Why we have resigned from the steering committee of Labour Against the Witchhunt

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Join statement

Following the vote at LAW’s all-members’ meeting on November 27 to merge with Labour In Exile Network (by a vote of 47-27 with 12 abstentions, all votes and motions here), we have decided to resign from LAW’s steering committee. 

We cannot support the view that the struggle against the Labour witch-hunt is over, or that “LAW has outlived its usefulness”, as Tony Greenstein, the proposer of the motion to merge, put it. The witch-hunt in the Labour movement is expanding every day and a campaign like LAW still has a vital role to play. 

We do not believe that LAW can be effective if it is part of a much less focussed and politically diverse organisation like LIEN, which has committed itself to Corbyn’s 2019 and 2017 manifestos. There are half a dozen groups with similar soft-left programmes – all small and entirely ineffective. Building yet another one on the same political basis is unlikely to lead to another result! 

The prevalent view in LIEN is that Labour is ‘dead’. While Starmer has been doing his best to close down all avenues for political intervention by the left, we should not underestimate that many working class people still see it as ‘their’ party – and therefore we need a strategy to continue the fight in Labour (which includes working with groups outside Labour). We cannot simply run away from that struggle.

The motion commits the newly merged organisation to “work and/or join forces” with groups including Chris Williamson’s Resist. He is in his own unity negotiations with TUSC and George Galloway’s nationalistic Workers’ Party and his lieutenants in the Stalin Society. That is not a serious strategy.

The recent expulsions from Labour of Graham Bash, Jo Bird and Pamela Fitzpatrick, as well as the ongoing reluctance of much of the official Labour Left to speak out against the witch-hunt, proves how necessary a single-issue campaign like Labour Against the Witchhunt still is. 

Thanks to all comrades who have fought this struggle with us over the last 5 years. 

In solidarity,

Jackie Walker
Kevin Bean (beankevin1955@gmail.com)
Stan Keable (keablestan@icloud.com)
Tina Werkmann (tinawerkmann2014@gmail.com)

Stan Keable, secretary of LAW, vindicated in court

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Full judgement here

Good news for a change: Stan Keable, secretary of Labour Against the Witchhunt, has defeated his employer’s appeal in the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“the EAT”), and that the EAT has upheld the Employment Tribunal’s findings that Mr Keable was unfairly dismissed and should now be reinstated.

The ET’s finding was upheld, that the Council had acted unfairly in dismissing Mr Keable for bringing the Council into disrepute, “when he expressed his political views in a lawful way, entirely away from the working environment, with no connection to thework at the time, even if those views caused offence to some people.”

His barrister, David Renton, commented “This is the first time in nearly a decade that an appeal court has upheld an order that a worker should be reinstated. Hammersmith and Fulham should now do the right thing and let him have his old job back”

Mr Keable was dismissed in May 2018 after attending a rally outside Parliament (“Enough is Enough”) at which both supporters and opponents of then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn were present. Mr Keable was filmed at a great distance from his workplace, and footage of him speaking with another protester was shared without his consent on Twitter, where a journalist gave his words a misleading caption, “Anti-Semitism Didn’t Cause the Holocaust and Zionists Collaborated with the Nazis.” The film was seen by nearly 80,000 people.

He was investigated by Hammersmith and Fulham Council, who refused to put to Mr Keable the case which they then relied on in dismissing him – namely that the words he used were likely to be misunderstood online. Her Honour Judge Tucker upheld the finding of the original Tribunal that Mr Keable’s dismissal was unfair, and that it was wrong of the employer to dismiss him without putting its case to him: “A fair and open procedure, where there is cooperation, genuine and effective communication regarding a disciplinary charge, is far more likely to engender reflection, perhaps regret or expressions of remorse which may in turn lead to better performance in the future, than a hostile, unduly adversarial or closed procedure”. HHJ Tucker also upheld the Tribunal’s findings that Mr Keable should be reinstated.

Following the defeat of the employer’s appeal, R& A solicitors said, “The decision of the Appeal Tribunal vindicates Mr Keable, who faced terrible accusations of antisemitism, which he has shown were false. The employer wanted to make this case about Twitter. They said that what matters is not what a person said but how words are perceived on social media. This judgment shows that they have wrongly punished an innocent man.”

—–

From Dave Renton: My congratulations to Stan Keable, for successfully defeating his employer’s appeal against the Employment Tribunal’s finding that he had been unfairly dismissed and should now be reinstated by his employer Hammersmith and Fulham.

For those who don’t know Stan’s story, he was dismissed in May 2018 after attending a rally outside Parliament (“Enough is Enough”) at which both supporters and opponents of then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn were present. Footage of him disagreeing with an anti-Corbyn demonstrator was shared without his consent on Twitter, where a journalist gave his words a false and offensive caption. The film was seen by nearly 80,000 people. His local MP denounced him, and the Chief Executive of the Council instigated his dismissal.

