Tag Archives: Jewish Labour Movement

Fast-track expulsions will make the Anti-Semitism crisis worse

Saturday’s so-called debate on rule changes to Labour’s constitution was shambolic. It highlighted the huge democratic deficit at conference. The chair raced through the 27 rule changes and delegates only got to see the seven NEC proposals that very morning, as part of the 225 page report of the Conference Arrangements Committee.

About a dozen CLPs withdrew their motions on conference floor, most by not moving them. There is a logic here. Given the NEC opposed pretty much all rule changes that were not their own, chances of a majority for a CLP proposal were slim. There are dire consequences for a rule change if voted down at conference: It not only falls, but the subject cannot be revisited by conference for three years. Ironically, one of the rule changes not moved was an attempt by East Devon CLP (card vote 10) to reform this undemocratic rule by adding that motions supported by at least five CLPs should be discussed in subsequent conferences.

Withdrawing motions – when it is clear they will not get a majority – can therefore be a good tactic to allow the subject to come back next year. However, we cannot understand why comrades – apart from a few – did not use their three-minute time slot to withdraw in an orderly fashion by explaining the motivation behind their motion.
It was particularly sad that delegates from Ceredigion CLP and Enfield Southgate CLP (card votes 15 and 16) did not make use of their time slots. Both put forward rule changes which sought to make the disciplinary process more transparent, enshrine the right to appeal and ensure that cases are dealt with promptly. Speakers could have bolstered the powerful speeches in opposition to card vote 6, the NEC’s proposals on the disciplinary process.

A (slim) majority of CLP delegates (52% against) voted against the NEC proposals – a rare occurence at Labour Party conference.  Sadly, as the overwhelming majority of affiliates (unions, socialist societies etc) voted in favour of the proposals (98%), the rule change has now passed. This underlines once again that the democratisation of the unions and their participation in the Labour Party is a hugely important task for the Labour left.

Card vote 6 makes sweeping reforms to the disciplinary process. Momentum – on the wrong side of the debate once again – urged supporters in its delegate briefings to vote for the proposals, because “these changes are central to improving the Party’s disciplinary system.”

The new rules certainly tighten the system. For example, until now suspended members were able to participate in their branch meetings (“unless the reason for the suspension in part or in full is their conduct in party meetings”) and were allowed to attend any CLP meetings “to participate in ballots.” This has now been abolished, leading to the political isolation of the member.

The most important change is howeve on “fast track expulsions”. The NEC has given itself the right to arbitrarily expel members judged irredeemable. The key paragraph reads:

“The NEC and NCC shall not have regard to the mere holding or expression of beliefs and opinions except in any instance inconsistent with the Party’s aims and values, agreed codes of conduct, or involving prejudice towards any protected characteristic.”

Supposedly, this formulation is the magic bullet that will finally end the anti-Semitism smear campaign in Labour. The rule change that will finally appease the right wing in and outside the party and end their relentless campaign against Corbyn.

Of course, this will not work. The Jewish Labour Movement complained immediately that they had not been consulted (enough). Sure enough, Mike Katz – opposing card vote 6 – commented during the debate that “our relationship is at an all time low”. The “Jewish community” (defined by who?) and the JLM have asked for “independence and this does not deliver it. We don’t trust the NEC to deliver fast track justice.”

The next speaker, Duncan Shipley Dalton, found himself in the  “strange position that I agree with the previous speaker, [we should] strongly oppose card vote 6. We believe in natural justice. It is a travesty of justice. Adopting the IHRA didn’t solve this crisis and this will not solve it either.” Quite right. The comrade offered to represent any victims of this new rule on  pro bono basis.

Maggie Cosin, former chair of the National Constitutional Committee (which richly deserves its nickname, the ‘National Kangaroo Court) spoke against sidelining the NCC and assured the audience that the current manifestation of this body ticked all the required boxes. However, the power to expel members in the hands of the NEC – in current conditions – is no good either. Contrary to the media’s febrile imagination, the NEC is not dominated by the ‘left’ (even if you include Jon Lansman in that category).

