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!”

Forde Enquiry: Submission by Labour Against the Witchhunt

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Download the PDF version of this submission here.

1. Introduction

The report ‘The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014 – 2019’ (the Report), gives us irrefutable proof of the plotting and outright sabotage committed against Corbyn, and the hundreds of thousands who joined the party following his election in 2015, to fight for socialist and democratic change.

It is extremely unfortunate that the Report was only produced in the last days of Corbyn’s leadership. Drawing upon primary evidence it shows serious wrong-doing by senior party officials. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Left to radically transform the Labour Party and effect progressive change, was ruined by the Right in the party. At the same time, supporters of Corbyn were vilified and slandered, their voices silenced and their votes nullified.

Unfortunately, it appears that this was sometimes done with the knowledge, and occasionally even with the active participation of the Corbyn leadership, as in the case of the expulsion of Jackie Walker and the campaign against Chris Williamson.

Politically, the Report maps out an attack on Corbyn and his advisors, who had gained partial control of the NEC in April 2018 when Jennie Formby was appointed General Secretary, by a faction of their political predecessors appointed prior to Corbyn becoming leader. Our submission makes the case against the mistakes committed by both factions within the party machine. Continue Reading “Forde Enquiry: Submission by Labour Against the Witchhunt”

Model motion: No confidence in Keir Starmer! No more settlements with witch-hunters!

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Download as a Word file here

1. This branch/CLP notes with great concern: 

a) Keir Starmer’s July 22 2020 apology and payment of ‘damages’ in six figures to the former Labour Party employees who participated in the dreadful and one-sided BBC Panorama programme on alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party.

b) That the legal advice received by the Labour Party reportedly stated that the party had a very good chance to win the libel case pursued by the ‘whistleblowers’ featured in the programme.
c) That in the wake of this settlement, there are reports of “at least 42 further civil claims” against the party (Daily Telegraph July 24 2020), among them from BBC journalist John Ware and former general secretary Iain McNicol.

d) That the settlement has been used to demand that Starmer withdraws the whip from Jeremy Corbyn.

e) That the ‘leaked report’ quite clearly shows that there was an organised and concerted campaign by right-wingers in the party to undermine and sabotage Jeremy Corbyn and the left. Some of those actively involved in the campaign have now been paid off by Starmer. Continue Reading “Model motion: No confidence in Keir Starmer! No more settlements with witch-hunters!”

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.

Fight against Keir Starmer implementing the ’10 Demands’ by the Board of Deputies!

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In one of his first actions as leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer has sent a letter to Marie van der Zyl, president of the BoD, promising to “deliver them as soon as possible”.

Click here for a number of model motions you can move in your branch, CLP and trade union branch.

As we pointed out in our open letter to Rebecca Long-Bailey, which has been signed by almost 5,000 people, the Board of Deputies (BoD) is not the representative body for the majority of Jews in Britain, many of whom are very critical of the actions of the state of Israel – unlike the BoD. The BoD is a pro-Israel organisation. It claims, for instance, that the Palestinians in Gaza are “using its civilians – including children – as pawns” in their fight against Israeli occupation and oppression.

The BoD have supported every war, every attack launched by Israel. The BoD is not a neutral body, but one with an evident political agenda: to attack, weaken and destroy any opposition to the systematic and brutal oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli government. The BoD encourages the conflation of criticism of the Israeli government (anti-Zionism), with antisemitism (hatred of Jews).

The BoD, and its individual officers, have maintained open hostility to Labour since Corbyn took leadership of the party. They organised the ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration outside parliament in March 2018, which was clearly aimed at weakening and attacking Jeremy Corbyn.

We believe that the BoD’s ‘10 Pledges’ are an outrageous political interference by an organisation that is overtly hostile to today’s Labour Party and everything it stands for. If implemented, these policies would for example, result in the suspensions and expulsions of the thousands of Labour members who have stood in open solidarity with those wrongly accused of antisemitism, including Chris Williamson, Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone and Marc Wadsworth.

Also, it is not for the leader of the Labour Party, or candidates aspiring to be the leader, to commit themselves to such pledges. The policies and rules of the Labour Party are determined by the members of the party via annual conference. By agreeing to these pledges, you are at risk of undermining our democratic processes.

We reject all of the ’10 pledges’, in particular:

Pledge 2: This pledge calls for the disciplinary process to be run by an “independent provider”. No, Labour party members should be judged by their peers only, not by outside agencies with their own political agenda.

Pledge 3: This would hand over confidential details of ongoing disciplinary cases to “Jewish representative bodies”. Which “bodies”? Of course the BoD chiefly mean themselves, because in pledge 8 they reject any engagement with what they call “fringe organisations and individuals”, by which they include principled, non-Zionist organisations like Jewish Voice for Labour.

Pledge 4: This would impose a lifetime ban from membership for what the BoD refers to as “repeat offenders, such as Ken Livingstone or Jackie Walker.” However, Ken Livingstone resigned his membership; whereas Jackie was not found guilty of antisemitism, but “bringing the party into disrepute”. Clearly, neither of them has said or done anything antisemitic (defined as “hatred of Jews”). Not only is this crass harassment of two individuals who have fought against racism for their entire life, it allows an anti-Labour organisation to decide who should or should not be a member of our party.

Pledge 5: This states: “Any MPs, peers, councillors, members or CLPs who support, campaign or provide a platform for people who have been suspended or expelled in the wake of antisemitic incidents should themselves be suspended from membership.” This is gross censorship, which should be rejected by anybody who wants a critical, engaged and thinking membership. This pledge would make it impossible for members to campaign to right a wrong in the party; it could lead to the suspension and smearing of thousands of members who dare to question and criticise what they may perceive to be wrong decisions.

Pledge 6: The Labour Party’s NEC has already adopted the IHRA’s ‘definition’ of antisemitism with all its eleven examples, even though some of those conflate anti-Zionism with antisemitism. Making this “the basis for considering antisemitism disciplinary cases” is yet another insidious attack on free speech – exactly what the definition’s author, Kenneth Stern, has been warning about.

Pledge 7: This pledge seeks to hand the deliverance of “anti-racism training” to the Jewish Labour Movement, a pro-Zionist organisation that was revived in 2015 with the specific aim of undermining and attacking Jeremy Corbyn and the left. JLM (whose members don’t have to be Jewish or Labour Party members) have been instrumental in exaggerating and weaponising the very small number of antisemitic incidents in the Labour movement in order to smear Jeremy Corbyn and the left, by wilfully conflating anti-Zionism with Antisemitism.

We call on all on all socialists, anti-imperialists and Corbyn supporters to stay actively involved in the Labour Party and join us in this campaign against the BoD’s ‘10 Pledges’ and the ongoing witch-hunt against the left in the Labour movement.