LAW statement: Corbyn was wrong to force Ken Livingstone out of the Labour Party

Like and share this post:

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.

The attack on Livingstone andthe expulsions of Marc Wadsworth and Tony Greenstein were all part of the ‘anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ witch-hunt. It is noticeable that when it came to layingcharges the Labour Party avoidedfor legal reasons accusing people of anti-Semitism. Instead the catch all charge of ‘bringing the party into disrepute’ was used.

Livingstone is the latest victim of a witch-hunt pursued by the pro-Israel lobby and the right-wing in the Labour Party. The fact that it is supported by the same tabloid press which has employed Katy Hopkins, Rod Liddle and Richard Littlejohn should dispel any idea that this is about racism or anti-Semitism. It is about Israel and defence of imperialist interests in the Middle East.

It is about stopping the transformation of the Labour Party into an anti-war party that will stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and refuses to be dragged into another devastating war in the Middle East.

It is shocking that two years after the Chakrabarti report into racism was published, none of its recommendations around “due process” and “natural justice” have been implemented. This delay is not an oversight. It is clear that the party bureaucracy has been trying to get the high profile cases ‘out of the way’ first. Jackie Walker’s expulsion hearing is imminent.

Jeremy Corbyn and his allies operate under the illusion that if they sacrifice enough members to the witch-hunters then their campaign will come to an end. They are seriously mistaken. Appeasement merely feeds the appetites of the witchhunters.

This setback will only strengthen the resolve of Labour Against the Witchhuntactivists. We fully understand the agenda of Labour Friends of Israel, the Jewish Labour Movement and Progress: to re-establish the politics and economics of neo-liberalism in the Labour Party.

We call on Jeremy Corbyn, general secretary Jennie Formby and the National Executive Committee to finally put an end to this ongoing witch-hunt against the left in the party:

  • LAW does not recognise the legitimacy of the expulsions/exclusions of party comrades on trumped up charges of “anti-Semitism” and will continue to organise with them to defeat the right.
  • All those summarily expelled or suspended from membership without due process, or as part of the anti-Corbyn witch-hunt, should be immediately reinstated – and that includes Marc Wadsworth, Jackie Walker, Stan Keable, Tony Greenstein and Cyril Chilson.
  • We need a moratorium: no more new cases to be sent to Labour’s kangaroo court (National Constitutional Committee), which is dominated by the right; all cases currently in front of the NCCshould be referred back to the NEC.

LAW statement on the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth

Like and share this post:

“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.

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.

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).

It is not Marc who has brought the party “into disrepute” – it is the “shameless smears” of the “Corbyn-hating” MPs (Len McCluskey in the New Statesman), who have worked tirelessly to undermine Jeremy Corbyn at every opportunity since his election as Labour leader in 2015.

Chris Williamson MP got it exactly right when he called this decision“perverse”. He has quite rightly criticised the “weaponisation of anti-Semitism for political ends”. We warmly welcome his courageous support for Marc at the hearing and the support of Clive Lewis MP, who supplied a witness statement and said: “I’ve known him for 20 years. He’s an anti-racist campaigner. I watched that video and I don’t think that warranted being expelled from Labour.”

This is in stark contrast to the cynical PR stunt orchestrated by Wes Streeting MP, who has made no secret of his severe dislike for Jeremy Corbyn and his policies. Ruth Smeeth did not need to be ‘protected’ on her way into Church House. LAW’s lobby outside the expulsion hearing was always planned as a protest in support of Marcand not in opposition to Smeeth. If Smeeth, who has been funded by the Israeli lobby even since becoming an MP,cannot deal with walking past a couple of dozen protestors, maybe she (or the members in her Constituency Labour Party) should reconsider if being an MP is the right profession for her.

We call on Jeremy Corbyn, general secretary Jennie Formby and the National Executive Committee to finally put an end to this ongoing witch-hunt against the left in the party. The right-wing will demand more and more scalps. But the history of appeasement in politics teaches us they will never be satisfied. Capitulation to their unscrupulous demands is not the answer. They can never have enough suspensions, enough expulsions, enough compromised principles, including Corbyn’s lifelong support for the rights of the Palestinians.

This campaign against ‘Anti-Semitism’ has become the new anti-communism. We are in a period of new McCarthyism in the Labour Party. It is to be greatly regretted that Jeremy Corbyn, who in the 1980s was the secretary of Labour Against the Witchhunt, seems to be going along with this witch-hunt.

The number of cases of anti-Semitism among Labour Party members upheld remains tiny. The overwhelming majority of allegations have been baseless and politically motivated – used to purge or muzzle members who support Corbyn and those who are critical of Israeli government policies and actions.

We are witnessing the development of a chilling culture of fear, self-censorship, of members afraid to openly ask questions and learn, particularly on social media. We have seen many good Corbyn-supporting comrades being thrown to the wolves of the Tory Party and their supporters in the mainstream media. They are publicly smeared as Holocaust deniers, anti-Semites, racists – and have no way of fighting back against such vile accusations. These smears have ruined lives. Labour’s broken disciplinary procedure is not fit for purpose. It has actually resulted in suicides.

We call for an end to the expulsions and suspensions of Labour Party members for their political views. All those summarily expelled or suspended from membership without due process, or as part of the anti-Corbyn witch-hunt, should be immediately reinstated – and that includes Marc Wadsworth, Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Stan Keable, Tony Greenstein and Cyril Chilson.

