Hazuan Hashim is one of four officers of Liverpool Wavertree Constituency suspended from the Labour Party very recently. He was the BAME officer for the constituency. Other officers suspended include the Chair, Secretary and Women’s Officer. I don’t know them personally but I do know Haz.
Back in 2011 I was part of the committee that organised the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street , celebrating the day that communities of the East End came together in huge numbers to repulse an invasion by a menacing antisemitic, fascist movement that would have terrorised the mainly Jewish streets of the East End. In 2011 there was a march and an indoor festival and several events in the days that followed, one of which was the premiere of a brilliant film called “From Cable Street to Brick Lane” pulling together the struggles against antisemitism and fascism of the 1930s East End with the struggles in the 1970s and 1990s of the Bangladeshi community against the violent threat from the National Front and later the BNP.
The film-makers were Hazuan Hashim and Phil Maxwell, two individuals I have known over many years, whose documentation of the fight against racism and bigotry of all kinds has been central to their life’s work. Part of the film includes very moving reflections by multi-ethnic school students about their experience of racism in the present and how they relate to difference and nationalism. I pop up a few times on screen – they filmed my Anti-Fascist Footprints walk – to tell some of the narrative. I helped them much more behind the scenes. The film features Jewish witnesses and participants in the struggles of the 1930s. It is made with real love as well as rock solid anti racism politics.
It was also made under great stress as Phil was battling a life-threatening illness, with Hazuan not only his collaborator, but also partner and carer – two complete mentshen (human beings).
I was very sad that some years back they moved out of the East End to settle in Liverpool. Our loss but Liverpool’s gain – and they picked up where they left off continuing to make films that aid the fight for a better world – and also continuing as Labour Party members to fight for social justice. Their new constituency was Liverpool Wavertree, served by Luciana Berger, a right wing Labour MP who was parachuted in and who struggled to hold wider support among local members. She has now left the the Labour Party having played a leading role in the factional war against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
Having left, she joined Change UK and then the LibDems and stood unsuccessfully in Barnet where she was parachuted in again to replace the Lib Dem candidate who had already been chosen to contest that seat. In the run up to the General Election her rhetoric against Labour as a Lib Dem was little different from what she had been saying for years as a Labour member and MP.
There is no doubt that she also suffered hostility from an entirely different source in Liverpool for different reasons. She was targeted by far right activists for being Jewish, something that was condemned by all anti-racists and local LP members, who offered and gave their solidarity, but she allowed, and very much encouraged a mythology to develop that blurred these disgusting attacks from the far right with criticism from the left of the Labour Party that was made on entirely legitimate, democratic, political grounds. She dishonestly portrayed herself as a victim of anti-Semitism and thuggishness from local LP members.
When she stood down she was replaced by Paula Barker – a socialist MP with a strong trade union background. Phil and Haz worked with Paula and made films to support her campaign at the General Election.
Recently though they were among many local members dismayed by some particular comments within an article that Paula Barker wrote for the local Jewish newspaper which was ostensibly trying, quite rightly, to mend fences between the Labour Party and the Jewish community that had been strained and got mixed in nationally with a war by the Tories and the establishment in general against Corbyn and the Labour left. In that article she wrote about Luciana Berger: “Luciana leaving the Labour Party was a shock to many and I find it deeply regrettable that she felt she could no longer stay” – a comment which seems to give credence to the very unfair factional spin that Luciana Berger put on events in Liverpool.
Four Liverpool Wavertree CLP officers (Chair, Secretary, Women’s Officer and BAME officer – Hazuan) wrote a carefully worded letter in an internal CLP members forum expressing their praise for many actions that Paula Barker had done since becoming MP, but also registering their surprise that Barker “given the opportunity this article afforded … failed to clearly and unequivocally defend Wavertree CLP from the slanders thrown at us over the last two years. Our disappointment is especially acute because we believed we now had an MP who could offer sincere support for Liverpool’s Jewish communities alongside a principled defence of the political integrity of the members of the CLP and the constituency which she represents.”
That letter was made public not by those who wrote it. The four officers who signed it have now been suspended by the Labour Party.
A report on the matter by the Jewish Chronicle claims that the four “had criticised their own MP as she tried to reach out to the local Jewish community,” and quotes a Labour party spokesperson on the matter saying that the Party treats “all complaints of anti-Semitism extremely seriously.”
Anti-Semitism! If my caring, socialist, anti-racist, anti-fascist film-maker friend Hazuan Hashim is an antisemite, I’m Dominic Cummings.
By David Rosenberg.