Tag Archives: Chris Williamson

Zionists in the Labour Party, unite against David Icke!

Momentum and the JLM have teamed up to take on David Icke – why bother says Carla Roberts

Who would have thought that the mad ideas of David Icke would be the thing that forges unity between Jon Lansman’s Momentum, the rightwing Jewish Labour Movement and the ‘centrist’ Open Labour. Together they have attempted to organise joint protests outside the venues hosting Icke’s latest speaking tour. Labour First is supporting the protests too. Maybe Progress was busy when Lansman called.

Earlier this year Lansman, a self-confessed Zionist, raised eyebrows when he attended a conference organised by the JLM. But this joint campaign is clearly going a step further. The JLM is an openly Zionist grouping, affiliated to the World Zionist Organisation and the sister party of the Labor Party of Israel. Its leaders (among them Ella Rose, Louise Ellman, Mike Katz and, until recently, the disgraced Jeremy Newmark) are virulently anti-Corbyn and helped to organise the March 26  ‘Enough is enough’ demonstration outside parliament.

Navendu Mishra selfie with JLMIn other words, they are very much part of the campaign that is orchestrating the ongoing coup against Jeremy Corbyn. At the anti-Icke protest in Crewe on December 3, former Momentum employee Navendu Mishra (on the left) proudly posted this selfie posing in front of the JLM’s banner. Thanks to Jon Lansman having put this political no-name on the ‘left list’ pushed by the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance, Mishra is now one of the new members on Labour’s national executive committee. No wonder things in the party are not improving at a great speed.

As if that were not bad enough, it looks like Lansman had (at least) a helping hand in the setting up of a new Facebook page called ‘Socialists Against Anti-Semitism’ – another sponsor of the protests. Momentum’s campaign video on Icke shows Yannis Gourtsoyannis (a Lansman ally on Momentum’s national coordinating group) holding an SAAS banner. In an article on Labour List, he describes how he attended the event “called by a new Labour grouping called Socialists Against Anti-Semitism, and supported by groups including Momentum and the Jewish Labour Movement”.

Officially set up by Barnaby Marder, a previous vice-chair of Red Labour (which makes sometimes amusing online memes), SAAS claims to want to occupy the political space between the Jewish Labour Movement and Jewish Voice for Labour. Its Facebook mission statement states:

“We think that there are anti-Semites in the Labour Party, or people who have (sometimes unknowingly) said anti-Semitic things, or who have given comfort to anti-Semites. But we also think that the issue has been magnified, by those who want to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of the Labour Party, and used cynically to that end.”

Yes, it has been “magnified”, but it is still a very serious problem, according to SAAS. At first glance, the page looks like it could have been set up by the social-imperialists of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, who claim still to be part of the socialist left, while accusing all and sundry of being anti-Semitic.

SAAS WilliamsonBut incredibly, the ‘Socialists Against Anti-Semitism’ are actually worse. They accuse Chris Williamson MP of “enabling anti-Semitism through promotion of people with anti-Semitic views, and then remaining silent when confronted with their anti-Semitism” (they specify that they mean, of course, anti-Zionists Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein). Plus: “Williamson has been a key mobiliser for Labour Against the Witchhunt, and we in Socialists Against Anti-Semitism find this problematic.” I am sure that LAW feels the same about SAAS.


SAAS have also published an ‘exposé’ featuring a Labour councillor, who has already been “reprimanded by the compliance unit of the Labour Party for some pretty nasty tweets, and told to tone down his social media outbursts”. But that is not enough for our witch-finders, who “sadly [!] have to report that some rather more serious tweets and comments have come to light, which we reproduce for you here”. Their screenshots, with their neat yellow highlighter, look suspiciously identical to those we have seen anonymously submitted as ‘evidence’ in many disciplinary cases.

With denunciations like this, these ‘socialists’ are happily doing the dirty work of the compliance unit. In the name of defending the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, they are actively cooperating with those who will stop at nothing to get rid of him.

SAAS states on its Facebook page: “We are not at present an organisation, although that is likely to change in the future.” Hmm. The left in the Labour Party – and Jeremy Corbyn – need these ‘useful idiots’ like a hole in the head.

Meanwhile, inside the Crewe Lyceum, David Icke was telling the 200 or so people in the audience that there had been numerous threats against his tour venues. ‘No-platforming’ is nothing new, of course. For as long as I can remember the Socialist Workers Party has been engaged in campaigns to disinvite those it deems to be unacceptable speakers and organising protests outside venues featuring said speakers. What is relatively new, however – and has become increasingly popular with the growth of the ‘Anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ smear campaign – are organised attempts to cancel events by making anonymous threats against venues that feature ‘anti-Semites’ like Chris Williamson or, as in the case of an attempt to screen a documentary about Jackie Walker at Labour Party conference, bomb hoaxes.

