Tag Archives: expulsion

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)” ((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”.2)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. 3)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.



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 D Cesarani The final solution Basingstoke 2016, p96
3 Reproduced in B Destani (ed) The Zionist movement and the foundation of Israel 1839- 1972 Cambridge 2004, Vol 1, p72

“Discipline the rascals who are bringing the Labour Party into disrepute”

New interview with Israeli Jewish socialist Moshé Machover whose rescinded expulsion is a major blow the right in the Labour Party.


The charges against you seemed to be particularly crude and hastily thrown together. Why do you think the right responded in such an amateur, sloppy fashion? Over-confidence, or the need to score a swift high-profile scalp in the aftermath of a disastrous conference for them?

I think that the second explanation is correct; but I don’t think the sloppiness is unique to my case. The right has developed an overabundance of confidence. The slapdash manner – to say the least – that they employed to exclude, suspend or expel other members of the Labour Party convinced them that thy they were invulnerable; they thought they could get away with anything! So, they didn’t feel they even had to try to make a better job of this stitch-up.

It was a particularly bad piece of fiction, not doubt. But it would require a meticulous textual analysis to compare this letter with other letters sent to party members to establish whether they were especially careless in my case. I suspect you would find that they were just as slapdash and shoddy with most people as they were with me.


How important was the surge of support you received from individual party members and organisations like CLPs, etc? There have also been many rumours of disquiet at top levels of the party and anger against McNicol and his compliance unit. Was it a combination of pressure from above and below that explains your victory?

The support that people offered me was amazing. It truly astonished me … and I’m sure it astonished the witch-hunters as well! It was a major factor in their efforts to quickly wriggle out of the hole which they had dug for themselves. The solidarity offered from comrades in the movement here was wonderful; but of particular significance was the international campaign. This started in the United States and continues to grow.

The scale of this solidarity is truly astonishing. The number of signatures – and the political and academic standing of individuals who have signed up – is truly humbling, from my point of view. However, I am not so vain to think this is all about me! It’s clear that masses of people have realised that you must make a stand against this crazy witch-hunting culture. Even after my expulsion was rescinded and the news announced, very large numbers were still signing up to the international online petition in support of reinstatement and investigation of the procedure used to expel me.

I think the international support – once the witch-hunters got wind of it – was instrumental in making the leadership realise that the actions of these people were sinking the Labour Party into serious disrepute – not only nationally, but internationally.

We are talking now about a surge of support from below here. There were also quite a few rumours that leading members of the party expressed genuine disquiet about this whole fiasco. I have not been contacted by anyone from this level of the party, I have no strong evidence – however, there have been enough unconfirmed reports to assume that the idea is not totally fanciful.


The charge against you of “anti-Semitism” is still on the books, of course. How important do you regard it that they withdraw this accusation?

Well, if you quote a libellous accusation and you don’t distance yourself from it or express reservations, then you are complicit in the libel. I am saying “libellous” because the expulsion letter sent to me in which they cite this vile accusation was not only delivered to me; it was also sent to the local Labour Party. It was broadcast, in that sense. Disseminated.

Now this is a very serious thing! It is serious morally; it is serious legally. Of course, they have prevaricated with the ploy that this charge of anti-Semitism is based on some junk definition that they appear to set a lot of store by. Frankly, the so-called definition is a load of rubbish. It is specifically designed for abuse, not to identify genuine anti-Semitism.

Throughout the exchanges with the witch hunters, I have been clear that I reserve my right to take things further legally. However, first I require an immediate apology and retraction.


Where next? There was a general feeling that the witch hunters had torn off more than they could chew this time – and so it proved! But there are many comrades out there that have been suspended, expelled. Moreover, the right is in lockstep with the mainstream media in a campaign to smear the left with “anti-Semitism”. What are the next steps in the fightback? We still have some powerful resourced enemies out there!

Well, la luta continua! There is an urgent need to discipline the rascals who are bringing the Labour Party into disrepute with these scurrilous and unfounded accusations. It is a question of disciplining these individuals. This is important, but there are three additional political points.

