Category Archives: witchhunts and expulsions

Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt: The latest victim of the witch-hunt

The NEC refuses to endorse the Corbyn supporter in South Thanet – and it seems Momentum is complicit, writes Carla Roberts

In April 2018, Corbyn supporter Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt was selected as Labour’s parliamentary candidate for the “key marginal” seat of Thanet South. She beat the more ‘moderate’ local councillor, Karen Constantine, by 17 votes – despite the fact that the latter was backed by a rather unholy alliance of Unite, Unison, GMB and, somewhat strangely, Momentum.

We hear that Constantine had never been seen at a Momentum meeting and only started to back Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader once he was sure to win. On Twitter, she proudly declares that her “motto” is: “An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory”. Gordon-Nesbitt, on the other hand, is known as an outspoken Corbyn supporter and life-long socialist campaigner. So no real surprise then that local members chose the more leftwing candidate (as would probably be the case almost everywhere, if members were allowed to democratically select their prospective candidate via a system of mandatory reselection).

But clearly, not everybody was happy about the result. Two weeks after the local decision, the revolting Guido Fawkes published a take-down piece on Gordon-Nesbitt, who works as a researcher to, among others, Labour peer Lord Howarth of Newport. Fawkes published a small number of tweets released by the Centre for Cultural Change in 2016, to which Gordon-Nesbitt contributed.

As is unfortunately now the norm in the Labour Party, the tweets were – probably simultaneously – passed on to the compliance unit of the Labour Party, an investigation was opened and Labour’s national executive committee decided to put on hold the required endorsement of her candidacy – a highly unusual decision. Guido Fawkes seems to have had already had a good inkling of the result of the investigation even before it started: “Assume Gordon-Nesbitt will be deselected if Corbyn is really taking anti-Semitism seriously…”, he wrote in April.

And he was right. Still, it took the Labour Party bureaucracy a staggering eight months to look into those few tweets – three of which were authored by Gordon-Nesbitt:

“Accusations levelled at Jackie Walker are politically motivated.”

“Anti-Semitism has been weaponised by those who seek to silence anti-Zionist voices. See The Lynching, endorsed by Ken Loach, for elucidation.”

“Accusations of AS levelled in an attempt to discredit the left.”

Even the most biased bourgeois justice system would have laughed this ‘evidence’ out of court. Not so today’s Labour Party, unfortunately, which is cleaved apart by the ongoing civil war that began with the election of Corbyn. In July 2018, the NEC – even though it was now ostensibly dominated by the ‘left’ – voted to refer the case to its kangaroo court, the national constitutional committee (NCC). This is a crucial body in the party. It deals with all disciplinary matters that the NEC feels it cannot resolve and – given that the NCC is dominated by the right – the referral of a leftwinger usually results in expulsion from the party. Incredibly, even after its recent expansion from 11 to 25, only a minority are chosen by rank-and-file Labour members.

Gordon-Nesbitt describes how “months went by, but nothing happened”. She continued to be the officially selected candidate and campaigned with local party members. Six months after the referral to the NCC she was invited to an interview – not with the NCC, but with a panel of three NEC members.

Gordon-Nesbitt writes that she came to the hearing on December 18 “armed with a dozen endorsements from local party members, a respected rabbi, an Oxford University anti-Semitism expert and a sizeable group of parliamentary candidates from around the country, all of whom said in various different ways that neither I nor the tweets were anti-Semitic”.

Still, a few hours after the meeting, Gordon-Nesbitt received a letter stating that the NEC had “decided not to endorse my candidacy on the basis that: “In light of these posts your conduct does not meet the high standards that are expected of parliamentary candidates and has the potential to bring the party into disrepute.”

Her local Labour Party continues to support her: The CLP executive, its branches and the CLP women’s forum have all rejected the NEC’s decision. An emergency meeting of the CLP’s general committee is scheduled for later this week.

We understand that, worryingly, leftwinger Claudia Webbe was one of the three NEC members on the panel. In fact, she was the only one who was there in person – the other two were listening in via speakerphone. In July, Webbe replaced Christine Shawcroft as chair of the NEC’s disputes panel, having been nominated to the post by both Momentum’s Jon Lansman and Pete Willsman, secretary of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (Webbe also serves as chair of the CLPD). It is unusual for Lansman and Willsman to agree on anything these days – the former comrades who worked together for decades in the CLPD have fallen out spectacularly over the last 12 months or so, after Lansman falsely accused Willsman of anti-Semitism and dropped him from Momentum’s list of recommended candidates for the NEC (Willsman was elected anyway).

Of course, we do not actually know how Webbe voted. These hugely important decisions are kept secret, away from the membership. She certainly has not made her views on the matter public. But we know that she is an ally of Lansman, who, we have been told, is campaigning against attempts to allow the next full NEC meeting (January 22) to revisit the panel’s decision on Gordon-Nesbitt. Momentum locally and nationally has certainly not raised a finger to defend her or the democratic will of the local members.

NEC panels have the right to make decisions on behalf of the executive and those decisions do not have to be ratified by the full NEC. But, as Darren Williams explains, they can be “revisited” and overturned by the NEC. Williams seems to be the only NEC member who has come out publicly on this case, though we understand that he is not the only leftwinger on the NEC who is “unhappy” about the panel’s decision.5 We might find out more on January 22 – but isn’t it a pity that there are no official minutes of NEC meetings? We have to rely on the few reports produced by individual members (who only report on decisions they find interesting or important, of course).

This case does shed a rather worrying light on the state of the so-called ‘left’ on the NEC (and the wider party). Lansman has thrown himself with gusto into the campaign to equate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism – a campaign whose chief target is, of course, Jeremy Corbyn himself. While Lansman has always been a soft Zionist, he has certainly found his hard-core Zionist feet in recent months. He successfully campaigned for the NEC to adopt the ludicrously inaccurate and pro-Zionist ‘Definition of anti-Semitism’ published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, with all its disputed 11 examples.

Lansman and his close allies make up about half of the nine NEC members elected by party members on the slate pushed by the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance. Darren Williams, Pete Willsman and Rachel Garnham seem to be the only NEC members with at least half an occasional backbone. Even though Unite is run by Corbyn ally Len McCluskey, the numerous Unite members on the NEC tend to vote – in general – with the rest of the unions on Labour’s leadership body.

This is particularly worrying, as Jeremy Corbyn remains a prisoner of Labour’s MPs, who are far to his right and, of course, to the right of the majority of members. Refusing to endorse a candidate who would have been a very valuable ally of Corbyn makes you wonder on which side Jon Lansman and some of his allies on the NEC really stand.

For model resolutions, see Labour Against the Witchhunt’s website.

 

Has the witch-hunt climaxed?

The witch-hunt against the left in the Labour Party has become even more absurd, reports Carla Roberts of Labour Party Marxists

All those who thought the witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party had reached its limits can think again. The recent arrival of leftwing general secretary Jennie Formby and in-house QC Gordon Nardell (a founding member of the Labour Representation Committee) are clearly no protection, when it comes to the party apparatus taking absolutely ludicrous decisions.

On Monday July 16, long-standing trade union activist and socialist Lee Rock received notice from the Labour Party’s “acting head of disputes”, Nareser Osei, that, “Allegations that you may have been involved in a breach of Labour Party rules have been brought to the attention of national officers of the Labour Party.”

Considering the current climate in the Labour Party and considering comrade Rock’s political biography, we would have expected that he was being accused of the now very popular charge of anti-Semitism (he is an ardent supporter of the rights of Palestinians).

Or maybe his “association with other groups” could have been misrepresented. For example, in 2002 and 2003 he stood as a candidate for the Socialist Alliance. He has even been interviewed by the Weekly Worker a couple of times.

