Camden Momentum calls for the removal of Jon Lansman from Momentum

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Camden Momentum resolution – re Jon Lansman. Passed overwhelmingly, 10 March 2019

At this time when Labour MPs who don’t agree with the Labour manifesto are leaving the party, Jon Lansman has made contentious and inappropriate remarks about antisemitism, effectively siding with those who have made unfounded allegations against the party, its members and its leadership:

– In the Evening Standard (front page, headline, 25 Feb) he is quoted as saying that “Labour has a major problem” with antisemitism;

He recently said that it was a matter of time before the Derby North MP, Chris Williamson, “does something which results in a complaint being made which will then have to be investigated”, legitimising his subsequent suspension

– that “the most influential antisemitism-deniers, unfortunately, are Jewish anti-Zionists

– and that “[JVL] is an organisation which is not just tiny but has no real connection with the Jewish community at all.”

Momentum was created out of the movement for Jeremy Corbyn to be elected as leader, to elect a Labour government, and to act as a bridge between the Party and the movement.

Jon Lansman’s remarks have undermined both Momentum and the Labour Party.

Camden Momentum therefore calls on the NCG (National Co-ordinating Group) to remove Jon Lansman from the chair of Momentum.

Support Chris Williamson: Seven things you can do

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  1. Use either of these draft motions  in your Labour Party branch/CLP. If successful, please send it to Jennie Formby and to LAW, so that we can publish it alongside other statements and resolutions here. Please note: We hear that in some branches and CLPs, the chair prevented the meeting from discussing motions in support of Chris, because of apparent recent advice by Labour HQ. Please note that there is NO BAN on discussing motions in support of Chris. We are dealing with the confusion on this matter in detail here. This is LAW’s statement on Chris’ suspension.
  2. Sign our petition demanding Chris’ reinstatement – and share it far and wide. There is another, simple one doing the rounds ‘Don’t Expel Chris Williamson’ and a good Open Letter to Jennie Formby from Labour Party members. Tony Greenstein has also produced a petition and there is another supportable petition online. Sign them all!
  3. If you’re on Twitter, use #IStandWithChrisWilliamson
  4. Put on a showing of ‘The Witchhunt’ documentary with Jackie Walker in your locality to better understand the background to this decision.
  5. Email Jennie Formby to protest against this decision.
  6. Join our March 26 protest party at the expulsion hearing of Jackie Walker (details to be confirmed, Facebook event here). Should Chris still be suspended, we will of course use the opportunity to demand his reinstatement.
  7. The first badge we’ve seen in solidarity with Chris is available here.

Sign the open letter: Reinstate Chris Williamson MP!

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SIGN THE PETITION HERE 

Open letter: Reinstate Chris Williamson MP!

We, the undersigned, believe that the suspension of Chris Williamson MP is an outrage.

The allegation that Chris is downplaying anti-Semitism is totally unfounded. His comments, made at a Momentum meeting in Sheffield, were taken out of context in a deliberate attempt to ruin the reputation of both Chris Williamson and Jeremy Corbyn.

He actually said: “The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say, I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we’ve backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party.”

His comments are clearly neither anti-Semitic, nor denying the existence of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party (or wider society). But he has quite rightly pointed to the fact that there has also been a political campaign to “weaponise” accusations of anti-Semitism.

Chris is a target because he is one of the very few Labour MPs who have openly stood up to the witch-hunt of Corbyn supporters and because he has campaigned tirelessly for the much-needed democratisation of the party.

Despite the departure of Iain McNicol as general secretary, the witch-hunt of left-leaning party members continues. The main target of this campaign is, of course, Jeremy Corbyn himself. But thousands of Labour Party members have been investigated, suspended and expelled, often on spurious grounds. Like Chris Willamson, they are the collateral damage in this campaign to ‘get’ Corbyn.

We call on the Labour Party to immediately reinstate Chris Williamson MP and to apologise to him!

SIGN THE PETITION HERE 

Asa Winstanley: Fake Labour accounts fueling “anti-Semitism crisis”

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Please check out this excellent article by Asa Winstanley that appeared in the Electronic Intifada.

From the start, reporting of the “anti-Semitism crisis” in the UK’s Labour Party has been characterized by dishonesty, exaggeration and outright fabrication.