Freedom of speech

Marxists oppose attempts to restrict free speech. For that right to make any sense at all, it must include the right of those you vigorously disagree with. We instead favour open debate to expose dangerous ideas and prejudice – that is the only way you will actually convince somebody to change their mind.

Marxists also have no truck with calling on the state to ban certain groups or ideas – after all, we are likely to be next on the list of those deemed to be spouting ‘dangerous’ ideas, especially when the working class once again becomes a force that can seriously threaten the status quo.

Lastly, shutting down – or even just attempting to shut down – the events of those we disagree with is bound to help make them into martyrs. Thanks to Momentum, hundreds – maybe thousands – of people have looked into the crackpot ideas of David Icke in the last couple of weeks. Judging by online comments, quite a few of them seem to think that he ‘has a point’ – for example, when it comes to his rants against the elites.

Any half-decent conspiracy theorist knows that it is of utmost importance to have at the heart of your ideas a reasonably large kernel of truth. Otherwise, people will not connect with your theories, will not buy your books, come to your events, donate their life savings, etc. Former footballer, sports presenter and Green Party spokesperson David Icke’s ‘truth’ is that he rails against “the elite” that is manipulating world events to keep themselves in power, spread fear and keep most of us down in the gutter, while moving towards a “global fascist state”.

Obviously, this is not a particularly unique ‘truth’ and one that is shared by many successful sects and preachers. They connect to the sense of alienation and powerlessness that people often experience in the soulless and heartless system of capitalism. However, where Marxists try to provide answers based on science, historical materialism and a realistic political programme, those sects and oddballs often feed off and perpetuate this sense of alienation by providing ‘answers’ that rely on interpretation/channelling through the preacher, the sect leader and, in our case, David Icke.

In 1991, shortly after his much-ridiculed TV interview with Terry Wogan, he really found his conspiracy feet, resigned as press officer of the Green Party and announced that he was the “son of Godhead”, who had been told that the world was coming to an end in 1997. Clearly not put off too much by the lack of any world-ending events in that year, he developed his theory of “different dimensions” and that UFOs and ghosts are signs of crafts and people “shifting between frequencies”. He went on to claim that the usual events that conspiracists like to harp on about (the assassination of JFK, the death of princess Diana, the attacks of 9/11, 7/7 etc) were the work of the elite, which – and this certainly was a new take on things – is made up of “inter-dimensional reptilians” called Archons, who have hijacked the earth and formed the “Babylonian Brotherhood” or “illuminati”. Oh, and they can shape-shift.


Famous members of this brotherhood apparently include the whole royal family (especially the queen mother, who he described as “very reptilian”), various US presidents, Ted Heath (“both of his eyes, including the whites, turned jet black and I seemed to be looking into two black holes”) and, as you would expect, a fair chunk of prominent Jews – ie, those with money and power. Like many conspiracy theorists, he strays into common anti-Semitic tropes. For example, he likes to label members of the elite “Rothschild Zionists” – though, contrary to the claims of SAAS that he uses the term as a “code word for Jews”, he clearly includes all members of the “elite”, including many non-Jews. In his book The robot’s rebellion, he makes numerous references to the forged Protocols of the elders of Zion (which purported to detail secret plans for Jewish global domination), describing them as the “illuminati protocols”, which, he says, were produced by “Zionists”.

There is, however, very little evidence to back up the claim that he is a “holocaust denier”. I have found many references that describe him as such because he argues that actual holocaust deniers should have the right to free speech – clearly that is something quite different.

Contrary to Momentum’s claims, anti-Semitism is not at the “sinister core” of Icke’s theories – although the cleverly edited short campaign video very much gives that impression. Clearly, those theories are characterised chiefly by his, shall we say, rather fragile state of mind. Or, as the entry on his RationalWiki puts it rather neatly: “He also has been flirting with holocaust denial, but in Icke’s case it’s less likely a sign of anti-Semitism than yet another manifestation of all-round insanity”.

Why then?

That does beg the question as to why Momentum would prioritise a campaign against Icke’s new UK tour – while, for example, leaving it up to the Socialist Workers Party to call a demonstration against Tommy Robinson’s mass mobilisation on December 9? Surely, if you are serious about fighting racism (including anti-Semitism), a scumbag like Robinson should be your chief target? Icke gets a few hundred people coming to his events, while Robinson has tens of thousands of followers – many of them wannabe neo-Nazis. But, of course, Robinson is now a staunch Friend of Israel and self-declared “Zionist”?