But no. The allegations against comrade Rock are of a more, shall we say, delicate nature. We read that the reason for the investigation is “your participation in an extended debate on a Facebook group, in which you argued in favour of masturbation in workplaces”.

Mr Lee Rock - NOI- blackYes, you read that correctly. That is the sole and only charge raised against comrade Rock. He has not (yet) been suspended or expelled, but is being warned that the allegations are currently being investigated.

This clearly needs a bit of background explanation. In 2015, a certain Simon Danczuk MP was caught out when his phone had tagged a hard-core porn site on Twitter as a “favourite”, and he openly had to admit that he watches porn (like a large number of other men and women). However, much of the media feigned outrage.

Owen Jones, then still almost relevant, wrote a decent article, in which he asked, “Why should we care?” He pointed out that we are all “flawed human beings”, that politicians are “not perfect” and that we should instead focus on and criticise Danczuk’s rightwing politics. Quite right.

However, this article really upset some so-called radical feminists (now going under the label, Terfs – trans-exclusionary radical feminists). The “maternal feminist” group, All Mothers Work, published an article attacking Owen Jones’ description of Danczuk’s behaviour as “normal”. It described people who access porn at work as “unstable perverts who are so incapable of caring about basic social decency and the rights of others that they should be removed from society to protect the rest of us (women)”.

You get the drift. Something that more than 30% of the population admit to doing regularly at the workplace was presented as being a rather freaky habit (another questionnaire even put it at 39%). According to the first poll, rubbing the one-eyed snake at work is in fact more “normal” than people falling asleep at their desk (29%) or arriving late at work at least once a week (16%).

Somebody posted the article in a Facebook group and comrade Rock and others argued against the narrow-minded politics of it, starting with the fact that women have the occasional wank at work, too! Sadly, both polls quoted above seemed to have taken their cue from the radical feminists and only asked men about the issue. Anyway, the result was a long debate with over 150 comments – some funny, some deadly serious – which still “occasionally does the rounds on Facebook, where it is widely hailed as the most ridiculous leftwing debate ever”, as a comrade reliably informs us. The debate even produced its own satirical blog post.

We will spare readers the detailed ins and outs of people arguing over how and where you should be allowed to masturbate. They can read the whole exchange on Facebook, where it is still online. For comrades not on Facebook, the exchange is also available on LPM’s website.

This comment sums up comrade’s Lee various interventions in the debate: “If the person next to me at work goes to the loo, I really don’t care if they have a shit or a wank.” Seems a reasonable view to take. But, of course, comrade Rock did not positively “argue in favourof masturbating in workplaces”, as Ms Osei claims in her letter.

Morality police?

Comrade Rock, however, did argue for the right of people – including the vile Simon Danczuk – to do whatever they wish in the privacy of their toilet cubicle. As long as it does not harm or inconvenience anybody else, there really should not be a problem.

But the point is a serious one: he is under investigation not for committingany kind of offence, but for arguing that what one does in the privacy of a toilet cubicle at workshould not be viewed as a criminal offence– especially not one that would lead to the ‘perpetrator’ being “removed from society”, as the terfs’ article hysterically demanded.

That the feminist morality guardians would disagree with this outlook does not come as a shock, of course. But that the Labour Party should launch an investigation over this issue is simply mind-boggling.

We note that masturbating at work is, of course, not illegal. It mightbe a sackable offence, but only if (a) you have been caught in the act (lock the door, perhaps?) and (b) your employer thinks you’ve broken one of their rules – for example, by taking too much time away from your work or having contravened a particular health and safety regulation.

You might have trouble fighting a claim for unfair dismissal if that happens, but then, unless you’ve done something crassly indecent, there would be plenty of mitigating circumstances: stress levels at work, family risk of prostate cancer (which, according to medical advice, can be reduced by masturbating a few times a day), etc, etc. Some psychologists and doctors even argue that employees should be positively encouraged to engage in auto-eroticism at work, as it can be a very effective form of stress-relief that also increases production levels.

Comrade Rock was not even a member of the Labour Party when this online discussion took place, by the way. Like tens of thousands of others, he only joined Labour in July 2016, in order to support Jeremy Corbyn in the face of yet another coup attempt. In other words, his comments were written 15 months before he even joined. Has the compliance unit not managed to look that up before launching an investigation?

On one level, it is difficult to take this case seriously. It would be laughed out of court by any worthwhile judge. But we would be foolish to believe that it will simply be dismissed. Yes, Jennie Formby and Gordon Nardell are way to the left of that rightwing backstabber, Iain McNicol, and his various minions, who have left party HQ in recent months. But the witch-hunt is far from over. Unfortunately, Jeremy Corbyn and his allies are still trying to appease the right, despite all the evidence showing that it does not work (Margaret Hodge’s much-publicised rant at Corbyn for being a “fucking anti-Semite and racist” on July 16 being a case in point).

So we read in the letter to comrade Rock that “the general secretary has appointed Charlotte Walker, investigating officer, to arrange conduct of the party’s own investigation”. We cannot be sure if Jennie Formby has actually read the whole thread on Facebook. If she has, then shame on her for wasting members’ money on launching this nonsense investigation. If she has not read it, then shame on her for not putting more effort into preventing such ludicrous allegations from going forward. Of course, not all allegations made to the compliance unit are followed up by an investigation. Some are dismissed at an early stage, as this one should have been. We hope that Formby, Nardell or one of the other people at Labour HQ will see some common sense soon.

Comrade Rock is, of course, only the latest case in a long list of leftwing activists targeted by the Labour right. Somebody must have put in a considerable amount of time and effort to find this particular online thread, having to read all of Lee’s posts from the last three years. If the Labour Party disciplinary process was governed by any kind of natural justice or due process, comrade Rock would have to be told who his accuser is. Despite the new brooms at Labour HQ, there is little chance of that happening.

Left target

Why then have they got it in for comrade Rock? He has played an important role in organising the left across Sheffield and has made plenty of enemies in the process. Together with former Labour NEC member, Unite’s Martin Mayer, he has set up Sheffield Labour Left List, which organises the left across all six local Constituency Labour Parties (this has become even more important since Momentum Sheffield has been taken over by the pro-Lansman right). He was also a key figure campaigning for Jared O’Mara, the first Labour MP ever elected in Sheffield Hallam, transforming the local CLP in the process, which is now firmly in the hands of the left. More recently, he helped to stop the planned transformation of the district Labour Party into a mere cheerleading club for local councillors.

Now that Jared O’Mara has resigned from the party, potential candidates from the left and right are falling over each other to replace him as parliamentary candidate, with numerous rightwingers joining Momentum to look like they are pro-Corbyn (ironically O’Mara was also subject to discipline for inappropriate comments made on social media more than a decade ago, when he was in his early 20s). Maybe somebody, somewhere feared that comrade Rock might throw his hat in the ring – at least among local leftwing Labour Party members, he would be a popular choice. This move against him – especially considering the nature of the accusations – will at least make it more difficult for him to be chosen as a candidate for parliamentary or local elections.

This is happening all over the country, of course. Empty accusations of bullying and harassment are launched just in time to stop somebody becoming a candidate or to prevent members from voting at a crucial meeting. It is old-style machine politics, but it works. For the individual concerned, however, it is, of course, deeply unpleasant and often traumatising, with their personal reputation publicly tarnished or even destroyed. They might be cleared afterwards, but suspicions about their character often remain.