The real target of this manufactured crisis is not genuine anti-Semites, but Jeremy Corbyn and the wider Palestine solidarity movement.

But now additional evidence has come to light of a disturbing trend which has been fueling the fire lit since Corbyn’s first leadership victory in September 2015.

An investigation by The Electronic Intifada has documented 10 fake Twitter profiles posing as Corbyn supporters who have been posting virulent anti-Semitism.

The accounts share sufficient similarities to indicate that the same person – or group – is running them.

Without police involvement or a court case, it’s impossible to know for sure who is behind this troll network.

But whoever it is, they are clearly attempting to smear Labour as an anti-Semitic party.

Culprits?

It is well established that Israel has been running both covert and overt efforts against Jeremy Corbyn since he became leader.

Anti-Palestinian groups working in coordination with Israel are running covert social media campaigns.

A recent example was revealed in the suppressed undercover Al Jazeera investigation, The Lobby – USA.

As that film showed, The Israel Project is running a campaign to infiltrate pro-Israel narratives into popular, and otherwise innocuous, Facebook pages.

“There are also things that we do that are completely off the radar,” the lobby group’s managing director told Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter.

Last month, another covert operation was revealed after its documents leaked – this one run by the British state.

The so-called Integrity Initiative was launched in 2015 and is directed by British military intelligence officials.

Its documents suggest it is involved in what it calls “infowar techniques.”

The UK government conceded after the leak that the initiative is being funded by both its foreign and defenseministries – over $3 million to date.

Among the shadowy group’s targets has been Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Deception

The network of Twitter accounts investigated by The Electronic Intifada uses a series of fake names and profile photos.

Their followers lists also include many dubious looking accounts, strongly suggestive of bought fake followers.

All 10 accounts have engaged in a pattern of deception, presenting as Labour activists while engaging in anti-Semitism.

Most have also posted violent incitement and death threats, often against Jews.

All 10 posted their most violent and anti-Semitic content as replies to other tweets.

This means that many times, a cursory look at the accounts’ profile pages is unlikely to reveal anything immediately objectionable.

Most of the accounts’ more public-facing tweets are legitimate Labour Party or other political material. Two of the accounts have also posted legitimate Palestine material.

Because they are posted as replies, the anti-Semitic tweets would usually only be seen by those mentioned in them – or by enemies actively looking at those replies for evidence of “Labour anti-Semitism.”

The targets of the troll network have often been high-profile Israeli, pro-Israel or Labour accounts. They have included Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right-wing Labour MP Yvette Cooper and Jeremy Corbyn himself.

Fake Labour

All 10 accounts present themselves as belonging to Labour Party supporters, activists or even staffers.

Reverse Google Image searches confirm that seven of the 10 profile images are stolen photos – the other three are likely screen grabs from videos.

Six of the 10 profiles present as ostensibly Muslim – it is these profiles that have posted some of the most disturbing anti-Semitism, including direct calls for violence against Jews.

These accounts have Arabic names including “Abu Hussein” and “Abu Omar” while using stolen photos, some of actual or alleged Islamists or Islamic extremists.

One such photo is of Muhammad Qutb, the late brother of influential Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb.

Surviving Twitter evidence shows the troll network dates back to at least November 2015.

The network

The 10 fake Labour accounts posting anti-Semitism analyzed by The Electronic Intifada are:

Three of the 10 were first exposed by Labour news site The Skwawkbox in 2017 and 2018.

The troll network’s tweets appear intended to provoke an outraged response at “Labour anti-Semitism,” thus fueling the crisis.

There have been several reported instances of just such outraged responses, from right-wing Labour lawmakers, and even in one case an Israeli government spokesperson.

An example of how the troll network helped drive the crisis took place on the final day of Labour’s 2016 annual conference. At the time, there was a media uproar about supposed Labour anti-Semitism.

This resulted in Black Jewish anti-Zionist activist Jackie Walkerbeing suspended by Labour after she disagreed with Israel’s preferred definition of anti-Semitism at a supposedly private training session.

In this febrile atmosphere, the @dgrintz1 account tweeted that “A good Zionist is a dead one” at Tal Ofer – a British-Israeli member of the pro-Israel Jewish Labour Movement, a group that has driven the “Labour anti-Semitism” narrative from early on.