Stan has a Jewish wife and daughter, was shocked by the allegations. The Tribunal found his dismissal both procedurally and substantively unfair.
The judgment doesn’t give a full flavour of the case run by Stan’s employer which was that while Stan had never actually said that Zionists had collaborated with the Nazis in the Holocaust, what mattered was that that was how his comments would be taken. “This is a Twitter case,” their barrister said, meaning that where people take exaggerated offence on social media, and pose at being outraged, the employer must do what social media wants or its own reputation will be destroyed. The EAT – our leading specialist discrimination court – disagreed. No, they found, you still have to investigate fairly, which means (for example) putting to someone accused the offence for which you seek to dismiss them.

Stan is the Secretary of the group Labour Against the Witch-hunt, all members of which have been excluded from the Labour Party since June. I am sure that group will say that this judgment supports their position that complaints of antisemitism need to be investigated properly. I have made many public criticisms of members of that campaign. However, on this specific complaint – that Labour investigations are getting worse – they are right, and this judgment supports their case that such investigations must in future be done fairly.

In particular, I suspect that para 91 (“A fair and open procedure, where there is cooperation, genuine and effective communication regarding a disciplinary charge, is far more likely to engender reflection, perhaps regret or expressions of remorse which may in turn lead to better performance in the future, than a hostile, unduly adversarial or closed procedure”) is going to be quoted in a lot of other cases from now on.

This is one of an incredibly small number of cases that has come to trial as a consequence of Labour’s antisemitism crisis and (unless I am mistaken) the only one which has been won by someone whose politics are left and anti-Zionist. The fact that Stan has succeeded, in this difficult context, is a huge tribute to him and the way he fought his case.

Finally, I want to say something about the order for reinstatement. Last time I checked, 20,000 unfair dismissal cases are issued each year, 5,000 make it to a final hearing, at which half succeed. Of those 2,500 or so victories ever year, fewer than five every year resulted in reinstatement orders. Not five hundred; five. Almost all of them are appealed by the employer, who usually wins. It is eight years since the Employment Appeal Tribunal last accepted that an order for reinstatement had been rightly made. The fact that Stan won on that issue, too, is again a huge vote of legal confidence in him, and will make life easier in future for every other dismissed worker seeking their own reinstatement.

Well done, Stan, it was a pleasure representing you.

Dave Renton

Auto-excluded for ‘liking’ Facebook posts by LAW

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Comrades should be aware that the Labour Party is now auto-excluding members for clicking ‘Like’. The NEC motion of July 20 2021 listed a number of reasons as to why the Labour Party might ‘auto-exclude’ somebody – but funnily enough, it did not list clicking ‘like’ on a Facebook post put up by the now-proscribed groups. Probably because it absolutely does not proof membership or support for an organisation. Just that you liked one of their posts! How much lower will Keir Starmer and David Evans sink?

…examples of “support” for any of the above organisations for purposes of Chapter 2, Clause I.4.B of the Labour Party Rule Book may include:

a. Membership of any of the four organisations;
b. Standing for election to the steering committee of the relevant organisation;
c. Participating in an all member’s meeting of the relevant organisation;
d. Participating in a working group of the relevant organisation;
e. Contributing written material to the website of the relevant organisation;
f. Donating to the relevant organisation;
g. Encouraging others to join the relevant organisation;
h. Participating in an event organised or hosted by the relevant organisation;

Message to Comrades targeted by the Party following the NEC decision to proscribe LAW and LIEN

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General Background

The NEC meeting on 20th July identified evidence of support for proscribed organisations (based on 2.1.4B) as follows: 

…examples of “support” for any of the above organisations for purposes of Chapter 2, Clause I.4.B of the Labour Party Rule Book may include:

a. Membership of any of the four organisations;
b. Standing for election to the steering committee of the relevant organisation;
c. Participating in an all member’s meeting of the relevant organisation;
d. Participating in a working group of the relevant organisation;
e. Contributing written material to the website of the relevant organisation;
f. Donating to the relevant organisation;
g. Encouraging others to join the relevant organisation;
h. Participating in an event organised or hosted by the relevant organisation;

Continue Reading “Message to Comrades targeted by the Party following the NEC decision to proscribe LAW and LIEN”

Stay and fight: A strategy for the next few months

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Contrary to a report in the gossip section of the Spectator, LAW does not pursue a strategy of calling on members to leave the Labour Party. As it states in our lead motion to our August 28 members’ meeting: “LAW remains committed to fighting against the witch-hunt and urging the left to stay and fight for party democracy and the refoundation of Labour as a united front of a special kind open to all socialist and working-class organizations. Of course we continue to accept as members not only all those who have been expelled and suspended from the party, but also those who have left the party in disgust. We will continue to campaign against the witch-hunt with forces inside and outside the Labour Party.