We presume that Lee’s accuser is hoping for the charge to be raised a step higher: ie, that the national executive committee will find that he has “brought the party into disrepute”, so that he can be expelled. This is how the right got rid of Tony Greenstein and Marc Wadsworth, after all – it is a beautiful catch-all phrase that can cover pretty much anything, as and when needed. Comrade Rock could be another notch in the belt of the witch-hunters – another case that proves how horrible and disgusting Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters really are.

Nevertheless, comrade Lee has been told that he not suspended from membership. A change from the past and maybe a sign that Formby and Nardell are reforming the disciplinary process. It is, of course, to be welcome that comrade Rock – unlike hundreds of other members falsely accused – has not been automatically suspended and is able to participate in all party activities. However, this small step forward is almost entirely cancelled out by the very fact that there is an investigation. It clearly needs to be shut down, now – accompanied by a public apology and action taken against those who have made this vexatious complaint.

The case of Stan Keable: No criticism permitted

Tony Greenstein reports on the case of LPM secretary Stan Keable, whose employer is threatening to dismiss him for comments made in a private conversation

On March 27, the day after he attended the Jewish Voice for Labour counter-demonstration outside Parliament, Stan Keable, secretary of Labour Against the Witchhunt, was suspended from his job because of comments he made in a conversation with a Zionist demonstrator.

Last week I represented Stan at his disciplinary hearing, despite not being from his branch, because Unison’s London regional organiser, Steve Terry, refused to give Stan any support. In a letter dated May 8, Terry stated that because Stan would not accept his advice, Unison was withdrawing its support. He had recommended that Stan apologise for his comments, apologise and plead for mercy. In other words, he was advocating surrender.

Last week I posted an article on my own blog explaining both the background to the case and the role of Terry, who is a rightwing Labour councillor in Walthamstow and now I have received an email from Beth Bickerstaffe, Director of Unison’s executive office, saying that a complaint of serious misconduct has been made against me. I have been requested to take down my post and not to refer to Terry on social media or elsewhere!

The demonstration that Stan attended was organised by two Zionist groups, the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council. This was their first ever ‘anti-racist’ demonstration. When it came to confronting the British Union of Fascists at Cable Street in 1936, the Board of Deputies recommended that Jews stay indoors and keep their heads down. This was also its message when the National Front and British National Party began organizing in the 1970s and 80s. The Board of Deputies in particular has but one concern: defending the Israeli state.

This must have been the first anti-racist demonstration that the Protestant supremacist Democratic Unionist Party has ever attended. We even had our old friend, Norman Tebbit, there. Tebbit, who was previously best known for having devised the ‘cricket test’ to ascertain whether Pakistani and Indian immigrants should be regarded as British, is apparently also concerned with ‘anti-Semitism’.

As Stan went around handing out leaflets, he got into a conversation about the holocaust with a Zionist and explained that it was not only caused by anti-Semitism (it is obvious that this is correct – it began with the extermination of the disabled, for instance). Stan also explained that Zionism held the view that Jews did not belong in the countries of their birth and because of that the Zionist movement had collaborated with the Nazis, who also wanted them out of Germany.

BBC Newsnighteditor David Grossman secretly recorded the conversation and the result of this quite innocuous conversation was headlines in papers like The Evening Standard and Jewish Chronicleand that well-known anti-racist paper, the Daily Mail. The next day local Tory MP Greg Hands sent out a tweet demanding action against Stan and he followed this up with a letter to Steve Cowan, leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Stan’s employer, demanding action.

Stan was suspended for making “offensive comments” likely to be in breach of the Equalities Act 2010. These comments apparently “have the potential to bring the council into disrepute”. The latter is a catch-all charge, plumbed from the depths of McCarthyism.

Freedom of speech

You don’t have to be a follower of Voltaire or to have read John Stuart Mill’s On liberty to understand that inherent in freedom of speech is the right to offend or shock. If one cannot discuss one’s opinions without a servile member of BBC Newsnight’s thought police recording you, then what is free speech worth?

It is no surprise that Stephen Cowan, Blairite leader of Hammersmith and Fulham council, should seek to effect Stan’s dismissal for daring to voice a dissenting opinion. After all, it is received wisdom amongst our rulers (but precious few others) that Zionism is a good thing, Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and kosher pigs fly. To dare to voice a contrary opinion on Zionism – the movement responsible for slaughtering dozens of Palestinians this very week on the Gaza border with Israel – risks incurring the charge of ‘anti-Semitism’ and offending all manner of diversity and equality policies.

As Jodie Ginsberg wrote in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings and the murder of a Danish filmmaker by jihadists, “the right to free speech means nothing without the right to offend. If all you have the right to do is to utter platitudes, then free speech is meaningless.”

Of course, Ginsberg was referring o offending Muslims and that is acceptable, but when Livingstone said that Hitler “supported Zionism”, he was merely speaking an uncomfortable truth. Zionism is the ideology of a state that has led to millions of refugees, thousands of deaths and a series of never-ending wars. It is a fact that during the holocaust the Zionists even opposed the rescue of Jews if their destination was not to be Palestine. As Ben Gurion famously said in a speech to Mapai’s central committee on December 9 1938,

If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only half of them by transporting them to Eretz Yisrael, then I would opt for the second alternative. For we must weigh not only the life of these children, but also the history of the people of Israel. 1)T Segev The seventh million London 2000, p28

On August 10 1933 the German Zionist Federation and the Palestinian Jewish Agency signed an economic trade agreement, Ha’avara, with the Nazi state, that helped destroy the Jewish-led international boycott of Nazi Germany.

As Zionist historian Lucy Dawidowicz wrote, on January 28 1935 Reinhardt Heydrich, deputy leader of the SS, issued a directive stating: “the activity of the Zionist- oriented youth organisations that are engaged in the occupational restructuring of the Jews for agriculture and manual trades prior to their emigration to Palestine lies in the interest of the National Socialist state’s leadership.” These organisations were therefore “not to be treated with that strictness that it is necessary to apply to the members of the so-called German-Jewish organisations (assimilationists)” 2)L Dawidowicz War against the Jews London 1991, p118; and F Nicosia Zionism and anti- Semitism in Nazi Germany Cambridge 2008, p119. Even Zionist historian David Cesarani noted that “the efforts of the Gestapo are oriented to promoting Zionism as much as possible and lending support to its efforts to further emigration”.3)D Cesarani The final solution Basingstoke 2016, p96

Stan was also accused of breaching the Equality Act because he said that, according to Zionism, “Jews are not acceptable here”.

Perhaps Lucien Wolf, a leading member of the Conjoint Foreign Committee of British Jews, was also an anti-Semite when he wrote a letter to James de Rothschild on August 31 1916 expressing his fears that:

the Zionists do not merely propose to form and establish a Jewish nationality in Palestine, but that they claim all the Jews as forming at the present moment a separate and dispossessed nationality, for which it is necessary to find an organic political centre, because they are and must always be aliens in the lands in which they now dwell and, more especially, because it is ‘an absolute self delusion’ to believe that any Jew can be at once ‘English by nationality and Jewish by faith’. I have spent most of my life in combating these very doctrines, when presented to me in the form of anti-Semitism, and I can only regard them as the more dangerous when they come to me in the guise of Zionism. ((Reproduced in B Destani (ed) The Zionist movement and the foundation of Israel 1839- 1972 Cambridge 2004, Vol 1, p72

Equality Act 2010

The allegation contained in Hammersmith and Fulham’s disciplinary investigation was that Stan had breached the Equality Act 2010. It is difficult to believe that trained ‘human resources’ professionals can come up with such nonsense. One wonders whether the allegation ever passed the eye of a lawyer in the council.

