NEC elections: Vote for anti-witch-hunt candidates!

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Labour Against the Witchhunt calls on its members and supporters to vote for the following seven candidates in the current Labour Party NEC elections, which start on October 19.

  1. Roger Silverman
  2. Chaudhry Qamer Iqbal
  3. Carol Taylor Spedding
  4. Ekua Bayunu
  5. Alec Price
  6. Steve Maggs
  7. Cameron Mitchell

If only one of them was elected to the NEC, he/she could make a huge difference to the ongoing civil war by openly fighting against the witch-hunt!

Roger Silverman, who has been nominated by almost 70 CLPs, has the best chance of being elected. As an anti-Zionist Jew and member of Jewish Voice for Labour, his election would send a very strong signal that the membership is not prepared to accept the ongoing witch-hunt.

All seven support the Action Programme for the Left of the Labour Left Alliance, in which the candidates commit themselves to a socialist programme and, concretely, to:

  • Campaign for the Labour Party’s complaints and disciplinary procedures to be overhauled so that disciplinary procedures are carried out in accordance with the principles of natural justice, and be time-limited: charges not resolved within three months should be automatically dropped. An accused member should be given all the evidence submitted against them and be regarded as innocent until proven guilty. All disciplinary cases processed during the last five years have to be overturned, pending unbiased re-examination
  • Campaign to bring to justice those who have been exposed in the ‘leaked report’ as having worked against the aims of the Labour Party
  • Campaign for Labour to oppose attempts to label the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign as antisemitic
  • Campaign for Labour to overturn the party’s commitment to the so-called definition of antisemitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which conflates anti-Zionism with antisemitism in a number of its examples
  • Campaign for Labour to oppose the party implementing the Board of Deputies’ 10 Pledges, as they undermine party democracy

Please find below a video produced by the Labour Left Alliance, which explains why this does not present a ‘split of the left vote’.

Continue Reading “NEC elections: Vote for anti-witch-hunt candidates!”

An open letter to my suspenders – by a witch-hunted “witch”

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I have now been under “administrative suspension” from the Labour Party for three months and there is no sign of an end. I can’t vote in any elections, I can’t attend meetings or vote in my branch or in my local party at all. I was on the Executive Committee locally so I can’t fulfil any of my responsibilities, which means I can’t help the poor chair to organise fiendishly complicated voting software and Zoom meetings.

We (or I should say “they”) have just had the I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-a-conference and I got excited emails from inclusive sounding groups like Team Labour.

I had an invitation to register for Connected – the on-line substitute for a physical national conference – and thought I must have been forgiven or policy had changed for virtual meetings as I wouldn’t actually be polluting real live people with my physical presence. So I registered and signed up for a couple of events. Welcome emails arrived. Hurray, Labour loves me after all!

Continue Reading “An open letter to my suspenders – by a witch-hunted “witch””

Open letter to Jermain Jackman’s “Socialists of Colour”

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We feature below an important open letter from the Labour Left Alliance. One of the candidates in the current NEC elections supported by the LLA, Carol Taylor-Spedding, has outrageously been accused of holding “openly antisemitic view” – simply for stating in a questionnaire that she feels “inspired” by Jackie Walker and that she opposes her expulsion from the Labour Party. The group “Socialists of Colour” even reported Carol to the Labour Party for antisemitism! Clearly, these are no socialists.

Worryingly, the group has recently been set up and is run by another NEC candidate, Jermain Jackman. He claims that he was not involved in either putting together the questions, issuing the outrageous “content warning” ahead of Carol’s replies, reporting her to the Labour Party or informing journalists about the group’s wich-hunt. But the website does not contain anything apart from their NEC campaign and the group’s questions are clearly designed to support Jermain’s campaign.

After we and the LLA  started complaining, Jermain eventually sought to distance himself from the website – by removing all names from their online presence (see pictures).

But Jermain continues to refuse to state if he AGREES with the actions his own group has taken. This is of course a hugely important question – surely members have a right to know if Jermain, if elected onto the NEC, will defend members from false allegations of antisemitism – or if he will be the one reporting them. The fact that he can tweet about all sorts of things, but will say nothing on this witch-hunt, speaks volumes.

