John Davies’ suspension: The Slanderer’s Road to Socialism

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We republish here an article by a comrade who – like many others – has come under immense public scrutiny during the ongoing witch-hunt. It’s a long statement, but definitely worth a read. He eloquently explains that the campaign against him clearly has much to do with the local civil war in the party and we agree with him when he writes:

“Real antisemitism is a foul scourge, and we will continue to confront it. But using racism as a political weapon diminishes real racism and makes it harder to confront when the genuine article surfaces.

It’s time that the Labour leadership and all those who genuinely support Corbyn take a stance in defence of those wrongly accused, and start to take action against the slanderers.”

1. My Suspension.

Two weeks ago I was informed of my suspension from the Labour Party, who allege I may be in breach of rule 2.1.8, which apparently relates to social media posts. I do not yet know what the substance of the charges against me are. However, The Jewish Chronicle (JC), The Sun and the website of the Campaign Against Antisemitism (a pro-Israel advocacy organisation feeding the antisemitism witch hunt) have all published co-ordinated attacks on me, alleging I am an antisemite and Nazi apologist. These attacks have come after the JC spoke to our Liverpool Riverside MP and right wing councillors in our Constituency Labour Party (CLP). Before the arrival of specific charges from the Labour Party, at which point I will be effectively muzzled, I am issuing this statement. Continue Reading “John Davies’ suspension: The Slanderer’s Road to Socialism”

We condemn the suspension of Jo Bird and the appointment of Lord Falconer

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UPDATE: Jo Bird’s suspension was lifted on March 15, though apparently she was given a ‘warning’ – for telling jokes!

Labour Against the Witchhunt unreservedly condemns the suspension from the Labour Party of Jewish councillor for Bromborough Jo Bird. At a Justice4Marc meeting last year in Manchester (in solidarity with Marc Wadsworth) she made a light-hearted comment, stating: “Jewish Voice For Labour is calling for disciplinary hearings to be paused until a due process has been established, based on principles of natural justice. What I call Jew process”.

Clearly, the context of that quote shows that her joke was not anti-Semitic at all – but the exact opposite.

Coming so soon after the suspension of Chris Williamson MP on equally baseless grounds, we are concerned that the small positive reforms of the disciplinary process introduced by general secretary Jennie Formby have been rolled back. We are seeing the return of automatic suspensions, even before an investigation has started. And again, they are used almost exclusively against left-wing supporters of Corbyn. Tom Watson, Margaret Hodge, Joan Ryan and Louise Ellman on the other hand get away with insulting and undermining Jeremy Corbyn and the party without any consequence. This is clearly not a fair process.

We are also greatly concerned with the plan to appoint Lord Falconer to “re-investigate” cases of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. As an ally of Tony Blair, a member of his war cabinet and the lawyer whose legal advice helped to break up the National Union of Mineworkers, we believe he is most certainly not the right man for the job. His interview in the Sunday Times shows that he is also far from impartial on this issue: “The most frightening thing is the profound and almost universal sense within the Jewish community that the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn are anti-Semitic. They feel they are not safe … because the potential prime minister and the main opposition party are anti-Semitic.”

This is nonsense. Firstly, there is no hegemonic “Jewish community”. There are pro-Zionist Jews and there anti- or non-Zionist Jews – those like Jo Bird, Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein and the thousands organised in groups like Jewish Voice for Labour, Jewish Socialist Group etc. They certainly do not feel “unsafe” in the Labour Party. It is a story spun by the right-wing in the Labour Party, in cahoots with non-Labour organisations like the Board of Deputies and the Israeli embassy – who are united in their desire to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party.

We believe these recent, bad decisions of the Labour leadership are the direct consequence of the formation of the so-called The Independent Group. Eager to stop any more right-wingers from splitting from the party, the leadership is bending over backwards once more. We are even hearing that the reformed trigger ballots are being put on hold to avoid any challenges to sitting MPs –despite the fact that this policy was agreed at Labour Party conference 2018.  But the last three and a half years show: Appeasement does not work. Every time the leadership takes a step back, the right makes two steps forward.

As Ken Loach, one of LAW’s sponsors said: “If it looks like a witch hunt and behaves like a witch hunt – it may well be just that. This is intolerable and must end now.”

Statement by Paul Jonson, suspended by Dudley council

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I have been an employee of DUDLEY COUNCIL for 30 years, working as an HOUSING Officer, Homeless Project Manager and currently in the Community Safety Team.

On 6 July 2018 the local DUDLEY Palestine Solidarity Group called a lobby of DUDLEY North MP Ian Austin’s Surgery because of a tweet he sent out – then deleted – stating “HAMAS and the Palestinians were responsible for the deaths of18 Gazans ” during the Great Return March in May 2018.

