Labour Left Alliance launch conference, February 22, Sheffield

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LAW is very proud to be part of this important new development – please get involved! Sign up your group or as an individual!

The LLA launch conference takes place on Saturday February 22 in Sheffield. Details are available here. Please attend one of the many pre-conference events taking place in order to be eligible to attend.

Ever since Jeremy Corbyn put his name forward to stand as leader of the Labour Party there has been a massive campaign to undermine and remove him by the Tories, elements of the establishment and the right in our own party, with backing from the overwhelming majority of the mainstream media. Of the numerous unfounded smears thrown at Corbyn – being too scruffy, not bowing deep enough, being a Czech spy etc – those around antisemitism have been one of the most consistent avenues of attack.

They have not had everything their own way – Moshé Machover was readmitted to the party after a major campaign and their attempts to move against Lisa Forbes, now the MP for Peterborough, before and after her election have not succeeded. Momentum nationally is no longer on the side of the left in these battles and this has become increasingly clear – as has its own lack of democracy.

There is an urgent need to take steps to unite the genuine, democratic Labour left. We are committed to making this process open, democratic and transparent. We want to involve as many principled local, regional and national Labour left organisations and union bodies as we can.

We are not saying anyone should resign from or disaffiliate from Momentum to participate. But one of our concerns is that if we don’t act now people who joined to support Corbyn will leave in disillusion. The need to move at pace must be balanced with the need to build in a democratic and sustainable way. Two national organisations (the Labour Representation Committee and Labour Against the Witchhunt) and a number of local groups have already signed up to this initiative and we are having positive discussions with many more.

We encourage all comrades not already members of local Labour Left groups to get involved in one or help set one up. We will gladly help you to find a speaker, advertise your meeting or assist in any other way we can.

Labour belongs to us – let’s unite and fight for our party!

Click here to read and sign up to the appeal!

Fighting the witch-hunt as key part of building the foundations for an independent, democratic Labour left

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Lead motion agreed at our members’ meeting on May 4 2019

The witch-hunt in the Labour Party is accelerating. There are many new allegations, suspensions and investigations. In the run up to the May local and European elections, the campaign of the right in and outside the Labour Party is designed to smear Jeremy Corbyn in particular, and the left in general.

Overwhelmingly, it is clear that a number of party members under attack (often election candidates) are not guilty of anti-Semitic comments. Words are often taken out of context, twisted and misrepresented to prove their ‘guilt’. In the few cases where there is real evidence of prejudiced views or support for questionable conspiracy theories, patient discussion is usually the best option, with suspension or expulsion the last resort. As socialists, we believe in the potential for change; that people, through experience, joint struggles and rational argument, can learn.

Instead, we are again seeing automatic suspensions. The Labour right is energetically promoting this approach, of course – it facilitates the purge of Corbyn supporters and awkward trouble-makers.

Meanwhile, those like Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman and Tom Watson insult, sabotage, make bogus accusations and work hand-in-glove with the capitalist media – without any repercussions.

That such behaviour goes unpunished is the product of the short-sighted and futile attempt to appease the right. This can only undermine the Corbyn leadership and often plays into the false ‘anti-Zionism equals antisemitism’ narrative. Now it is “common knowledge” that Jeremy Corbyn is “responsible for antisemitism inside and outside the Labour Party”, as Ruth Smeeth MP recently claimed.

Appeasement is designed to stop more right-wingers leaving and getting Corbyn into No10. LAW notes the delay to the roll-out of trigger ballots, which conference in 2018 voted for. The delay is particularly worrying in the context of a possible snap election or, worse, a national government. The vast majority of Labour MPs are clearly deeply hostile to Corbyn and his politics. Even if he was Prime Minister, the right inside and outside the Labour Party would not stop their campaign against him. They want him either removed, taken prisoner or tamed. Labour Party members must be allowed to hold all their representatives to account.

Momentum has proven unfit for purpose. While a number of local Momentum branches continue to do good work, the national leadership of the organisation has often been deafeningly silent or actually supported suspensions and expulsions – something that even the Jewish Labour Movement recognised when it praised Momentum in the lead motion at its recent AGM.

LAW supports a Labour left that:

  • organises democratically and transparently;
  • both supports Corbyn against attacks by the right, and is independent and able to criticise the leadership when necessary;
  • is consistently anti-racist and internationalist, a stance which by definition includes anti-Zionism and supporting the Palestinians.

In addition to our aims and priorities outlined above, we also resolve to campaign:

  • for Labour CLPs and trade union branches to affiliate to LAW and Jewish Voice for Labour
  • for the immediate implementation of the reformed trigger ballots;
  • for the scrapping of all bans and proscriptions: if the mass of socialists in Britain joined the party, it would put us in a much stronger position in the ongoing civil war within the party.

In addition to our ongoing public campaigning we therefore instruct the steering committee to:

  • produce more model motions, statements and public interventions on the subjects and issues above;
  • approach other local, regional and national organisations and individuals who are interested in building a democratic and transparent Labour left;
  • start planning for an intervention around those aims at Labour Party conference 2019 in Brighton.
  • produce basic information for members who have been suspended or are put under investigation, including details of potential pro bono legal advisers.

We will prioritise the following three campaigns:

  1. For the reinstatement of Chris Williamson MP.
  2. For the Labour Party Party and other organisations to reject the definition of anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
  3. To make Zionism a legitimate topic of discussion.