Please forward this information and the open letter to others on the Labour Left. Continue Reading “Open letter to Jermain Jackman’s “Socialists of Colour””

Free speech on Palestine!

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Emergency motion to Labour Left Alliance conference
submitted by Labour Against the Witchhunt

Conference notes:

1) The circular emailed on August 12 2020 to Constituency Labour Parties by General Secretary David Evans, states that certain subjects are “not competent business for discussion by local parties” – including the so-called definition of antisemitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the forthcoming report of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the outrageous settlement payment made to former employees of the Labour Party who participated in the dreadfully one-sided BBC Panorama programme by John Ware, who now co-owns the Jewish Chronicle.The full text of the email is available here.

Conference further notes:

2) Labour party members have NOT been banned from discussing the IHRA mis-definition of antisemitism, the EHRC report or Starmer‘s settlement. The phrase “not competent business” is meant to intimidate and self-censor us, but it is merely hot air.

3) Left wing barrister Duncan Shipley Dalton explains:

“The NEC and therefore the GS has no authority in the rules to dictate what is ‘competent business’ for a CLP to discuss. The only authority is in Chap 1, VIII, 3.E: ‘The NEC shall from time to time, issue guidance and instructions on the conduct of meetings…’ Conduct not content. Conduct is a noun meaning ‘the manner in which an activity is managed or directed.’ That is not the same as the content or subject the meeting deals with. The NEC can issue guidance on how a meeting can be run/organised but not dictate what motions are competent business.”

4) That NEC member Rachel Garnham has stated that the NEC knew nothing about this supposed instruction.

5) Shamefully, Jennie Formby also used the formulation “not competent business” to stop branches coming out in support of Chris Williamson MP. She failed – and dozens of branches and CLP passed motions in support of Chris! No disciplinary action was taken against any of them.

Conference believes:

6) That the ‘leaked report’ quite clearly shows that there was an organised and concerted campaign by right-wingers in the party to undermine and sabotage Jeremy Corbyn and the left. Some of those actively involved in the campaign have now been paid off by Keir Starmer. This is a clear misuse of party funds and an insult to all Labour members and the former employees have brought the party into disrepute. With his email, David Evans clearly wants to shut down debate on this and other important issues.

7) The Labour Party was wrong to adopt the ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), as part of the futile attempt to appease the right and the pro-Israel lobby in- and outside the party. It is designed to conflate antisemitism and anti-Zionism in its list of eleven examples and is an integral part of the witch-hunt against the left.

8) These are clearly important issues that must remain legitimate subjects for debate at Labour branch and CLP meetings. The witch-hunt against the left was one of the main reasons for the defeat of the Corbyn movement, and Keir Starmer is intent on further expanding it. Thousands of left-wingers have been hounded, smeared, vilified and wrongly accused of being antisemites during the last five years, while the number of suspensions and expulsions has massively increased in recent weeks. Standing by is not an option for us. Are

Conference resolves:

9) The Labour Left Alliance will urgently produce a model motion for Labour Party branches and CLPs on this issue. This shall also express no confidence in Keir Starmer and David Evans.

10) The LLA shall seek to build a united campaign with Labour branches, CLPs, trade union branches and other organisations around the slogan ‘Free Speech on Palestine’.

The campaign shall also seek cooperation with the initiative on ‘Free Speech’ initiated by Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Chris Williamson and Marc Wadsworth, which has held a couple of excellent online debates.

Some of the initiatives the campaign could organise:

  • days of action where we protest outside local Labour Party offices and/or Labour Party HQ
  • a campaigning website
  • model motions

 

There is no ban on discussing IHRA and other issues!

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Please note that Labour party members have NOT been banned from discussing the IHRA mis-definition of antisemitism!

The phrase “not competent business”, contained in Labour Party general secretary David Evans’s latest email (full text below), is nothing but hot air. It means precisely nothing. Find below scathing response from left wing barrister Duncan Shipley Dalton.

We have been through exactly this before, when Jennie Formby used the formulation to stop branches coming out in support of Chris Williamson. She failed – and dozens of branches and CLP passed motions in support of Chris!

Worst case scenario, the general secretary and/or the NEC might not discuss any motions passed on those issues. But surely, that is not the main point about them anyway.

