LAW statement: Corbyn was wrong to pressurise Ken Livingstone into leaving the Labour Party

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It is clear from reports such as John Rentoul in The Independent that Ken Livingstone’s resignation was not voluntary but the result of pressure exerted by Jeremy Corbyn and his close associates. We refer in particular to Shami Chakrabarti’s disgraceful attack on Livingstone on BBC’s Sunday Politics (May 13),when she threatened she would quit the Labour front bench if Livingstone was not expelled. Chakrabarti has not only ignored her own recommendations on natural justice and due process but she has also destroyed her own reputation, as a former Director of Liberty, for a belief in freedom of expression.

Nothing Livingstone was alleged to have done could in any way be described as anti-Semitic.  His remark that “Hitler supported Zionism” is confirmed by a host of Holocaust historians.  If he gave offence to supporters of Israel and Zionism it is because of the appalling record historically of Zionism when it comes to fighting real anti-Semites.

The attack on Livingstone andthe expulsions of Marc Wadsworth and Tony Greenstein were all part of the ‘anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ witch-hunt. It is noticeable that when it came to layingcharges the Labour Party avoidedfor legal reasons accusing people of anti-Semitism. Instead the catch all charge of ‘bringing the party into disrepute’ was used.

Livingstone is the latest victim of a witch-hunt pursued by the pro-Israel lobby and the right-wing in the Labour Party. The fact that it is supported by the same tabloid press which has employed Katy Hopkins, Rod Liddle and Richard Littlejohn should dispel any idea that this is about racism or anti-Semitism. It is about Israel and defence of imperialist interests in the Middle East.

It is about stopping the transformation of the Labour Party into an anti-war party that will stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and refuses to be dragged into another devastating war in the Middle East.

It is shocking that two years after the Chakrabarti report into racism was published, none of its recommendations around “due process” and “natural justice” have been implemented. This delay is not an oversight. It is clear that the party bureaucracy has been trying to get the high profile cases ‘out of the way’ first. Jackie Walker’s expulsion hearing is imminent.

Jeremy Corbyn and his allies operate under the illusion that if they sacrifice enough members to the witch-hunters then their campaign will come to an end. They are seriously mistaken. Appeasement merely feeds the appetites of the witchhunters.

This setback will only strengthen the resolve of Labour Against the Witchhuntactivists. We fully understand the agenda of Labour Friends of Israel, the Jewish Labour Movement and Progress: to re-establish the politics and economics of neo-liberalism in the Labour Party.

We call on Jeremy Corbyn, general secretary Jennie Formby and the National Executive Committee to finally put an end to this ongoing witch-hunt against the left in the party:

  • LAW does not recognise the legitimacy of the expulsions/exclusions of party comrades on trumped up charges of “anti-Semitism” and will continue to organise with them to defeat the right.
  • All those summarily expelled or suspended from membership without due process, or as part of the anti-Corbyn witch-hunt, should be immediately reinstated – and that includes Marc Wadsworth, Jackie Walker, Stan Keable, Tony Greenstein and Cyril Chilson.
  • We need a moratorium: no more new cases to be sent to Labour’s kangaroo court (National Constitutional Committee), which is dominated by the right; all cases currently in front of the NCCshould be referred back to the NEC.