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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Show your solidarity!

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

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

Defend the Left! No bans, no proscriptions!

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

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

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

Just say No to antisemitism training by the JLM!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The EHRC report: Politically biased, damp squib

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The report of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is pretty much a damp squib. It is noticeable that the report doesn’t even try to identify what antisemitism is, which after all was its remit.

Nonetheless it did pretty much what it was supposed to do when the pro-Zionist groups ‘Jewish Labour Movement’ and the ‘Campaign Against Antisemitism’ first lobbied it to launch an investigation into the Labour Party. It helped to paint the false picture that the Labour Party is overrun with antisemites.

Not one of the EHRC’s nine commissioners is Black or Muslim. They are bankers, lawyers and business executives. Many of them have links to the Conservative Party. Its Chief Executive Rebecca Hilsenrath is a self-declared Zionist. Even Daily Mail columnist Peter Oborne points out “that the EHRC appeared to favour the Conservatives over Labour, and to take Tory Islamophobia much less seriously than Labour antisemitism.”

For almost two years, we read in the entire media that the report would prove that the Labour Party was “institutionally antisemitic” – when that was never its remit. The EHRC investigation centred on whether the Labour Party had committed a “breach of the Equality Act 2010, related to Jewish ethnicity or Judaism, against its members, associates or guests, through the actions of its employees or agents”. And although the pro-Zionist lobby threw pretty much everything it had at the EHRC, the findings of the report can be best summed up as politically biased and a very damp squib. 

Continue Reading “The EHRC report: Politically biased, damp squib”

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!”

LAW statement on LRC withdrawing from Labour Left Alliance

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It is a shame that the executive committee of the Labour Representation Committee has decided to withdraw from the Labour Left Alliance.

Especially now, with a general election on December 12, the need to build a viable left alternative in the Labour Party and the Labour movement seems to us more urgent and more important than ever.

For example, we are deeply worried about the way Labour’s National Executive Committee has taken over the selection of parliamentary candidates at the beginning of October. Many candidates favoured (or already selected) by local Constituency Labour Parties were left off the long lists. And even where left-wingers made it onto the short lists, we have heard of more than a dozen cases where they were swiftly removed once a right-winger or regional officer complained. Often, no reason was given beyond the party’s “need to exercise due diligence”. In other cases, reasons given for the removal include pictures of the candidate with Chris Williamson or posts criticising Israel. There is no appeal for candidates smeared in this way.

At the same time, the witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters has accelerated once more. Automatic suspensions have been reinstated and we have seen evidence of members having been suspended on ridiculous charges, which includes sharing posts by Labour Against the Witchhunt.

In our view, the LLA has made great strides forward since it was launched in July 2019:

  • Almost 1,600 individual supporters from over 450 CLPs have signed up to the Labour Left Alliance.
  • More than 20 Labour Left groups have affiliated, among the latest are Swansea Labour Left and Northants Labour Left.
  • Preparations for the LLA launch conference on February 1 2020 are well underway.

LAW is committed to continue building and participating in this important initiative and we urge all socialists and Corbyn supporters to join the LLA: www.labourleft.org

 

 

 

 

 

LAW statement on Chris Williamson’s court battle: “The battle is won. The war rages on”

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“The battle is won. The war rages on”.

This is how Chris Williamson has aptly summed up the High Court judgment, which was delivered at Birmingham’s Civil Justice Centre today, October 10 2019. The judge ruled that the Labour Party acted unlawfully in re-suspending Chris on 28 June, and “that there was no proper reason” for doing so.

The judge also confirmed that Chris’ ‘re-suspension’ must have been motivated by media hysteria. The judge said: “it is not … difficult to infer that the true reason for the decision in this case was that [NEC] members … were influenced by the ferocity of the outcry following the June decision.”

In fact, the party’s decision was so unfair as to be unlawful: Chris’ original suspension has been quashed, and all of the allegations presented in that suspension can no longer be pursued against him.

