Tonbridge and Malling CLP: motion passed on Marc Wadsworth, June 2 2018

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This CLP notes that:  

  • Marc Wadsworth, a leading Black antiracist activist, was expelled from the Labour Party – with no right of appeal – on April 27, 2018, charged with bringing the Party into disrepute;
  • his expulsion followed 22 months of suspension from membership;
  • his expulsion was not for antisemitism, despite continuous prejudicial media coverage falsely accusing him of antisemitic abuse at the media launch of the Chakrabarti Report on June 30, 2016.

This CLP believes:

  • that the party has indeed been brought into disrepute, not by Marc Wadsworth’s non-abusive remark at the Report launch, but by the actions of PLP members publicly denouncing him as an antisemite; by the adherence of the entrenched party bureaucracy to a unaccountable and unelected disciplinary system which was not fit for purpose; and by its failure to put in place a system conforming with principles of natural justice, which should be automatic in any labour movement organisation.

This CLP therefore:  

  • supports Marc Wadsworth’s campaign to clear his name of the antisemitism slur and for reinstatement as a member of the Labour Party;
  • calls on the General Secretary to speedily implement Chakrabarti’s recommendations designed to reform flawed party rules and structures to ensure prompt, fair and transparent handling of disciplinary complaints against members, with right of appeal and including presumption of innocence and fact-based judgements that do not rely on guilt by association

 

Grassroots Black Left leaves LAW

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Regrettably, Marc Wadsworth and Deborah Hobson of Grassroots Black Labour have decided to part company with Labour Against the Witchhunt to concentrate on GBL. This comes after LAW organised a lobby of Marc’s disciplinary hearing and a very successful #Justice4Marc speaking tour in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Chester, Bristol, Swansea and Sheffield to protest against his unjust expulsion from the Labour Party on April 27.

We encourage all LAW supporters to continue to campaign against Marc’s expulsion (as against all other unjust expulsions and suspensions), for example by moving our model motion or similar motions in their branch and CLP. We are also happy to help with the organisation of local LAW meetings by providing speakers and administrative support – get in touch!

GBL’s statement announcing their withdrawal

Grassroots Black Left has decided to withdraw its representatives from the Labour Against the Witchhunt steering committee. GBL will continue to work with individuals and organisations in the fight against unjust Labour Party suspensions and expulsions, as long as they respect the important principles of black self-organisation and self-determination.

We will vigorously resist any attempts to make GBL subordinate to the will of individuals and groups who choose to misuse their power or positions. While recognising the good work LAW has done, particularly by its local activists who have helped GBL, Jewish Voice for Labour and the Labour Representation Committee make the #Justice4Marc national speaking tour a success, difficulties encountered on the LAW SC have made it impossible for us to stay on that body.

A broad-based, non-sectarian, mass campaign against the purge is desperately needed by all those comrades affected by it. GBL notes many of the victims have been black people, Muslims and Jews. They must therefore be at the heart of the fightback. GBL is totally opposed to anti-black racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. But we deplore the cynical weaponisation of false accusations of anti-Semitism, which have undermined the genuine fight against racism and support for the Palestinians. When the targets have been black, including GBL member Marc Wadsworth, this has damaged much-needed unity between black people and Jewish people.

We recognise the main objective of the right wing, who have been driving the purge, is to attack Jeremy Corbyn’s progressive leadership of the Labour Party. Appeasement and capitulation is not the best way to defeat them.

GBL will continue to work with JVL, LRC, Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, Red Labour, supportive LAW groups and others committed to stopping the purge, getting Marc reinstated by Labour and the Shami Chakrabarti report recommendations on the party’s disciplinary procedures implemented.

The LAW steering committee sent the following short reply

Dear GBL comrades,

We regret that Grassroots Black Left has decided, in its May 27 statement, to withdraw its representatives, Marc Wadsworth and Deborah Hobson, from the steering committee of Labour Against the Witchhunt. We hope that GBL and LAW can cooperate fully in campaigning against all unjust suspensions and expulsions of Labour Party members, including for the reinstatement of Marc Wadsworth.”

It was signed by remaining SC members Tony Greenstein, Stan Keable, Steve Price, Jackie Walker and Tina Werkmann (SC members are elected as individuals, not as delegates, by voting at membership meetings).

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

#Justice4Marc launch in London: Spotted hyenas and Labour right

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The chair of the meeting, Deborah Hobson, began by calling for a minute’s silence in honour of the 58 Palestinians killed and thousands injured in the latest Israeli atrocity. An atrocity defended and excused by Donald Trump, Binyamin Netanyahu … and Labour Friends of Israel.

Mike Cushman (Jewish Voice for Labour) was not alone in pointing out that there can be fewer more eloquent testimonies to the nature of the Israeli state than the harrowing events in Gaza. Certainly, it exposes the foul apologetics of the Labour right and their Zionist allies, and destroys the notion that Israel attracts the huge amount of condemnation that is does because the left – its most trenchant critics – is ‘anti-Semitic’. Far from being a source of strength, the Labour right’s support for the Zionist state – and the United States’ reactionary strategic goals in the region – can be turned into a huge weakness for this scab faction in our ranks.