Icke is a very easy, if not outright lazy, target. It is not difficult to take some of his weirdo lizard claims, edit in a comment about Zionism, a funny look by comedian Larry David and – hey presto – you prove that you are really serious about fighting anti-Semitism. A bit too easy, actually. There is a certain unpleasantness about Momentum’s video – a bit like laughing at a disabled person.

Perhaps this bizarre campaign is Lansman’s attempt to finally stop simply following the smear campaign – but take a leading role in it. He seems to have swallowed the lie that the Labour Party is riddled with anti-Semitism and has long supported the campaign to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. This started way back in 2016, when he dumped Jackie Walker as vice-chair of Momentum, after she was first suspended from the Labour Party. He has since campaigned successfully for the Labour NEC to adopt the misleading ‘working definition on anti-Semitism’ published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which labels criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic.

His Momentum constitution (imposed on the organisation without any debate in his January 10 2017 coup) declares that anybody expelled by the Labour Party is also expelled from Momentum – which, of course, includes anti-Zionists like Tony Greenstein, Cyril Chilson, Marc Wadsworth and possibly soon Jackie Walker. He dumped Pete Willsman, his comrade in the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy of over 30 years, from Momentum’s list of recommended NEC candidates, after he was falsely accused of anti-Semitism. Lansman has long given up the fight for mandatory reselection (even if he briefly and opportunistically jumped on the bandwagon just before conference 2018) – which would have been the obvious way to get rid of some of the most violently anti-Corbyn and rightwing MPs, who will do anything in their power to stop Corbyn becoming the next prime minister.

We hear that ever since the Willsman affair Jeremy Corbyn has not been on speaking terms with Lansman (apparently, he personally told him twice to add Willsman back onto the NEC slate, but Lansman refused). He has also burned all bridges with the Unite union, when he thought it was a good idea to stand against Jennie Formby for general secretary of the Labour Party. Perhaps Jon Lansman is trying to build a future political career as somebody who can be relied upon to appeal to both the right and the soft left.

His ambitions and self-belief clearly know no bounds, however misguided.


Anti-Zionism and self-censorship

The witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and the left is still in full swing – and spreading across society, reports Carla Roberts 

Who would have thought we would ever be relieved to read an attack on Jeremy Corbyn? We are talking about the recent uproar over his “scruffy” attire on Remembrance Sunday – where he, would you believe it, wore a jacket with a hood! This kind of low-level bad publicity looks as quaint as the “donkey jacket” that then Labour leader Michael Foot was wearing in 1981 (and which turned out to be a £250 coat from Harrods). There are even rumours that Corbyn wore it on purpose – perhaps to get some kind of short reprieve from the far more serious, political campaign against him and the Labour left.

Alas, it did not last long. Just in the last couple of weeks, the witch-hunt against Corbyn and the left has been ratcheted up:

* Scotland Yard launched a well-publicised investigation against some members of the Labour Party for alleged anti-Semitic comments.

* Chris Williamson MP was de-invited by Sheffield Labour Students after complaints by the Jewish Student Society that he was “encouraging a culture of anti-Semitism”.

* Most bourgeois newspapers breathlessly reported that a Labour Party branch in Stockton-on-Tees “voted down a motion on the Pittsburgh synagogue attack”, because “there was too much focus on ‘anti-Semitism this, anti-Semitism that’”.  Far from being voted down by the left (which all the articles imply), this was actually opposed by the ‘moderates’ – perhaps because they resented the idea in the same motion that there was a need for ‘anti-Semitism training’, which the mover had previously suggested should be delivered by the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement. Incredibly, the proposer of the motion thought it was a good idea to publicise his branch’s non-adoption far and wide. Of course, the right jumped on it and predictably used it to batter Corbyn some more. The technical term here is ‘useful idiot’.

* The Labour Party’s national constitutional committee has just expelled Mike Sivier (see below) – apparently explaining that their lack of evidence against him were “technicalities” and that “it’s about the impact in the public domain” and “about perception … It’s about how this is perceived by the Jewish community.”

* Scottish Labour Party member Peter Gregson is under investigation for producing a petition that states: “Israel is a racist endeavour.”

* A council worker in Dudley was suspended from work for publishing the same phrase online, while advertising a lobby of Dudley Labour MP Ian Austin’s surgery.

Of course, these are just the cases, allegations and ‘scandals’ that make it into the public. We know of plenty more cases of Labour members currently being investigated on the most absurd allegations (and not just to do with anti-Semitism).