That point is the need to stand up to the ongoing witch-hunt! Thousands of left-wingers have been smeared, vilified and wrongly hounded as antisemites during the last five years. The futile attempt to appease the right – rather than openly take them on and defeat them politically – has led to the defeat of Corbyn and the left. Surely this is the main lesson we have to learn from the last five years.

Standing by it is not an option. There is little point in staying in the Labour Party under Starmer, if you are not prepared to fight.

Model motions against IHRA are available on our website: https://www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org/



Response from left-wing barrister Duncan Shipley Dalton

https://twitter.com/baronvonduncs/status/1293651998886199296?s=21

The NEC and therefore the GS has no authority in the rules to dictate what is ‘competent business’ for a CLP to discuss. The only authority is in Chap 1, VIII, 3.E-“The NEC shall from time to time, issue guidance and instructions on the conduct of meetings…” CONDUCT not CONTENTConduct is a noun meaning ‘the manner in which an activity is managed or directed.’ That is not the same as the content or subject the meeting deals with. The NEC can issue guidance on how a meeting can be run/organised but not dictate what motions are competent business.

Secondly, the idea discussing the IHRA will “…undermine Labour’s ability to campaign against any form of racism…” is so absurd as to be in the realms of irrationality. As previously stated the NEC/GS has no authority in the rules to dictate this. If what is being threatened.

is disciplinary punishment for breaching the code of conduct in Appendix 9, this is incorrect. The codes are not part of the rules, they are not directly enforceable. They are considered per Chap 2.I.8/9. Exactly what underlying breach of 2.I.8 occurs if a CLP discusses a motion requesting the NEC to reverse its decision on the IHRA? Is the GS suggesting that such a request “is prejudicial, or in the opinion of the NEC is grossly detrimental to the Party” REALLY! The absurdity just piles up at times.


Full text of the email from David Evans:

FAO: CLP secretaries & chairs

As CLPs and branches are now able to meet online, I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on a few pertinent issues. This will ensure that the business your local party is conducting is appropriate, minimises any challenge to its decisions and does not leave the party – locally and nationally – or its officers open to potential legal liabilities. Apologies for the length of this email, but I hope you will agree it covers some very important issues.

NEC nominations – voting procedures

We have received a number of requests for further clarity on the voting systems that are to be used for the nomination of NEC candidates. Nominations should be made by secret ballot, not by a show of hands.

• Where a voting system is specified in your CLPs standing orders, this is the system that should be used to make your nominations;

• Where a voting system is not specified in your CLP standing orders, you should rely on previous custom and practice from your CLP.

We would usually expect that to be either multi-member First Past The Post (‘Approval Voting’ on Choice Voting) or Single Transferable Vote (‘Electoral Reform Society 97 STV’ on Choice Voting). CLPs should not be devising new voting systems of their own.

We advise that wherever possible nominations are taken by email in advance of the meeting to allow the ballot to be set up before the meeting. Any such email nominations would only be valid if the member making the nomination is in attendance at the subsequent meeting. Should there be fewer nominations than, or an equal number to, the total positions available, there is no need to progress to a ballot.

Panorama settlement

The Labour Party recently agreed a settlement with seven former members of staff who appeared on an edition of the BBC’s Panorama programme, as well as with the journalist who hosted that programme. Those settlements included an unreserved apology and a withdrawal of the allegations previously made by the Party about those individuals. The withdrawal and apology are binding on the party and any motions which seek to undermine or contradict them will create a risk of further legal proceedings for both the national party and local parties. As such, motions relating to these settlements and the circumstances behind them are not competent business for discussion by local parties.

CLP officers have an important responsibility to ensure that they and other members conduct themselves in a respectful and comradely manner. We therefore take this opportunity to reiterate to local Labour Parties and officers that they should be aware of the potential liabilities to them should the allegations that have now been withdrawn by the national party be repeated.

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report

On Monday 13 July 2020 the party announced that it had received the EHRC’s draft report into allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party. This draft report has been provided to the party by the EHRC on a confidential basis as part of its investigation.

When we are able to provide more information about the EHRC’s report we will do so. Until that time speculation as to the contents of the report is not helpful. It is therefore not competent business for CLPs to discuss.

