We will not be silenced! March 31: National day of action to defend academic freedom, free speech and the right to protest! Defend David Miller!

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Download the leaflet in PDF format here

The right to free speech and the right to protest are coming under increasingly brutal attack. Professor David Miller’s job at Bristol University is at stake, because he dared to speak out on Zionism. This is an important test case – should he be sacked, this will result in even more attacks on academic freedom.

The government is already threatening to defund universities who do not adopt the IHRA mis-definition of antisemitism, which even its author Kenneth Stern has described as having been abused to “chill free speech”.

The proposed policing bill would make it illegal to cause “serious annoyance” – with punishment of up to 10 years in jail. Worse than that, the law is to be applied even if “somebody is put at risk” of so-called “serious harm” (like ‘annoying’ somebody) – ie, if no action has taken place. The bill would make it an offence if just one person complains about feeling “serious distress…annoyance…[or even] inconvenience”.

Wednesday March 31
2pm: Lobby outside Wills Memorial Building, Bristol University, Queens Rd, Bristol BS8 1QE
3.15pm: Rally on College Green

New poem by Kevin Higgins

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2152 after Sophie Hannah 

It’s 2152 and Cumbria’s declared independence 
after a campaign during which they blew 
bits of Princess Eugenie all over 
Lake Windermere. There’s a free market 
in carcasses throttled by the latest mutant.
On Newsnight Kirsty Wark mutters from her crypt:
we may have run out of ambulances,
but at least we dodged the bullet that was Corbyn.  

Continue Reading “New poem by Kevin Higgins”

Defend Corbyn, Reject EHRC

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(as agreed at our all-members’ meeting on November 21 2020)

LAW congratulates all those CLPs, branches and party members who refused to be silenced and raised a storm of protest over the treatment of Jeremy Corbyn.

Of course, the witch-hunt has never been just about one individual, no matter how prominent. Defence of Corbyn, as a victim of the witch-hunt, must include fighting to reverse the suspensions and expulsions of the hundreds of other victims of the witch-hunt over the last five years. Unless the witch-hunt is defeated, the Starmer leadership may well attempt to complete the Blairite project of deLabourising the Labour Party.

LAW rejects the findings and recommendations of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission report, particularly the proposed ‘outsourcing’ of disciplinary processes. From the start, the aim of the EHRC was to attack the Corbyn leadership, delegitimize any criticism of Zionism and create a situation where the left is either tamed, domesticated, or driven out of the Labour Party. Behind the facade of balance and objectivity, the EHRC is, in fact, an arm of the state – a quango whose board is government-appointed and stuffed full of Tories and open reactionaries such as the ‘liberal Powellite’ David Goodhart. We oppose state interference in the internal affairs of the Labour Party and the wider labour movement.

Continue Reading “Defend Corbyn, Reject EHRC”

Why we need a campaign For Free Speech!

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The right to free speech, especially on the subject of Israel/Palestine, is coming under immense attack all over the world.

– Universities: Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has just threatened to cut the funding of any university that refuses to adopt the ‘working definition of antisemitism’ published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance “by the end of the year”. A recent survey by the Union of Jewish Students had shown that only 29 out of 133 universities had adopted the IHRA definition, and 80 said they had no current plans to do so. (link)

– Schools: In September, the British government instructed schools in England not to use resources from anti-capitalist organisations: “Schools should not under any circumstances use resources produced by organisations that take extreme political stances on matters. This is the case even if the material itself is not extreme, as the use of it could imply endorsement or support of the organisation.” (link)

– NGOs: The US government is threatening to label labelling a number of leading international humanitarian organisations as antisemitic after they documented Israeli rights abuses against Palestinians, including settlement building in the occupied territories. The groups include the UK-based Amnesty International and Oxfam as well as the US organisation Human Rights Watch. (link)

– BDS movement: In 2019, the German government voted to declare BDS ‘antisemitic’ (link). In the US, some states have passed anti-BDS measures, such as punishing companies that refuse to do business with illegal Israeli settlements (link). After it labelled the BDS movement as antisemitic in 2018, the city council of Vienna cancelled a lecture by Ronnie Kassrills, the Jewish South African anti-Apartheid campaigner, alongside several Palestine solidarity events by a combined vote of the Greens, Social Democrats and the neo-Nazi Freedom Party (link). When France’s highest court convicted twelve activists merely for handing out BDS leaflets, the European Court of Human Rights stepped in and overruled the verdict in June 2020, stating that this was a breach of freedom of expression, ordering the French government to pay damages to the activists (link). Still, Boris Johnson is considering introducing similar laws in Britain, which was indeed promised in the Tory’s election programme (link). A large number of local authorities have already adopted the IHRA definition. Tower Hamlets council banned a bike ride for Palestinian children meeting in a park; other councils have refused to let BDS or pro-Palestinian groups hire town buildings or stage protests.