While the top table was perhaps a little heavy with speakers (of varying degrees of quality and political acumen, it should be noted) – there was a real energy and combative confidence. This was perhaps displayed best in Jackie Walker’s defiant anecdote about her rejoinder to a characteristically stupid tweet from the wretched Wes Streeting MP. Apparently, he challenged her to meet him in debate in any synagogue in north London. OK, she told him – where and where then, Wes? Predictably, however, the man has gone very quiet …

Moshé Machover reminded us of the almost comically irrational nature of the provocations coming from the Labour right, their allies in the mainstream media and various apparatchiks in the Israeli state. He posed a “trick question”: “Are there anti-Semites in the Labour Party?”

Well, yes, given the current numbers in our organisation (570,000-plus) from all sorts of backgrounds, there must be. The comrade (a renowned mathematician, let us not forget), stated that it would be statistically “astounding” if there were not. The party will also have its statistically ‘fair’ share of paedophiles. The point being that if the Labour right and its venal allies thought it could gain political traction by smearing the left as a herd of paedophiles, they would. The right gives “fuck all” for truth, principle or any other such annoying impediment, comrade Machover stated.

Moshé illustrated this same observation via a sideways detour. There is – apparently – a tiny number of spotted hyenas in Norway (in zoos). However, if you hear of a spotted hyena trackers’ expedition – organised with an extravagant disregard for the huge amount of time, energy and money expended – a rational conclusion to draw might be that these people have a thing about Norway, rather than the spotted hyenas.

It was a fun way to set the tone for the meeting. And the atmosphere of aggressive levity was added to by comedian Alexi Sayle’s amusing introductory spiel for Marc – he does seem to be getting some of his political mojo back via this battle; the unhinged accusations against the left must be providing the bloke with material for years to come. Many speakers also ridiculed the laughably flimsy charges against Marc Wadsworth and other comrades, such as Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein.

A recurrent theme during the regrettably short space allocated for questions and contributions from the floor was the need for Labour Against the Witchhunt to become a mass campaign that can rally not dozens, but thousands, outside Labour’s Victoria Street HQ. That means building local organisations.

There were some gently regretful criticisms of Corbyn’s and the core LP left leadership’s passivity to – even accommodation with – this witch-hunt. This generosity was not all-encompassing – on the strength of this meeting and others I have attended over the last year or more, there are now very few on the left with any compunction about laying into Momentum nationally. The local groups can be good, even very good, but the national organisation and its ‘CEO’, Jon Lansman are deeply discredited.

Message of support from Chris Williamson MP

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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

Please accept my apologies that I can’t be with you tonight, but I would like to express my support for and solidarity with Marc’s campaign to clear his name.

I attended Marc’s hearing and spoke on his behalf, which is why I know that the National Constitutional Committee’s decision was inconsistent with the evidence before them.

As I said immediately after the outcome was announced, the decision has all the hallmarks of predetermination and tramples on the Labour Party’s record of standing up for fairness.  The NCC has besmirched the reputation of a veteran anti-racist campaigner and their decision cannot be allowed to stand.

Marc deserves the support of everyone who believes in natural justice, democracy and the progressive agenda that delivered two landslide leadership victories for Jeremy Corbyn, and Labour’s biggest vote share increase since 1945.

As Martin Luther King Jr once said: “It is always the right time to do the right thing.” And the right thing to do now is help Marc to right the terrible wrong that has been done to him.

Best wishes,

Chris Williamson MP

 

 

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

 

Queen’s Park branch

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On 10 May 2018  the Queen’s Park branch of the Labour Party (in Hampstead & Kilburn CLP) adopted the motion below nem con and with one abstention:
________________________

This branch notes that:

·         Marc Wadsworth, a leading Black antiracist activist, was expelled from the Labour Party – with no right of appeal – on April 27, 2018, charged with bringing the Party into disrepute;
·         his expulsion followed 22 months of suspension from membership;

·         his expulsion was not for antisemitism, despite continuous prejudicial media coverage falsely accusing him of antisemitic abuse at the media launch of the Chakrabarti Report on June 30, 2016.

This branch believes:

·         that the party has indeed been brought into disrepute, not by Marc Wadsworth’s non-abusive remark at the Report launch, but by the actions of PLP members publicly denouncing him as an antisemite; by the adherence of the entrenched party bureaucracy to a disciplinary system which was not fit for purpose; and by its failure to put in place a system conforming with principles of natural justice, which should be automatic in any labour movement organisation.

This branch therefore:

·         supports Marc Wadsworth’s campaign to clear his name of the antisemitism slur and for reinstatement as a member of the Labour Party;
·         calls on the new General Secretary to:
o   speedily implement Chakrabarti’s recommendations designed to reform flawed party rules and structures to ensure prompt, fair and transparent handling of disciplinary complaints against members, with right of appeal and including presumption of innocence and fact-based judgements that do not rely on guilt by association

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 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”