Labour HQ seems set on a path of self-destruction. The leadership’s fast track expulsions is a green light for a tsunami of allegations against Labour members, with the prospect – given the low standards of ‘evidence’ generally required – of 1,000s more vexatious allegations.

We need to reiterate the truth about this McCarthyite witch-hunt. Comrades like Jackie Walker, Chris Williamson, Stan Keable et al are simply collateral damage. The specific target is Corbyn and the general aim is to put the left “back in its box”, as one despicable rightwing Labour MP put it in a rare moment of candour.
The current tactics of Corbyn and his allies will more or less guarantee our defeat. Appeasement never works. Your opponent simply grows stronger.

From Peterborough to Pompeo

With every new victim of the witch-hunt, the requirements to qualify as an ‘anti-Semite’ are substantially lowered, says Carla Roberts

It is fair to say that Lisa Forbes has saved Jeremy Corbyn’s bacon. Until the very last moment, it looked like we might have to witness the election of the first ever Brexit Party MP, which, considering the massively unfavourable conditions of the June 6 by-election in Peterborough, would have been entirely feasible. And, considering how negatively Labour’s victory has been presented, we can only guess how bad the media coverage would have been if Labour had lost the seat.

Firstly, there was the fact that the constituency saw the first ever application of the Recall of MPs Act of 2015, which stipulates that any MP who receives a prison sentence of a year or less is subject to a recall petition (MPs who are sentenced to more than a year are automatically forced to step down). Fiona Onasanya lost her appeal on March 5 and on March 19 the petition was opened, quickly garnering the support of a whopping 27.6% of the local eligible electorate, thereby vastly exceeding the 10% required. True, Jeremy Corbyn had called on Onasanya to step down voluntarily, but her desperate clinging on to her very lucrative job will have no doubt seriously impacted on the Labour Party’s electoral appeal.

Secondly, following on so quickly from the EU elections, Brexit Party candidate Mike Green was riding quite a wave – especially when one considers that 60.9% in Peterborough voted ‘leave’ in the 2016 referendum. Forbes’ victory is an answer to all those who are convinced that Jeremy Corbyn “must” come out strongly in favour of Brexit and even “campaign” for it, as the Communist Party of Britain’s Morning Star recently demanded. But, of course, it will not stop them.

Just like it will not shut up those up who are certain that only coming out for a second referendum will improve Labour’s electoral chances: witness the elevation of the Labour MP Marie Rimmer, who used this week’s meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party to slap down Corbyn over the “lack of leadership over Europe”, stating “it was not easy for me to vote Labour” in the EU elections (needless to say, she wants a second referendum). Apparently, this made it Corbyn’s “worst meeting as leader”, because this “ally of Jeremy Corbyn” 1)The Times June 12 2019 had apparently “never spoken out” against him before.2)The Guardian June11 2019 Er, not quite. In 2016, she participated in the coup against Corbyn and publicly backed Owen Smith. True, since then she kept her mouth shut when it comes to Corbyn (and much else), confirming perhaps that her chief loyalty is to her job.

Despite renewed reports that Jeremy Corbyn was about to come out publicly for a second referendum (no doubt written in order to push him in that direction), it seems he is still sticking to his position of ‘studied ambiguity’. How else should we interpret his public put down of Emily Thornberry, who has been, we are told, “demoted” after calling for a second referendum and was not allowed to deputise for him at prime minister’s question time last week. There are rumours she will be demoted to the back benches soon – indicating that perhaps behind the scenes there has been quite a falling out (after all, Keir Starmer is not being demoted). In any case, we certainly will not be shedding any tears for this member of the Labour Friends of Israel.

