GBL on Marc Wadsworth’s expulsion

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April 27 2018

Today’s expulsion by Labour of veteran black anti-racist activist

There will be a press conference today at 1.15pm at Abbey Green, outside Parliament.

 Present will be Marc Wadsworth, Deborah Hobson and Noami Wimborne-Idrissi of Jewish Voice For Labour

Grassroots Black Left (GBL) is appalled by the expulsion of its member Marc Wadsworth, a life-long anti-racist. This decision brings the party into disrepute and we will fight besides Wadsworth to help him clear his name and get reinstated.

The National Constitutional Committee hearing was based on a disciplinary process that newly appointed general secretary Jennie Formby has declares “is not fit for purpose”.

Such is Labour’s confusion over what the party has adopted as its definition of anti-Semitism, the NCC had to call an adjournment during the hearing to seek legal advice on the matter. The panel then ruled the case against Wadsworth could be proven based on solely on the perception by some people that what he said at the launch of the Charkrabarti report on June 30 2016 was anti-Semitism.

Prominent Labour Jewish witnesses at the hearing pointed out that the contested definition of Anti-Semitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) is deeply flawed. Far from helping the much-needed fight against anti-Semitism, the definition undermines it.

GBL is heartened that leading Labour politicians Clive Lewis, Keith Vaz and Chris Williamson were among those people who put in witness statements to the party defending Wadsworth. Other supporters included prominent Jewish Labour members.

Among those people who signed a letter to the Guardian backing Wadsworth were Gary Younge, the paper’s editor-at-large, Lord Herman Ouseley, Simon Wolley, director of Operation Black Vote, Peter Herbert, chair of the Society of Black Lawyers, Professor Paul Gilroy, Professor Gus John, former Lambeth council leader Linda Bellos, and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Hassan Ahmed, GBL co-chair, said: “This is a miscarriage of justice by a party that prides itself on championing social justice. It is a political decision that is not based on the facts of the case, which clearly show Wadsworth is not guilty.”

Wadsworth said: “I have been overwhelmed by the support I’ve received by many, many people, including those who have contributed thousands of pounds to my Crowdjusitice campaign to pay lawyers.” HE added: “I deplore anti-Semitism, anti-black racism, Islamophobia and all forms of prejudice, bigotry and discrimination that I have campaigned against all my political life and will continue to do so.”

Wadsworth went on: “With my brilliant legal team, who won the arguments hands down, I will be looking at all my options to legally challenge the decision.”

The Labour NCC panel of three party members who conducted Wadsworth’s three day hearing, was all-white. GBL is staggered that this issue wasn’t put before a representative panel made up of Wadsdworth’s peers. We are deeply concerned the panel appeared to have fallen prey to pressure from the 40 white Labour MPs and Lords, led by Wes Streeting, who marched in Westminster against Wadsworth on the first day of his hearing. These politicians should be ashamed of themselves. Why weren’t they marching to support the Windrush generation or to demand government action on youth violence that has claimed the lives of so many young black people?

Before the verdict, one Wadsworth supporter on Facebook commented: “If the Labour Party uphold Marc Wadsworth’s suspension, they will have shown to every black person nothing has changed in the year when the scandal of the Windrush generation has starkly laid bare British racism. Marc, you have a lot of love from the black community behind you. We recognize the sacrifices you have made to advance our causes and will be there for you in your hour of need.”

A Jewish woman elder, who is a veteran campaigner against anti-Semitism, wrote to Wadsworth to say: “Keep up your great and courageous work. You are not an anti-Semite.”

Wadsworth has suffered almost two years of trial by media. Several news outlets have been forced to correct their biased coverage of the case as a result of complaints made by Wadsworth.

GBL co-chair Deborah Hobson, a UNITE trade union activist, said: “Marc Wadsworth has been made a scapegoat in the battle between anti-Jeremy-Corbyn Labour zealots and those people who support a twice democratically elected Party leader. These right wingers will stop at nothing in their attempts to remove Corbyn.”

Wadsworth has been contacted by Labour Party members who told him they would resign if he was found guilty. He has urged them to stay in the party and help Jeremy Corbyn democratise it, so that the causes of socialism, internationalism, anti-racism, black representation and opposition to the witch hunt can be advanced.


Note to editors:

Grassroots Black Left held its Nottingham inaugural meeting in 2017. The new national organisation received overwhelming support from around the country. African, Caribbean and Asian Labour Party members, who are socialist, turned up for the well-attended event that backed Jeremy Corbyn’s progressive leadership of the party.

In February, GBL held its parliamentary launch, attended by MPs, including Chris Williamson, Clive Lewis and Naz Shaw, Grenfell fire campaigners, the Leicestershire Indian Workers’ Association and Africans for Jeremy Corbyn’s Values. The latter two organisations affiliated to GBL.

Marc Wadsworth was chair or the Labour Party Black Sections (1986-1988), the campaign that helped four of its members to get elected as MPs in the historic breakthrough of 1987. He founded the Anti-Racist Alliance in 1991 and helped the parents of Stephen Lawrence set up their campaign for justice and introduced them to Nelson Mandela. A leading trade unionist, Marc Wadsworth was chair of Thames Television’s joint shop stewards committee until 1991, when the broadcaster lost its license at the behest of Margaret Thatcher.