This reply-tweet was subsequently retweeted by Jeremy Newmark – then the JLM’s chairperson, though he was later forced to resign in disgrace.

The JLM has intimate ties with the Israeli embassy.

Violent anti-Semitism

Another typical example occurred in March 2018, during a renewed media frenzy over the supposed crisis.

A new account, “Abu Hussein,” began retweeting Corbyn, his senior Labour ally John McDonnell and other popular Labour accounts.

But a closer look at @AbuHusseinLab’s profile revealed a disturbing picture.

In a reply targeting Corbyn’s and McDonnell’s official Twitter accounts, “Abu Hussein” threatened “Jihad” against “Jews,” alongside a bloody graphic of a knife.

But the account had stolen its profile photo from a dating site.

“Abu Hussein” was reported to Twitter for violent racism by this writer and other Twitter users.

But the troll network simply opened more accounts – at least four of its supposedly Muslim accounts began tweeting in April 2018.

That same month the crisis over alleged anti-Semitism continued to rage in the party.

And Israel’s ostensibly opposition Labor Party openly drove it, generating headlines by suspending relations with Corbyn’s office over his “hatred of the policies of the government of the state of Israel” and alleged anti-Semitism.

In October 2018, a new fake Labour account began tweeting: @DeanBrownLab.

“Dean Brown” claimed to be a “former Labour party staffer” and a member of Momentum – a group which emerged from the campaign to elect Corbyn as Labour leader.

On 27 October, the day of the Pittsburgh massacre in the US, the account tweeted to Israel’s prime minister: “YOU BROUGHT THIS ON YOURSELVES.”

Neo-Nazi Robert Bowers has since been charged with the murder of 11 Jewish worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue that day. He reportedly told police he wanted “all Jews to die.”

The account promptly disappeared. The goal of smearing Labour activists as anti-Semites had been achieved.

But as The Skwawkbox soon revealed, Labour sources emphasized that no Dean Brown has ever worked for Jeremy Corbyn. Momentum also confirmed it had no membership record of any Dean Brown.

The profile photo the account used was of someone totally innocent and was stolen from a local press report.

Fabricated

This troll network shows how easy it is for an individual or small group of people to convey a false impression on social media.

Despite there being no evidence that “Wesley Brown,” “Abu Hussein” or any of the rest even existed – let alone that they were Labour members – the troll network fooled several high-profile politicians.

This was easy to do, since the fake profiles fit into a preconceived narrative that anti-Semitism is rife within Labour, especially in the pro-Corbyn left.

Those who created the fake accounts also exploited Islamophobic prejudice that anti-Semitism is endemic among Muslims, including activists within Labour.

When the dominant media narrative is so often based on fabricated evidence, a serious reappraisal and extreme caution about future claims are overdue.

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and an associate editor with The Electronic Intifada.

Tony Mulhearn asks five pertinent questions on the case of Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt

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A panel of three NEC members decided on December 18 2018 not to endorse Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, who had been democratically selected to be the parliamentary candidate for South Thanet. More details on the case here.

  1. Who appointed this three-person panel?
  2. To whom are they accountable?
  3. Can they be named?
  4. How have they justified their irrational behaviour?
  5. Who is protecting them?

Tony Mulhearn
Liverpool councillor from 1984 to 1987, expelled from the Labour Party in 1986 as part as the Militant purges

How to move a motion in the Labour Party

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1.) Ideally, submit as a ‘normal’ motion. They have to be submitted to the secretary of your Labour Party branch in writing 14 days before a meeting (unless it says something different in your local standing orders). Normal motions have to go through a branch first before they can be presented to the CLP – though please note that this is not the case with emergency motions.

2.) Emergency motions can be submitted anytime before the meeting of your branch or CLP (but as soon as feasible) – again, in writing to your secretary. The rule states that emergency business “may be accepted by the majority of the meeting on the recommendation of the Chair, who shall interpret the term ’emergency’ in a bona fide manner”. That means your chair has a lot of power and can “recommend” not to accept your motion. Please note that your chair cannot refuse to even table the motion (this is against the rules, though of course many try to do it nevertheless).

