LAW welcomes Jon Lansman’s decision to withdraw

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March 11 2018

Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW) welcomes Jon Lansman’s decision to finally listen to his party comrades, including Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, and withdraw as a candidate for the General Secretary post.

We are mystified as to why Lansman, who purports to back the greater representation of women at all levels of the Labour Party, ran against Unite’s Jennie Formby in the first place. LAW critically supports Formby for the job. We are concerned about her record on Labour’s NEC  where it appears she has, as recently as last week, failed to oppose the witch hunting of Jeremy Corbyn supporters by right-wingers who have weaponised false claims of anti-semitism despite Formby herself being the target of such smears. Nobody in the Labour Party can truly be a socialist if they support the purge and that includes the future general secretary.

Lansman, given his record in abolishing all democratic structures within Momentum and imposing a new constitution, is unfit to be Labour General Secretary.

He got rid of the right of Momentum’s “liberation strands”, such as Momentum Black Connexions/Caucus, to have direct representation on the leading national bodies of Momentum.  More recently, he closed down Momentum’s youth group. This demonstrates his serious lack of commitment to the self-organisation of oppressed and disadvantaged groups in the Labour Party.

Labour Against the Witchhunt believes that Lansman lacks the democratic credentials necessary to become general secretary of the Labour Party, especially in view of previous General Secretary Iain McNicol’s purge of thousands of pro-Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party members and the particularly those as a result of false accusations of anti-semitism and others based on members’ alleged “support for other organisations” using rule 2.1.4.B.

The Labour Party now needs a General Secretary who will put a decisive stop to the witch-hunt who will make sure that all disciplinary charges are dealt with fairly, swiftly, transparently and with the presumption of “innocent until proven guilty”.

Jackie Walker was suspended from Labour membership on trumped-up charges of anti-semitism, following Lansman’s pre-emptive action in removing her as Momentum’s vice-chair, and, at the time, making plain his sympathies with the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement who have championed the witchhunt in order to purge the party of Corbyn-supporting anti-Zionists.

Lansman’s constitution for Momentum bars from membership all those expelled by the Labour Party’s compliance unit. This rule that has been used exclusively against left-wingers. Lansman has since come out in support of keeping the rule (2.1.4.B) in Labour’s constitution.

He has also opposed our demands for the abolition of the Compliance Unit. We believe that all disciplinary matters should be dealt with by elected representatives.

Labour’s next general secretary should ensure the NEC immediately implements the recommendations on the party’s disciplinary procedure made by the Shami Chakrabarti Report of June 30 2016.

We believe that Unite’s Jennie Formby would be the best choice for general secretary. As a supporter of the rights of the Palestinians people we think her election would send a powerful political signal. We hope that her tenure would mark the beginning of the end of the witch-hunt.

Steering Committee
Labour Against the Witchhunt

 

When Jeremy Corbyn fought against the witch-hunt in the Labour Party

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Quoted in: Fightback!: Labour’s Traditional Right in the 1970s and 1980s by Dianne Hayter, page 32.


“In 1982, as chairman of the Hornsey constituency party, Jeremy Corbyn signed a membership card for Tariq Ali, a former member of the International Marxist Group, in defiance of Labour’s National Executive Committee. He also campaigned against the expulsion of the Trotskyist Militant Tendency from the party, acting as the “provisional convenor” of the “Defeat the Witch Hunt” campaign. “If expulsions are in order for Militant, they should apply to us, too,” he argued.”

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2018/03/meaning-corbynism

Why we cannot support Jon Lansman’s Labour Party general secretary bid

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Some of us are members of Momentum, some have never joined – and some of us left the organisation after January 2017, when its leader Jon Lansman abolished all democratic structures and imposed a new constitution, riding roughshod over the organisation’s members.

It should be noted that, as part of this coup, Lansman abolished the right of Momentum’s “liberation strands” to have direct representation on the leading national bodies of the organisation. Among the consequences of this was the breaking up of Momentum Black Connexions/Caucus. More recently, he closed down Momentum’s youth group. This demonstrates his serious lack of commitment to the self-organisation, self-determination and autonomy of disadvantaged groups in society.

