LAW statement: Corbyn was wrong to force Ken Livingstone out of 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.

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

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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.

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

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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).

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.