3.) If your chair rules against accepting the emergency motion (or refuses to put it on the agenda), you can try to overturn the decision:

  • Firstly, you will need to raise a point of order, which must be heard. Then you need to explain why in your view the matter is indeed an emergency (for example, “because it only just happened”). Do not yet talk about the context of the motion, only why it is an emergency. Get somebody to call “seconded” straight away. This challenge needs to be supported by “no less than four members” at the meeting. The “challenge shall be put to the meeting without discussion” by the chair. If anybody tries to intervene and speak against your challenge, remind them of the rules.
  • If 2/3 of eligible members at the meeting vote in favour of your challenge, the motion must be heard.
  • You can then move the motion to the meeting. If a simple majority votes in favour of the motion, it is passed and becomes the agreed resolution.

4.) Always bring enough copies of your emergency motion and hand them out before the meeting – that will make it very difficult for the chair to try and stop your motion from even being tabled. You should also try and get as many people as possible behind the motion beforethe meeting so that they are prepared to back you up. And print out the relevant bits from the rule book, just in case!

Reference for further info on these rules: model procedural rules (page 73) in the Labour Party rule book 2019

Feel free to get in touch if you need some more detailed advice. Good luck! And please keep us updated!

Paul Jonson reinstated!

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Paul Jonson had been suspended last month by Dudley council after having attended a protest outside the surgery of Ian Austin MP, who in July sent out a tweet stating “Hamas and the Palestinians were responsible for the deaths of 18 Gazans” during the Great Return March in May 2018. Comrade Jonson also published a post on Facebook declaring that “Israel is a racist endeavour” (in response to Labour NEC’s adoption of the ‘working definition’ of Anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance).

Read Paul’s full statement explaining his case here.

On December 19, the council found that comrade Jonson had “no case to answer” and he was allowed to  return to work with immediate effect.

This is an important victory in the fight against the highly politicised campaign that wants to label all criticism of Israel as ‘anti-Semitic’.

Labour NCC elections: Four questions to left candidates

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We have written to all left candidates. We will publish all answers online as soon we receive them so that our members and supporters can decide who to nominate from their CLP and who to vote for when elections commence in November. Feel free to contact the candidates, too.

We believe an active approach to candidates is much better than simply endorsing one or the other slate. The work of the National Constitutional Committee goes to the heart of LAW’s campaigning work – it deals with all disciplinary cases that the NEC feels it cannot resolve. Currently, a referral usually results in expulsion from the party. That’s why it is very important to choose candidates who will genuinely fight for members’ rights.

Four Questions for NCC candidates

1. ‘Working definition’ on Anti-Semitism, published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)

We believe that this document has many shortcomings. Most seriously, we believe that some of the examples listed are conflating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people. For example, one of the examples labels as anti-Semitic the description of Israel as a “racist endeavour”. We disagree. Opposing and criticising a state that systematically, and constitutionally, marginalises and demonises Palestinians while subjecting them to discrimination is by definition a form of apartheid. In our view, it is not anti-Semitism to state this fact.

We would much prefer if the Labour Party adopted a simple definition of anti-Semitism, like in the Oxford Dictionary (“Hostility to or prejudice against Jews”) and the very clear submission to Labour’s Code of Conduct on Antisemitism by Jewish Voice for Labour and Free Speech on Israel: https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/blog/antisemitic-misconduct/

What is your attitude to the IHRA document, which, as you know, is so controversial that not all members of the NEC, including Jeremy Corbyn, wanted to adopt it in full? We note that the annual conference of the Green Party has also just rejected it.


2. Disciplinary process

Do you think the disciplinary process in the Labour Party should be radically reformed? If so, what is your attitude towards LAW’s following suggestions:

  1. that a member accused of a breach of rule be informed of who their accuser is
  2. that a member accused of a breach of rule be given all the evidence submitted against them by their accuser;
  3. that a member accused of a breach of rule be regarded as innocent until proven guilty;
  4. that membership rights must not be removed until disciplinary investigations and procedures have been completed (there might be valid exceptions in cases of serious bullying/harassment);
  5. that disciplinary procedures must include consultation with the accused member’s CLP and Branch;
  6. that disciplinary procedures must be time limited. Charges not resolved within three months should be dropped (unless there are serious, unavoidable reasons for the delay)
  7. that the cases of all those who have been summarily expelled or suspended from membershipwithout due process within the last three years be reviewed for possible immediate reinstatement.


