Boycott the AWL’s “Stop the Labour purges” scab conference

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Should we call on members of the Labour left to attend the forthcoming ‘National conference to fight the purge’, organised by the campaign, ‘Stop the Labour Purges’? It does sound like a good idea to do something to fight for the rights of the thousands that have unjustly been suspended, expelled or denied a vote in the recent Labour leadership election, surely?

Our answer in short: no.

Stop the Labour Purge has been set up by members and supporters of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. For a long time, the campaign concentrated exclusively on those being suspended and/or expelled from the Labour Party for their association with the AWL. However, they show less solidarity when it comes to others experiencing the same fate – especially those painted with the scandalous ‘anti-Semitic’ brush.

Jackie Walker is the prime example here, of course. When the pro-Zionist Jewish Labour Movement leaked the secretly taped contributions from comrade Walker to the media and Labour’s unelected compliance unit a few weeks ago, members and supporters of the AWL went into witch-hunting overdrive. Although she had just been suspended by the Labour Party – for the second time! – they made no efforts to defend her.

Instead, they posted old articles about “left anti-Semitism” (which is a title they stick on anybody who opposes the state of Israel or Zionism), called her comments “unacceptable” and argued that she should be removed as vice-chair of Momentum.

As is now well known, the two AWL supporters on Momentum’s steering committee, Jill Mountford and Michael Chessum, wholeheartedly supported the move by Momentum chair and company owner Jon Lansman to remove Jackie Walker from her position of national vice-chair – in fact, they proudly reported it online. As an aside, Jackie Walker, on the other hand, has stuck to the request of the steering committee not to comment on her demotion and simply pointed to its mealy-mouthed statement (see LPM bulletin No3). A mistake, in our view. Outrageous decisions like the one taken by the steering committee should be openly discussed and debated by Momentum branches up and down the country. Her view on the matter and on the process of her demotion would help.

The organisers of the Stop the Labour Purge conference have tried to cover their backs by publishing a statement on comrade Walker, in which they now ask that the Labour Party should “reinstate” her … on October 7 – ie, more than full week after her suspension. This is too little and way too late to convince anybody.

In our view, members and supporters of the AWL have behaved in a truly treacherous way. They have given ammunition to the right wing in the Labour Party and the mainstream media. By supporting and pushing for comrade Walker’s demotion, they have given credence to the ludicrous notion that the Labour Party is ‘overrun by anti-Semites’. In effect, they are sabotaging Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left.

And this is not the only scab campaign they are involved in. They are also pushing the open letter, entitled ‘Speak out on Syria’, that criticises Jeremy Corbyn on his “silence” on the war in Syria, urges him to support an unenforcable no-fly-zone and “condemn, clearly and specifically, the actions of Assad and Russia in Syria, which have caused the overwhelming majority of civilian deaths and which present the biggest obstacle to any workable solution to the Syrian crisis”. Click here for a good article by Yassamine Mather on the role that imperialism has played in bringing about the disastrous situation in Syria – and now we are supposed to call on US and UK imperialism to sort it all out again?

Again, the AWL are playing right into the hands of the rightwing media, the right in the Labour Party and even Boris Johnson, who seemed to have been paying attention to the AWL in his speech in the House of Commons this week: “There is no commensurate horror, it seems to me, amongst some of those anti-war protest groups. I’d certainly like to see demonstrations outside the Russian embassy. Where is the Stop The War Coalition at the moment? Where are they?” (Daily Mail October 10).

We urge all Labour Party members and those purged to boycott the AWL’s conference. Instead, we call on the Labour left to move motions in Labour Party and Momentum branches and Labour organisations that condemn the purges, the demotion of Jackie Walker by Momentum and call for democratic structures in our organisations. There are a number of model motions available on the LPM website.

Carla Roberts, Labour Party Marxists
(letter to the Weekly Worker)