Open letter: No Jennie Formby, we will not be informers!

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We, the undersigned, are greatly concerned about recent communication from Labour’s General Secretary Jennie Formby aimed at Facebook groups which have ‘Labour Party’ or ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ in their title (the full letter is below).

We are particularly outraged by the following passage which states “posts and conversations with antisemitic or otherwise discriminatory content” should be emailed to “complaints@labour.org.uk with screenshots and links […] if you believe the individual who has posted them may be a Labour member so that this can be investigated by the Party.

As Facebook users, we reject any attempt to make us informers to Labour’s dysfunctional disciplinary processes. Social media and Facebook are effective because they allow the exchange of ideas, even if at times clumsily expressed. Most Facebook groups police themselves adequately, without the assistance of a compliance unit, whose targets to date have almost exclusively been

  • on the left of the Party
  • supporters of Palestinian rights
  • critics of Israel and Zionism
  • and disproportionately black and Jewish

Given the Labour Party’s recent adoption of the ‘working definition’ of anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which in the words of the Jewish former Court of Appeal judge, Sir Stephen Sedley, is “calculatedly misleading” and the IHRA’s purposeful conflation of criticism of Israel and Zionism with anti-Semitism, we have no confidence that free speech to criticise Israel will be guaranteed, if this approach is accepted across social media.

What constitutes anti-Semitism remains disputed. The traditional definition, as per the Oxford English Dictionary is, “hostility to or prejudice against Jews”. The IHRA definition on the other hand takes up over 500 words, many of which refer to Israel.

For example, John McDonnell stated in a recent interview with Jewish News: “What we’re saying is it’s anti-Semitic to oppose a Jewish state”. We disagree. Opposing a state that systematically, and constitutionally, marginalises and demonises Palestinians while subjecting them to discrimination is by definition a form of apartheid. It is not ant-Semitism to state this fact.

Your letter, as an attempt to make Facebook users responsible for the conduct of other group members, displays the same method used by the media to smear Jeremy Corbyn when he did not speak up against (the very few) people posting nonsense in a group he happened to be a member of.

We believe the ongoing witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters is bringing the party into disrepute. Your email will yet again fan the flames of this toxic climate, leading to ever more malicious and vexatious allegations and complaints.

We believe that open and democratic debate, without fear of being reported, is the best way to educate people and fight prejudice and racism. This new intrusion on free speech can only undermine the extraordinary effectiveness of social media as a tool to support the leader and the left in the party.

We will oppose any attempt to outsource education on anti-Semitism to the Jewish Labour Movement, which is the British wing of the Israeli Labour Party and covertly filmed and leaked a video of Jackie Walker at a closed training event in order to damage the party.

  • We remain determined to eradicate all forms of discrimination from our Party.
  • When we see prejudice or hate, we always speak up.
  • When we see discrimination, we always oppose it.
  • When we are asked to behave unjustly, we always refuse.

SIGN THIS OPEN LETTER HERE.


Full communication from Jennie Formby:

I’m writing to you as I understand that you are an admin or moderator of a Facebook group which refers to the Labour Party or Jeremy Corbyn in its title. Continue Reading “Open letter: No Jennie Formby, we will not be informers!”

Open letter to Jeremy Corbyn

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By Rose Le Warne, Labour Party member in the Channel Islands

Dear the Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn

I am horrified by what I am witnessing once again in the Labour party, which is nothing more than a ideologically driven witch hunt, which includes the despicable targeting of Jews who do not identify with Israel nor the political ideology that enables it, including actual holocaust survivors of death camps, not even alive to defend themselves.

You cannot, Sir, win this by attempting to keep compromising and pandering, this minority, and it is a minority, will not be satisfied with anything less than you removed as our democratically elected leader, along with everyone who supports you and a party that will not even consider the right of Palestinians to be treated in accordance with international law and to live with freedom, dignity and self determination, a fundamental right of every human on this planet.

The only way forward is to say enough, everything that needs to be put in place to protect Jews from genuine antisemitism has been and will be reviewed as necessary, that is all you have to say on the matter. Someone needs to put a case together for defamation of character that sets a precedent, the lives of average people in our nation depend on a line being drawn in the sand.