However, in what must be one of the most bizarre twists in Labour’s witch-hunt crisis, Chris remains suspended from the party! A double suspension! How much more Kafkaesque can this witch-hunt get? Continue Reading “LAW statement on Chris Williamson’s court battle: “The battle is won. The war rages on””

Proposed draft constitution for the Labour Left Alliance

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  • submitted by Labour Against the Witchhunt and Sheffield Labour Left
  • LLA’s rules will be discussed at LLA’s launch conference in January/February 2020, but we are keen to start a democratic and open debate on this issue and to hear what others think – this is only a draft and we are happy to incorporate changes we agree with. Please email info@labouragainstthewitchhunt.org
  • you can download this proposal as a PDF file here
The key for us is the attempt to give the LLA an effective, democratic and transparent basis. The current organising committee is, in our view, way too big (over 30 people) and way too slow to act quickly and efficiently. We believe that we should have a smaller team of officers/steering group members with clearly defined tasks who can make day-to-day decisions – and that this group is accountable to the bigger organising group (made up, as now, of representatives of all affiliated local and national groups). Which means, for example, that the OG should be able to recall and/or appoint any officers/members of the SC by simple majority at any time.

Continue Reading “Proposed draft constitution for the Labour Left Alliance”

LAW statement: Oppose fast track expulsions!

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We urge all delegates at Labour Party conference to vote AGAINST the proposal coming from the NEC meeting of September 17 (this will probably be debated on Sunday). As we go to press, we have not seen the full text, but we understand that it will allow sub-panels of the NEC to swiftly expel members for any ‘hate crime’-type offence. This will presumably include transphobia, sexism, racism etc.

But we all know what the real purpose is: It is meant to be the magic bullet that finally puts an end to the anti-Semitism smear campaign in the party. But we have bad news for Labour HQ: This is not going to work! For starters, the Jewish Labour Movement has already complained – that is after all why they relaunched in 2015: to sabotage Jeremy Corbyn at every opportunity they get.

But, more seriously, this rule change has the potential to make the witch-hunt in the Labour Party even worse. Currently, the national constitutional committee (NCC) is the only body with the power to expel members, “having been created following a high court injunction against expulsions by the NEC in the 1980s”, as The Guardian puts it. “The court ruled that the NEC could not both investigate complaints and make a final ruling on complaints. However, as investigations are now carried out by party staff, the power to expel can be restored to the NEC.”

Certainly, the NCC quite rightly deserves its nickname of ‘national kangaroo court’ – most of its 24 members have been appointed by rightwing unions and affiliates and only 11 are elected by Labour Party members. But handing the power to expel members to the NEC – under current conditions – is no good thing. Contrary to what often appears in the media, the NEC is not dominated by the ‘left’.

The NEC already has the power to immediately suspend a member (and it has made full use of it). Plus, if the allegation is so serious as to warrant instant dismissal for racism, then surely this might be a police matter?

Then there is the question of what constitutes anti-Semitic “hate speech” and what is justified criticism of the actions of the state of Israel? This is, as supporters of this rule change know all too well, a hotly disputed issue. Chris Williamson MP remains suspended under anti-Semitism charges, when clearly all he did was to question the party’s response to the campaign orchestrated by the right in and outside the party.

Or take the evolution of the term ‘Zionism’. This is a label chosen by the Zionists themselves to describe their political ideology. Yet we have seen dozens of examples of Labour Party members being investigated simply for their use of the word – often merely in a descriptive fashion.

Rather than putting an end to the ‘anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ smear campaign in the party, this rule change would be making matters much, much worse – and is a real danger to the right of freedom of speech.

Please VOTE FOR the rule changes by Ceredigion CLP and Enfield Southgate CLP which would make the disciplinary process more transparent, enshrine the right to appeal and ensure that cases are dealt with in a timely fashion.

Panorama programme exposes political bias of former staffers – now reopen all cases prepared and processed by them!

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In one respect, the BBC Panorama’s biased programme ‘Is Labour Anti-Semitic?’ actually did a very good job: It vividly exposed how politically biased those employed to implement the disciplinary process in the Labour Party have been when making their decisions.

Most of the ex-staffers interviewed by the programme were hired by former general secretary and virulent anti-Corbyn right-winger Iain McNicol, who himself was given the job by Tony Blair. Dan Hogan for example was employed by McNicol in 2016, at the height of the first coup against Corbyn. He acted as ‘investigating officer’ on many cases that led to good comrades being expelled from the party. He now says in an interview with the ‘i’ newspaper: “Yes, I have a political axe to grind in that I don’t want the Labour Party to be run by anti-Semites.”

The Labour Party press office is of course spot on when it describes Hogan and others as “disaffected former officials” and “who have always opposed Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, worked to actively undermine it and have both personal and political axes to grind. This throws into doubt their credibility as sources.”