We agree with the statement by Jewish Voice for Labour, according to which Marc’s “treatment has been a travesty of the transparent, fair and equitable procedures one would expect from a labour movement organisation. It is a further irony that his summary suspension followed by 22 months in limbo would not have been possible if the relevant recommendations of the Chakrabarti Report had been implemented.”

LAW model motion on the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth

Like and share this post:

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).

1.3 Marc Wadsworth is a veteran anti-racist campaigner and former chair or Labour Party Black Sections (1986-1988). He founded the Anti-Racist Alliance in 1991 and helped the parents of Stephen Lawrence set up their campaign for justice and introduced them to Nelson Mandela.

2. This branch/CLP believes that:

2.1 Nothing that Marc Wadsworth did or said at the launch of the Chakrabarti report was even vaguely anti-Semitic.

2.2 The decision to expel him is outrageous and wholly contrary to natural justice. He was expelled under disciplinary procedures that had not been updated to take into account the recommendations of the Chakrabarti report, although the National Executive Committee decided in 2016 to implement them “immediately”.

2.3 It is not Marc who has brought the party “into disrepute” – it is the “shameless smears” of the “Corbyn-hating” MPs (Len McCluskey in the New Statesman on April 25 2018), who have worked tirelessly to undermine Jeremy Corbyn at every opportunity since his election as Labour leader in 2015.

2.4 Chris Williamson MP is right to call thisdecision “perverse”. He is also right to criticise the “weaponisation of anti-Semitism for political ends”.

2.5 Marc Wadsworth is the latest victim of a politically motivated witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, which has seen hundreds of left-wing activists being thrown to the wolves of the Tory Party and their supporters in the mainstream media.

2.6 Despite the growing number of fallacious allegations of anti-Semitism, the number of cases of anti-Semitism among Labour Party members upheldremains tiny. Many of the allegations have been baseless and politically motivated – attempts to purge or muzzle members who are critical of Israeli government policies and actions, particularly pro-Corbyn members on the left of the party.

3. This branch/CLP calls on the Labour Party NEC:

3.1 To immediately reinstate all those summarily expelled or suspended from membership without due process, or as part of the anti-Corbyn witch-hunt, including Marc Wadsworth, Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Cyril Chilson, Tony Greenstein and Stan Keable.

3.2 To bring to a swift end the practice of automatic, instant, expulsion or suspension of Labour Party members (apart from exceptional circumstances):

  1. a) A member accused of a breach of rule must be regarded as innocent until proven guilty and be given all the evidence submitted against them by their accuser
  2. b) Membership rights must not be removed until disciplinary investigations and procedures have been completed;

3.3 To abolish the Labour Party’s “Compliance Unit”. Disciplinary decisions should be taken only by elected bodies, not by paid officials.

4. This branch/CLP further resolves:

4.1 To affiliate to Labour Against the Witchhunt (£25) and send a donation of £ XY.

LAW lobby: NEC members sneak in through the back door

Like and share this post:

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

Like and share this post:

“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

Like and share this post:

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”

Like and share this post:

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

Like and share this post:

(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

Like and share this post:

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.

 

Letter to Labour Party NEC: Suspended for writing a poem

Like and share this post:

Dear Brother and Sister,

January 12 2018

Until very recently the political balance on Labour’s National Executive Committee meant that decisions concerning suspensions and referrals to the NCC appeared to be rubber stamped.

Following today’s elections of a further 3 constituency members it is widely hoped and expected that there will now be a socialist majority on the NEC. From now on there is no longer an excuse for the witch hunt of socialists.

Nothing can be more ludicrous than the suspension of poet Kevin Higgins for writing a satirical poem about Tony Blair. It is only the most oppressive countries that persecute poets. Nothing can be more unjust than members left suspended, often for months, without information as to charges against them, without regard or due care for the effect this has on members lives and reputations.

We know of a number of members in this situation who have been put at risk of severe depression and suicide.

As you know, at the present time the cases of Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth are going to the NCC. Nothing can be more absurd than a socialist party seeking to expel Jewish, Black and life-long anti-racists for the ‘crime’ of having upset the supporters of Zionism & Israel.

The fact that these suspensions are so avidly reported by Britain’s most racist tabloid press – the Daily Mail, Express and Sun – gives the lie to the suggestion that these suspensions have anything to do with ‘anti-Semitism’. Does anyone seriously believe that papers which employ Richard Littlejohn, Katie Hopkins et al are seriously concerned about anti-Jewish racism?

Shami Chakrabarti, in her Report recommended that ‘The Labour Party should seek to uphold the strongest principles of natural justice, however difficult the circumstances, and to resist subjecting members to a trial by media.’ Eighteen months later these Chakrabarti proposals have not been applied in any meaningful way to the disciplinary process. Members being processed by the Compliance Unit have been subject to repeated leaks to the media, in a clear breach of the Data Protection Act.

We call for a freeze in all disciplinary actions as and until the Chakrabarti Report’s recommendations on due process and natural justice in regard to the disciplinary process have been debated and implemented.

In Solidarity

Jackie Walker – Chair, Labour Against the Witch-hunt
Tony Greenstein – Vice Chair, Labour Against the Witchhunt