IHRA definition of antisemitism

We are aware that some CLPs and branches have had motions tabled to “repudiate” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. The IHRA definition of antisemitism and its examples was properly adopted by the Labour Party in September 2018. CLPs and branches have no powers to overturn this decision. Furthermore, such motions undermine the Labour Party’s ability to tackle racism. Any such motions are therefore not competent business for CLPs or branches.

As per the previous general secretary’s instruction, any discussion about ongoing disciplinary cases remains prohibited.

Thanks,

David Evans

General Secretary

 

Forde Enquiry: Submission by Labour Against the Witchhunt

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Download the PDF version of this submission here.

1. Introduction

The report ‘The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014 – 2019’ (the Report), gives us irrefutable proof of the plotting and outright sabotage committed against Corbyn, and the hundreds of thousands who joined the party following his election in 2015, to fight for socialist and democratic change.

It is extremely unfortunate that the Report was only produced in the last days of Corbyn’s leadership. Drawing upon primary evidence it shows serious wrong-doing by senior party officials. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Left to radically transform the Labour Party and effect progressive change, was ruined by the Right in the party. At the same time, supporters of Corbyn were vilified and slandered, their voices silenced and their votes nullified.

Unfortunately, it appears that this was sometimes done with the knowledge, and occasionally even with the active participation of the Corbyn leadership, as in the case of the expulsion of Jackie Walker and the campaign against Chris Williamson.

Politically, the Report maps out an attack on Corbyn and his advisors, who had gained partial control of the NEC in April 2018 when Jennie Formby was appointed General Secretary, by a faction of their political predecessors appointed prior to Corbyn becoming leader. Our submission makes the case against the mistakes committed by both factions within the party machine. Continue Reading “Forde Enquiry: Submission by Labour Against the Witchhunt”

Video: Campaign for Free Speech! with Norman Finkelstein, Tariq Ali, Jackie Walker, Chris Williamson & others

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This important event discussed how we can fight back against McCarthyite attempts to stifle debate on the issue of Israel/Palestine – and label those unjustly expelled and suspended as ‘unpersons’ who we are not allowed to share platforms with.

No to (self-)censorship! Discuss how we can fight back and mobilise for free speech in the Labour movement and beyond!

Speakers include Norman Finkelstein, Tariq Ali, Chris Williamson, Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, David Miller and Tony Greenstein. Chaired by Tina Werkmann of Labour Against the Witchhunt and Labour Left Alliance.

Model motion: No confidence in Keir Starmer! No more settlements with witch-hunters!

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Download as a Word file here

1. This branch/CLP notes with great concern: 

a) Keir Starmer’s July 22 2020 apology and payment of ‘damages’ in six figures to the former Labour Party employees who participated in the dreadful and one-sided BBC Panorama programme on alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party.

b) That the legal advice received by the Labour Party reportedly stated that the party had a very good chance to win the libel case pursued by the ‘whistleblowers’ featured in the programme.
c) That in the wake of this settlement, there are reports of “at least 42 further civil claims” against the party (Daily Telegraph July 24 2020), among them from BBC journalist John Ware and former general secretary Iain McNicol.

d) That the settlement has been used to demand that Starmer withdraws the whip from Jeremy Corbyn.

e) That the ‘leaked report’ quite clearly shows that there was an organised and concerted campaign by right-wingers in the party to undermine and sabotage Jeremy Corbyn and the left. Some of those actively involved in the campaign have now been paid off by Starmer. Continue Reading “Model motion: No confidence in Keir Starmer! No more settlements with witch-hunters!”

Our attitude to the ‘Forde enquiry’ into Labour’s leaked report

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Motion agreed by LAW’s conference, July 4 2020

We note:

1) That Keir Starmer set up the ‘Forde enquiry’ to investigate the so-called ‘leaked Labour report’. This was supposed to report back on July 15 2020.

2) That on June 25, the day that Rebecca Long-Bailey was sacked from Labour’s front bench in the latest round of the witch-hunt against left-wingers in the Labour Party, the ‘Forde enquiry’ buried the news that it will “not meet the deadline of July 15” to present its findings. Instead, it is aiming for “September”. It is inviting submissions of evidence along its ‘terms of reference’ by 5pm, Friday July 24 via email to info@fordeinquiry.org.