3. Compliance unit/Complaints department

We believe that all disciplinary decisions should be taken only by elected bodies, not by paid officials. We therefore believe that the ‘compliance unit’ (Complaints department/Disputes) should be abolished. What is your attitude towards this body?


4. Exclusions
 

We believe that the first part of rule 2.1.4.B (‘Exclusions’) should be abolished: it 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”. This rule has exclusively been used against left-wingers and Corbyn supporters.

Almost 25% of delegates at Labour’s conference 2018 voted in favour of abolishing this rule. What is your attitude to it?

Many thanks in advance for taking the time in answering our questions. You can email your reply to info@labouragainstthewitchhunt.org

CLGA candidates for NCC elections

Cecile Wright
Khaled Moyeed
Annabelle Harle
Susan Press
Stephen Marks
Gary Heather

Documentary: The Political Lynching of Jackie Walker

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The world preview of this documentary by Jon Pullman in Liverpool had to be halted after a hoax bomb threat. There are forces that are clearly unhappy about the documentary’s exposure of the right-wing campaign that has led to Jackie’s suspension from the Labour Party. But they have only achieved the opposite: Plenty of people asked us at conference when and how they could see the film! We are therefore part of a major campaign bringing the film and its message to a wide audience:

– The preview will take place before an invited audience at a location in London. Please get in touch if you are interested in attending.

– More information will be widely circulated as part of publicity for a nationwide tour with director Jon Pullman, Jackie Walker and others. Dates and venues to be announced. Again, let us know if you are interested in putting on a showing locally.

– Following the tour, the film will be made available on DVD for use by CLPs, trade unions and other groups.

Bomb threat at Jackie Walker film

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Last night’s film preview of the new documentary, ‘The political
 lynching of Jackie Walker’, had to be stopped a few minutes in.
 After an anonymous phone call (“there are two bombs in the
building that will kill many people”), all 150 visitors had to evacu
ate Blackburn House on police orders. Of course, no bomb was
found. By the time the police gave the all-clear, the staff wanted 
to go home. This hoax is almost certainly part of the campaign
 by pro-Zionist forces to disrupt and intimidate the pro-Palestinian left. But, of course, this kind of cowardly behaviour will only
 increase the feeling of solidarity for Jackie Walker and all the
other victims of the witch-hunt – and interest in the film.

“They can fuck off”. Report of LAW’s first ever fringe meeting at LP conference

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Labour Against the Witchhunt held a successful fringe meeting at the Labour conference. Stan Keable reports

“There can be no greater injustice than anti-racists being accused of racism by racists,” the Scouse comedian Alexie Sayle told LAW’s packed fringe meeting on Sunday night. The potential for a “massive transformation” of the Labour Party and society opened up by “the miracle of Jeremy Corbyn” has overcome Alexei’s longstanding objection to voting. Having grown up in a communist family, he used to say: “Don’t vote, struggle against capitalism”. But, although Jeremy has changed all that, Alexei has not joined the Labour Party. A comedian needs to maintain their independence, he said, to be able to criticise any politician. The witch-hunters can’t expel me because I am not a member, he added, “so they can fuck off!” (The democracy we fight for, of course, includes the right of any Labour member, comedians included, to criticise all Labour leaders.)

Jewish Voice for Labour’s Jo Bird, newly elected four weeks ago as a councillor in Birkenhead, pointed out that she and her comrades had been canvassing for weeks, talking to people about all manner of issues, but “no-one raised the issue of anti-Semitism on the door”. She was appalled by Birkenhead MP Frank Field. He rounded on the rank-and-file party membership within his constituency. He invented accusations of anti-Semitism and bullying. To all those party members falsely suspended and expelled, she said: “You are owed a huge apology. On behalf of the party, I am very, very sorry.”

That moving apology became particularly poignant when 73-year-old Bob Walker, the youngest of the ‘Garston 3’, described how three disabled pensioners were expelled for merely attending a meeting of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition – to discuss socialism. Gerry Tyrell, Tony Lock and Bob were rewarded for their tireless work of knocking on doors and delivering leaflets in all weathers during the 2017 general election campaign by being expelled. They were not told the names of their accusers or the evidence against them. Nor was there any hearing or right of appeal. LAW demands due process before any disciplinary sanction is taken.