Labour movement: The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party in 2015 unleashed a vicious campaign against him and his supporters. Anti-Zionism and support for the Palestinian struggle was wrongly equated with antisemitism, leading to the smearing of hundreds of supporters of the Palestinian struggle as antisemites. The campaign culminated in the October 29 suspension of Corbyn himself, for stating that: “One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents”. Like many others before him, he was punished simply for stating the plain truth.  

The fight for freedom of discussion and democratic decision-making in our movement is essential for the struggle for socialism. For this reason, we oppose demands for “zero tolerance”. This is the opposite of the culture of open debate we need. The best way to fight prejudice, misperceptions and misunderstandings is by education and free and frank debate.

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.

Tribute Acts – timely poem from Kevin Higgins

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Each witch hunt is a tribute act to the last.

There is always a committee of three.

The gravity in the room is such

they struggle to manoeuvre

the enormity of their serious

faces in the door.

 

Except in the TV version,

there is hardly ever a microphone.

Though they will usually give you

a glass of water and, if you ask,

tea in a slightly chipped cup.

 

The better quality of witch hunt

will provide you with a plate

of sandwiches which, these days,

would likely include

coeliac and vegan options.

 

One member of the panel interviewing you

is always a man with a shakey voice

who obviously doesn’t know what he’s doing.

His wife thinks he’s at the garden centre.

 

Another is a woman trying

on a posh accent for size

who looks like she’s dreaming

of killing you

in some way that would give her

special pleasure.

 

It is written,

somewhere deeper than law,

that no such committee

shall ever be constituted

unless it contains

at least one ex-hippy.

 

There is always the moment

when a pile of typed pages emerge

from an already opened envelope,

and one of them asks you:

how, then, do you explain this?

 

And the three of them sit there,

pretending it’s a real question.

 

And you realise this committee is history

paying you the huge compliment

of making you (and people like you)

the only item on the agenda;

 

that in asking you about what you said,

did, or typed on the mentioned dates,

they reveal themselves

like the black tree at the bottom of the garden

that only shows its true self in winter.

 

KEVIN HIGGINS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stan Keable: “Judgement defends the right to express anti-Zionist views”

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The judgement and reasons took more than two hours to deliver, and will be published online by the employment tribunal. It defends the right to freedom of speech – to express views in public, including anti-Zionist views, which may offend some people or many people. Much case law was quoted and elaborated. The judgement will provide an encyclopaedia of dismissal law and a protection of the human rights of employees to freedom of assembly (the right to demonstrate) and freedom of speech – a great product of a year’s hard work.
[Click here to read LAW’s brief report and for some background to the see case.]

 

THANKS

Thank to my solicitor, David Phillips of R&A Solicitors (Manchester), and pro bono barrister Iqbal Sram, who did a brilliant job. Thanks to H&F Unison steward Bruce Mackay, who represented me at the preliminary investigation hearing, and to Branch Secretary Patsy Ishmael, who accompanied me at the appeal hearing and insisted that my right to a trade union rep of my choice had been illegally denied. Thanks to barrister Dave Renton, who helped prepare me for the disciplinary hearing and Tony Greenstein, who represented me at the disciplinary hearing. Thanks to my witnesses – all Jewish: Hilary Russell, Professor Moshé Machover, Mike Cushman (Free Speech on Israel), Naomi Wimbourne-Idrissi (Jewish Voice for Labour), Pamela Blakelock (JVL), Glyn Secker (JVL). Thanks to my local comrades in Hammersmith CLP and Hammersmith & Fulham Momentum for not believing the nonsense that I was anti-Semitic. Thanks to my comrades in Labour Party Marxist and Labour Against the Witchhunt, who defended me throughout. And thanks to my Esperantist friends who knew that racist “Jew-hate” could not feature in my outlook.

www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org/uncategorized/stan-keable-has-won-his-employment-tribunal/