First, the campaign to counter the ‘weaponisation’ of the charge of ant-Semitism must continue and be stepped up. This cannot be allowed to continue. The ‘achievement’ of the right has been to make it appear to the outside world that Labour is riddled with anti-Semitism. This is calumny on the Labour Party! An outrageous lie!

This must be fought and stopped dead in its tracks. As I wrote in the article back in May last year, “don’t apologise – attack!” (Weekly Worker, May 18, 2016). This vile campaign must be defeated and expunged from the party.

The second issue is this vague notion of “support” for other organisations that are deemed verboten by the party apparatus. What needs to be done here is a fundamental overhaul of the clause in the Labour Party rule book that allows these bans and proscriptions. The rule is formulated in such a way that it virtually cries out for abuse. Let me quote it to you: 2.I.4B

“A member of the party who joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Labour Party, or supports any candidate that stands against an official Labour candidate … shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a party member …” (Rule 2.1.4b, Labour Party rulebook)

There are three things obviously wrong with this rule. First, it does not specify what “political organisation” means. For instance, it is certainly arguable that CND is a political organisation. By the same token, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign is a political organisation. Does membership of these organisations make you ineligible for membership of the party? A “political organisation” is a catch-all phrase, that is crying out for abuse.

Secondly, what does its means to “support”? For instance, when they accused me of supporting the Communist Party of Great Britain and Labour Party Marxists, I was genuinely not able to say yes or no to the charges. They have not defined what ‘support’ means, let alone shown that ‘support’ for these organisations is runs counter to the existing rules.

Certainly, I support some positions that the CPGB stands on. For example, I support the call for all unions to be affiliated to Labour: so does the CPGB. The CPGB has argued this quite forcibly against other groups on the left – and I think they are right!

On other issues, I don’t agree with them. So how can someone be expelled – let alone automatically expelled! – based on something so indefinable and nebulous?

So, we have the twin, totally undefined categories of “political organisation” and “support” as a basis for peoples’ membership of the party.

A third issue is this word “automatically”! A member is expelled without any chance to defend themselves, to answer their accusers or even know who has said what about them. This runs counter to natural justice. The word “automatically” should be deleted, in addition to the phrase “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Labour Party”.

Of course, if someone supports a candidate against the official Labour candidate, that’s another matter. I do seem to recall that not long ago a certain Anthony Blair falling the wrong side of this rule in the general election – no action was taken, I believe! Why? Well, we all know don’t we …

Some of Labour’s rules as they exist today are scandalous. They are badly formulated: and badly formulated for a purpose, I believe – as my experience and that of many other in the Labour Party has amply illustrated.

Moshé Machover: My response to my expulsion

Communication from Moshé Machover to the legal queries unit

Comrade Machover’s excellent letter is also available in PDF format here.

16 October 2017

I refer to your letters of 3 and 6 October 2017, excluding me from the Labour Party on allegations that I am in breach of Rule 2.1.4.B.

In the alternative you appear to suggest that if I were not expelled I would face investigation for breach of Rule 2.1.8 for alleged antisemitism. I profoundly disagree that I am in breach of either rule.

I have taken legal advice before writing this letter and should make clear at the outset that I reserve all my legal rights in connection with the false statements that have been made against me and which have been repeated in your correspondence to me, the fairness of the procedure you have adopted and my right to freedom of political speech.


  1. First, I must say that I find the lack of precision in the words you use in making such serious allegations to be unhelpful and confusing. In your letter of 3 October you refer to an “apparently antisemitic article” (suggesting you have come to a decision about the content of the article in question) but in your letter of 6 October you refer to an “allegedly antisemitic article” (suggesting no decision has been made about the content).
  2. Furthermore, in your letter of 3 October, after referring to “an apparently antisemitic article “(i.e. a single article) you go on to state “these articles” (i.e. more than a single article) are antisemitic. Which is it? You are making the gravest of allegations against me, yet you are not precise in what is being alleged against me and do not identify with clarity whether it is a single article or an array of articles upon which I am being accused and judged. The copy articles (plural) referred to in your letter of 3 October in Section 1 are dated 15 December 2016 and 21 September 2017. You do not identify the precise words you say are antisemitic. Please do so.
  3. Indeed, it seems you have been selective in what you have chosen to disclose to me, as the article of 15 December 2016 has “p7” in the bottom right hand corner and the article of 21 September 2017 has “p3” in the bottom right hand corner. I assume you have had at least 7 pages of documents passed to you by my anonymous accuser. I refer below to my right to know my accuser and the case I am facing.