Clearly, the witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left shows no sign of slowing down – in fact, it is spreading into all areas of society and, perhaps most worryingly, the workplace. Labour Party Marxists secretary Stan Keable remains sacked, having been secretly filmed by a journalist at the ‘Enough is enough’ demonstration in March 2018, when he stated that the Zionist movement had collaborated with the Nazi regime – a historically inconvenient truth.  We know of at least one other similar case. There will be more, but – not surprisingly – not everybody accused of such ‘crimes’ will want their name dragged through the mud in public and many choose to keep quiet.

This is perhaps the most worrying aspect of the witch-hunt: the silencing of debate on the left and the self-censorship.


Take the events in Sheffield: Chris Williamson MP had been invited by Sheffield Labour Students (SLS) to speak on ‘Why we need an anti-war government’. But they got cold feet when the local Jewish Society (JSoc) complained publicly that he should be banned from campus, because he “repeatedly defended, and shared platforms with, anti-Semites expelled from the Labour Party” (they mention Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker and Ken Livingstone – the latter two have of course not been expelled from the party). Apparently, according to JSoc, comrade Williamson is “encouraging a culture of anti-Semitism” and his invitation was “a betrayal of Jewish students in Sheffield”. 

At first, the SLS committee – which has a clear pro-Corbyn majority – confirmed that the meeting would go ahead, though its affirmation that Williamson “has never been and is not accused of anti-Semitism through disciplinary procedures within the Labour Party” probably sounded sheepish enough to further encourage the right.

And, yes, all hell broke loose: JSoc secretary Gabe Milne publicly resigned from the Labour Party, stating that this was the “final straw”.  Needless to say, he has never been a fan of Jeremy Corbyn, to put it mildly. He seems to be a member of the Jewish Labour Movement and has re-tweeted its demand that Chris Williamson should have the Labour whip withdrawn. 

Labour Students BAME (run by the right) quickly jumped on the bandwagon, stating how “disappointed” they were over the planned event, “which can only further damage Labour’s relationship with British Jews”. Other rightwingers piled in … and then Labour Students committee saw its first resignation: Caelan Reid – who is, incredibly, also a member of the Momentum Sheffield leadership – stated that he had argued the committee should have followed JSoc’s “quite reasonably request” and that he “had hoped that the committee would listen to and accommodate the requests of a minority group”.

When Labour Students committee met again on November 2, they had been spooked enough to overturn their previous decision. In a jaw-dropping statement, they first wrote that the event was to be “indefinitely postponed” and then clarified that they will revisit the decision after “the current Scotland Yard police investigations into allegations of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party has been resolved”. They continue:

Although Chris Williamson MP is not personally implicated by these allegations, Sheffield Labour Students believes that due to the nature of the investigation calling into question the efficiency of the disciplinary procedures within the party, and the current climate within the wider movement, we do not feel that the event should take place at this moment in time. Another vote will be held after the conclusion of the investigation to determine if the event should take place.

Needless to say, Scotland Yard is unlikely to ever “resolve” this investigation. For a start, no fewer than 45 different allegations were passed to the police. After “assessing” the charges for over two months, Metropolitan police commissioner Cressida Dick announced on November 2 that “some” of the material is now being investigated, “because it appears there may have been a crime committed”.  Even the widely quoted former Met officer, Mak Chishty, managed to identify only four cases of the 45 that could be described as “potential race hate crimes” (my emphasis).

Of course, this highly political police investigation was always a cop-out, conveniently used by the remaining members of the SLS committee – as they quite rightly state, it has nothing to do with either Chris Williamson or holding a meeting on ‘Why we need an anti-war government’.

During this debacle, a total of seven members of the SLS committee resigned their position (most of them more ‘moderate’ than left, as it turns out). Credit must go to Sheffield Labour Left, which quickly took over the hosting of the event and organised a petition against the decision, which has been signed by almost 90 Sheffield Labour Party members. After Jeremy Corbyn himself, comrade Williamson must by now surely be most vilified politician in Britain – and not because he “encourages a culture of anti-Semitism”. He is in fact pretty much the only MP who has taken a principled stand on the ongoing witch-hunt that seeks to label opposition to Zionism “anti-Semitic”. A sad state of affairs indeed.

Mike Sivier

The case against Mike Sivier is intriguing, because he seems absolutely right when he claims that there is precious little evidence that supports his expulsion from the party.  Even those claiming that Sivier is clearly anti-Semitic and have written long articles about his case cannot actually produce any real proof. In a piece entitled The ballad of Mike Sivier,  the hostile author, Marlon Solomon, draws a long list of examples of Sivier’s ‘crimes’ – which basically amount to the fact that he was defending various people falsely accused of anti-Semitism.