At this lobby Austin twice asked “are you Paul Jonson who works for DUDLEY Council?”. My response   –  ”  my day job is irrelevant so please dont try and intimidate me. I’m not here in any capacity regarding DMBC”.

On 5th October 2018 I posted on Facebook “STAND WITH PALESTINE – STATE OF ISRAEL IS RACIST ENDEVOUR” –  support the lobby at Buffery Park DUDLEY 6th October 2018 at11am.

On the 18th October 2018 I was called to an urgent meeting with DMBCs HR and a Senior Manager stating they had received a complaint via the Campaign Against Anti Semitism . I was asked 22 questions relating to the IHRA. I was instructed to refrain from attending work until the Council had received further legal advice on the matter .

On Wednesday 31st October 2018 I was called to a 2nd meeting – my UNISON rep was present – and advised I was suspended until further notice whilst further “legal advice”was sought. The matter is with UNISON Regional Office.

Apparently DMBC adopted the IHRA 12 months ago -Staff were not advised or any briefings/training undertaken.

To date some 130 local authorities have adopted the non legal IHRA .A document which out of 195 countries only 31 have adopted and only 7 with the controversial examples. Over 40 Jewish Groups have voiced their opposition to the examples ,   particularly  –   is criticism of Israel tantamount  to anti semantism. The author of the IHRA  Kenneth Stern has also withdrew his support stating ” it was not his intention for the IHRA to be used as a political tool to close down debate on Israel/Palestine’ but an Educative document regarding  the Holocaust  and to collect data on anti semitism.

To cite Palestinian Solidarity action for Human Rights Justice and Equality to be in conflict with Employment Rights and to be  anti Semitic in ìntent  –  is both unacceptable and an insult to the memory of all Holocaust victims.

FOR THE IHRA TO BE USED IN THIS WAY MUST BE RESISTED !

SOLIDARITY

Paul Jonson

What you can do:

  • Click here to sign the petition against his suspension
  • Model Motion: Reinstate Paul Johnson! Sacked for Palestine solidarity

  • There will be a Dudley PSC silent protest at another Ian Austin MP surgery at 5 pm Friday  December 7, Dudley Library St James’ Road, Dudley, saying “Free Speech on Palestine”. Please go along if you can!
  • The case of Paul Jonson is similar to that of LAW secretary Stan Keable, who was sacked from his job at Hammersmith & Fulham council. The witch hunt has clearly permeated all areas of society – most worryingly the workplace. This has serious financial consequences for our comrades, which is why we hope you will speak out and pass this motion against the sacking of Stan Keable in your Labour and union branches.

LAW Statement: Lift suspension of Peter Gregson from GMB, stop investigation

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Labour Against the Witchhunt calls on Labour’s NEC to reject the allegations of anti-Semitism against Peter Gregson, condemns his suspension by the GMB trade union and calls for the immediate restoration of his full membership rights.

The principle ‘guilty until proved innocent’ threatens the rights of all members, chills discussion, damages democracy and invites malicious complaints against political opponents. We prefer the principle of working class solidarity: ‘An injury to one is an injury to all.’

Except in the most extreme circumstances, disciplinary sanctions should not be applied until due process has been concluded. Where low level sectionalist, nationalistic, xenophobic or racist ideas, including anti-Semitic ideas, are found in the workers’ movement, they are best countered by open discussion, patient education, inculcation of elementary class consciousness and by encouraging participation in joint struggles. The slogan ‘zero tolerance’ is ill-conceived and counterproductive.

We reject the International Holocaust Memorial Alliance’s unnecessarily complex, imprecise and self-contradictory definition of anti-Semitism, which conflates it with anti-Zionism.

The IHRA definition, which has been adopted by both the Labour Party and the GMB, will no doubt be the basis of investigations into the allegations made against Peter. We prefer the Oxford English dictionary definition, that anti-Semitism is ‘hostility to or prejudice against Jews.’

Peter is clearly not anti-Semitic: he does not harbour hostility, prejudice, hatred or ill-intent towards Jewish people as Jews. He is a campaigner for Palestinian rights, against the racist ideology of Zionism and the apartheid system and practices of Israel.

The investigation into Peter arose because he organised a petition, with now over 700 signatories, declaring – using the clumsy and obscure IHRA wording – that “the existence of Israel is a racist endeavour”. But even Jon Lansman, the Zionist self-appointed chair of Momentum, conceded, in an October 14 email to Peter, that “declaring Israel to be a racist endeavour and challenging the NEC to expel him alongside others who signed a petition he launched may not be anti-Semitic …” But Lansman continued: “… it is a deliberately provocative act which is most certainly prejudicial to the interests of the party and I therefore urge the General Secretary to take the appropriate action against you.”