Personal background

  1. I am an Israeli citizen and a naturalised British citizen.
  2. I have long been an Israeli dissident, holding internationalist socialist views, and hence am an opponent of the Zionist project and ideology.
  3. Since my arrival in Britain, in 1968, I have continued my political activity, which has mainly taken the form of giving talks and writing articles advocating my views on Zionism, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the wider region of the Middle East. I have been happy to appear at numerous meetings organised by a variety of organisations – such as student socialist societies and Palestine Solidarity groups – and to be interviewed by and publish articles in various publications. My only condition is that I am allowed to speak freely and that my articles are not censored.
  4. In 2007 I came across a leftist group calling itself the Communist Party of Great Britain (‘CPGB’), of whose existence I had not been previously aware. They soon invited me to publish articles in their weekly journal, theWeekly Worker (‘WW’). I was pleased to discover that the WW has a very liberal publishing policy and provides space for a variety of radical left views, without insisting that they agree with the CPGB political line, or subjecting them to political censorship. I was therefore happy to continue publishing articles in the WW and am of course grateful to the CPGB for its kind hospitality. Likewise, I was happy to speak at various meetings organised by them, just as I have been happy to speak at meetings organised by various other groups and organisations.

Your allegations in relation to CPGB and LPM

  1. I have never joined the CPGB as a member, as I do not wish to subject myself to their organisational discipline, and have several political differences with them.
  2. I am not, and have never been, a member of the organisation known as Labour Party Marxists. I have never written any article for their publications. In September 2017 they contacted me and asked my permission to reprint an article (in fact a edited version of a talk) by me, originally published in May 2016 in the WW http://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1107/dont-apologise-attack/. They told me that they intended to distribute or sell a publication containing the reprint in the fringe of the Labour Party conference that took place in Brighton during that month. I willingly gave them my permission – as I would do, and have often done, to any publication that is prepared to disseminate my views. I am grateful to the LPM for distributing my article.
  3. The evidence provided for my alleged “support” for the CPGB or LPM does not indicate such support, as further addressed below.
  4. In any event, I am not aware that, even if I were a supporter of either organisation, this would be a breach of the rules – given that no evidence has been provided to me that these are organisations proscribed by the Party under the rules.
  5. I challenge the purported evidence that you appear to rely on that I am a supporter of those organisations. I challenge its validity in the strongest possible terms, as all I have done is exercise my freedom of speech under their aegis and for these reasons:

(i) Section 1 in your letter of 3 October is an article published by LPM last month, but I did not write this article for LPM. See 6 above.(ii) Section 3 shows that I spoke at a session of the Communist University 2016, co-sponsored by CPGB and LPM, but the evidence cited notably does not claim that I am a supporter (or member) of either organisation and, on the contrary, includes a disclaimer that ‘the views in these videos do not necessarily represent the views of either organisation’.

The fact I spoke at that educational meeting on an issue within my expertise is in principle, as far as Party rules are concerned, no different from David Lammy speaking at the Conservative Party’s fringe event on justice issues together with the current Tory Justice Minister https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political- parties/conservative-party/theresa-may/opinion/politicshome/89397/tory- conference (scroll down); and does not make me a supporter of those organisations any more than speaking at the above event makes David Lammy a supporter of the Conservative Party.

It is in fact quite common practice for Party members, including senior ones, to speak at meetings of other parties, including rival ones. As two out of innumerable examples, I cite the above and the recent appearance by Lisa Nandy (Labour MP) with Caroline Lucas at a Compass fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference, talking about a Progressive Alliance:https://www.compassonline.org.uk/events/alliance-building-for-a- progressive-future-what-next/The evidence goes on to display an obituary by me that was published in WW (December 2016); and a comment published in WW that refers to what I said at a meeting that I attended (March 2016).