3) That the ‘terms of reference’ are:

  1. “The truth or otherwise of the main allegations in ‘the Report’ (the Panel shall determine which are the most significant allegations which require investigation but they shall include the extent of racist, sexist and other discriminatory culture within Labour Party workplaces, the attitudes and conduct of the senior staff of the Labour Party, and their relationships with the elected leadership of the Labour Party)”;
  2. “The background and circumstances in which the Report was commissioned”
  3. “The structure, culture and practices of the Labour Party organisation including the relationship between senior party staff and the elected leadership of the Labour Party”.

4) That at the same time, the leaked report has led to the following, separate investigations:

“- An investigation by the UK Information Commissioner into possible breaches of data and privacy law resulting from the leak of the Report; and

– An internal investigation by the Labour Party into the leaking and content of the Report.” (https://www.fordeinquiry.org/news-and-resources/)

We believe:

5) That any report(s) produced by the Forde enquiry will in all likelihood be a whitewash of the current leadership and its supporters on the right of the party (who are responsible for the vile misogyny and racism on display in the report). It is also likely that the report will attempt to blame Corbyn and his allies for the leak of the report, as well as the destructive internal culture that is evident from it. At most, we expect that a couple of Labour Party employees might be thrown the wolves in an attempt to ‘move on’.

6) The enquiry however does not deal with the most important aspect of the leaked report, namely the campaign to weaponise antisemitism and equate it with anti-Zionism – and how the Corbyn leadership dealt with it.

7) That the leaked report was produced by supporters of the Corbyn leadership and Momentum in order to prove that they did everything in their power to ‘eradicate antisemitism’, but were actively hindered by the right in the party.

8) However, the leaked report underlines the many mistakes made by Corbyn and his allies: They decided to support the lie that the Labour Party is overrun by antisemites. They sought to appease the Israel advocacy groups and the self-appointed leadership of “the Jewish community” and behaved as though they believed this lie. In the process they displayed an inability to recognise real antisemitism, while eagerly trying to get rid of activists like Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson, none of whom can be accused of even a trace of antisemitism.

We therefore agree the following:

9) To postpone our planned ‘Counter-conference’ to September, so that it coincides with the release of the results of the leaked report and can present our counter argument. This counter-conference will deal with what we believe are the real issues arising from the leaked report:

– The futility of trying to appease the right;
– The difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism;
– The need to stand up for free speech on Palestine;
– The need to fight against the attempt to create ‘unpersons’ that should be shunned and not invited to our meetings

Confirmed participants so far include Chris Williamson, Jackie Walker, Prof David Miller, Moshe Machover, Greg Hadfield and Tony Greenstein and we will also hear from less prominent cases.

10) The new LAW steering committee shall attempt to prepare a submission focusing on our own ‘terms of reference’ as described above – ie, the need to expose the campaign to weaponise antisemitism and equate it with anti-Zionism. We have no doubt that this will be ignored by the enquiry, but we shall publish it far and wide.

Future of Labour Against the Witchhunt

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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

  1. The dismissal of Rebecca Long-Bailey proves that Starmer is no centrist as he portrayed himself in the leadership elections, but a hardline Zionist.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.’
  4. It is clear that any criticism of Zionism or Israel now falls under the category of ‘anti-Semitic trope’, which is itself anti-Semitic.
  5. We need a plan of activity for the next year.  It is essential that we reverse the membership decline of LAW.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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’.
  3. 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.

 

NEC elections 2020

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Emergency motion agreed at LAW conference, July 4 2020

NEC elections 2020

1. The change of the NEC electoral system from first past the post to single transferable vote is clearly an attack on the left membership. It makes it almost impossible for a full ‘left’ slate to ever win again all nine seats in the section elected by the members.

2. The Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance is dead. It should have died a lot sooner. It has always been characterised by bad compromises, backroom deals and the lowest common denominator. Many of its candidates throughout the last decades cannot be described as ‘left’, or even soft left. Ann Black for example served for decades on the NEC, thanks to being backed by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD). Even under Corbyn’s leadership, the vast majority of the nine NEC members failed to speak out or stand up to the witch-hunt and a number of them even fully participated in it – chiefly Jon Lansman and his supporters.