Wes Stressing MP: new friend of Jon Lansman’s

As a consequence of Lansman’s behaviour, Labour Against the Witchhunt believes he lacks the democratic credentials to become the kind of general secretary that the Labour Party now needs in order to heal the wounds inflicted by Iain McNicol’s divisiveness. As general secretary, McNicol was directly in charge of the discredited compliance unit and thereby responsible for the purge of thousands of pro-Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party members. The automatic and instant expulsions and suspensions overseen by McNicol – especially those based on alleged anti-semitism and those based on members’ alleged “support for other organisations” using rule 2.1.4.B – have brought the party into disrepute. They have prevented and discouraged new members from getting involved in party life, while valuable resources have been wasted in persecuting some of the most energetic and effective campaigners for social change. Continue Reading “Why we cannot support Jon Lansman’s Labour Party general secretary bid”

Statement on Iain McNicol’s resignation

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Labour Against the Witchhunt welcomes the resignation of Labour Party general secretary Iain McNicol. He was directly in charge of the unelected and discredited compliance unit, which has purged thousands of pro-Corbyn members from the party.

We see his resignation very much as an important symbol and an integral part of our fight to radically transform the Labour Party, which is undergoing a long overdue Democracy Review, to which we have also contributed.

The automatic and instant expulsions and suspensions overseen by McNicol – especially those based on alleged anti-Semitism and those based on members’ alleged “support for other organisations” using rule 2.1.4.B – have brought the party into disrepute: They have prevented and discouraged new members from getting involved in party life, while valuable resources have been wasted in persecuting some of the most energetic and effective campaigners for social change. The purging of pro-Corbyn activists has been a major stumbling block to Labour winning a general election, which requires maximum unity.

We ask the NEC – which now has a strong majority supporting the leader of the party – to implement the following changes urgently:

  • the recommendations of the Chakrabarti report dealing with the party’s disciplinary procedure based on natural justice and due process should be brought in:
  • all those summarily expelled or suspended without due process should be immediately reinstated;
  • an accused member should be given all the evidence submitted against them and be regarded as innocent until proven guilty;
  • membership rights should not be removed until disciplinary procedures have been completed;
  • disciplinary procedures should include consultation with the member’s CLP and Branch;
  • disciplinary procedures should be time limited. Charges not resolved within three months should be automatically dropped;
  • the first part of Rule 2. 1. 4. B (‘Exclusions’) should be deleted: it currently bars from Labour Party membership anybody who “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Party”;
  • the party should reject the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism which, in its list of examples, conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people;
  • the party should immediately abolish the ‘compliance/disputes unit’. Disciplinary decisions should be taken by elected bodies, not paid officials.

Kevin Higgins: new poem on Tony Greenstein’s expulsion

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The poet Kevin Higgins has been suspended from the party for writing this satirical poem about the Blairs. 


We Are Delighted To Announce
for Tony Greenstein  

The first execution of a man convicted
of using inappropriate language – far too many
exclamation marks and block capitals – to tell
what we realise is ninety nine per cent the truth,
has been successfully carried out.
And it was surprisingly clean.

Bloodless as an office team building session held
in an hotel specially built to mop up the overspill
from the booming funeral parlour next door.

The screeching was confined to
a few pseudonymous moderates
post-coitally whispering the hope
that this legally implemented death
not be the last of its kind.

We must be sure and include
our least favourite black woman, the Irish,
and, at a minimum, one more Hebrew
in the commonsense cleansing we envisage.

KEVIN HIGGINS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Statement on the February 18 expulsion of Tony Greenstein from the Labour Party

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“Labour Against the Witchhunt deplores the politically motivated expulsion from the Labour Party of Tony Greenstein (LAW’s vice-chair). It is a blatant example of how the right-wing who oppose Jeremy Corbyn, the democratically elected Labour leader, have cynically weaponised anti-Semitism to attack his supporters.

Veteran Black, Jewish and other party members have been targeted as part of this witch-hunt. Greenstein is a Jewish anti-racist who has campaigned ceaselessly against the Zionist Israeli government’s appalling treatment of Palestinians and has played a leading role in exposing how children, like jailed Ahed Tamini, have been caught up in this cycle of oppression. He is not Anti-semitic. It is shameful that anti-Semitism has been cynically weaponised by the right-wing to purge Labour of Corbyn supporters, while much more prevalent anti-black racism and, until Jeremy Corbyn spoke out against it, Islamophobia, have been ignored by the party.

We call on the Labour leadership to use its left-wing majority on the party’s ruling National Executive Committee to reinstate Greenstein and stop the witch-hunt; it is an expression of the ongoing civil war in the party that serves no other purpose than to damage the party’s chances of winning the next general election.

The NEC must, without further delay, implement the recommendations of the party’s own Chakrabarti Report recommendations on disciplinary procedure based on natural justice and due process. It is astonishing that almost two years have gone by without these vital changes being brought in so that party members are treated fairly rather than made victims of the purge.”