But it does much more than that: it puts into doubt every single disciplinary case that was prepared by these Blairites. These include the high-profile cases of Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Marc Wadsworth (and many hundreds more). These comrades are clearly victims of the anti-Corbyn witch-hunt and were expelled on the weakest of evidence, in a highly politicised and biased disciplinary process lacking any kind of natural justice.

We demand that all cases processed and prepared by staffers employed under Iain McNicol are reopened and that the comrades in question are immediately reinstated!

Please also check out the excellent statement by our comrades of Jewish Voice for Labour: https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/statement/bbc-panoramas-is-labour-antisemitic/

Protest against Iain McNicol at 2017 Labour Party conference

Sign the open letter to the NEC: The renewed suspension of Chris Williamson MP is a travesty of justice

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SIGN BY CLICKING HERE

We, the undersigned, believe that the renewed suspension of Chris Williamson MP is a travesty of justice.

We will be protesting outside the NEC meeting on July 9 2019, which will in all likelihood decide to overturn the decision of the NEC panel and send Chris’ case to the National Constitutional Committee, which is still dominated by the right. A referral to this body usually leads to an expulsion. Please come along to show your solidarity with the only MP who has dared to stand up to the witch-hunters. The only one who has defended members wrongly accused of being anti-Semites. Now it’s our turn to stand with him! (Tuesday July 9, 9am, Labour Party HQ, 105 Victoria Street, Southside, London SW1)

We are particularly concerned that Keith Vaz’ U-turn seems to have been motivated purely by the pressure coming from the right inside and outside the party. Sadly but unsurprisingly, that now includes Jon Lansman.

We presume Vaz initially judged the case by its merit and found – correctly – that Chris had not said or done anything that could be described as anti-Semitic or bringing the party into disrepute. Vaz quite rightly judged that the evidence did not warrant Chris’s ongoing suspension or his referral to the National Constitutional Committee (which is still dominated by the right).

But Vaz’s U-turn and Chris’s renewed suspension, following the deeply undemocratic and hysterical letter organised by Tom Watson, symbolise how unfair and one-sided the whole disciplinary process really is. The right is calling all the shots  – and Labour HQ seems to always do exactly what they demand.

But the right will never be appeased. They will never accept Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, let alone prime minister. They will continue their campaign of sabotage, because he remains an unreliable ally from the ruling class’s point of view, especially given his strong support for the rights of Palestinians.

There is very little chance that Chris will get a fair hearing from the NEC Disputes Panel, when several of those who will sit in judgment upon him have already torn his reputation to shreds on social media, without even having seen all the evidence.

We therefore call on the NEC:

  •  to immediately reinstate Chris Williamson, as recommended by the NEC panel
  • to immediately open trigger ballots so that Labour Party members can choose a parliamentary candidate who actually reflects their wishes
  • to stop the practice of automatic suspensions and expulsions: members should be regarded as innocent until proven guilty

SIGN BY CLICKING HERE

The re-suspension of Chris Williamson is a travesty of justice

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Sign our open letter to the NEC here

The renewed suspension of Chris Williamson MP, two days after he was readmitted to the Labour Party, is deeply troubling. We are particularly concerned that Keith Vaz’ U-turn seems to have been motivated purely by the pressure coming from the right inside and outside the party. Sadly but unsurprisingly, that now includes Jon Lansman.

We presume Vaz initially judged the case by its merit and found – correctly – that Chris had not said or done anything that could be described as anti-Semitic or bringing the party into disrepute. Vaz quite rightly judged that the evidence did not warrant Chris’s ongoing suspension or his referral to the National Constitutional Committee (which is still dominated by the right).

But Vaz’s U-turn and Chris’s renewed suspension, following the deeply undemocratic and hysterical letter organised by Tom Watson, symbolise how unfair and one-sided the whole disciplinary process really is. The right is calling all the shots – and Labour HQ seems to always do exactly what they demand.

But the right will never be appeased. They will never accept Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, let alone prime minister. They will continue their campaign of sabotage, because he remains unreliable from the ruling class’s point of view, especially given his strong support for the rights of Palestinians.

It is high time that the Labour MPs better reflect the wishes of the local membership. We therefore urge Labour Party members to organise trigger ballots everywhere, particularly in order to deselect the 70 or so MPs who have signed Tom Watson’s letter (below).