Proposal by Kevin Bean, endorsed by the LAW Steering Committee and the LAW all-members’ meeting of August 28 2021

1. Whilst the exact tempo of events that will shape developments in the Labour Party in the immediate future is unclear, the broad pattern has been established over the last year or so. The Starmer leadership can be expected to continue its attacks on the left to demonstrate his acceptability to the ruling class, the media, and the United States as the captain of a safe second XI. He desperately wants to be prime minister and sees the continued purge as an essential part of his electoral strategy. The targets chosen so far – LAW, LIEN, Resist and Socialist Appeal – have been ritual sacrifices chosen because of their relative weakness, not their strength. Another aspect of Starmer’s strategy is to secure the complete surrender of the ‘official left’ of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs and the Momentum leadership. Their cowardly evasion and ambiguous statements in the face of the intensification of the witch-hunt will not save them.

Continue Reading “Stay and fight: A strategy for the next few months”

Labour Party conference 2021 – what’s going on?

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We’ll be constantly updating this page, so please keep checking back

1) Are you coming to Brighton for LP conference (September 25-28)?

Let us know if you are a delegate or visitor to conference or if you are coming to Brighton to attend the Resist at the Rialto Event.  We are setting up a special email group and WhatsApp group for comrades in Brighton to help plan our various interventions, inside and outside of conference. Email us (info@labouragainstthewitchhunt.org) with the following info:

  • Are you a conference delegate, conference visitor or Resist attendee?
  • The email address where we can reach you before and during conference
  • Your mobile number 

2) Saturday, September 25 noon
Protest: No bans, no proscriptions – for free speech in the Labour Party!

Protest outside conference venue in Brighton. Called by ‘Defend The Left’, more details to follow.

Continue Reading “Labour Party conference 2021 – what’s going on?”

Not the Forde Inquiry II – tell your story!

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What has Labour done to YOU?  Been on tenterhooks waiting for the repeatedly delayed Forde Inquiry to report? Enough we say!! 

Do you have a story of injustice, undemocratic process, or other dirty goings on in Labour? This is your chance to talk back!

As the dwindling resources of Starmer’s Labour continue to be spent paying erstwhile spies and those on short term contracts to search for signs of dissent, “Not The Forde Inquiry” will reconvene to give witness to face to face testimony from victims of the biggest political witch hunt in British history at the Resist Event in the Rialto Theatre, Brighton, during the Labour Party conference this September. 

Expect the most unexpected, as Dorothy Walker (Jackie Walker’s allegedly deceased mother), rises once more from her world touring show “The Lynching” to act as judge to your witness. Send an outline of your story in under 300 words to norm6344@gmail.com. We will put your story online, and, who knows, you may even get the chance to put your case in person, on stage, in Brighton! 

Roger Silverman: My reply to the Labour Party’s “Governance and Legal Unit”…

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I have received your communication, in which you demand that I “provide evidence that I am not a supporter” of a group that you arbitrarily proscribed three weeks ago. This is a classic technique practised in all such purges going right back to the original witch-hunts of the seventeenth century. It defies all norms of natural justice. I am under no obligation to prove anything.

Continue Reading “Roger Silverman: My reply to the Labour Party’s “Governance and Legal Unit”…”

How to prove you’re not a witch…?

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Today, Friday August 13, a number of Labour Party members have received letters entitled “Notification of Possible Automatic Exclusion from Membership of the Labour Party” over their alleged association with Labour Against the Witchhunt.

These letters confirm that in order to be considered a member or supporter of LAW, you will have to have committed one of following “acts”:

Continue Reading “How to prove you’re not a witch…?”

Sign the petition: Defend the left – against all bans and proscriptions!

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If your organisation/CLP/union branch wants to sign this petition, please email info@defendtheleft.co.uk and we’ll add their name below. 

Instead of opposing the reactionary Tory government, the Labour leadership is turning its fire against many of its most committed members. The July 20 meeting of the Labour Party NEC is set to proscribe a number of left-wing groups, including Labour Against the Witchhunt, Labour in Exile Network and Socialist Appeal. The motion includes a proposal to investigate yet more groups for possible proscription. 

Apparently, the motion states that membership of the groups is “incompatible with membership of the Labour Party”. The rule book already allows for the exclusion of members who campaign against the Labour Party. These organisations do not do that. 

The same cannot be said for right-wing factions within the party that consistently and openly campaigned against Labour under Corbyn’s leadership. Yet none of those groups are threatened with proscription. 

This is just the latest salvo in the right’s full-blown attack on what remains of the pro-Corbyn left in the Labour Party. It follows the denial to Corbyn himself of the Labour Whip for more than eight months. It follows the silencing of free speech and democracy across the party with whole branches and CLPs being suspended and whole areas of discussion being suppressed, including legitimate expressions of no confidence in the leadership. Expressions of solidarity with Palestinians have been ruled out of order on the basis of unfounded antisemitism claims. Expulsion is no way to deal with political disagreements. 