The party cannot keep being held to ransom by a minority that, along with ignoring international law, disregard the rights of another people to not be subject to racially motivated ethnic cleansing and, with what has now been confirmed by its ‘Nation State’ bill, an Apartheid. Every time we allow someone to be silenced we are enabling that suffering and in addition are creating a situation, as identified by Robert Cohen a British Jew in his article (which I have attached a link for), which will inevitably cause a rise in actual antisemitism:

https://mondoweiss.net/2018/07/establishments-bringing-semitism/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

I am an international member of Labour based in the Channel Islands and I will tell you a little about our history and why I choose to fight for the rights of Palestinians.

In the Channel Islands we are brought up learning about how our grandparents suffered under Occupation in WW2 and every year we celebrate our Liberation, it is very much part of our identity and thus when I learned about the suffering of the Palestinians under occupation it struck a chord with me.

Our occupation was only for 5-years and is not comparable to the Palestinians occupation and blockade. We would have died, however, from starvation had it not been for the HMS Vega being allowed to deliver humanitarian aid from the Red Cross. To learn how Israel is violently stopping similar aid being delivered to a people far more desperate than we were, in contravention of international law, outrages me. People attempting to silence me on speaking about this and demanding the end to impunity does much more than that.

We must never forget the words of Sophie Scholl the young German student who passively resisted fascism and paid the ultimate price and use her words to motivate us:

“how can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause? Such a fine sunny day, and I have to go but what does my death matter if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?”

I appreciate you are very busy, but I respectfully request a response to this email so I know that it has been considered.

Kind regards

Rose Le Warne

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”

Model motion on Anti-Semitism and the witch-hunt of Corbyn supporters 

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1. This branch/CLPs notes that:

1.1. The dramatic increase in suspensions and expulsions of Labour Party members without due process – especially those based on alleged anti-Semitism or “support for other organisations” using rule 2.1.4.B.

1. 2. Despite the growing number of fallacious allegations of anti-Semitism, initiated by a group of anti-Corbyn MPs in cooperation with the mainstream media, 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 – 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.

1.3. The Labour Party has only adopted the preambleof the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. It has not adopted the disputed list of examples, which conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people.

1.4. Yet we are witnessing members being publicly witch-hunted, suspended and expelled for using the word ‘Zio’; for criticising the ideology of Zionism; for comparing the actions of the state of Israel to those of the Nazis; or for pointing out, as Ken Livingstone did, that in 1933 the Zionist movement and the Nazis signed the Ha’avara agreement (breaking the non-Zionist Jewish-led call for an economic boycott of the Nazi regime). This is a historical fact and no one should be disciplined for alluding to it.

2. This branch/CLP demands that:

2.1. The Labour Party ends the practice of automatic, instant, expulsion or suspension of Labour Party members;

a) that all those summarily expelled or suspended from membership without due process be immediately reinstated;

b) that a member accused of a breach of rule be regarded as innocent until proven guilty and be given all the evidence submitted against them by their accuser

c) that membership rights must not be removed until disciplinary investigations and procedures have been completed;

d) that disciplinary procedures must be time limited. Charges not resolved within three months must be automatically dropped.

2.2. The Labour Party’s “Compliance Unit” should be abolished. Disciplinary decisions should be taken only by elected bodies, not by paid officials.

2.3. The first part of rule 2.1.4.B (‘Exclusions’) should be abolished: it bars from Labour Party membership anybody who “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the party” and has been exclusively used against left-wingers.

 

Another must read: Jonathan Cook on the “anti-Semitism crisis”

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If you force me to choose – and tragically, the mischievious confection of an “anti-semitism crisis” in the Labour party does require me to choose, because it turns racism into a competition between worthier “victims” – Marc Wadsworth, a black activist and the founder of the Anti-Racist Alliance, is a much bigger victim of racism than Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth.