Ex-Liverpool councillor Tony Mulhearn called on Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell to stand up to the witch-hunters: “No more apologies, no more retreats. When you apologise, you are accepting you did something wrong.” He called out Andrew Marr for the bias he showed that morning while interviewing Corbyn, insistently cross-examining him about anti-Semitism allegations for more than 20 minutes. “Jeremy should have asked Marr who prepares such questions for him”, he said. Moreover, Corbyn should have asked: “Why don’t you show pictures of me on anti-racist demonstrations?” and “Why are Jews who support Jeremy never interviewed?” The smear campaign is “producing fear among Jewish people”, Mulhearn added.

Recalling the “ridiculously long list of charges” he faced in his own expulsion in 1986, comrade Mulhearn reminded us of how that earlier witch-hunt had been politically driven by the “bloated toad” Neil Kinnock. He insisted on getting people expelled regardless of the facts. “A witch-hunt is irrational”, said Tony, “because the decision has already been made”. At that time, John McDonnell had stood firm in his defence, but is now singing a different tune: “We need to be conciliatory, we are a broad church.” As LAW vice-chair Tony Greenstein commented: “Even the broadest church expels atheists. The ‘atheists’ in our party are those who are not, and never have been, socialists.”

Chairperson Annyana Ndukwe of Liverpool LAW and Grassroots Black Left read out a solidarity message from Asa Winstanley of Electronic Intifada, who was unable to join the panel of speakers:

Despite the new leftwing general secretary Labour has, the party bureaucracy is still disciplining members on entirely fallacious pretexts. One comrade in Brighton showed me a letter she received this very month from Labour’s head of complaints, Sophie Goodyear, warning her that several “provocative” tweets she’d allegedly written in 2016 had “caused offence” and that such “abuse” would “not be tolerated” in Labour … One of the three tweets cited was simply the comrade posting the headline and link to my April 2016 article, ‘How Israel lobby manufactured UK Labour Party’s anti-Semitism crisis’ without comment … it seems that at least some in Labour HQ are treating critical journalism like Electronic Intifada as banned publications. (Full text here)

Tony Greenstein, expelled in February 2018, told us how he had also been suspended from the party in 1992 by then general secretary Larry Whitty, now a Lord – “well rewarded for services rendered to the capitalist state”, as comrade Mulhearn put it. Comrade Greenstein emphasised that the witch-hunt is “not about anti-Semitism, it is about removing Corbyn as leader”.

Chris Williamson MP, introduced by comrade Ndukwe as “one of the few MPs who is a true socialist”, confronted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the party, declaring that he often describes Israel as an apartheid state. He compared Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to the fate of the Cherokees in America. Denouncing the “terrible injustice” being done to Jackie Walker, he condemned the way Marc Wadsworth had been “demonised as a bigot” for merely “asking a question at a press conference”.

Comrade Williamson, advocating mandatory reselection, quoted Ed Miliband’s advice: “If we trusted the members more, we would not have made so many mistakes”. And he laid into Neil Kinnock’s view that the party belongs to the MPs, not the members. As for those MPs who object to reselection on the grounds of employment rights: “It ain’t a job, mate! You are elected as a representative of the party and the people who elected you.”

Calling on Corbyn and McDonnell to wake up and confront the rightwing witch-hunters, comrade Williamson said McCarthyism, like all bullying, only stopped when people stood up to it. “The monster is getting bigger. Stop feeding the beast!”


LAW has also been running a number of stalls in Liverpool, organised a successful emergency lobby of the NEC and the showing of Jackie Walker’s ‘The Lynching’ with actress Jo Martin taking over Jackie’s role.

Solidarity message from Asa Winstanley, Electronic Intifada

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Dear comrades,

I send my solidarity and greetings to the fringe meeting of Labour Against the Witchhunt, and I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to join your panel on Sunday.