From a limited electoral perspective, Corbyn’s position still makes a lot of sense. Coming out firmly on either side of the binary debate will do nothing to increase Labour’s chances at the ballot box. The ‘remain’ side is well covered by the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and the Scottish National Party, while the Brexit Party is successfully scooping up the hard-core Brexit vote. From a Marxist point of view, however, Labour’s outlook is seriously limited. Where is the plan for a radically democratised Europe and its institutions? Where is the vision of the working class across Europe (and globally) taking matters into their own hands? Where is the plan to take on international capitalism? Unfortunately, while Corbyn quite rightly refuses to pick a side, he has also not attempted to break out of this false ‘in or out’ dichotomy.

Jewish Labour Movement

Back to Peterborough, where Lisa Forbes won despite having been declared an anti-Semite by large sections of the bourgeois press, as well as plenty of voices within the Labour Party. It seems that, with every new victim of the witch-hunt, the requirements to qualify as an anti-Semite are substantially lowered.

We learned that Forbes had ‘liked’ a video on Facebook that expressed solidarity with the victims of the Christchurch terror attack. The problem was that Forbes seemed not to have read the slightly rambling intro of the person sharing the video, in which he wrote about Theresa May having a “Zionist slavemaster agenda”.

She also commented: “I have enjoyed reading this thread so much. So much that tries to divide us, but there is far much more that unites us all” – underneath a rather long post by the same person. His first language clearly is not English and her comment was no doubt aimed at his worry about the perception of “Islam being a threat to the UK”, when it really is a “peace-loving religion”. He also wrote – and this is the bone of contention – that “now with evidence in hand of the funding and the creation of such extremists [Islamic State, etc] by the CIA and Mossad supported by British imperialism we don’t get these same people making condemnations to your leaders”. It is certainly a historic, if inconvenient, fact that organisations like al Qa’eda were armed and financially supported by the US and Saudi Arabia when they were fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

For Labour MP Wes Streeting, these two very limited Facebook engagements by Lisa Forbes constitute “anti-Semitic media activity”. The equally revolting Jess Phillips MP complained that “Lisa ignored and endorsed anti-Semitic things”, which means that, sadly, Jess could not be “as gleeful or proud as I’d want to be [at the Peterborough result], because of how it shows that anti-Semitism is becoming normal in the party.” Not to be outdone, Margaret Hodge MP has “formally raised concerns with the party’s leadership.”

It is a sad testament to the current state of play in the party that these rightwingers can make such utterly baseless accusations without any repercussions. Forbes did not say or write anything anti-Semitic – even the posts she briefly engaged with can hardly be described as such.

For the Jewish Labour Movement (which disgracefully is allowed to remain affiliated to the Labour Party), the worst of Lisa’s offences, however, was her support for one of the many open letters and petitions that called on the Labour Party’s NEC “to resist calls to adopt all 11 examples accompanying the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism into the party’s code of conduct on anti-Semitism”.

According to the JLM, it is this that warrants Forbes’ suspension: “The [Parliamentary Labour Party] called for the party to adopt the IHRA definition. Given her previous rejection of IHRA, Ms Forbes should have the whip suspended immediately.” The open letter quite rightly stated that some of the examples might “be used to silence discussion” – this ridiculous reaction by the JLM underlines exactly how right Forbes and the other 2,000 people were to sign it. While Forbes has apologised for not reading the two Facebook posts properly, we understand that she has not backtracked on her support for the IHRA letter. Good.

We also welcome the fact that Jeremy Corbyn has rejected the claim that she is an anti-Semite. It is difficult though not to think of the fate of all the other Corbyn supporters who have been left high and dry by the leader’s office, despite the charges against them being as ridiculous as those against Forbes. Where is Corbyn’s public support for Chris Williamson, Pete Willsman, Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Tony Greenstein and all the others who have been smeared as anti-Semites?

Of course, Corbyn himself is now firmly in that category. Witness the current health secretary and Tory leadership contender, Matt Hancock, who outrageously warned at a Westminster hustings event that “we could end up with the first anti-Semitic leader of a western nation since the Second World War”.