The fact that I attended such a meeting does not make me a supporter of the CPGB, nor does anything the article says about me give any such indication. This applies also to the fact that the author of the comment in question refers to me as ‘a friend of the CPGB’. Calling someone who shares a platform with you a “friend” is an accepted form of normal courtesy, such as when Jeremy Corbyn referred to a representative of Hamas as a “friend”, or when a barrister refers in court to another barrister – who may indeed be her opponent – as “my learned friend”.

  1. It is clear that the purported evidence you have presented is nugatory; and cannot possibly support the arbitrary step you have taken against me: expulsion without a hearing or proper enquiry.
  2. On the contrary, presenting such material as “evidence” for my alleged guilt is evidence for something quite different: an extremely dangerous and reprehensible attempt to restrict my freedom of speech, as well as that of other members who hold legitimate critical views on Israel and Zionism, views that are now gaining wide support in the Labour Party, as shown by events at the recent Party conference.
  3. I am led to this conclusion by the fact that in your letter of 3 October you have mentioned prominently, and without expressing any reservation, despicable and utterly false insinuations of “antisemitism” made against me by anonymous persons. Your letter quite wrongly implies there is some merit in the complaints you have received, by referring to my above-mentioned article reprinted by LPM as being ‘apparently antisemitic’. There is no antisemitic content in that article and I am deeply offended and disturbed that you have made this false and scurrilous allegation against me. My article is in fact a serious discussion, extremely critical of Zionism. These insinuations were quite irrelevant to the purpose of your first letter of 3 October, as you admitted, and reiterated in your second letter of 6 October, that they were not a cause of my (unjustified) expulsion. The fact that you included that smear against me in your letter leads me to doubt seriously your good faith.
  4. I demand a proper apology for that smear you have unnecessarily included in your letter of 3 October, and an immediate rescinding of my expulsion.

Knowing my accuser and disclosure of the evidence against me – Fairness

  1. I have been advised that, pursuant to the contractual agreement that I as a member of the Labour Party (‘the Party’) have with the Party, any consideration by you as Head of Disputes of allegations made against me must be fair. Further, I understand that the fairness of the procedure the Party must adopt is protected under common law and under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 (hereafter “ECHR”). Commensurate with ECHR principles and natural justice, the right to be heard and meaningfully respond requires full disclosure of the evidence given by those accusing me.
  2. The requirement to disclose the full details of the case against me is also reflected in the Report published by Baroness Chakrabarti in 2016. When commenting on the Party’s complaints procedure she wrote:“It is also important that the procedures explain that those in respect of whom allegations have been made are clearly informed of the allegation(s) made against them, their factual basis and the identity of the complainant – unless there are good reasons not to do so (e.g. to protect the identity of the complainant).Baroness Chakrabarti also recommended that the Party:“‘…should seek to uphold the strongest principles of natural justice’”I ask for the immediate full disclosure of the documents and complaints made against me that have led to the decision to exclude me from the Party. As stated above, you appear to have only disclosed pages 3 and 7 of a complaint. Such partial disclosure in such an important matter is grossly unfair. You have made the very serious decision to exclude me from the Party without giving me any opportunity to know the identity of my accuser and to respond to the accusations.
  1. Please provide me with full disclosure of all the evidence that has been given to the Party accusing me of antisemitism and please let me know the identity of my accuser/s.

Right to my freedom of speech

  1. I am advised that your investigation and consideration of the allegations against me must comply with the Human Rights Act 1998. In particular, the Party cannot unlawfully interfere with my rights to freedom of speech under Article 10 of the ECHR, which provides:


  1. 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. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
  2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

21. In the context of freedom of expression, the Party will be only too aware that political speech is afforded the highest level of protection in a democratic society, with the margin of appreciation given to national states in Article 10(2) construed narrowly in the context of such political expression.

22. I note that in your letter of 3 October 2017 you state that “…language which may cause offence to Jewish people is not acceptable…” and that “language that may be perceived as provocative, insensitive or offensive …has no place in our party”. I again emphasise that the allegation that I am an antisemite is utterly false and absurd. I have no common cause with anyone who holds racist opinions. I abhor racism. I am very concerned that the language you have used in your letter of 3 October utterly fails to protect my rights to hold and receive opinions that may not be accepted by all members in the Party. I am an anti-Zionist, which is quite different from being an antisemite.