We read, for example, that he supported Ken Livingstone’s reference to the 1933 Ha’avara agreement between the Nazi regime and the Zionist Federation of Germany (which paved the way for the migration of around 60,000 German Jews to Palestine), sided with Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein and recommended that people should watch Al Jazeera’s excellent programme The lobby, which exposes how the pro-Israel lobby has helped to manufacture the anti-Semitism ‘scandal’ in the Labour Party. And that is it.

Solomon laments that (at the time of writing in January 2018) “none of the above is now considered sufficient to expel someone from the Labour Party”. Quite right – it should not be. In August, Sivier won a complaint taken to the Independent Press Standards Organisation against the Jewish Chronicle, which had falsely claimed he was a “holocaust denier”. Interestingly, back in February 2018, Labour’s national executive committee discussed Sivier’s case and voted 12-10 to lift his suspension dating back to May 2017 – under the condition that he attend so-called “anti-Semitism training”, conducted by the pro-Zionist Jewish Labour Movement. To his credit, he refused, insisting on his innocence. The NEC, clearly at a loss, thought it best to refer this case to the national constitutional committee.

He had no chance in front of this committee, which is still dominated by the right and will continue to be so, even after its expansion from 11 to 25 members, agreed at Labour Party conference this year. While the six candidates backed by Momentum and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy will probably win, they will still be in a minority – and it remains to be seen how ‘leftwing’ these six really are, in any case: Sadly, Stephen Marks of Jewish Voice for Labour is the only one who has come out against the witch-hunt. In any case, the NCC, still chaired by rightwing witch-hunter general Maggie Cousins, decided on November 13 to expel Mike Sivier – but only for 18 months. And without providing any proof of Sivier’s alleged anti-Semitism. As he writes on his blog, his requests to produce actual evidence were rebutted with “No comment”; “We’ve not provided evidence – it’s about the impact in the public domain”; and “This is about perception … It’s about how this is perceived by the Jewish community.”

In other words, he has been expelled because his refusal to receive pro-Zionist training by the JLM makes the Labour Party look bad! This expulsion is clearly a travesty and should immediately be overturned by the NEC.

Similarly ridiculous is the case of Edinburgh Labour Party member Peter Gregson, who is currently “under investigation”. We will not be surprised if Gregson is also either told to undergo the JLM’s pro-Zionism training and/or referred to the NCC. The NEC’s dispute panel, meeting on November 20, will decide his fate (and that of a large number of other cases, presumably including the absurd allegation against Lee Rock, who stands accused of having argued “in favour of masturbation at the workplace” (!) in a Facebook discussion with radical feminists in 2015, over 15 months before he joined the Labour Party.  We could make some guesses as to the kind of ‘training’ he might be offered, but maybe not).

Firstly, we should say it is to be welcomed that there have been some positive changes to the disciplinary process introduced by the new general secretary, Jennie Formby. The automatic suspensions doled out so liberally under her predecessor, Iain McNicol, seem to have stopped altogether. That is hugely important, because it allows an accused member – in theory – to retain their full membership rights. As it turns out, this is not always the case and we hear of examples where members who are merely “under investigation” have been blocked from standing for various positions, because the mere fact of the investigation against them could bring “the party into disrepute”. Full circular logic there.

Right answer

Judging by the examples of recent investigations we have seen, the accused usually receives a number of leading questions they have to answer to each piece of ‘evidence’ (usually a Facebook post or Tweet), along the lines of: “Do you accept that some people might find this offensive?” The right answer is almost always ‘yes’, naturally. And the questions are formulated in such a way as to coax the accused to apologise and, crucially, to promise never to do it again. In many such cases, the investigations then end in a rather patronising “official warning”, which will be “kept on file”.

Clearly, this method encapsulates the opposite of the culture of open debate and exchange of ideas that Marxists strive for. It is designed to shut people up. This is not just undemocratic: it is also dangerous. Rather than politically challenging wrong ideas and prejudice and thereby changing somebody’s viewpoint, this method encourages people to bottle ideas up and let them fester.

Still, it is good that at least formally the disciplinary process now seems to acknowledge the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’. However, the actual reasons why investigations are launched against somebody have been expanded massively. This is particularly true since the NEC’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance ‘working definition’ of anti-Semitism, together with all 11 examples. Only the most naive or wilfully ignorant could really have believed that the IHRA document would bring the ongoing witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left to an end. Quite the opposite: it has been used by the right to increase and widen the attacks.