While some on the left may continue to delude themselves that the solution to the manufactured ‘Labour antisemitism crisis’ fabrication is to concede to the demands of the right and the Israel lobby by selling out on important principles, LAW is correct to insist that only a strong fight back by the party leadership — still sorely lacking — can put this dishonest and damaging strategy down for good.
Be under no illusions — it is only a matter of time before this dishonest media narrative returns to daily  headlines, as it has this entire summer.
Despite the new left-wing general-secretary Labour has, the party bureaucracy is still disciplining members on entirely fallacious pretexts. One comrade in Brighton showed me a letter she received this very month from from Labour’s Head of Complaints Sophie Goodyear warning her that several “provocative” tweets she’d allegedly written in 2016 had “caused offence” and that such “abuse” would “not be tolerated” in Labour.
What was her “offence”? One of the three tweets cited was simply the comrade posting the headline and link to my April 2016 article, “How Israel lobby manufactured UK Labour Party’s anti-Semitism crisis” without comment. Another tweet was a *condemnation* of antisemitism! The tweet criticised Chuka Umunna for conflating Zionism with all Jews.
The comrade has thankfully not been suspended — so perhaps that is a small sign of progress thanks to the work of grassroots groups against the witch hunt, such as LAW.
But it seems that at least some in Labour HQ are treating critical journalism like The Electronic Intifada as banned publications. Clearly much work remains to be done.
Asa Winstanley

The Electronic Intifada

Join us at Labour Party conference 2018!

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Are you planning on coming to Liverpool for Labour Party conference? Can you help us out with our intervention? Check out eight key events at conference below.

We are at a crucial moment in the civil war in the party, with the witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and the left in the party reaching ever new heights. We understand that in addition to their plans to force Corbyn’s hand on Brexit (there is a demo planned on Sunday afternoon) and the ongoing smears around Anti-Semitisn, the right is also planning on sabotaging conference wherever possible. Please check out this article, which also mentions that there are plans to disturb any meetings with Chris Williamson MP.

We therefore have to remain somewhat flexible, but also vigilant. Please do not get drawn into altercations and do not let right-wingers provoke you. We know they will try and they will in all likelihood have somebody with a camera nearby. They will want to make us look like dangerous lunatics – let’s not do them the favour. Try and stay together with at least one other person, so you have a witness and some form of protection. Keep your mobile phone nearby so you can film any incidents – best to have evidence!


What you can do at conference

  • If you are a delegate, please support the rule change on mandatory reselection from International Labour: it wants to do away with the undemocratic trigger ballot entirely and is much more democratic than the fudge apparently proposed by the national executive committee
  • Also, please support the rule change to delete the first part rule 2.1.4.B (‘Exclusions’) proposed by Mid Worcestershire, Rugby, Truro and Falmouth, Bexhill and Battle: it 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” and has exclusively been used against left-wingers
  • Join Labour Against the Witchhunt! Come to see us at our fringe events or stalls outside conference and The World Transformed (1 Great George St, L1), where you can pick up a bunch of our new leaflet to hand out
  • If you can help out, please email info@labouragainstthewitchhunt.org, letting us know if you’re a delegate or visitor (or neither), when you’ll be arriving and when you are leaving – make sure to include your mobile number! Facebook event here.

Eight key LAW events at conference

We are handing out LAW leaflets and badges throughout the event, but here our are key interventions – can you be there? Please note that all of our events are outside the official conference venue, so you don’t need to have a pass for conference to attend. You also do not need to purchase a ticket upfront – just be there early enough to secure your place!

1) Saturday September 22, 6-6.30pm Emergency lobby of pre-conference NEC meeting called by LAW and Open Selection, Pullman Hotel, Kings Dock St, Liverpool L3 4FP. Facebook event here

2) Saturday September 22from 6.30pm Labour rally with Jeremy Corbyn, Pier Head, L1. We need comrades to help hand out our LAW leaflet. Facebook event here

3) Saturday September 22 from 6pm: Rally and briefing session of Campaign for Labour Party Democracy. Friends Meeting House, 22 School Ln, Liverpool L1 3BT. We need comrades to help hand out our leaflet.

4) Sunday September 23, from 8.30am, outside conference. We are greeting delegates and visitors as they arrive, with a little surprise – we need as many comrades as possible to come to this.

5) Sunday September 23, 12noon, ‘People’s Vote’ demonstration, from St George’s Hall to the Pierhead. Left-wing voices should be heard here, too.

