Motions agreed at LAW conference July 4 2020 on the future of Labour Against the Witchhunt
1. Submitted by the LAW Steering Committee
1. The anti-socialist witch-hunt is not only about the Labour left. It afflicts the whole of society: workers have been dismissed for speaking against Israel and Zionism; academics are being bullied into self-censorship. The anti-Semitism smear is its main weapon, but it is not about eradicating anti-Semitism. It is about undermining opposition to imperialist war, inhibiting a resurgence of the anti-war movement and ensuring that the UK remains loyal to the US and its ally Israel in their next military adventures.
2. Israel is an expansionist settler-colonial state which bases itself on the racist ideology of Zionism. Zionist colonisation of Palestine, from the 1890s, sought imperial sponsorship from the kaiser and the tsar, and gained British backing in the 1917 Balfour Declaration. The ethnic cleansing of the 1948 Nakba continues today in Israel’s discriminatory and oppressive laws and practices, its treatment of the people of Gaza, and Netanyahu’s proposed annexation of much of the Jordan Valley.
3. The big lie in condemning critics of Israel and Zionism as anti-Jewish racists cannot be overcome by logical arguments against the deliberate non-definition of anti-Semitism. That has been done exhaustively. The search for electability, the willingness to be bribed, the lure of high office, ensures that career politicians uphold the big lie and align themselves with US foreign policy.
4. Labour Against the Witchhunt’s launch meeting on October 21 2017, set out three key demands on our party:
* An end to automatic suspensions and expulsions – no disciplinary action without a hearing;
* Rejection of the false IHRA ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism, which conflates anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism; and
* Abolition of the compliance unit – disciplinary action must be taken by elected bodies, not paid officials.
5. LAW has a proud record of campaigning, which must continue. Since our first conference on February 2 2019 we held a series of lobbies of Labour Party NEC meetings and organised a successful intervention at the 2019 Labour conference in Brighton. In the following months, our efforts were more limited. As well as campaigning for Labour in the December general election, much of our energy was put into initiating and building the Labour Left Alliance, and organising its February 22 launch conference. In March campaigning was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, which prevented physical meetings and lobbies. Despite this the steering committee has decided our second conference must go ahead using an online platform.
6. Although its prime target was the removal of Jeremy Corbyn as party leader, the belief that the anti-socialist witch-hunt would end with his removal was an illusion. This was confirmed by the craven endorsement of the Board of Deputies’ ‘Ten Commandments’ by all of the candidates for the leadership position, and by the surge of new suspensions and the first wave of ‘fast-track’ expulsions by Labour’s national executive committee – without a hearing – since Keir Starmer took office on April 4.
7. Starmer’s dishonest promise to “remove the stain of anti-Semitism” from the party can only be fulfilled by mass expulsions of the left, or by its taming, its self-silencing, its moving to the right. Starmer’s declaration of war on the left shows the futility of Corbyn’s failed strategy of appeasement of the right. We must resist the temptation for the left to go quiet on the witch-hunt.
8. The witch-hunt will not go away until it is openly confronted and defeated politically, and that means calling out those on the left who have been complicit. Corbyn and McDonnell are both guilty of misleading the left into the strategy of appeasement, failing to challenge the right’s false ‘anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ narrative. A year before LAW was launched, Momentum joined the witch-hunt explicitly by removing Jackie Walker as vice-chair in response to Zionist slurs. Recently, the party’s own leaked report on the handling of anti-Semitism complaints confirms the enthusiasm of Corbyn’s team to ramp-up the witch-hunt. The false complaints made against the Wavertree Four, suspended on May 29, were made by local Momentum activists.
9. A witch-hunt functions to silence dissent, to make us afraid to speak out. It generates self-censorship, self-policing – and the policing of others. It is the enemy of free speech and closes down democratic debate.
10. Solidarity is the key principle of working class struggle: an injury to one is an injury to all. Silence is complicity.LAW must continue to assist victims to fight suspensions and expulsions. We must organise and publicise campaigns to highlight the false accusations and unfair processes.
11. LAW accepts as members those wrongly suspended and expelled by the Labour Party. We also understand and accept as members those who decide to leave the party rather than suffer the indignity of a degrading disciplinary process. But we urge comrades to stay in and fight, if they can. The anti-socialist witch-hunt must be defeated.
2. Submitted Tony Greenstein
- The dismissal of Rebecca Long-Bailey proves that Starmer is no centrist as he portrayed himself in the leadership elections, but a hardline Zionist.
- The witchhunt that Jeremy Corbyn enabled, through his introduction of the fast-track procedures for ‘egregious’ cases is being used for every ‘anti-Semitism’ case. None are going to the NCC, which is almost defunct. This is a rule violation and therefore a breach of law.
- The reaction of the Socialist Campaign Group was well summed up by the Jewish Chronicle of June 26: ‘Left-wing Labour MPs restrained in response to Long-Bailey’s sacking.’
- It is clear that any criticism of Zionism or Israel now falls under the category of ‘anti-Semitic trope’, which is itself anti-Semitic.
- We need a plan of activity for the next year. It is essential that we reverse the membership decline of LAW.
- We reject all of the 10 Board of Deputies pledges (’10 Commandments’) which RBL and Starmer adopted but it is clear that the most pernicious of these is no. 5 which effectively no platforms anyone who is suspended or expelled. It creates a category of banned persons.
- We should campaign to get groups, within and without the Labour Party to reject this Commandment and to explicitly defy it. We agree to set up a LAW sub-committee to campaign inside Labour and outside of it, to reject the 10 pledges and explicitly defy them, particularly by means of LLA approved publications, analyses and resolutions.
- We note that certain groups on the left, in particular the SWP and Counterfire, in pursuit of their ‘united front’ strategies in SUTR and StWC, are unofficially complying with the 5th Commandment in order to retain the support of their patrons. We must demand that ALL groups that are on the socialist left do not comply with this demand.
- We instruct the Steering Committee to organise, in conjunction with other groups such as JVL, PSC etc. a large picket of Labour Party headquarters with the demands ‘No to the IHRA’, ‘No to the 10 Commandments’.
- We instruct the Steering Committee to organise, in conjunction with the ad-hoc Freedom of Speech group webinars involving prominent Labour Movement personalities prepared to speak out against compliance with the BOD commands.