Peter Gregson is a perfect case in point. Just after the NEC’s collapse over the IHRA document, he produced a petition that boldly states: “the existence of Israel is a racist endeavour”.  This refers to the most disputed of the 11 examples – and the one that Jeremy Corbyn tried to ‘neutralise’ with his unsuccessful amendment to the NEC. The petition has been signed by more than 700 people who claim to be “Labour Party members”. So far, only Gregson seems to have been charged over it. He has also been suspended by his union, the GMB – a move that he claims was orchestrated by outgoing NEC member Rhea Wolfson, a member of the JLM. We would not be surprised if that was the case.

Of particular interest is the reaction of Momentum owner and Labour NEC member Jon Lansman, who lost his rag when Gregson emailed him for the umpteenth time. He admitted that “declaring Israel to be a racist endeavour and challenging the NEC to expel him alongside others who signed a petition he launched may not be anti-Semitic …” But he continued: “… it is a deliberately provocative act, which is most certainly prejudicial to the interests of the party and I therefore urge the general secretary to take the appropriate action against you.”

Labour Against the Witchhunt quite rightly condemns Lansman’s intervention: “‘Provocative’ acts are the stuff of political debate. Lansman is effectively calling for the silencing of support for the Palestinian struggle against Zionism and Israel’s apartheid.” LAW, while defending Gregson against any disciplinary action, does not support the petition because it is, in parts, rather clumsily (and unfortunately) formulated.

Clearly, the NEC must halt the investigation into Peter Gregson immediately. It is exactly such unnecessary and politically charged disciplinary cases that bring the party into disrepute.


AWL: Despicable participants in an ongoing witch-hunt

In their latest attack on Jackie Walker, Chris Williamson MP and LPM, the social-imperialists of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty have shown once again that they constituted themselves as allies of the Labour right, the mainstream media and the Israeli political establishment, writes Carla Roberts

The latest issue of Solidarity features an unpleasant, unsigned ‘Diary of a delegate’, who only seems to have managed to attend one session at Labour Party conference: namely the afternoon of Tuesday September 25, which saw the debate around the motions on Brexit and Palestine. The unnamed author writes:

Emily Thornberry’s speech was rambling, but she said; “There are sickening individuals on the fringes of our movement, who use our legitimate support for Palestine as a cloak and a cover for their despicable hatred of Jewish people, and their desire to see Israel destroyed. These people stand for everything that we have always stood against and they must be kicked out of our party.”

These people are not just on the fringes of our movement. I sat just behind the honourable member for Derby North – a man who is happy to peddle the idea that the whole anti-Semitism issue is really a matter of it being “weaponised” by the right to harm Jeremy Corbyn. Extreme holocaust denial may be on the fringes, but anti-Semitism in the form of wanting to see Israel destroyed, as shown by the chanting at Labour conference, is not.

In a disgusting attack, ‘Labour Party Marxists’ in their Red Pages bulletin took exception with Rhea Wolfson being allowed to chair the session on Palestine! She has pro-Palestinian views? Ah, she is a member of the Jewish Labour Movement and a Zionist! They raised no objections to anyone else chairing sessions.

That sort of dog-whistle anti- Semitism from LPM, coupled with the glowing reception two members of Neturei Karta got when leafleting, shows that some Labour members have a long way to go on managing to make solidarity with Palestinians without falling into the trap of anti-Semitic actions and views. 

This is pretty low even by the standards of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. Of course, everybody knows that it has a thing about ‘anti-Semitism’. Their leaders and writers see it everywhere – and have been doing so long before it became quite so fashionable with the Daily Mail and the right wing in the Parliamentary Labour Party. It is, after all, the AWL’s ‘unique selling point’, with which it tries to distinguish its otherwise pretty unexceptional Trotskyist economism from that of the rest of the left. Or “fake left”, as AWL guru Sean Matgamna insists on calling all other leftwing organisations in its irregularly published Solidarity.

Back in 2003 Matgamna declared that, forthwith, AWL members shall proudly call themselves “Zionists”. And, boy, have they made their master proud. In 2016, the AWL’s representatives on the then steering committee of Momentum voted enthusiastically with Jon Lansman to kick Jackie Walker off the organisation’s leading body when she was first falsely accused of anti- Semitism – perhaps giving the owner of the organisation’s database the last bit of courage he needed before he went on to abolish all democratic structures in Momentum in his coup of January 10 2017.

This episode could stand symbolically for the AWL’s whole misguided approach to the witch-hunt. Some people just cannot see the wood for the trees (or maybe they just ignore it). Even when AWL member Pete Radcliffe was expelled from the Labour Party two days after a hilariously misinformed Owen Smith (remember him?) accused the AWL on Question time of “flooding the Labour Party” and “bringing anti-Semitic views”, the penny did not seem to drop.