The latest intervention on the issue of anti-Semitism has come from Peter Hain. In a 3,000-word document he is calling for “a debate on the issue” of Israel and Palestine (including “the abhorrent treatment of Palestinians by successive Israeli governments”), rather than focussing “upon process – are those charged with anti-Semitic behaviour being properly disciplined by the party’s leadership or not?”

That sounds reasonable enough. But dig a little deeper and this intervention can, predictably enough, be safely filed under ‘anti-Corbyn propaganda’. Hain’s collaborator in the 3,000-word document is Daniel Levy, a former advisor to the Israeli prime ministers, Ehud Barak and Yitzhak Rabin, and a trustee of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

As a former minister with responsibility for the Middle East, Peter Hain faithfully voted for Tony Blair’s war on Iraq. He is about as qualified to make this intervention as Blair was when he was appointed ‘Middle Eastern peace envoy’ after having been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. While Hain is a tad more critical about Israel’s actions, they are actually singing from the same anti-Corbyn hymn sheet.

“The curse of anti-Semitism is paralysing the Labour Party,” Hain and Levy write and now the “serious problem has become a crisis”, in which “somehow the party has managed to alienate the vast majority of Jewish members and the Jewish community, while doing nothing to advance the debate on Israel/Palestine, let alone justice for Palestinians”. And, while they’re at it, those two brave campaigners are doing their best to also label anti-capitalism as anti-Semitic: “Classic leftwing anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic tropes of global conspiratorial capitalist cabals and class enemies has further poisoned the debate.”

Describing the phrase “class enemies” as an “anti-Semitic trope” does sum up rather neatly the whole ‘anti-Semitism’ debate in the Labour Party. It is an entirely manufactured and fabricated scandal to keep Corbyn out of 10 Downing Street. After all, the man and his supporters believe that there are diametrically opposed classes in society! Burn the witch!

Sadly, the incredible success of the campaign to falsely equate anti-Zionism (and anti-capitalism) with anti-Semitism has much to do with Jeremy Corbyn himself. Needless to say, there are some members of a party with over half a million members who hold racist views (as there will probably be some who hold the view that the earth is flat). But the claim that that there is an “institutional”, “widespread” or “massive” problem with anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is an outright lie. Had Corbyn called this out from the start, it would not have become such a huge crisis. Had he shrugged or laughed it off like all the other accusations (terrorist-lover, IRA sympathiser, Czech spy), the Labour left would today be in a much stronger position.

Instead, he and his advisors accepted the charge, thereby fuelling the fire and encouraging all those set on getting rid of him. In the foolish belief that he could appease his critics and the PLP right, he allowed them to pick off his most ardent supporters one by one – be it over anti-Semitism, bringing the party into disrepute or for having supported this or that small leftwing group.

In the process, he has allowed the right to become hugely emboldened and strengthened, while Labour members – still overwhelmingly supportive of Corbyn – have been denied the opportunity to remake the party. Overdue plans to democratise the Labour Party during the so-called Corbyn Review were first watered down and then reduced to nothing at last year’s conference. The popular proposal to reintroduce the mandatory reselection of all MPs was scrapped in favour of a reform of the trigger ballot – and even this is now deemed too radical and too much of a declaration of war on the majority of rightwing MPs, who quite rightly fear that the local membership might give them their marching orders.

We are, of course, still waiting for the overdue implementation of the trigger ballot reform, which was first announced in January this year. It seems to us that exaggerated reports of this week’s PLP rebellion have a lot to do with this issue – ie, Corbyn and Labour HQ are once again being warned not to implement the reform, which is currently the only method by which Constituency Labour Parties can get rid of a sitting MP. Unfortunately, however, it is only groups such as Labour Against the Witchhunt and Labour Party Marxists which are campaigning on trigger ballots.

That this civil war is not just confined to the Labour Party and is indeed an international issue was once again underlined this week: US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has kindly reminded us what a blow to the international ruling class the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader was – and, most importantly, how far it will go to stop him becoming prime minister.