23. Importantly, in the context of free expression, the Courts recognise that some views may “shock, offend or disturb” but still retain and attract protection under Article 10. I do not in anyway suggest that anything I have said is shocking, offending or disturbing, but as the European Court of Human Rights held in Handyside v. the United Kingdom [1976] ECHR 5, at paragraph 49:

“Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of [a democratic] society, one of the basic conditions for its progress and for the development of every man. Subject to paragraph 2 of Article 10 (art. 10-2), it is applicable not only to ‘information’ or ‘ideas’ that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population. Such are the demands of that pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no ‘democratic society’.”

  1. I am advised that the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights has been adopted by the domestic Courts. For example, the Divisional Court has highlighted the wide margin given to free speech in this jurisdiction, as per Sedley LJ in Redmond-Bate v Director of Public Prosecutions [1999] EWHC Admin 73, at paragraph 20:“Free speech includes not only the inoffensive but the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and the provocative provided it does not tend to provoke violence. Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having.”
  2. I am sure that you will agree that debate concerning the contentious issues surrounding the condition of the Palestinian people and the political situation in the Middle East quite obviously attract the protection of Article 10, as political speech. I cannot see how you consider my primary right of free speech on such matters can be interfered with lawfully within a democratic society on the basis of the material you have adduced.


I absolutely challenge the finding you present and the evidence that you rely upon that I am in breach of rule 2.1.4.B.

I absolutely reject all and any allegations that I am in breach of rule 2.1.8.

Please disclose all the evidence against me, including the identity of my accuser/s.

I reserve all my legal rights against the Party in respect of the decisions that have been taken to exclude me from the Party and to find anything I have written or said to be ‘apparently antisemitic’.

I look forward to your full response within the next 14 days.

Yours sincerely

Moshé Machover


Moshe Machover: the strange case of Labour’s ‘flexible’ rules

If being a supporter of LPM is incompatible with Labour’s ‘aims and principles’, asks Carla Roberts, where does that leave all the other political organisations inside the party?

Our Labour Party Marxists front-page article by Moshé Machover, ‘Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism’, captured the mood of conference and, no doubt, helped inspire many to speak out against the witch-hunting right. We gave out 3,000 copies, with countless delegates and visitors commenting on the relevance and quality of the article.

The right was becoming increasingly furious throughout the week. We occasionally got low-level abuse from supporters of Labour First, Progress and the Jewish Labour Movement. JLM chair Jeremy Newmark was spotted creeping around our stall a few times, snapping pictures of LPM supporters and hissing “racists” under his breath. Typically with witch-hunters, challenged to defend his remarks, he skedaddled off.

On September 26, we received an email from Lucy Fisher of The Times:

I wanted to ask you if you wish to comment on a call by Labour MPs and the chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Trust for Labour to investigate the Labour Party Marxists and expel any of your supporters who are party members. They accuse the LPM of producing anti-Semitic literature.

Comrade Machover dealt with these baseless accusations in an interview in last week’s issue of the Weekly Worker. On September 27, when the call for our expulsion appeared in The Times (along with a large cohort of the bourgeois media generally), the right was clearly emboldened. This was a chance to vent their frustration with the fact that they had made no impact at all at conference. Encouraged by the press provocations, a few groups of mainly young, suited ‘n’ booted conference attendees snatched some copies of LPM from our stall and ripped them up. Others shouted abuse at us from a distance. A few half-heartedly tried to provoke physical confrontations. No takers on our side, thank you.

The net result was to actually draw more delegates and conference visitors to our stall. They were eager to show their solidarity by taking our literature – not quite the result our rightwing provocateurs were hoping for, we imagine.

They may have lost conference, but our Labour right wing still has the media and the Labour apparatus on its side, of course. Moshé Machover was informed of his expulsion on October 3, just seven days after the publication of The Times article. Moshé’s ejection was swiftly followed by the expulsion of a handful of LPM sympathisers.

In what is possibly a first of its kind, comrade Machover actually received not one, but two, expulsion letters. The October 2 version makes it clear that he was being excluded for an

apparently anti-Semitic article published in your name by the organisation known as Labour Party Marxists (LPM). The content of these articles appears to meet the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, which has been adopted by the Labour Party.