We should be debating how to end draconian anti-trade union laws, reverse privatisation in the NHS and education, combat racism and discrimination, defend our right to protest, resist Fire and Rehire and cuts in benefits, and many more issues of grave concern to the trade union and labour movement. 

We urge everyone who wants to build a united, fighting opposition to the Tories to join together against the attempt by the right to reintroduce a list of proscribed organisations.  No doubt, other socialist groups will be added to the list, should this first round of proscriptions go through without a hitch.  

Show your solidarity!

  • Come to the NEC protest on Tuesday July 20 at 12noon (more details here)
  • Please sign and share this petition 
  • Get your organisation/trade union branch to support this petition and our campaign – email info@defendtheleft.co.uk

Defend The Left – against all bans and proscriptions!https://www.defendtheleft.co.uk

Defend the Left! No bans, no proscriptions!

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There are alarming reports that the July 20 meeting of the Labour Party NEC will discuss a motion proposing the proscription of four left-wing groups: Labour Against the Witchhunt, Labour in Exile Network, Socialist Appeal and Socialist Resistance (or Resist, there are different reports).

We are holding an emergency meeting tomorrow evening with other Labour Left groups to discuss the possibility of a joint defence campaign. We are also proposing to hold an emergency meeting of all members of Labour Against the Witchhunt next Saturday, July 24 at 6pm to discuss our response to this dangerous development. More details below. 

Continue Reading “Defend the Left! No bans, no proscriptions!”

Just say No to antisemitism training by the JLM!

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Joint statement by Labour Against the Witchhunt, Labour Campaign for Free Speech, Labour Left Alliance and Labour in Exile Network

Why you should NOT participate in the JLM ‘training sessions’ on antisemitism

A number of Labour Party members and role holders have been invited by general secretary David Evans to participate in online training sessions named “Understanding Antisemitism”.

Here are some reasons why we urge Labour Party members NOT to participate:

1) These sessions will be run exclusively by the Jewish Labour Movement, a pro-Israel organisation that is affiliated to the World Zionist Organisation, whose stated mission is “settling the land”. JLM is the sister party of the racist Labor Party of Israel and was revived in 2015 – explicitly in order to battle Jeremy Corbyn. It has close links to the Israeli embassy (watch The Lobby for proof). It has been doing everything in its power to weaponise false and exaggerated charges of anti-Semitism in order to undermine Jeremy Corbyn. It was the key organisation that pushed for Labour to adopt the discredited IHRA fake definition of antisemitism, which purposefully conflates criticism of Israel with antisemitism and has been criticised by its principal drafter Kenneth Stern of having been misapplied in order to “chill free speech”. 

2) Just as Israel claims to be the homeland of all Jews, so the JLM claims to be the homeland of all Jews in the Labour Party. Both claims are palpably untrue. You don’t have to be Jewish to join the JLM – you don’t even have to be a member of the Labour Party. JLM very much represents and organises pro-Zionists, but none of the many thousands of secular and anti-Zionist Jews. A balanced training session would have seen  trainers from Jewish Voice for Labour, for example. 

3) These sessions are unlikely to be run in a democratic manner. The chat is likely to be switched off. If members are allowed to speak – and speak critically – they are likely to not just be reprimanded in the session, but perhaps even be reported to the Governance and Legal Unit. This is what happened to Jackie Walker: She was secretly filmed at a JLM training session, her words were taken out of context and passed on to the disciplinary board, before she was expelled. 

We urge comrades instead to organise education sessions that discuss the difference between anti-Zionism and antisemitism and to pass motions to replace the IHRA with the much better Jerusalem Declaration. It is our view that there should be no hierarchy of racism, and that members should be offered education events, discussions and debates on recognising and combating all forms of racism.

June 5, 7pm: Not the Forde Enquiry

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Martin Forde QC launched his inquiry into the leaked report on the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in May 2020. The leaked report appeared to show horrific attempts by the party’s paid officials to undermine the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn – but also many mistakes made by the Corbyn leadership, which made concession after concession to the right, trying to ‘fight antisemitism’. 

The Forde Inquiry was first supposed to have reported by mid-July but after successive delays it was announced that publication would be postponed until the completion of an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office. Many commentators believe Forde’s report is never going to appear because Keir Starmer simply wants to bury the truth.

Speakers include:

  • Graham Bash, Labour Representation Committee (pc)
  • Jackie Walker, author and anti-racism activist
  • Leah Levane, Jewish Voice for Labour (pc)
  • Chris Williamson, former Labour MP
  • Tina Werkmann, Labour Against the Witchhunt
  • Rebecca Massey, LLA Brighton

Register here