The suggestion that debating an issue such as Zionism is a breach of the Equality Act is for the birds. The introduction to the act is quite clear. Its purpose is:

to reform and harmonise equality law … to prohibit victimisation in certain circumstances; to require the exercise of certain functions to be with regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and other prohibited conduct … to increase equality of opportunity; to amend the law relating to rights and responsibilities in family relationships; and for connected purposes.

There is nothing in the act about restricting freedom of speech or disciplining people who have views which are unpopular with Britain’s yellow press or its obsequious journalists. The key paragraph in the charges against Stan stated:

“The question as to whether or not Stan Keable’s comments breach the Equalities Act may hinge on an interpretation of what constitutes ‘belief’ under the terms of the act … One of these [protected] characteristics is “religion and belief”. Zionism is not a religion, although it is closely related to Judaism, but it is a belief in the right of the Jewish people to have a nation-state in the ‘Holy Land’, their original homeland. Legal advice, obtained as part of this investigation, states that case law has established that the definition of belief can extend to political beliefs. If Zionism constitutes a ‘belief’ under the terms of the Equality Act then the statements by Stan Keable that the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazis and that it accepted that “Jews are not acceptable here” might be deemed to have breached the Equality Act.”

Leave aside the nonsense about Zionism being “closely related to Judaism” or that Israel/Palestine is the “original homeland” of the Jews (a popular anti-Semitic misconception of evangelical Christians, who wanted to expel the Jews) there is a fundamental flaw in the above passage, which any child of above-average intelligence should be able to spot.

Zionism probably is a philosophical belief under section 10 of the Equality Act. But then so is anti-Zionism. However, it is not the protected characteristics of those Stan was arguing with which are relevant, but those of Stan! Stan is not their employer! Just because someone might be classified as having a protected characteristic in certain situations – mainly employment – does not mean that if you disagrees with, for example, a gay person you are therefore guilty of discrimination!

‘Protected characteristics’ are not a free-floating cause of action: they are tied to specific acts, such as direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation. The definition of direct discrimination (section 13.1) says: “(i) A person (A) discriminates against another (B) if, because of a protected characteristic, A treats B less favourably than A treats or would treat others.”

It should be obvious to anyone – though clearly not to those leading Hammersmith and Fulham’s investigation – that debating a topic in a public space does not infringe his adversaries’ protected characteristics. Put bluntly, debate is not discrimination. No-one is being discriminated against when it is stated that the Nazis and Zionists collaborated. Neither was Stan in any contractual or employment relationship with his adversaries.

However, in suspending and seeking to dismiss Stan, the council is almost certainly breaching the Equality Act, because it is Stan whom they are discriminating against on the grounds of his belief. The failure to understand this simple but obvious point is quite staggering.

There is no single definition of what constitutes a religious or philosophical belief, but the case of ‘Grainger plc and others v Nicholson’ set out some guidelines. The belief must be:

  • genuinely held;
  • not an opinion;
  • in relation to a weight and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour;
  • of a certain level of cogency, seriousness, coherence and importance;
  • worthy of respect in a democratic society, not incompatible with human dignity, and not conflicting with the fundamental rights of others.

If Stan Keable were to be dismissed, then almost certainly he would have been directly discriminated against because of his philosophical belief: anti-Zionism. In addition to being unfairly dismissed, he would also have suffered a detriment.

No demonstrations!

The council’s investigation report (paragraph 5.6) stated:

“in attending the counter-demonstration at Westminster on March 26 and in making the comments that subsequently appeared on social media, Mr Keable has failed to avoid any conduct outside of work which may discredit himself and the council.”

In other words, Stan’s offence was, in part at least, attending a demonstration! Under ‘recommendations’ (paragraph 7.1) we have this little gem – the product of the same bureaucratic mindset that diligently produced ID cards that were nigh impossible to forge in Nazi-occupied Netherlands (thus condemning thousands of Jews to death):

“That, in attending a counter- demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament on March 26 2018, Stan Keable knowingly increased the possibility of being challenged about his views and subsequently proceeded to express views that were in breach of the council’s equality, diversity and inclusion policy and the council’s code of conduct (‘Working with integrity’ and ‘Working with the media’).”

Have you ever heard such a pathetic, cringing, fawning formulation? That in attending a demonstration Stan “knowingly increased the possibility of being challenged about his views …”!

What kind of person is capable of formulating this nonsense? Whoever wrote this drivel should be sent on a prolonged course on basic civil liberties, the Human Rights Act, the Equality Act – and, for good measure, another course explaining why protest is legitimate in a democracy.

We should be under no illusion that the purpose of the false ‘anti- Semitism’ campaign of groups like Labour Friends of Israel and the Jewish Labour Movement – where people are made to feel guilty about saying a word out of place, at the very time that unarmed Palestinians in Gaza are being gunned down in cold blood – is to make people afraid that they might say something ‘anti- Semitic’. The McCarthyite campaign of Israel’s propagandist organisations – such as Luke Akehurst’s We Believe in Israel, is to exert a chilling effect on democratic debate.

If this report is accepted by Hammersmith and Fulham Council and Stan is dismissed, then mere attendance at a demonstration will be a potential breach of one’s employment contract. This is one of the reasons why I have openly criticised Unison’s appalling London regional organiser, Steve Terry. He has in effect accepted that attendance at a demonstration and expressing ones views constitutes a disciplinary offence.

Clearly the fool who drew up the council’s report is unaware of schedule 1 of the 1998 Human Rights Act, which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into British law.

Article 10, ‘Freedom of expression’, states:

Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.

Article 11, ‘Freedom of assembly and association’, begins: “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.” Closely allied to these is article 9 on ‘Freedom of thought, conscience and religion’.

If it is disappointing that a Labour council is prepared to trample over the most basic human rights in order to appease the Israel lobby, then the reaction of Unison in the form of its London organiser is no better. Steve Terry has been obstructive and incapable of acknowledging the issues at stake. He seriously suggested that unless Stan apologised he would only attend the disciplinary hearing as a “silent representative”. The poverty of intellect of Terry is equal to that of his council counterparts. Clearly he does not understand that Unison officials are paid to represent and support their members.

There is little doubt that in the event of Stan being dismissed he will win any subsequently case, because not even the most conformist and timid tribunal will accept that attending a demonstration and airing one’s views in public constitute a breach of the Equality Act or one’s contract. What a sad state of affairs that Steve Cowan and a Labour Council do not understand this and, even worse, that Unison has failed to support one of its members who is subject to such a disgraceful attack by his employer.

 

References

References
1 T Segev The seventh million London 2000, p28

On August 10 1933 the German Zionist Federation and the Palestinian Jewish Agency signed an economic trade agreement, Ha’avara, with the Nazi state, that helped destroy the Jewish-led international boycott of Nazi Germany.

As Zionist historian Lucy Dawidowicz wrote, on January 28 1935 Reinhardt Heydrich, deputy leader of the SS, issued a directive stating: “the activity of the Zionist- oriented youth organisations that are engaged in the occupational restructuring of the Jews for agriculture and manual trades prior to their emigration to Palestine lies in the interest of the National Socialist state’s leadership.” These organisations were therefore “not to be treated with that strictness that it is necessary to apply to the members of the so-called German-Jewish organisations (assimilationists)” ((L Dawidowicz War against the Jews London 1991, p118; and F Nicosia Zionism and anti- Semitism in Nazi Germany Cambridge 2008, p119

2 L Dawidowicz War against the Jews London 1991, p118; and F Nicosia Zionism and anti- Semitism in Nazi Germany Cambridge 2008, p119. Even Zionist historian David Cesarani noted that “the efforts of the Gestapo are oriented to promoting Zionism as much as possible and lending support to its efforts to further emigration”.((D Cesarani The final solution Basingstoke 2016, p96
3 D Cesarani The final solution Basingstoke 2016, p96

Stan was also accused of breaching the Equality Act because he said that, according to Zionism, “Jews are not acceptable here”.