6) Sunday September 23, 7pm:
Fringe event at Labour Party Conference:
Labour Against the Witchhunt!
with Chris Williamson MP, comedian Alexei Sayle, Jo Bird (Jewish Voice for Labour), Tony Mulhearn (Liverpool 47) and others
Roddick Rooms, 54 St James Street, Liverpool L1 OAB. Facebook event here

7) Monday September 24, 7.30pm
Jackie Walkers’ The Lynching at Labour Party conference
LAW proudly presents Jackie Walker’s celebrated show, in which Jackie will be played by actress Jo Martin. The venue will be announced closer to the date. Please check this page, the FB event or pick up a leaflet at conference. After the play, there will be a Q&A with Steve Tiller, the director of the play and Jo Bird of Jewish Voice for Labour. Facebook event here 

8) Tuesday September 25, 7pm
World film preview: The Political Lynching of Jackie Walker
Introduction and post-show discussion by Graham Bash (Jewish Voice for Labour) and John Pullman, director of the film.
Blackburne House, Blackburne Place, L8 7PE. 
Facebook event here

Labour disciplinary process: slightly reformed, but still as bad

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The wording of recent pre-disciplinary warning letters being sent to Labour Party members from Sophie Goodyear, “Head of Complaints” at Labour’s HQ in Southside, shows that the witch-hunt of socialists in the party continues unabated, albeit in a modified form – particularly against those who forthrightly challenge the racism inherent in Zionist ideology and Israel’s apartheid laws and practices.

Iain McNicol’s notorious “Complaints Unit” appears to have been replaced, under Jennie Formby and legal guru Gordon Nardell, by a “National Complaints Team” – but the stench of hypocrisy reminds us that a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.

Healthy discussion of political issues is still being blocked by chilling complaints which are, all too often, taken seriously. Instead of debating the content of differences, the right make complaints about the manner of expression. Instead of stating their views openly in the press, on social media and in party meetings, the right make cowardly complaints to party officials.

The good news is that automatic exclusions, disciplinary action before due process, appears to have ended – one of the key demands of Labour Against the Witchhunt at its formation in October 2017. At least in some cases, suspension from membership is no longer the first resort of the party’s apparatchiks.

Suspension normally involves removal from all posts. This not only removes the rights of the suspended member, but also directly negates the democratic rights of the party members who elected them to those posts. It also involves a ban on attending party meetings, thereby removing the best form of education and re-education – discussion of a member’s issues with their peers, their comrades in their local branch and constituency party.

The previous “Head of Disputes”, Sam Matthews, used to suspend you on the basis of “serious allegations” which had not yet been investigated. Sophie Goodyear, while not suspending you, nevertheless finds you guilty (presumably using comrade Nardell’s prescribed nostrums), as displayed in this exquisite example of ‘safe spaces’ double-think:

“It has been brought to the attention of the National Complaints Team that you have posted offensive comments on your social media, copies of these are included in this letter. These comments have caused offence.

“The Labour Party should be the home of lively debate, of new ideas and of campaigns to change society and we appreciate that this does lead to discussions where those involved hold differing opinions. For a fair debate to take place, people must be able to air their views in a safe space and an atmosphere of respect. Abuse of any kind – whether direct attacks or pejorative language which may cause offence – is not acceptable and will not be tolerated in our Party. Language that may be perceived as provocative, insensitive or offensive falls short of the standards expected of us as Party members.

“I am therefore writing to you to remind you that comments such as those below are not what we would expect from members of the party and ask that you refrain from making comments of this nature in future. Please be aware that any repeat of this conduct may lead to formal disciplinary action.”

Being found guilty without due processand threatened with future disciplinary action chills the heart of the accused, but leaves them none the wiser as to what exactly is deemed unacceptable in what they have said. Attaching copies of one’s “social media comments” still leaves one guessing, afraid and silenced.

What remedy is available to those who receive such a letter? I suggest:

(a) Publish the warning letter, for example by sending it to Labour Against the Witchhunt;

(b) Write a reply complaining of being found guilty without due process, asking who complained and precisely which words the complainant found unacceptable and why;

(c) Raise the issue in your party branch or constituency meeting.

Stan Keable
LAW Secretary