The proof is in the 50 Labour MPs who marched with her to an internal party hearing that they expect will expel Wadsworth. The MPs wanted to give the impression of serving as a bodyguard; in fact, they looked more like a lynch mob.

Wadsworth’s “crime” is his accusation at a meeting to unveil the Chakrabarti report nearly two years ago that Smeeth had been leaking stories to the rightwing press to harm Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

We can argue the facts about whether Wadsworth’s claim is true: whether Smeeth did indeed connive with the anti-Corbyn press. But even if he is wrong, that would not make his allegations anti-semitic.

Furthermore, the accusation itself is hardly far-fetched. The Blairite wing of the parliamentary party, of which Smeeth is very much a part, barely bothers any more to conceal its desire to oust Corbyn from the leadership.

In fact, the Blairites now seem determined to terminally wound not just Corbyn but their own party, as they did at the instigation of the Conservative government last week in a debate on anti-semitism. The opportunistic pummelling of Corbyn, jointly conducted by Labour and Conservative MPs, comes just days before local authority elections that were supposed to be Labour’s chance to seize the initiative from the government.

Smeeth and other Labour MPs have relied on personal anecdotes to argue that anti-semitism is far worse in Labour than any other party, and worse than in British society generally. That is the only possible meaning of the term “crisis”. But the actual statistics give the absolute lie to their claims.

Anti-semitism in Labour is so dire, so endemic, according to Smeeth and her allies, that the party must be eviscerated in public day after day, its energies sapped in the hunt to root out any traces of Jew hatred, and its political programme (and the chances of beating the Tories) set aside until the purges are complete.

But the Wadsworth case illustrates quite how sham the “anti-semitism crisis” is.

His attack on Smeeth was political, not racist. If she took offence, it should have been because she regarded his comments as a political insult, and an untrue one, not a racist insult.

But Smeeth preferred to mischaracterise the attack, not least because she would have been hard pressed to offer a political defence. Instead she weaponised anti-semitism to divert our attention from the real issue at the heart of the spat between herself and Wadsworth. She accused him of promoting “vile conspiracy theories about Jewish people”. Wadsworth pointed out that he did not even know Smeeth was Jewish until she brought the issue into play.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Smeeth believes, because she is Jewish, that any criticism of her is anti-semitic by definition. And she now has 50 MPs on her side, trying to bully Wadsworth out of the party – and by implication, not only him but anyone else who might try to unmask their McCarthyite tactics.

Smeeth, it should be remembered, is not a credible witness in the prosecution of Wadsworth. Unfortunately, I do not enjoy Smeeth’s parliamentary privilege, so I will have to be more circumspect in what I say than Smeeth makes a habit of being. But as I pointed out in an earlier post, at least one of her major claims cannot withstand the most cursory scrutiny, once it is fact-checked.

After her row with Wadsworth she claimed to have been inundated with anti-semitic abuse, some 25,000 messages, most of them on Twitter – though given her own inflated and egocentric ideas about what constitutes anti-semitism, she can hardly be viewed as a competent judge.

But you don’t need to rely on my scepticism. The Community Security Trust, a British Jewish lobby group ever-vigilant about anti-semitism, has discredited her claims too, even if in their case they did so inadvertently. Their study of anti-semitic activity on Twitter for a year-long period that included the few days in which Smeeth was supposedly overwhelmed with abuse found only 15,000 anti-semitic tweets – in a whole year, for the whole of the UK. Smeeth’s self-serving figures simply don’t add up.

But if Labour is now committed to witchhunts, as it seems to be, then it needs pointing out that there are more serious problems of racism in Labour than the current “anti-semitism crisis”?

How about Labour launching an investigation into its “anti-black racism crisis”? It should not be hard to identify. It is being led by the Blairite wing of the party, which has been using anti-semitism as a pretext to hound out of the party black anti-racism activists like Wadsworth and Jackie Walker who support Corbyn, also a lifelong anti-racism activist.

These targets are concerned about racism in all its guises, and about real victims in all their shades of colour. Not opportunists like Smeeth who have hijacked racism narrowly to serve their political cause.