In a secretly recorded meeting Pompeo said:

It could be that Mr Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected. It’s possible. You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back. We will do our level best. It’s too risky and too important and too hard, once it’s already happened.

As Jonathan Cook tweeted, “Hard … not to suspect that the US is already helping to ensure Corbyn doesn’t become PM.”


1 The Times June 12 2019
2 The Guardian June11 2019

Pete Willsman’s suspension: all part of the coup against Corbyn

Pete Willsman is the victim of a well-timed sting – yet his own CLPD comrades will not stand in solidarity with him. Carla Roberts reports

On May 31, Labour Party general secretary Jennie Formby informed other members of the national executive committee that she had put Pete Willsman under “administrative suspension” after having “received a number of complaints, including from NEC members”, about his latest comments”.

Comrade Willsman, who has been serving on the NEC since 1981 (1994 was the only year he was not re-elected), was caught by the Israeli-American author, Tuvia Tenenbom, making a number of unguarded comments on the so-called ‘anti-Semitism crisis’ in the party. Unaware of being recorded, Willsman apparently boasted that he is “Peter. Red Pete. They call me Corbyn’s enforcer”. But that cannot actually be heard in the heavily edited clip that runs for 102 seconds on LBC radio’s website and forms – so far – the only evidence. Here is a full transcript of the clip:

The rich control the papers, the rich control everything else and the rich know he’s going to make them pay taxes [edited gap].

One of these things about anti-Semitism is they’re using that to whip people up – they use anything, any lies. It’s all total lies and they whip it up. [Tenenbom makes positive grunting noises.] I’ll tell you what and this is off the record: it is almost certain who is behind all of this anti-Semitism against Jeremy. Almost certainly it was the Israeli embassy. [Tenenbom encouragingly says, “Really?”] Yes, they caught somebody in the Labour Party it turns out was an agent in the embassy [edited gap].

The people in the Labour Party doing it, they are people who are linked – one of them works indirectly for the Israeli embassy. I wouldn’t want to be bothered to find out, but my guess would be that they’re the ones whipping it up all the time [edited gap].

In The Guardian not long ago we had 69 rabbis, obviously organised by the Israeli embassy, saying anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is widespread and severe. Is 70 out of 600,000 [members] really widespread and severe? Is it widespread and severe? [Tenenbom can be heard murmuring, “No”.] From here [Oxford] to London it is 70 kilometres and 600,000 kilometres is 14 times around the whole world. They’re saying from here to London is widespread and severe compared to 14 times around the whole world. That is the rubbish they’re coming out with.

And that is it. Clearly, nothing Willsman said here is either anti-Semitic or warrants suspension. Unaware that he was being recorded, he might otherwise have been a little more vague when it comes to a number of details. The 69 rabbis, for example, might well have been organised by the Board of Deputies (though there is little doubt that they also have close links to the embassy). Also, we are not quite sure who it is he means who worked “indirectly for the Israeli embassy”. He was probably referring to Ella Rose, who used to work there – pretty directly – as a public affairs officer, before becoming director of the Jewish Labour Movement, which is affiliated to the Labour Party.

Throughout the short clip, Willsman must obviously have referred to the fascinating documentary, The lobby, which has been wilfully ignored by the mainstream media. The documentary revealed the systematic efforts by the Israeli embassy to involve itself in the internal battles in the Labour Party. It also revealed the campaign by the Israeli ministry of strategic affairs to label opponents of Israel as anti-Semites. Labour Friends of Israel and the Jewish Labour Movement have quite clearly been acting as the embassy’s ‘political arm in the Labour Party’. Ella Rose is shown in The lobby boasting about JLM’s relationship with Shai Masot: “We work with Shai, we know him very well.” Masot was the Israeli embassy spy forced out of his job (and the UK) after Al Jazeera exposed him plotting to “take down” various politicians.