Perhaps Lucien Wolf, a leading member of the Conjoint Foreign Committee of British Jews, was also an anti-Semite when he wrote a letter to James de Rothschild on August 31 1916 expressing his fears that:

the Zionists do not merely propose to form and establish a Jewish nationality in Palestine, but that they claim all the Jews as forming at the present moment a separate and dispossessed nationality, for which it is necessary to find an organic political centre, because they are and must always be aliens in the lands in which they now dwell and, more especially, because it is ‘an absolute self delusion’ to believe that any Jew can be at once ‘English by nationality and Jewish by faith’. I have spent most of my life in combating these very doctrines, when presented to me in the form of anti-Semitism, and I can only regard them as the more dangerous when they come to me in the guise of Zionism. ((Reproduced in B Destani (ed) The Zionist movement and the foundation of Israel 1839- 1972 Cambridge 2004, Vol 1, p72

Chakrabarti: A toxic climate of fear

Shami Chakrabarti’s call for Ken Livingstone’s expulsion shows where appeasement leads, says Carla Roberts of Labour Party Marxists

You could almost hear the sigh of relief coming from the right wing in the Labour Party on April 27, when, after three days of torturous deliberations, Marc Wadsworth was finally expelled from the Labour Party on the catch-all charge of ‘bringing the party into disrepute’. Comrade Wadsworth’s case was perhaps the most difficult for the witch-hunters, with the ‘evidence’ against him so thin that it would be laughed out of any court room. Not, however, the kangaroo court of the Labour Party – officially called the national constitutional committee (NCC) – where proceedings are devoid of any form of natural justice or due process. It is clearly dominated by the right and misused for political purposes.

This was an important ‘victory’ in the witch-hunters’ campaign. It has cleared the way to go full steam after the other outstanding cases. It is no longer a question of if Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker get expelled (both have been suspended for close to two years) – but when.

Rightwingers in and outside the Labour Party have been sharpening their knives for those two for some time, of course. In April 2017, for example, when Livingstone’s suspension was extended by another 12 months, almost half of Labour’s Parliamentary Party (plus 40 peers) signed an open letter penned by the pro-Zionist Jewish Labour Movement, which called the decision not to expel him a “betrayal” of “the party’s values”. The JLM, of course, is not primarily loyal to the British Labour Party (and whatever ‘values’ it thinks the party espouses to) – but to the state of Israel. This has been proven by Al Jazeera’s outstanding documentary The Lobby. Not that much proof was needed: the JLM’s politics make it pretty clear where its political loyalties lie.

This week then, the new leader of the business-friendly and Tory- supporting Jewish Board of Deputies (BoD), Marie van der Zyl, used her first interview to demand the expulsion of both Livingstone and Walker and added: “We are not saying don’t vote Labour, but – as we’ll be seeing from the results, especially in Barnet – the voters have spoken.” She was a bit more frank about her political views before her election when she said that Jeremy Corbyn is “infested by his bigotry”. 1)The Guardian May 14

If she needed any further encouragement, she got it from Shami Chakrabarti, who joined the witch-hunt last weekend. Chakrabarti threatened on the BBC’s Sunday Politics that she would quit the Labour front bench if Livingstone did not get expelled:

I don’t believe that Ken Livingstone can any longer be in the Labour Party. We can’t run away from the fact that he has repeated really, really incendiary remarks. To compare somebody who was trying to escape Nazis with Nazis themselves, and to do so again and again and again and again, even when you know that this has caused the deepest hurt and upset and embarrassment to the party, is completely unacceptable in my view … He has brought the party repeatedly into disrepute. He has brought shame upon it and his own legacy.

Due process

Chakrabarti’s view is rather important, of course. Not only is she the shadow attorney general: she is a Corbyn ally and, crucially, it was her report that was supposed to put a lid on the fabricated ‘anti-Semitism’ scandal two years ago. Instead, it was branded a “whitewash” by the BoD, with van der Zyl adding: “She has sold out the Jewish community.”

It is easy to see why the BoD objected: many of Chakrabarti’s recommendations, when it comes to disciplinary procedure, are entirely supportable from our point of view and, more than that, would – at least in theory – put a quick end to the more absurd aspects of the witch-hunt against socialists and anti-Zionists in the party. For example, members are still being suspended without any notification of what exactly they are supposed to have done wrong. In the case of Tony Greenstein, for instance, all the evidence eventually produced at his NCC expulsion hearing was based on comments he made after he was suspended.

However, these measures have still not been implemented – more than two years after they were produced. John McDonnell has claimed that this was the fault of former general secretary Iain McNicol. Well, John, the witch-hunter general has been gone for a few months now. If anything, the campaign against leftwingers and anti- Zionists has intensified in that time; the atmosphere in the party is becoming ever more toxic and fearful. Many people are wary of writing or saying anything political, out of fear that it could be twisted, taken out of context and made to look like an anti-Semitic comment. It is very easy to do.

One of the latest victims of the smear campaign is Phyll Opoku- Gyimah, who was frontrunner to become Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate in the safe seat of Lewisham. Guido Fawkes sensationalised a Facebook post of hers on the occasion of Holocaust Memorial Day 2017, when she wrote: “Today is the day when we remember all those affected by holocaust, Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur – I’m adding Palestine to the list.” What’s the problem? Clearly, Israel is pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing of all Palestinians, a policy that could be described as a slow genocide.
  But this post was enough to send the media pack and pro-Zionist hyenas screaming for her blood. We cannot blame Opoku-Gyimah for quickly withdrawing her candidacy, citing an “unexpected family situation”. It takes a very strong person to withstand the kind of onslaught she could have expected, had she stood firm.

Rather than standing up to this increasingly unhealthy culture, which starts to resemble more and more the practices of a police state, Jeremy Corbyn and his allies are still trying to appease those running the campaign. More than that, they have become implicit.

For example, it is certainly starting to look as if Corbyn and the NEC have made the conscious decision to delay the implementation of the recommendations made by Chakrabarti – at least until the difficult and prominent cases of Livingstone and Walker are out of the way.

Of course, for most of those suspended and expelled, Chakrabarti’s recommendations and suggested rule changes are – even if they are all implemented – not worth the paper they are written on. It all depends on who interprets these rules and to what purpose.

They are only of potential use for those members who can afford to go down the road of a legal challenge – financially and psychologically. Marc Wadsworth, Jackie Walker and Ken Livingstone are all in that camp.

Chakrabarti certainly proves with her intervention in the Livingstone case how ‘flexible’ her own sense of justice is. In her 2016 report, she made a strong case for “due process” and “natural justice” that should be followed in all disciplinary cases. In her interview, she blatantly ignores all that: not only has she already found Ken Livingstone guilty – and that in public: she also has handed the NCC the reason for which he should be expelled and has put enormous pressure on its members, should they not follow her advice by threatening her own resignation.

Worst perhaps is the fact that she clearly has put words into Livingstone’s mouth. She claims that Livingstone “compared somebody who was trying to escape Nazis with the Nazis themselves”. Did he really?

What he said

It is worthwhile re-examining what Ken Livingstone actually said – and if what he said is wrong. In an interview with BBC radio he said: “Let’s remember, when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism until he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.”

Yes, he got the date wrong: Hitler came to power in 1933. It was also wrong to claim that it was Hitler’s state of mind that was responsible for the (changing) attitude of the Nazis to Jews. But in essence his comments were historically accurate.