Click here to see the long list of statements, resolutions and motions in support of Chris!

Sign our open letter to the NEC here

saboteurs

We welcome Chris Williamson’s reinstatement! Now use trigger ballots to get rid of the saboteurs!

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Today we are celebrating the long overdue reinstatement of Chris Williamson MP. The reality is that he should never have been suspended in the first place!

The allegation that Chris had downplayed anti-Semitism was totally unfounded. His comments, made at a Momentum meeting in Sheffield, were condemned in a deliberate attempt to ruin both the reputation of Chris and Jeremy Corbyn.

Chris Williamson MP 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.”

Handy list of saboteurs that should be targeted in trigger ballots

His comments were clearly neither anti-Semitic, nor denying the existence of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party (as in wider society). But he did quite rightly point 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.

We are deeply concerned that anti-Corbyn right-wingers continue to smear and harass Chris, even after his reinstatement. Ruth Smeeth MP, chair of the rightwing Jewish Labour Movement’s parliamentary group, for example said that he had “demonstrated a pattern of behaviour over a period of many months, seemingly seeking to intentionally undermine, marginalise and harass the British Jewish community and Jewish Labour Party members, which has continually brought the Labour Party into disrepute”.

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 Williamson, they are the collateral damage in this campaign to ‘get’ Corbyn.

We call on all Labour Party members to use trigger ballots to challenge saboteurs like Ruth Smeeth, Tom Watson and all those who continue to oppose the positive transformation of the Labour Party.

Here is a guide on how to go about it: https://www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org/model-motions/how-to-use-the-new-trigger-ballot-to-deselect-your-mp/

 

Statement and model motion: Reinstate Pete Willsman!

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Labour Against the Witchhunt deplores the disciplinary action against NEC member Pete Willsman, who has been put under administrative suspension by general secretary Jennie Formby after “a number of complaints, including from NEC members, about Pete’s latest comments”.

Comrade Willsman insists that he made his comments to the American-Israeli author Tuvia Tenenbom “off the record”, which explains some of the clumsy formulations he used in the discussion. It is surely no coincidence that Pete’s comments, recorded in January, have been published at a time where the slow coup against Jeremy Corbyn is hotting up once again.

Nothing Pete Willsman said in these comments is anti-Semitic. He does, however, point to some uncomfortable truths exposed by the excellent Al Jazeera documentary The Lobby, which has been so willfully ignored by the mainstream media. The documentary reveals a systematic effort by the Israeli embassy to infiltrate the Labour Party and highlights the efforts by the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs to label critics of Israeli human rights abuses as anti-Semitic.

Letter sent by Corbyn to May asking for a public enquiry into Israeli interference in British politics… but nothing has happened.

This should be the subject of an overdue investigation rather than Pete Willsman’s role in drawing our attention to it. It is an outrage that Labour Party members are being disciplined for correctly stating that much of the anti-Semitism crisis has been manufactured, while anti-Corbyn MPs like Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman and Tom Watson insult, disrupt, make bogus accusations and work hand in glove with the capitalist media – with no repercussions coming their way. Those making false charges ought to face disciplinary action and should be held accountable for their actions.

A stalwart of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLDP), Pete Willsman has been serving on Labour’s NEC for many decades and is one of the few real allies of Jeremy Corbyn on that body. This is why he has been on the radar of those who will do anything to get rid of Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. We recall how he was secretly recorded at a meeting of the NEC in July 2018, where he can be heard angrily criticising all those who were responsible for so many false allegations of anti-Semitism in the party. His subsequent re-election to the NEC, despite being removed from Momentum’s slate at the behest of its owner, Jon Lansman, shows both his individual popularity and the widespread disillusionment with Momentum for its part in promoting the false ‘anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ narrative.

Pete Willsman’s suspension from the Labour Party should be lifted immediately.

Please use this model motion in your Labour Party branch, CLP, trade union or organisation.

Update: Meet Tuvia Tenenbom, the man who secretly recorded Peter Willsman and leaked the audio to the press just as the latest coup against Jeremy Corbyn is hotting up… Watch the short clip below and then judge for yourself if this really is a “journalist” whose sound recording guy happened to have left the microphone on… or if this does not look like somebody who might organise a sting operation against the most outspoken Corbyn supporter on Labour’s NEC … kind of proving Pete’s point about “interference”.