While there are a few isolated cases of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party (just as there must be, statistically speaking, of Islamophobia, homophobia, paedophilia and even bestiality), the witch-hunt has clearly had nothing to do with opposing anti- Semitism. The aim of the charade is to get rid of a certain Jeremy Corbyn.

By accepting the false narrative that Labour is awash with anti-Semitism, the AWL has provided leftwing cover for the witch-hunt – even while its own members became collateral damage. You could not make it up.

Zionist chair

According to Sean Matgamna, a Zionist nowadays is anyone who believes “in the right of Israel to exist and defends its existence”.

Of course, historically, Zionism was a “definitely reactionary ideology“ (Lenin), according to which Jews and gentiles could never live together peacefully and Jews therefore needed a separate Jewish state. The creation of Israel and subsequent expansion has been characterised by horrendous crimes against the indigenous Arab population, including, crucially, the nakba – the forced expulsion of around 800,000 Palestinians. What began as a colonial ideology of the oppressed has metamorphosed into a full-blown ideology of colonial oppression. Modern-day Zionism, as the state ideology of Israel, not only retrospectively justifies the foundation of Israel, but seeks to perpetuate and extend the privileged position of Jews in that state. Witness the recent passing of the Nation-State of the Jewish People’ law, which constitutionally enshrines the long-established discrimination against Israel’s non- Jewish citizens.

So, yes, we should oppose in the strongest terms the fact that Rhea Wolfson, who proudly self-defines as a Zionist, chaired a session debating the oppression of Palestinians! Wolfson – until recently an editor of the AWL’s magazine The Clarion – is a member of the pro-Zionist Jewish Labour Movement, which supports and aligns itself with the Israeli Labor Party: the same party that orchestrated the nakba and presided over the conquest of the Golan Heights and the West Bank in 1967.

Hilary WiseIt is no surprise then that Wolfson chaired the session in a highly biased way. For example, she rudely interrupted Hilary Wise from Ealing and Acton Central CLP (pictured), who spoke passionately about the anti-Semitism smear campaign: “I never seen anything like the current campaign of slurs and accusations made against Jeremy Corbyn and the left in the party. I am afraid it is an orchestrated campaign and if you want to know how it works I urge you to watch ‘The lobby’ on Al Jazeera.”

At that point Wolfson warned her: “I would ask you to be very careful. You are straying into territory here.” What “territory” exactly? Telling the truth about the smear campaign?

Comrade Wise went on to warn quite rightly that “this campaign will only get worse and the list of people being denounced as anti-Semitic will get longer, often simply for being proponents of Palestinian rights”. Here, Wolfson interrupted her again: “I urge you to be careful” – and then went straight on to tell her abruptly: “Take your seat – your time is up now.”

After two minutes and 45 seconds, that is. All other delegates got a minimum of three minutes, with Wolfson gently requesting that they finish when their time was up. The video of comrade Wise’s speech and Wolfson’s interruptions is available online.

palestine flagsFlags everywhere: conference was in full solidarity with the Palestinian cause. The Labour membership clearly rejects the ‘Anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ slurs and lies




Choosing a Zionist to chair this most controversial session of the whole conference (which also included the debate on Brexit) was, of course, a highly political move by the party leadership, intended to show that it ‘takes anti-Semitism seriously’. A bit like if Barbara Castle had been asked to chair a session on the impact of Ted Heath’s anti-trade union laws. Or Jack Straw on the Iraq war.

It was another sign, if one was needed, that Corbyn is still not prepared to take on the right, but continues to try and appease members of the PLP, etc, in the vain hope of keeping them quiet. Fat chance. Wolfson was not a neutral chair – and was not supposed to be one. The AWL might pretend not to understand that, but it was pretty obvious to the rest of us.

But then, the AWL is more than friendly with the JLM – in 2016 it even organised a joint meeting with this Zionist outfit – along with, wait for it, the pro-Blairite Progress group. After all, on the question of Israel-Palestine, there is nothing that indicates that the AWL might stem from a socialist tradition. Mike Cushman brilliantly describes this bizarre meeting as a “love-in” over a “common object of affection”: Israel. He writes:

But not the Israel we see every day abusing Palestinians and harassing dissident anti-Zionists. It was an Israel of their imagination, moving gracefully to a two-state solution, abandoning settlements and occupation on the way.

What he says is well worth a read if you want a taste of the AWL’s ahistorical and emotional attitude to the question.

Qualitative difference?