Moshé Machover has written a whole article on this question, in which he shows how the Nazi government and the Zionists did indeed adhere to a similar approach in the 1930s: both tried to encourage the emigration of all Jews from Europe to what was then Palestine. As comrade Machover writes,

Official Nazi policy was for the exclusion of the Jews from political and civic life, for separation and for emigration. Quite naturally the Zionist leadership thought this set of policies was similar to those of other anti-Semitic regimes – which it was – and the Zionist approach was not peculiar to the Nazi regime. The founder of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, had pointed outthat anti-Semitic regimes would be allies, because they wanted to get rid of the Jews, while the Zionists wanted to rid them of the Jews. That was the common interest.

Of course, Nazi policy changed dramatically – but only after Germany’s Operation Barbarossa attack on the Soviet Union in 1941. At the Wannsee conference in January 1942, Reinhard Heydrich informed Nazi tops of how the Führer now intended to implement the Endlösung der Judenfrage (final solution): through the mass extermination of the European Jewry – a policy that was soon put into practice on an industrial scale.

In any case, Livingstone did not equate the Nazis with the Jews, as Chakrabarti (a lawyer!) claims. He said – correctly – that for a while the Nazi regime had the same goal as the Zionists.

Of course, neither Marie van der Zyl, nor the Board of Deputies, nor for that matter Chakrabarti actually care if what Ken Livingstone said was historically or factually wrong, right or just confused. For them, what he said was much worse than that: it was, they claim, morally wrong. It might be factually true, but the truth can no longer be told because it upsets some people.

For the same reason, Momentum’s owner, Jon Lansman, has argued for a ban on the word ‘Zionism’, because “to the Jew in the street it might only mean the Jewish state of Israel, safe and secure, nothing more than that, not a separate ideology.”2)Today Radio 4, April 3: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09xcsdb Emily Thornberry supports Ken Livingstone’s expulsion, because his words are “a complete insult”. Not a lie. An insult – to Zionists.

People like Livingstone really mess up the party leadership’s ongoing attempts to appease the pro-Zionist right and those who (often cynically) support their witch-hunting campaign. Disgracefully, John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn have refused to defend Livingstone (or any other victims of the witch-hunt), instead calling on him to apologise. But, credit to him, he has refused to do so – he has got nothing to apologise for.

Clearly, this campaign will not end with Livingstone and Walker. It actually has very little to do with what they have or have not said. They are merely collateral damage in the campaign to take down and/or tame Jeremy Corbyn, and making sure that Britain remains a loyal ally of the US and Israel.

Britain, for example, is expected to take part in the latest campaign for war in the Middle East. If not by dropping bombs, then at least by providing political cover for this necessary war to ‘prevent another holocaust’. A Labour leader and potential prime minister who has been an outspoken supporter of the Palestinians is, in this context, untenable. Labour cannot be allowed to become an anti-war party.

Clearly we cannot rely on Corbyn and Lansman to stand up to the pro-Israeli lobby. Socialists and supporters of the cause of the Palestinians in the Labour Party must now step up their campaign and increase the pressure on the Labour leadership to turn the organisation into a democratic, anti-war party.

References

References
1 The Guardian May 14
2 Today Radio 4, April 3: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09xcsdb

#Justice4Marc launch: Spotted hyenas and Labour right

William Sarsfield reports on the campaign against the witch-hunt in the Labour Party

May 15 saw over 150 people pack into the Indian YMCA hall in London for the first meeting of Marc Wadsworth’s national speaking tour. This follows, of course, the disgraceful decision to expel him from the Labour Party. His ‘crime’? Daring to publicly criticise Ruth Smeeth, the rightwing Labour MP, prominent member of Labour Friends of Israel and a former director of public affairs at the British Israel Communications and Research Centre.

The chair of the meeting, Deborah Hobson, began by calling for a minute’s silence in honour of the 58 Palestinians killed and thousands injured in the latest Israeli atrocity. An atrocity defended and excused by Donald Trump, Binyamin Netanyahu … and Labour Friends of Israel.

Mike Cushman (Jewish Voice for Labour) was not alone in pointing out that there can be fewer more eloquent testimonies to the nature of the Israeli state than the harrowing events in Gaza. Certainly, it exposes the foul apologetics of the Labour right and their Zionist allies, and destroys the notion that Israel attracts the huge amount of condemnation that is does because the left – its most trenchant critics – is ‘anti-Semitic’. Far from being a source of strength, the Labour right’s support for the Zionist state – and the United States’ reactionary strategic goals in the region – can be turned into a huge weakness for this scab faction in our ranks.

While the top table was perhaps a little heavy with speakers (of varying degrees of quality and political acumen, it should be noted) – there was a real energy and combative confidence. This was perhaps displayed best in Jackie Walker’s defiant anecdote about her rejoinder to a characteristically stupid tweet from the wretched Wes Streeting MP. Apparently, he challenged her to meet him in debate in any synagogue in north London. OK, she told him – where and where then, Wes? Predictably, however, the man has gone very quiet …

Moshé Machover reminded us of the almost comically irrational nature of the provocations coming from the Labour right, their allies in the mainstream media and various apparatchiks in the Israeli state. He posed a “trick question”: “Are there anti-Semites in the Labour Party?”

Well, yes, given the current numbers in our organisation (570,000-plus) from all sorts of backgrounds, there must be. The comrade (a renowned mathematician, let us not forget), stated that it would be statistically “astounding” if there were not. The party will also have its statistically ‘fair’ share of paedophiles. The point being that if the Labour right and its venal allies thought it could gain political traction by smearing the left as a herd of paedophiles, they would. The right gives “fuck all” for truth, principle or any other such annoying impediment, comrade Machover stated.

Moshé illustrated this same observation via a sideways detour. There is – apparently – a tiny number of spotted hyenas in Norway (in zoos). However, if you hear of a spotted hyena trackers’ expedition – organised with an extravagant disregard for the huge amount of time, energy and money expended – a rational conclusion to draw might be that these people have a thing about Norway, rather than the spotted hyenas.

It was a fun way to set the tone for the meeting. And the atmosphere of aggressive levity was added to by comedian Alexi Sayle’s amusing introductory spiel for Marc – he does seem to be getting some of his political mojo back via this battle; the unhinged accusations against the left must be providing the bloke with material for years to come. Many speakers also ridiculed the laughably flimsy charges against Marc Wadsworth and other comrades, such as Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein.

A recurrent theme during the regrettably short space allocated for questions and contributions from the floor was the need for Labour Against the Witchhunt to become a mass campaign that can rally not dozens, but thousands, outside Labour’s Victoria Street HQ. That means building local organisations.

There were some gently regretful criticisms of Corbyn’s and the core LP left leadership’s passivity to – even accommodation with – this witch-hunt. This generosity was not all-encompassing – on the strength of this meeting and others I have attended over the last year or more, there are now very few on the left with any compunction about laying into Momentum nationally. The local groups can be good, even very good, but the national organisation and its ‘CEO’, Jon Lansman are deeply discredited.

The taming of Corbyn

While some on the Labour right still hope to force Corbyn to resign, writes Carla Roberts of Labour Party Marxists, others are aiming to change the man and his politics

If you do not already hate Facebook for selling your data to rightwing companies who manipulate elections and blackmail politicians, for keeping copies of all your messages and phone conversations or just for generally stealing your time and life energy, last week should have given you plenty of reason to start doing so.

Not only has Jeremy Corbyn been ‘outed’ as having been a member of a third Facebook group in which some people posted shite (although he never posted anything there himself): but Luciana Berger MP, parliamentary chair of the pro-Zionist Jewish Labour Movement, was said to have dug up a six-year-old, now infamous ‘mural comment’ he did make on another Facebook group. In reality, of course, she did no such thing: somebody else pointed it out to her. One of those, we are guessing, who have been reporting, smearing, outing and witch-hunting Corbyn supporters as anti-Semitic for the last two and a half years.