3. There is a chance that – after the victory of the Forward Momentum slate in the Momentum NCG elections – there will be efforts to revive the CLGA. But even without Jon Lansman in the driving seat of the negotiations, this method of divvying up candidates that are deemed ‘acceptable’ to all groups involved in the CLGA backroom deals is deeply apolitical and undemocratic. Instead, it should be the politics of the candidates that decide if they deserve support or not.

4. The new electoral system opens up the possibility to concentrate our fire on one or two candidates who are prepared to stand on a principled political platform, which in our view must include the commitment to:

a) Publish regular reports of NEC meetings, including details of how they and other NEC members have voted.

b) Campaign for the Labour Party’s complaints and disciplinary procedures to be overhauled so that disciplinary procedures are carried out in accordance with the principles of natural justice, and be time-limited: charges not resolved within three months should be automatically dropped. An accused member should be given all the evidence submitted against them and be regarded as innocent until proven guilty. Abolish fast-track expulsions.

c) Campaign for all disciplinary cases processed during the last five years to be re-examined in an unbiased way. The leaked report proves that the Corbyn leadership, in the hope of appeasing the right, displayed an inability and unwillingness to recognise real antisemitism, while eagerly trying to get rid of activists like Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson, none of whom can be accused of even a trace of antisemitism.

d) Campaign for Labour to:

– overturn the party’s commitment to the so-called definition of antisemitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which conflates anti-Zionism with antisemitism in a number of its examples;

– oppose attempts to label the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign as antisemitic;

– oppose the party implementing the Board of Deputies’ 10 Pledges.

5. We should make a choice of which candidates to support based on their record of resistance to the witch hunt.

We do not support candidates who do not commit to oppose the IHRA.

That any candidates commit to opposing the fast track procedures.  They were introduced to deal with ‘egregious’ cases.  They are being used to deal with EVERY case of ‘antisemitism’

RLB sacking: Stop the anti-left witch-hunt!

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LAW Statement June 26 2020

Labour Against the Witchhunt condemns the June 25 sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey from the shadow cabinet. Her ‘crime’ was retweeing an interview in The Independent with the actor Maxine Peake. Repeating a widely circulated but inaccurate story, Maxine commented: “The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.”

However, Israeli training of US police, and the use of such inhuman techniques against Palestinians, have been well documented, for example by Amnesty International and Middle East Eye. Keir Starmer’s charge that any of this is an “anti-Semitic conspiracy theory” is ludicrous. It does underline the fact however that the witch-hunt has precious little to do with fighting antisemitism. It is all about getting rid of Jeremy Corbyn and now all of his remaining supporters and making sure the Labour Party remains a reliable ally from imperialism’s (and, crucially, Israel’s) point of view.

Rebecca Long-Bailey should have refuted the charge, and called out the Big Lie that criticising the Israeli state is anti-Jewish racism. Instead she retreated, tweeting that her praise of Peake was “not intended to be an endorsement of all parts of the article”. But appeasement only invites more attacks.

The agreed wording was not enough, and RLB was instructed to delete both her original tweet and her desperate “clarification”. Four hours after she expressed reluctance to do so “without the issuing of a press statement of clarification”, Starmer sacked her.

RLB’s cowardly capitulation is fully in line with her previous behavior. Her self-abasing endorsement of the Zionist, Tory-led, Board of Deputy’s ‘Ten Pledges’ did not protect her. Nor did calling herself a Zionist and refusing to protest again the witch-hunt or the appalling treatment suffered by the likes of Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Marc Wadsworth, Tony Greenstein and former MP Chris Williamson.

Starmer’s ratcheting up of the anti-socialist witch-hunt in the Labour Party is unsurprising. It fulfills his promise to show ‘zero tolerance’ of any criticism of the racist ideology of Zionism.

LAW calls out the Big Lie – that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism. LAW calls out the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance cynical misdefinition of anti-Semitism. Acceptance of the Big Lie is nowadays obligatory for career politicians. Loyalty to British imperialism requires loyalty to US imperialism and its attack dog in the Middle East, Israel. Common humanity means we must stand with the Palestinians, who face not only military occupation and lack of elementary democratic rights, but now the threat of another round of ethnic cleansing.