These are weasel words. “Provocative” acts are the stuff of political debate. Lansman is effectively calling for the silencing of support for the Palestinian struggle against Zionism and Israel’s apartheid.

We understand from Peter’s November 8 statement that his suspension by the GMB is motivated by former Labour NEC member and GMB official Rhea Wolfson – an open Zionist, a member of the Jewish Labour Movement and a supporter of Israel as a Jewish state.

The Israeli state is inherently racist. Under its July 2018 Nation-State Law, Israel is defined as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” and Palestinian citizens are explicitly declared not to have any national rights. In the West Bank and Gaza – territories occupied since 1967 – while Jewish settlers enjoy full democratic rights as Israeli citizens, Palestinians live under military rule with no democratic rights, because they are not Jewish.

Although Peter’s petition is a good idea, challenging Labour’s NEC to revoke its adoption of the IHRA definition, we cannot support it. Firstly, we disagree with some of its wording – eg, before it adopted the full IHRA definition on September 4, Labour did not allow “full freedom of speech on Israel”. On the contrary, the witch-hunt was in full flow long before that. Secondly, some of the formulations in Peter’s supporting documents internalise the racism of Zionist ideology, failing to distinguish clearly between the Zionist movement and the Jewish population, and attributing a non-existent collective political identity to “the Jews”, eg, “the Jews have so much leverage here [in the UK]”.

The witch-hunt against Corbyn and the Labour left is part of the huge, unprecedented campaign over recent years to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism – hatched, crafted and skilfully promoted by the US right, the Israeli government and the UK establishment, designed to delegitimise criticism of Israel and to prepare public opinion for another imperialist war in the Middle East, after the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Suspended by the Labour Party? Read this.

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This Kafkaesque account of his suspension has been published by Ben Timberley on Facebook – we republish it here for all those who are not on FB and to allow easy access. 

BEN TIMBERLEY·WEDNESDAY, 27 JUNE 2018

As you’ll see in the story below, suspended or expelled Labour party members face a gruelling task to prove their innocence or to provide a justifiable context to their alleged ‘crimes’. It is considered ‘normal’ by right-wing party staff and elected officials for party members to be smeared with the label of ‘suspension’ or ‘expulsion’ with all of the social stigma that these labels carry.

Continue Reading “Suspended by the Labour Party? Read this.”

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”

On the case of David Watson: Open letter to the NEC, Compliance Unit and Constitutional Committee

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To the NEC, Compliance Unit and Constitutional Committee

Sisters and Brothers

23 January 2018

We have waited for 19 months for the Chakrabarti Enquiry’s recommendations to be put into practice, and give our party the fair disciplinary procedures it needs and deserves. We hope that the NEC will make a start today by clearing David Watson of unfounded charges and letting him return to Walthamstow where he was a valued officer.

We have seen so many good comrades across the Labour Party suspended on the basis of anonymous accusations, and still waiting to be reinstated. There have been waves of factional purges which are shameful in a democratic party. First members were accused of being Green, then trade union militants, then antisemites and then transphobic. Accusations seem to have come down most heavily on people of colour, thus further excluding them from our party which we say that we want to reflect the society we live in. Continue Reading “On the case of David Watson: Open letter to the NEC, Compliance Unit and Constitutional Committee”

The case of Syed Siddiqui

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As covered by Jewish Voice for Labour:

Letter sent to all member of the Labour Party NEC
15 January 2018

Dear  NEC member,

We understand that the suspension of Syed Siddiqui is being considered by the NEC very shortly and we urge you to lift the suspension. We append a Case summary, and attach the relevant sections of the Rule book and the exchange between Mr. Siddiqui and Party Officers, leading now to a second complaint about how this issue has been handled.

As Mr. Siddiqui has been selected to stand for the local Council, it is even more important that it is addressed swiftly. We have 2 JVL committee members in this constituency who can attest to the falseness of the allegations and to the truth of the Islamaphobic comments addressed to Mr. Siddiqui.

We look forward to a speedy resolution of this matter.

Your sincerely
Leah Levane and Jenny Manson
Co Chairs, Jewish Voice for Labour Continue Reading “The case of Syed Siddiqui”

David Watson, suspended for unspecified “breaches of party rules” since May 2016

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David Watson, Labour Party fundraising coordinator for the Walthamstow constituency in northeast London, was suspended for unspecified “breaches of party rules.” The Jewish Chronicle – a Zionist weekly newspaper which has been a main cheerleader for the campaign branding Labour a hotbed of Jew-hatred – gave an “Exclusive” tag to its May 6 report alleging that Watson had been suspended because of antisemitic Facebook posts.

For more info on this case, click here.

To sign a petition calling for his reinstatement, click here.