Now, finally, they got the man himself. Of course, he did not “defend an anti-Semitic mural”, as the bourgeois media have fumed. He asked why it was being removed: “Why? You are in good company. Rockerfeller [sic] destroyed Diego Viera’s [sic] mural because it includes a picture of Lenin.”

One can argue over the artistic value of the rather crude depiction, angry-student-style, of bankers playing Monopoly on the backs of oppressed black people. And one can certainly argue about how obviously anti-Semitic the dodgy painting is; many on the left are engaged in this rather futile debate. But blogger Jonathan Cook reminds us of the bigger picture:

Interestingly, the issue of Corbyn’s support for the mural – or at least the artist – originally flared in late 2015, when the Jewish Chronicle unearthed his Facebook post. Two things were noticeably different about the coverage then.

First, on that occasion, no one apart from the Jewish Chronicle appeared to show much interest in the issue. Its ‘scoop’ was not followed up by the rest of the media. What is now supposedly a major scandal – one that raises questions about Corbyn’s fitness to be Labour leader – was a non-issue two years ago, when it first became known.

Second, the Jewish Chronicle, usually so ready to get exercised at the smallest possible sign of anti-Semitism, wasn’t entirely convinced back in 2015 that the mural was anti-Semitic. In fact, it suggested only that the mural might have “anti-Semitic undertones” – and attributed even that claim to Corbyn’s critics.

Both points are fascinating. They show how dramatically the narrative around anti-Semitism has changed in the last two and a half years; how successful the right has been in portraying the Labour Party as being awash with anti-Semites. Now the gutter press, along with The Guardian, have become such experts on the matter that they are certain the mural was “obviously anti-Semitic”. This shift also includes the views of a certain Jeremy Corbyn (see below).

What is indeed “obvious” is the fact that this latest faux outrage was clearly orchestrated – building up ammunition for an upping of the witch-hunts of Corbyn supporters. He had already been hammered for his ‘unpatriotic’ response to the ‘Russian agent’ crisis – surely everyone supports another cold war with Russia?

Crucially, local elections are taking place in less than six weeks time, on May 3. The hope of the right is that we will not see a repeat of the surprisingly good result for Labour that we witnessed in the 2017 snap general election, which brought Corbyn some reprieve. The right in the party is clearly prepared to risk a bad election result in order to put pressure on him.

None of this is surprising. Only the most naive will believe the nonsense about the new-found ‘unity’ behind Corbyn in the Labour Party. The right will continue to fight the genuine left, the socialists and the Marxists in the Labour Party to the bitter end. They could split, but the first-past-the-post British electoral system punishes such attempts. The disastrous failure of the Social Democratic Party serves Labour’s right as a reminder of that.

March 26 demo

web-Zionist-hundreds-of-people-protest-outsWeb-ide-parliament-against-antisemitism-in-the-labour-partyThe March 26 demonstration in Parliament Square has to be firmly seen in this context. It had nothing to do with any mural, Facebook group or anti-Semitism. Trying to get rid of Corbyn has so far proved futile. As long as the man remains popular among Labour members, they just cannot get shot of him. Having weathered a storm of attacks at the beginning of his leadership with admirable aplomb, he is also unlikely to resign.

Hence we are in the middle of phase two of operation anti-Corbyn: tame him to become a reliable manager of British capitalism and pliable ally of the US when it comes to the politics of the Middle East.

As an aside, we note in this context that Donald Trump’s newly appointed security advisor, John Bolton, has proposed a ‘three-state solution’ for the Middle East, where Gaza would be given to Egypt, and the West Bank to Jordan. It is a mad plan, but not so mad that somebody like Trump would not go for it under the right conditions – especially as it would solve the problem of Jerusalem: “The contentious issue of Jerusalem’s status as the purported capital of ‘Palestine’ would disappear, since Amman would obviously be the seat of government for an enlarged Jordan.” Problem solved!

Both the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD) and the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), which called the demo, are, of course, far from the ‘independent community organisations’ that they have been portrayed as. The BoD’s president is Jonathan Arkush, a member of the Conservative Party. The chair of the JLC is Jonathan Goldstein, a director of M&C Saatchi – an advertising agency network owned by Maurice Saatchi, former chair of the Conservative Party.

A dozen or so of Tory MPs attended the demo, including Eric Pickles, as did a number from the Democratic Unionist Party, including loyalist hardliner Ian Paisley junior, who was posing happily for selfies with Norman Tebbit. They were joined by quite an assortment of nasties: we spotted David Collier, one of the people behind the vile and racist blog, GnasherJew; and Emma Feltham and Jonathan Hoffman, both from the no less vile Labour Against Anti-Semitism.

Among the Labour traitors at the demo were pretty much all the usual suspects, including MPs Chukka Umunna (who was literally rubbing shoulders with Tory cabinet member Sajid Javid), Luciana Berger, John Mann, Stella Creasy, Liz Kendall, John Woodcock, Chris Elmore and Wes Streeting. The latter promised in his speech to “drain the cesspit of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party” and has announced on Twitter – somewhat ironically – that his campaign will also target supporters of Labour Against the Witchhunt.

We did not spot Harriet Harman at the protest, but she tweeted: “Standing with Board of Deputies of British Jews and Jewish Leadership Council. Anti-Semitism represents everything that @UKLabour is against.” The demo was also supported by BAME Labour (run by Keith Vaz MP).

However, former Labour MP Chris Mullin took a different view in his comments on Twitter:

I am not a Corbynista, but I can see what’s going on here … Alleged anti-Semitism [is] yet another stick with which to beat Corbyn – along with Corbyn, “friend of the IRA, Hezbollah, Hamas, Czech spy, Soviet spy …” You name it. Whatever next?

Mullin gave us some possible answers to that question in his fascinating novel A very British coup, which imagines the tools the British state might employ in order to get rid of a leftwing prime minister. In short, it will stop at nothing. Monday’s demonstration was only a little taster – much, much more is to come. The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism has already called for a demonstration “against anti-Semitism under Jeremy Corbyn” in London on April 8.

Not surprisingly, with that kind of crowd, frequent calls for Corbyn’s resignation from the speakers were interjected with shouts of him being a racist and worse. Speaker after speaker said former London mayor Ken Livingstone had “no place in the Labour Party” and placards were held aloft, bearing the slogan, “Labour for the many, not the Jews”, amid chants of “Enough is enough”. They shouted “Shame on you” at the counterdemonstrators – organised with eight hours notice by Jewish Voice for Labour and supported by Labour Party Marxists, Labour Against the Witchhunt, the Jewish Socialists Group and Free Speech on Israel. Former Socialist Workers Party leader Lindsey German, now of Counterfire, was among those addressing them. Her former comrades, who usually jump on anything that moves, were absent, however: The SWP probably still have their knickers in a twist, having allied themselves with hardcore Zionists in their front campaign Stand up to Racism.

Corbyn and IHRA

Most conspicuous by its absence (and general silence) was, however, Momentum. This is an organisation that has been set up explicitly to defend and support Jeremy Corbyn – yet it does nothing in the middle of the latest attack against him. The dozen or so employees at Momentum HQ have not even managed a single Facebook post or tweet since March 20 (apart from sharing a couple of posts put out by Corbyn’s office).

Momentum owner Jon Lansman has published one singe tweet on the subject, in which he writes: “We need a serious proactive programme of education and training about anti-Semitism within @UKLabour but we should also recognise the seriousness of the determination to stamp it out by @JeremyCorbyn.”