It is difficult to talk of ‘quality’ in this context, but the latest rant in Solidarity represents, perhaps, a qualitative difference. AWLers used to be rather careful, for example, not to label Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker as full- blown anti-Semites and desisted from calling for their expulsions from the Labour Party. When Matgamna fumed that Livingstone is a “functioning anti-Semite”, who “should be expelled from the Labour Party”, the Solidarity editorial committee quickly pointed out that “our editorial position is that we do not call for Livingstone to be expelled. We want to limit, not expand, the powers the current party regime has to ‘ban’ political views.” All clear then?

Now Labour Party Marxists is accused by the AWL not just of “dog- whistle anti-Semitism”, but also of “anti-Semitic actions and views”. We did not see Matgamna at conference, so we presume this is not one of his ‘special’ articles that have to be taken with a handful of salt, but the “editorial position”.

The article does not specify if the AWL thinks LPM members should be expelled from the Labour Party. But clearly this is the logic of what it is doing by naming and ‘shaming’ people in the middle of this vile witch-hunt directed against Corbyn and those who defend him from the right.

We have been assured that the AWL does not actively report people to the Labour Party’s compliance unit – but it might just as well. Its poisonous campaign has certainly helped to create and maintain today’s toxic and fearful atmosphere in the party and will no doubt have encouraged others to report cases of alleged anti-Semitism to the thought police. This has nothing to do with helping to ‘cleanse’ the workers’ movement, as some turncoats on the left seem to think.

Labour Against the Witchhunt was spot on to launch its open letter, ‘No, Jennie, we will not be informers’, in response to requests by general secretary Jennie Formby that members should report cases of alleged anti-Semitism to the Labour Party’s ‘complaints department’ (aka compliance unit).

As LAW writes elsewhere, “We have seen people being suspended for using the word ‘Zio’ or for expressing their outrage of the horrendous crimes committed by the state of Israel in a confused manner. The vast majority of these people are clearly not anti-Semitic. And yet, they have been publicly labelled as such” by the mainstream press and the right inside and outside the party, “often causing great distress to the member” in question.

We agree with LAW that “open and democratic debate, without fear of being reported, is the best way to educate people and fight prejudice and racism”. Reporting people to the thought police in the party, however, will only strengthen the hand of the witch-hunters and the right wing.

Neturei KartaMembers of Neturei Karta, an anti-Zionist, ultra-orthodox Jewish sect, handed out a good leaflet, ‘Jews in support of Jeremy’, at Liverpool conference. They condemn the foundation of a secular state of Israel as religiously blasphemous. The so-called Alliance for Workers’ Liberty prefers Zionist advocates of colonisation and ethnic cleansing


In its article, the AWL does not just attack us, but also the two members of Neturei Karta, anti-Zionist ultra- orthodox Jews who were calmly giving out their rather good leaflet, ‘Jews in support of Jeremy’, at the Labour conference; not to mention Chris Williamson MP, whom the AWL labels a “sickening individual” with a “despicable hatred of Jews”. Now, I am not an expert on legal questions, but that is not just pretty stupid and clearly untrue, but also sounds pretty libellous to me. Talking of which, it seems the AWL has now also taken to calling Jackie Walker an “anti-Semite”. Or, more precisely, to shout about it.

According to a statement posted on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/jacqueline.walker.3990, October 5 2018), AWL members told students at a fresher’s fair that they are “fighting anti-Semitism in the Labour Party” and that “we’ve got known anti-Semites living in this area. Jackie Walker, for example”. Jackie Walker has sought a retraction from the AWL and has emailed it twice, but has so far not even received an explanation. She says she is now considering reporting it to the police as a “hate crime”. [Update from Jackie Walker, October 12: “The AWL finally finished their investigation and got back to me …. and guess what, none of their activists owned up as having named me as an antisemite in their local recruitment drive. Everything however about this incident is now on file. I know the time it happened so identifying the person involved from the description would not be problematic.”]

We do not advocate bringing the state into disputes inside the workers’ movement and we would urge comrade Walker not to get the police involved. Having said that, it is, however, questionable whether the AWL should still be considered a part of the left.

We should also consider the actual, real-life implications of the AWL’s comments and articles. Being expelled from the Labour Party is one thing. But comrade Walker has become something of a pin-up for the witch-hunters; her face is plastered all over the hate-filled outputs of GnasherJew, Guido Fawkes and other such unpleasant mediums. The bomb threat made during the screening of the documentary, ‘The political lynching of Jackie Walker’, at the Labour conference was ‘only’ a hoax, but one can imagine the possibility of some deranged person being tempted to ‘do a Jo Cox’.

By supporting and perpetuating the witch-hunt against comrade Walker, Chris Williamson MP and Labour Party Marxists, the AWL has managed to stoop to a new low, even by its standards.