This initial letter clearly focuses on the charge of anti-Semitism – although hedged around with the qualifications of “apparently” and “appears to meet”. Only in its second section does it raise as a problem the comrade’s

involvement and support for both LPM and the Communist Party of Great Britain (through your participation in CPGB events and regular contributions to the CPGB’s newspaper, the Weekly Worker) … Membership or support for another political party, or a political organisation with incompatible aims to the Labour Party, is incompatible with Labour Party membership.

Civil war

So, clearly, comrade Machover was reported to the compliance unit because of his “apparently anti-Semitic article”. But this alone would have only led to his suspension (as with Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein and Ken Livingstone – comrades who have all been suspended for well over a year). But then the eager-beaver bureaucrats in the compliance unit decided to add LPM and the Weekly Worker to their unpublished list of proscribed organisations (officially abolished in the 1970s). Et voila! Comrade Machover could be expelled. Naturally, this charge saved the compliance unit a great deal of bother in terms of trying actually prove that comrade Machover’s article was indeed anti-Semitic.

Or so they thought.

Within days, dozens of Labour Party members, branches and organisations had sent statements and letters of protest to the NEC, Labour general secretary Iain McNicol and his letter-writer, Sam Matthews (“head of disputes”). The clearly arbitrary nature of the accusations was challenged, particularly the charge that his article was anti-Semitic. Many of these protests (and comrade Machover’s expulsion letters) can be found on our website.

Clearly, this pressure made an impact. On October 5, comrade Machover received expulsion letter number two. “Following our letter dated October 3 2017, representations have been made to the Labour Party on your behalf,” it states. No doubt slightly rattled by these “representations”, McNicol and co backtracked with a ‘qualification’:

For the avoidance of any doubt, you are not ineligible for membership as a result of complaints received by the party that you have breached rule 2.I.8 regarding language which may be prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the party in an allegedly anti-Semitic article published in your name. These allegations are not subject to an investigation, as you are not currently a member of the Labour Party.

Well, yes, you’ve just expelled him, haven’t you, Iain?

Comrade Machover was told: “You have been automatically excluded under rule 2.I.4.B due to your clear support of at least one organisation which is incompatible with membership of the Labour Party, namely Labour Party Marxists, as well as the Communist Party of Great Britain.” The charge of having produced anti-Semitic material will handily be kept on file and re-examined should comrade Machover chose to reapply for membership after the standard five years following an expulsion.

Comrade Machover, in reminding the labour movement of the communist witch-hunts of the McCarthy area in the US, has publicly stated: “I am not and nor have I ever been a member of LPM or the CPGB.” We can fully confirm he has never been an LPM member (though we doubt the compliance unit takes much notice of our assurances).

His “clear support” consisted of writing articles for the Weekly Worker and attending some events organised by the CPGB. However, if the same rule were applied to the front bench of the Labour Party, there would be very few MPs left.

Whose rules?

Clearly, this expulsion goes right to the heart of the civil war in the Labour Party. The more naive Labour members might believe the nonsense about the whole party now ‘standing united behind Jeremy Corbyn’. The opposite is the case. The more branch and CLP executives go over to the left, the more pro-Corbyn councillors and MPs are selected, the more leftwing delegates are chosen to go to conference, the more desperately the right is trying to retain their hold over the bureaucracy.

The expulsion of comrade Machover, together with LPM supporters, shows how much arbitrary power the right still wields. One member was expelled for the crime of sharing six LPM posts on Facebook – the only evidence presented in his letter of expulsion.

Let’s look at the main charge being levelled. The rule quoted by Matthews, is 2.1.4.B and concerns “Exclusions from party membership”:

A member of the party who joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the party, or supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate, or publicly declares their intent to stand against a Labour candidate, shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a party member …

For decades, nobody had been expelled for simply belonging to another organisation and the only criterion applied when it came to the (very rare) expulsions was the bit about supporting “any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate”. But after Corbyn’s election the right started to use every method at its disposal to defeat the left. Supporters of Socialist Appeal, many of whom had been loyal and pretty harmless members of the Labour Party for decades, were now targeted. Then, thanks to Tom Watson’s ‘reds under the bed’ dossier, it was the turn of Alliance for Workers’ Liberty members.