Is this lack of public support payback for Corbyn not backing him for the post of Labour general secretary, as some have speculated? But his closest supporters in the Parliamentary Labour Party – Diane Abbott, John McDonnell and Chris Williamson – have remained silent on the issue too. So the real answer is unfortunately more simple: Corbyn has, quite simply, folded on the question.

He has not only accepted the false narrative of the right – that the Labour Party indeed has a serious problem with anti-Semitism that needs to be “stamped out”. He has now gone a rather dramatic step further. In the crucial paragraph of his March 26 letter to the Jewish Leadership Council and Board of Deputies, published just before their demo, he writes:

Newer forms of anti-Semitism have been woven into criticism of Israeli governments. Criticism of Israel, particularly in relation to the continuing dispossession of the Palestinian people, cannot be avoided. Nevertheless, comparing Israel or the actions of Israeli governments to the Nazis, attributing criticisms of Israel to Jewish characteristics or to Jewish people in general and using abusive phraseology about supporters of Israel such as ‘Zio’ all constitute aspects of contemporary anti-Semitism.

Firstly, we note Corbyn’s strange phrase that criticism of Israel “cannot be avoided”. That sounds very apologetic. I wish I could avoid it, but … No, criticism of the actions of the state of Israel is, in fact, essential for any socialist with a democratic bone in their body.

The rest of the paragraph is clearly inspired by the controversial ‘Working definition of anti-Semitism’, published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. The definition itself, adopted by the Labour Party at last year’s conference, is not the problem. But now Corbyn also seems to have accepted the disputed list of examples that shows what the definition is really about: conflating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people.

For example, Corbyn’s assertion that the mere use of the word ‘Zio’ constitutes anti-Semitism, is, frankly, absurd. ‘Zio’ is simply a – yes, highly critical – abbreviation of the word ‘Zionist’. Zionism is not a religion or a nationality: it is an ideology. You are not born a Zionist – you choose to believe in the right of Israel to oppress another people. And if you do, hell, you deserve to be criticised.

According to Corbyn, it is now also anti-Semitic to compare “Israel or the actions of Israeli governments to the Nazis”. We wonder if he has read a newspaper recently. The heroics of Britain in World War II (with a tiny bit of help from the Soviet Union and the US) are utterly ingrained in British culture. Comparing anything and anybody nasty to the Nazis is a short-hand for ‘bad’. Just last week, Labour MP Ian Austin called for the England football team to pull out of the World Cup, because “Putin is going to use it in the way Hitler used the 1936 Olympics.” Boris Johnson replied: “Yes, I think the comparison with 1936 is certainly right.” Bombastic PR from both of them, obviously. But clearly, it is a common feature in British politics.

So should only Israel be immune from comparisons to the Nazis? They are said to be offensive to Jews, who were victims of the holocaust. What about the Roma? After all, hundreds of thousands of Roma people were killed by the Nazis. Or do only those countries currently involved in systematically oppressing another people get this special status? It is nonsense and Corbyn knows it. His son, Tommy, has posted a comment on his Facebook page, pointedly asking, “Why is it that I can criticise my own or any other government, but criticism of the Israeli state is immediately branded anti-Semitic?” Yep, ask your dad about that one.

We also fear that the formulation could be used to discipline Labour Party members who commit the crime of pointing out that in the 1930s the Zionist movement cooperated with leading Nazis in the attempt to persuade German Jews to migrate to Palestine. This is historic fact. But it is an unpleasant one that the Israeli government and its Zionist supporters in Britain do not want to be reminded of. Ken Livingstone has been suspended for two years now after pointing it out. After Labour’s national executive committee made noises that Livingstone might soon regain his full membership, the right seized on the case and demanded his permanent exclusion.

After all, Corbyn had already proven with this entirely unnecessary public “apology” over ‘Muralgate’ that he is indeed prepared to give even more ground on the issue of false and exaggerated allegations of anti-Semitism. So why not kick him while he’s down?

After the March 26 demo, Jonathan Arkush, director of the Board of Deputies – and a Tory, remember – has let it be known that before “Jewish community leaders” can “sit down” with Jeremy Corbyn to discuss the matter, a list of “their demands” needs to be met: “Ken Livingstone really cannot remain. His views are shameful and disreputable. He will have to go.” The Guardian speculates in the same article that

demands for the expulsion of Jackie Walker, a former vice-chair of Momentum, were also expected. Walker has been suspended after being filmed saying there was no definition of anti-Semitism ‘that she could work with’ [she actually meant ‘in that meeting’].

Arkush also said he would like

action to be taken against those who minimise reports of anti-Semitism, including Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, who suggested it was “mood music” to undermine the leadership; and Labour MP Chris Williamson, who claimed the Labour right was “weaponising” anti-Semitism.

Unfortunately, judging by Corbyn’s own grovelling apologies, we are far from certain that he will not jump to the tune of the right and at least urge that the NEC permanently expel Livingstone and Walker. That would truly be a scandal and has to be opposed by all socialists.

We are not surprised that somebody like Keir Starmer uses the opportunity to stick the knife in – he is a Blairite at heart, after all. Ditto Chuka Umunna, who complains to the British media about the “shameful” way Corbyn has behaved. More problematic and telling are the comments by shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, a Corbyn ally. She has echoed the comments of Jon Lansman, promising “education” and “a zero-tolerance approach” on the question of anti-Semitism, stating that it was “devastating to realise that the Jewish community had lost faith in our approach to anti-Semitism”. Nonsense, of course – there is no homogenous “Jewish community”, as should have been clear from the two mobilisations on March 26 and the success of groups like Jewish Voice for Labour.

We hear that the shadow cabinet “informally” agreed on March 26 – in Corbyn’s absence – that the recommendations from Shami Chakrabarti’s report should be implemented in full, which apparently “will require a significant overhaul of party machinery, including appointing a general counsel, and an in-house team of lawyers to ensure procedure is followed properly”.

It goes without saying that we are all in favour of disciplinary cases being handled much more quickly and efficiently, to avoid good comrades being unable to get involved in party work for years, while they are  suspended. But we fear that, in the current climate, this call may not necessarily be the good news it appears. It could be used to institutionalise the witch-hunt against leftwingers and pro-Palestine campaigners.

In this context, we note with great concern in the same Guardian article the reported demand “to establish specific accounts on social media platforms that would identify and call out supporters using anti-Semitic language”.

So instead of the Zionists from Labour Against Anti-Semitism and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism reporting people to the compliance unit, it should be the Labour Party itself hunting down its own members! Monitor them to make sure they behave like good children.

This is a slippery slope into a very undemocratic culture of thought crime and (self-)censorship. This is exactly the opposite of the kind of open and democratic working class culture we need.

We also wonder if this suggestion for a social media police force has anything to do with the fact that Jon Lansman (or those running his Facebook account) has suddenly been sending ‘friend requests’ to hundreds of leftwingers, having previously been very cautious about accepting the ‘friend requests’ from others. Once you are friends with somebody, you can see not just their posts and comments, but also the postings of their friends …

The main problem with dancing to the tune of the right is the simple fact that appeasement does not work. Once he delivers the scalps of Livingstone and Walker, Corbyn will be faced with demands for more of the same. John Mann MP claims in the Daily Mail that the Labour Party bureaucrats are currently dealing with “more than 200 claims of hatred”, with “shocking anti-Jewish sentiment” – though not a single example is provided.

The right in and outside the Labour Party must be very pleased with how successful the weaponising of anti-Semitism has proven to be. There is now very little to stop them from demanding that Jeremy Corbyn next looks again at some of his other political principles – be it the renewal of Trident, increasing the defence budget, supporting military action for ‘humanitarian’ reasons, etc, etc.