LAW welcomes Momentum’s petition, calling for RLB’s reinstatement. But why did Momentum not organise against the witch-hunt from the beginning? Why did it throw Jackie Walker, Momentum’s former vice chair, to the wolves? And why does it tolerate witch-hunters in its ranks, including at the very top? Momentum has become a career ladder for aspiring Labour politicians.

LAW welcomes the belated “solidarity” expressed for the latest victim of the witch-hunt by the likes of John McDonnell and John Trickett, and the June 26 statement by the Campaign Group of Socialist MPs. They are protesting against the unjust victimisation of Corbyn’s “continuity candidate”. It would have been much better to have fought the witch-hunt from the beginning. How about now extending your “solidarity” to the hundreds of Labour members wrongly vilified, smeared, suspended and expelled? Instead, the Corbyn leadership sought to appease right from day 1.

RLB’s sacking on charges of promoting an “anti-Semitic conspiracy theory” could possibily be the start of a bigger purge. The right will not be satisfied until what little remains of the parliamentary Labour left is purged. It is that or total surrender.

LAW calls upon Labour Party members to stay and fight. Do not resign in protest against Starmer or the cowardice and crass careerism of the parliamentary left.

We demand:

  • Constituency Labour Parties and branches must be allowed to meet and make decisions and pass motions and statements online;
  • Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) must repudiates the IHRA misdefinition of anti-Semitism, along with its so called examples, which deliberately conflates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism;
  • Members of the Campaign Group of Socialist MPs should repudiate the BoD’s ‘Ten Pledges;
  • Unite, Unison, GMB, Aslef, FBU, RMT, PCS and other trade unions must stop funding MPs who refuse to oppose the anti-left witch-hunt.

Steering Committee Report for LAW conference, July 4 2020

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Please note that information about our current membership figures, details of our funds, decisions taken by the steering committee and other internal matters are only available to LAW members. If you join before midnight on July 2 2020, you may attend conference. Details here

In the last 12 months, we have assisted numerous Labour Party members who have been suspended or expelled. We looked through dozens of ‘evidence packs’ and found that in the overwhelming number of cases, comrades have been suspended for anti-Zionism rather than antisemitism. There are however a few problematic posts we have seen, where a member for example wrote “Jews” when they should have clarified that they meant “Zionists”. We spoke to members about those posts and hopefully helped to avoid such problematic posts in future. We also helped to draft a few responses to their suspension letters. But, in the vast majority of cases – even the most absurd ones – this has been unsuccessful, because this witch-hunt is not about eradicating antisemitism, but getting rid of the left.

A famous exception is the case of NEC candidate Jo Bird, who was suspended (along with Mo Azam and a number of other candidates) in the middle of the March 2020 NEC by-election. Together with the Labour Left Alliance, we campaigned for her reinstatement and urged our supporters to vote for her despite her suspension. She was reinstated within days. Click here and here.

LAW was one of the three founding organisations of the Labour Left Alliance in 2019 and we remain centrally involved. As part of the LLA, we have campaigned for the fight against the witch-hunt to take centre-stage in NEC elections, and in the Momentum NCG elections, by asking all candidates a range of questions on the subject of the witch-hunt, with some interesting answers – click here and here.

Most recently,

– We drew up a petition in support of and in cooperation of the Wavertree 4, who have been unjustly suspended in May 2020 – click here

– We published a petition, urging ‘Solidarity with Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy and all those unjustly expelled’ after the two MPs were criticised for speaking at a meeting organised by ‘Don’t leave, Organise’, which was also attended by Tony Greenstein and Jackie Walker – click here

We intervened in the Labour leadership election campaign and wrote a petition, which urged Rebecca Long-Bailey to distance herself from the Board of Deputies 10 Demands, which has been signed by almost 5,000 people – click here

We responded to Keir Starmer’s announcement that he would implement the Board of Deputies’ 10 Demands – click here.

We produced a joint statement with the Labour Left Alliance on the ‘leaked Labour Party report, demanding that all disciplinary cases of the last five years should be reviewed – click here.