But if members face automatic expulsion for joining or supporting any “political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the party”, that begs the question why members and supporters of Labour First, Progress, Jewish Labour Movement or Labour Friends of Israel are not turfed out.

McNicol was recently asked exactly this question by comrades from Weaver Vale CLP. Incredibly, he answered – at length. We quote his email of February 13 2017, because it is highly instructive when it comes to how rules are being bent and twisted in today’s Labour Party:

As our head of internal governance advised you, independent groups are not required to conform with Labour Party rules on affiliations and none of the organisations you describe are affiliated to the Labour Party. However, all individual members of the Labour Party are obliged to comply with Labour Party rules. These organisations are their own legal entities with their own funds, membership and rules. If they wish to affiliate to the Labour Party they must demonstrate that they support Labour’s aims and values and provide the party with audited accounts and their rulebook to ensure that these do not conflict with Labour’s own rules and values [our emphasis].

As previously advised, the Labour Party should be the home of lively debate, of new ideas and of campaigns to change society. For a fair debate to take place, people must be able to air their views. This includes for all members and groups the right to make clear their opposition to a party’s policy position or leadership, and the right to campaign for a position or direction they believe the party should follow. We are a democratic organisation and through our conference we settle our direction through the will of all sections of the party. But we do not seek to censor those who disagree.

In your correspondence … you refer to chapter 2, clause 1, section 4.B. However, you have only quoted half of the relevant sentence. The full clause copied below specifically relates to joining or supporting a political organisation that stands or publicly declares an intention to stand a candidate against an official Labour candidate. None of the organisations you describe have stood or have declared an intent to stand a candidate against an official Labour candidate [our emphasis].

So how does all this relate to comrade Machover and Labour Party Marxists – which has never stood or declared “an intention to stand” against Labour?


Note that McNicol stresses members’ and groups’ “right to make clear their opposition to a party’s policy position or leadership, and the right to campaign for a position or direction they believe the party should follow”. According to his email, only when a group wants to “affiliate to the party” does it have to “demonstrate that they support Labour’s aims and values”.

This is clearly not the case when it comes to the left of the party. In their expulsion letters, LPM supporters have been told:

This organisation’s expressed aims and principles are incompatible with those of the Labour Party, as set out in clause IV of the Labour Party constitutional rules. Membership or support for another political party, or a political organisation with incompatible aims to the Labour Party, is incompatible with Labour Party membership.

Needless to say, LPM has not applied for affiliation. And, all of a sudden, Labour is not that “home of lively debate, of new ideas and of campaigns to change society”.

In reality of course, it all depends on what kind of change your organisation wants to see. We make no secret of our belief that clause four needs to be dramatically reworded to feature a clear commitment to socialism and working class power. While we fight for the radical transformation of the Labour Party, Labour First, Progress, JLM and Labour Friends of Israel clearly want to return to the good old days of Blairite neoliberalism and collaboration with big business.

Speaking of Tony Blair, he certainly was one Labour Party member whose “expressed aims and principles” were “incompatible with those of the Labour Party”, as set out in clause four. After all, he campaigned against the old clause four and managed to force through a total rewrite!

Hugh Gaitskell, another Labour leader, also showed his “incompatibility”. After losing the 1959 general election, he was convinced that public opposition to nationalisation had led to the party’s poor performance. He proposed to amend clause four. The left fought back, however, and defeated moves for change: symbolically, in fact, it was agreed that the clause was to be included on party membership cards.1)www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/aug/09/clause-iv-of-labour-party-constitution-what-is-all-the-fuss-about-reinstating-it

The Campaign for Labour Party Democracy has set up a working group to discuss how clause four should be changed. Does that make the CLPD “incompatible” with the Labour Party?

In our view, the people and organisations “incompatible” with the aims and values of the Labour Party are those who vote with the Tories on austerity, those who wage war on migrants and the poorest section of society and those who scream ‘anti-Semites!’ in response to criticism of the state of Israel.

While rules can protect us from the worst excesses of arbitrary abuse, they can be interpreted, bent and twisted ad absurdum by those in charge. It all depends on the balance of forces in the party.