LAW’s steering committee includes Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth, both of whom remain suspended on trumped-up charges of anti-Semitism. Please support Marc’s crowdfunding appeal – he is next in the firing-line. His hearing has been set for April 25 in London – LAW will be supporting him with a protest outside backed by members of Grassroots Black Left, the Indian Workers’ Association and Jewish Voice for Labour.

How you can support LAW’s submission to the Corbyn Review

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Background: The so-called Corbyn Review aims to produce a report to the 2018 annual conference in Liverpool. It is not a blue-sky-thinking exercise, however: Submissions invited are limited to answering 32 pre-set questions on six themes with a 250-word-limit on each of the questions.

None of these deal with the compliance unit (Disputes) or the fate of expelled and suspended members per se (or, for that matter, with the important demand for mandatory selection). We have therefore picked a relatively open-ended question that we think it worthwhile filling with some of LAW’s demands.

Here is what you can do:

1. Please submit the proposal as an individual here in the section: How do we get our increased membership more involved in the Party?’ Deadline is March 23.

2. Please submit it to your Labour Party branch and/or CLP and/or other party unit – and submit it again online in their name if they approve it.

3. If you are a Momentum member, please “nominate” the proposal, which has been submitted by Tony Greenstein: Click here. Deadline is Friday, February 16. Continue Reading “How you can support LAW’s submission to the Corbyn Review”

January 30: LAW meeting in Birmingham

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Over 50 Labour members gathered in Birmingham on January 30 for the city’s launch of LAW. Jackie Walker spoke first and got straight to the point – the witch-hunt is about weakening Corbyn’s position as leader and forcing the next Labour government to the right by removing left activists. She reminded us that the ‘problem’ of anti-Semitism in the party arose from nowhere when Corbyn became leader. She explained that LAW isn’t just about defending the victims and providing solidarity: it also demands fundamental change in the party’s disciplinary processes.

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi gave examples of left activists in her part of London who’ve been suspended for over a year on the basis of trumped-up charges. She urged LAW to quantify the scale of the problem by getting the NEC to reveal how many members are suspended pending a hearing, how long have they been waiting and how many automatic exclusions have occurred.

Marc Wadsworth called for the immediate implementation of the Chakrabarti report in respect of the party’s disciplinary procedures. That would introduce the concepts natural justice and due process, and enforce time limits for each stage.

The discussion that followed revealed that unjust suspensions and expulsions are nothing new in Birmingham – they’ve been going on for decades. And those responsible in the party’s regional office are still in place today.

From the floor Stan Keable explained how clause 2.1.4.B of the party rules has been used to exclude him, and how any member can be deemed to be contravening it. He also questioned the emphasis other speakers placed on legal challenges, and relying on the courts to force the hand of the Labour bureaucracy. His suggestion that instead we should mobilise the membership to challenge unjust decisions was met with applause.

The meeting concluded with a commitment to organise further LAW activity in the city.

Rob Meyer
(this appeared first as a letter in the Weekly Worker)

Videos from our January 29 meeting with Ken Loach, Jackie Walker, Moshe Machover, Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth

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For a report of the fantastic meeting, click here.

Film director Ken Loach talks about writer and poet, Kevin Higgins who was suspended from the Labour Party in June 2016 for writing a satirical poem about Tony Blair.

LAW honorary president Moshé Machover:

LAW chair Jackie Walker:

LAW vice-chair Tony Greenstein:

Ken Loach: “This witch-hunt is a complete nonsense”

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Filmmaker Ken Loach addressed spirited meeting of Labour Against the Witchhunt in London on January 29

More than 70 people crammed into London’s Conway Hall last night (January 29) to discuss the ongoing witch-hunt against the left in the Labour Party and what can be done to stop it. Hundreds of left-wing and pro-Palestinian members remain expelled or suspended, for example on trumped up charges of anti-Semitism.
For videos from the event, click here.

Continue Reading “Ken Loach: “This witch-hunt is a complete nonsense””

Open letter to John Mann MP from Jackie Walker

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(via email john.mann.mp@parliament.uk)

Dear John Mann MP,

I read with interest your article in the Jewish Chronicle dated 23rd January 2018.

I realise this is a report from the Jewish Chronicle and therefore not a reliable source however, you are reported as saying (about me), and by inference of Israeli influence in British politics and activists like me in particular, that to speak of this amounts to, “….fantasy conspiracies, and that’s part of the problem – some people look for alleged conspiracies when in fact they should be looking at themselves and their behaviour. Provide us with the evidence – that’s a very, very serious allegation to me. I think if they can’t provide the evidence then clearly what they are saying is a problem, so they now have to provide the evidence, provide the proof of exactly what and how Israel has been involved. It’s yet another trope – put up or shut up, prove it.”

