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“Victim of a politically motivated campaign against Jeremy Corbyn”

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

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

LAW model motion on the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth

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

You can download the motion in Word format here. 

1. This branch/CLPs notes that:

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

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

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.

January 30: LAW meeting in Birmingham

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Over 50 Labour members gathered in Birmingham on January 30 for the city’s launch of LAW. Jackie Walker spoke first and got straight to the point – the witch-hunt is about weakening Corbyn’s position as leader and forcing the next Labour government to the right by removing left activists. She reminded us that the ‘problem’ of anti-Semitism in the party arose from nowhere when Corbyn became leader. She explained that LAW isn’t just about defending the victims and providing solidarity: it also demands fundamental change in the party’s disciplinary processes.

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi gave examples of left activists in her part of London who’ve been suspended for over a year on the basis of trumped-up charges. She urged LAW to quantify the scale of the problem by getting the NEC to reveal how many members are suspended pending a hearing, how long have they been waiting and how many automatic exclusions have occurred.

Marc Wadsworth called for the immediate implementation of the Chakrabarti report in respect of the party’s disciplinary procedures. That would introduce the concepts natural justice and due process, and enforce time limits for each stage.

The discussion that followed revealed that unjust suspensions and expulsions are nothing new in Birmingham – they’ve been going on for decades. And those responsible in the party’s regional office are still in place today.

From the floor Stan Keable explained how clause 2.1.4.B of the party rules has been used to exclude him, and how any member can be deemed to be contravening it. He also questioned the emphasis other speakers placed on legal challenges, and relying on the courts to force the hand of the Labour bureaucracy. His suggestion that instead we should mobilise the membership to challenge unjust decisions was met with applause.

The meeting concluded with a commitment to organise further LAW activity in the city.

Rob Meyer
(this appeared first as a letter in the Weekly Worker)

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””

Open letter to John Mann MP from Jackie Walker

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(via email john.mann.mp@parliament.uk)

Dear John Mann MP,

I read with interest your article in the Jewish Chronicle dated 23rd January 2018.

I realise this is a report from the Jewish Chronicle and therefore not a reliable source however, you are reported as saying (about me), and by inference of Israeli influence in British politics and activists like me in particular, that to speak of this amounts to, “….fantasy conspiracies, and that’s part of the problem – some people look for alleged conspiracies when in fact they should be looking at themselves and their behaviour. Provide us with the evidence – that’s a very, very serious allegation to me. I think if they can’t provide the evidence then clearly what they are saying is a problem, so they now have to provide the evidence, provide the proof of exactly what and how Israel has been involved. It’s yet another trope – put up or shut up, prove it.”

Of course, I find your use of the term trope yet another trope used against opponents of Israel to smear and suggest racism, but let’s not get bogged down in tit-for-tat accusations, especially when they concern such well-worn cliches.
Presuming your recent comments stem from simple ignorance and not malice, you appear to have missed numerous articles, documentaries, policy announcements from the Israeli government, over many years, that relate to this specific topic; what’s happening in the UK, Israel and a number of other countries. I will assist.

If we stick to a very few reasonably contemporaneous media interventions, as early as 2009 the Channel 4 programme Dispatches investigated the pro-Israel lobby in Britain and how it works. Here is the programme on Youtube. 

Here is a transcript of the show to further clarify.

Below are links to a number of more recent articles.

The problem is not in finding these articles. There are so many I cannot possibly list all so I suggest, given your access to Parliamentary research staff, you and yours can use a search engine and simply Google ‘BDS and Israel. It makes for fascinating, and instructive reading.

By the way, on the comments and smears you continue to make against me, I think if you can’t provide the evidence that what you are saying is true, then clearly what you are saying is a problem. I suggest you now have to provide the evidence, provide the proof or in your own words – ‘put up or shut up’.

Best wishes, Jackie Walker

Israeli newspaper Haaretz, 2018
Israel’s Military Intelligence Monitoring Dozens of BDS Groups Around the World

Electronic Intifada – 2018
“Meet the spies injecting Israeli propaganda into your news feed“

The Daily Mail, 2017
“Israel plot to ‘take down’ Tory minister: Astonishing undercover video captures diplomat conspiring with rival MP’s aide to smear Deputy Foreign Secretary” 

2017 Aljazeera TV: The Lobby
Documentary into Israeli interference in British Politics

Haaretz 2018
“Israeli government hired lawyers to counter BDS; nature of work is kept a secret, and defined as ‘extremely sensitive’

 

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.