– We have also begun to gather witness statements, analysis, reports, CLP statements on the ‘leaked report’ click here

– We are currently planning a counter-conference to coincide with the publication of the so-called ‘investigation’ into the report. Confirmed speakers include Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Moshe Machover, Chris Williamson, David Miller and many more – registration and more details here

In the last year, we also fought and campaigned on:

– the unjust suspension of Pete Willsman click here

– the overdue launch of trigger ballots, with an explanation of how CLPs can use them – click here. We also drew up a petition, warning of the dangers of a national government (which some Labour lefties had urged) – click here.

– the investigation of the Equality and Human Right’s Commission into the Labour 
Party, which we identified as being an integral part of the witchhunt – click here

– We helped to organise various dates of the showing of the excellent documentary ‘The Witchhunt’ with Jackie Walker.

– We also published model motions on a range of other issues – click here

Chris Williamson

Chris Williamson was the only MP who was prepared to campaign with us against the witch-hunt – which is of course exactly what he was eventually suspended for.

– We produced a motion Chris’ (very brief) reinstatement (click here) and his subsequent, outrageous re-suspension click here

–  We also organised an Open letter to the NEC on the issue, which has been signed by almost 5,000 people – click here and a statement on Chris’ court case on October 10 – click here

– We also collated all CLP motions and supportive statements in Chris’ support and organised and produced memes with quotes by Noam Chomsky, Mike Leigh, Lowkey and many others – click here.

– We researched and published guidance on why “there is no ban on motions in support of Chris Williamson” to counter the entirely false reporting in the media. We also published detailed guidelines on on how to move motions  in support of Chris and how to overturn a hostile chair – click here.

AOB 

We also organised a very successful intervention at Labour Party conference 2019 (as in 2018), with two stalls every day, signing up people and informing them of our fringe meeting which took place on the last day: over 250 crammed in the space to hear Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Chris Williamson, Asa Winstanley and Mike Cushman.

LAW’s first conference, on February 2 2019, elected five comrades to the Steering Committee, and adopted four resolutions and a Constitution, after debate and amendment:

– Resolution1: The slow coup against Jeremy Corbyn – here
– Resolution 2: Why LAW opposes the IHRA ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism – here
– Resolution 3: LAW support to activists
– Resolution 4: Model motion – Objection to the Labour Party’s [Union’s] adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism – here

The May 4 2019 All Members’ Meeting (AMM) elected an additional four SC members and adopted three resolutions – here:
– Resolution 1: Proposal to expel Pete Gregson from LAW
– Resolution 2: Fighting the witch-hunt as key part of building the foundations for an independent, democratic Labour left
– Resolution 3: George Galloway and the EU elections

__________

LAW Steering Committee, June 26 2020
LAW, BM Box 1488, London WC1N 3XX
www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org

 

LAW Conference, Saturday July 4 2020, 11am online

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All members will have received an invite to register for our Zoom conference. If you have not received it and think you are a paid-up members, please email us: info@labouragainstthewitchhunt.org

Detailed agenda tbc once we know how many motions we have received.

We particular appreciate motions and initiatives around the following questions and issues:

  • How can we campaign against the newly ratcheted up witch-hunt in the party? We know of dozens of Palestine campaigners and left-wingers who have recently received their letter of suspension/notice of investigation.
  • How will LAW’s campaigning priorities have to change, now that the party is run by an outright centrist?
  • Considering that the witch-hunt has been rapidly spreading into wider society (witness a number of politically motivated sackings; councils imposing the IHRA definition on antisemitism etc), how should that find reflection in our campaigning work?
  • Should those who have now left the Labour Party be eligible for LAW membership? The Steering Committee believes they should be, but there are probably differences of opinion on the matter.

Pre-conference timetable

Sat June 20 = Conference minus 2 weeks
Deadline for motions and amendments to LAW’s constitution. Mover and Seconder must be paid up members.
Draft agenda to be published.

Sat June 27 = Conference minus 1 week
Deadline for amendments to motions. Mover and Seconder must be paid up members.
Deadline for nominations to Steering Committee.

Sat July 4 = Conference, 11am start
Further nominations for the Steering Committee accepted during conference.

Steering Committee motion

  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 mis-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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.