Of course, I find your use of the term trope yet another trope used against opponents of Israel to smear and suggest racism, but let’s not get bogged down in tit-for-tat accusations, especially when they concern such well-worn cliches.
Presuming your recent comments stem from simple ignorance and not malice, you appear to have missed numerous articles, documentaries, policy announcements from the Israeli government, over many years, that relate to this specific topic; what’s happening in the UK, Israel and a number of other countries. I will assist.

If we stick to a very few reasonably contemporaneous media interventions, as early as 2009 the Channel 4 programme Dispatches investigated the pro-Israel lobby in Britain and how it works. Here is the programme on Youtube. 

Here is a transcript of the show to further clarify.

Below are links to a number of more recent articles.

The problem is not in finding these articles. There are so many I cannot possibly list all so I suggest, given your access to Parliamentary research staff, you and yours can use a search engine and simply Google ‘BDS and Israel. It makes for fascinating, and instructive reading.

By the way, on the comments and smears you continue to make against me, I think if you can’t provide the evidence that what you are saying is true, then clearly what you are saying is a problem. I suggest you now have to provide the evidence, provide the proof or in your own words – ‘put up or shut up’.

Best wishes, Jackie Walker

Israeli newspaper Haaretz, 2018
Israel’s Military Intelligence Monitoring Dozens of BDS Groups Around the World

Electronic Intifada – 2018
“Meet the spies injecting Israeli propaganda into your news feed“

The Daily Mail, 2017
“Israel plot to ‘take down’ Tory minister: Astonishing undercover video captures diplomat conspiring with rival MP’s aide to smear Deputy Foreign Secretary” 

2017 Aljazeera TV: The Lobby
Documentary into Israeli interference in British Politics

Haaretz 2018
“Israeli government hired lawyers to counter BDS; nature of work is kept a secret, and defined as ‘extremely sensitive’

 

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”

NEC should put an end to the years in limbo

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Stan Keable, secretary of Labour Against the Witchhunt, reports on a successful lobby of Labour’s NEC

(this report also appeared in the Weekly Worker)

Around 40 Labour Party left-wingers and Corbynistas gathered in London on January 23 outside the posh Labour headquarters at 105 Victoria Street. We were there for Labour Against the Witchhunt’s lobby of the party’s national executive committee. The NEC was meeting for the first time with a clear pro-Corbyn majority, following the election of Jon Lansman and two other Momentum and Campaign for  Labour Party Democracy-backed comrades, Yasmine Dar and Rachel Garnham.

We are demanding an end to the rightwing witch-hunt against the left. And among us were quite a few ‘witches’ – those suspended or expelled from the party, some for simply being socialists, some on fake charges of anti-Semitism. Activists from Grassroots Black Left joined supporters of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, Jewish Voice for Labour and Free Speech on Israel to drive home the message that opposing Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism.

A message was read out from LAW honorary president Moshé Machover, who was unwell and unable to attend. I am “with you in spirit”, he said. Comrade Machover himself had been expelled in October 2017, but following a huge outcry by Labour branches up and down the country, was then reinstated. An important victory.

NEC members are responsible for the witch-hunt still being carried out by party officials. Although the independently elected national constitutional committee (NCC) hears disciplinary cases referred to it, ‘automatic’ expulsions are effected instantly by paid officials acting on the authority of the NEC, using the bureaucrat’s catch-all dream of rule 2.1.4.B – a member or ‘supporter’ of any political organisation which is not affiliated to Labour and is not a party unit can be instantly expelled, with no right of appeal. Would that include CND? Or Stop the War Coalition? Continue Reading “NEC should put an end to the years in limbo”

Support Marc Wadsworth!

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LAW member Marc Wadsworth needs help covering his legal fees to fight his suspension from the Labour Party. His hearing is in less than two months’ time.

Marc is – like hundreds of others – a victim of the ongoing civil war in the Labour Party. Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn have been expelled and suspended for the most ridiculous of charges – and the charge against Marc of being ‘anti-Semitic’ is up there with the most nonsensical ones. His ‘crime’ was to call out Ruth Smeeth in the press conference that launched the Chakrabarti report. You can see the video for yourself here.

It is worth fighting back: The reinstatement of Moshé Machover and Tony Greenstein’s successful injunction at the High Court prove that. All these cases are not just about the individuals concerned, they are important stepping stones in our campaign to end the ongoing witch-hunt against the left in the party.

Now please dig deep and support Marc’s campaign (more background below)

Click here to make a donation on CrowdJustice