Equally serious is Labour’s real anti-semitism crisis – the one no one talks about. That is being led by an unholy alliance of Labour’s Blairite MPs, rightwing Jewish establishment bodies like the Board of Deputies, and the corporate media to vilify individual Jews and Jewish organisations like Jewish Voice for Labour and Jewdas because they dare to be critical of Israel.

Again unmentioned, Jews are being hounded out of the party on the ridiculous pretext that they are anti-semites – just ask Moshe Machover, Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker (black and Jewish!), Glyn Secker, Cyril Chilson and others.

The disturbing implication is that these are not “proper” Jews, that their voices not only don’t count but their arguments are dangerous and must be shunned. And further, that those who “consort” with them, as Corbyn has done, are contaminated and guilty by association.

Ruth Smeeth is not a victim of the Labour party “anti-semitism crisis”, because that crisis does not exist. It is a political construct. There are doubtless examples of anti-semites and other racists who are members of the Labour party, as there are in all walks of life, but there is no crisis.

Real victims of racism suffer because they are isolated, vulnerable and easily vilified. The Labour party should stand with such people. Instead it is allowing privileged MPs and party bureaucrats to promote the demonisation, abuse and persecution of black activists like Marc Wadsworth and anti-Zionist Jews like Cyril Chilson. We are living through a truly shameful period in Labour’s history.

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In solidarity with Marc Wadsworth!

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Great turnout today at the Labour Party expulsion hearing of anti-racism campaigner Marc Wadsworth outside Church House. Credit to Chris Williamson MP who spoke as a witness on behalf of Marc, while Ruth Smeeth MP was ‘accompanied’ into the hearing by a number of right-wing MPs.

Protestors appealed for due process to be applied – which would have to lead to Marc being totally exonerated and reinstated to full membership. He is one of the many victims of the witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn supporters. Solidarity, comrade Marc! His hearing is scheduled to last two days.

Click here for a report in The Guardian.

Sign this open letter to Jeremy Corbyn and the left on the NEC

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As socialist members and Labour Party supporters, we are firm opponents of all forms of racism, fascism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all other kinds of oppression. Many of us have been actively campaigning against them for many years, often alongside you, John McDonnell and other comrades.

We know anti-Semitism exists in society and needs to be combatted. But we are seriously worried about the current climate in the Labour Party, where anycriticism of the actions of the state of Israel is now immediately conflated with anti-Semitism. But anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism.

Continue Reading “Sign this open letter to Jeremy Corbyn and the left on the NEC”

March 22: Liverpool LAW meeting with Marc Wadsworth

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Liverpool Branch Public Meeting
Speaker: Marc Wadsworth (Anti-racist campaigner)
7pm, Thursday March 22 2018
The Quaker Meeting House | 22 School Lane | Liverpool L1 3BT

All comrades welcome.

Click here to read more about Marc’s case and support his crowdfunding efforts. His expulsion hearing is set for April 24 in London – please come along to protest! Details to be confirmed.

 

From the Morning Star:

“Constant stoking of the fires of fake anti-semitism plays into the hands of Labour’s right wing, which has never reconciled itself to having a socialist as party leader, of the Tories able to parade themselves falsely as fighters against discrimination and of the Israeli embassy, emboldened to smear Jewish critics of its illegal colonisation of Palestinian land as anti-semites.

Until Labour defends itself strongly against false charges and tackles those spreading them, it will be fighting the Tories with one hand tied behind its back”

When Jeremy Corbyn fought against the witch-hunt in the Labour Party

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Quoted in: Fightback!: Labour’s Traditional Right in the 1970s and 1980s by Dianne Hayter, page 32.


“In 1982, as chairman of the Hornsey constituency party, Jeremy Corbyn signed a membership card for Tariq Ali, a former member of the International Marxist Group, in defiance of Labour’s National Executive Committee. He also campaigned against the expulsion of the Trotskyist Militant Tendency from the party, acting as the “provisional convenor” of the “Defeat the Witch Hunt” campaign. “If expulsions are in order for Militant, they should apply to us, too,” he argued.”

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2018/03/meaning-corbynism