Naturally, political interference via secret services, embassies, media outlets and many other avenues is widespread and commonplace (the reason we pay our taxes!). But the Israeli government’s campaign to topple Jeremy Corbyn has been particularly blatant and obvious. It is this campaign of interference that should be the subject of an overdue investigation rather than Pete Willsman. And this is what Jeremy Corbyn actually publicly demanded when The lobby was first aired in 2017.

But it is fair to say that the party has gone a bit quiet on the issue. We know why, of course: Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Corbyn and his advisors still seem to believe that they can appease the right, many of whom have close relationships with LFI and the JLM. How else do you explain the proposed appointment of Tony Blair’s buddy, Lord Charlie Falconer, to head up yet another party investigation into anti-Semitism? Luckily for Corbyn, Falconer declined. A few days ago he explained to BBC Radio 4 about how Willsman had “attacked the Jewish embassy”. Is he really suggesting that this is the embassy for all Jews? What a suicidal appointment that would have been!

Michael Moore of the Zionist right

The carefully timed and choreographed ‘expose’ of Willsman should prove to Corbyn once and for all how futile is his ongoing campaign to try and appease the right. Willsman was recorded in January, but Tenenbom (and LBC radio) waited almost six months to publish the audio recording – no doubt so that it could coincide nicely with the pressure building up over a second Brexit referendum, the bad EU election results, the investigation into ‘Labour anti-Semitism’ by the Equality Commission (see below) and the attacks on Labour’s Peterborough by-election candidate, Lisa Forbes. The aim is clear: the Labour right – in cahoots with much of the establishment and the media – want to weaken and isolate Jeremy Corbyn in order to get rid of him. Willsman is – like so many others – nothing but collateral damage.

Contrary to the picture painted in the mainstream media of Tuvia Tenenbom as some kind of respectable and neutral ‘journalist’ who just happened to run into Willsman in a hotel bar (and whose sound engineer just happened to leave a microphone switched on and set to ‘record’), this has more than the whiff of a sting operation about it. Tenenbom, clearly a convinced Zionist, has published a number of books in which he uses exactly this kind of method: he takes on a different persona and secretly films and records people, leading them on and guiding them into making exactly the kind of unguarded comments he was looking for – all in order to prove how anti-Semitism is rife in Germany, Palestine, the USA, etc. He is like a Michael Moore of the Zionist right – but on a much lower level.

Tenenbom told LBC radio: “He [Pete Willsman] is a nice guy, he has a great sense of humour, he’s knowledgeable. But like Jeremy Corbyn – I met Jeremy and he’s also a nice guy, very fatherly – but they suffer from a disease of really hating the Jews.” Tenenbom has also given lectures, in which he explains why “the suffering of Palestinian people is bullshit” (since you ask, he knows that because he got hold of a nicely produced business card by a Palestinian businessman and visited Palestinian shopping malls that sell some luxury goods).

Clearly, this is a man on a mission. Pete Willsman would have done well to at least quickly Google the guy before he sat down with him for a cup of coffee, talking about one of the most sensitive issues in today’s political discourse. Especially as he was once before the victim: in July 2018, an unnamed fellow member of the NEC secretly recorded Willsman when he angrily criticised all those who were responsible for so many false allegations of anti-Semitism in the party – and then outrageously passed the audio to the press. Clearly, that member should have been investigated for bringing the party into disrepute, not Willsman for stating the plain truth.


That episode last year also exposed how far Jon Lansman, founder of Momentum, has moved to the right. Rather than defend his comrade of over 30 years, he dropped him from the slate of recommended candidates for election to the NEC. The fact that comrade Willsman was re-elected nevertheless shows both his popularity and the increasing disillusionment with Momentum among party members. It has been worse than useless in fighting the witch-hunt in the Labour Party – in fact it has been complicit.

Just this week, Lansman was yet again busy conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, when he celebrated the dismissal of George Galloway by Talkradio: “Talkradio is right to sack George Galloway for what he said. Anti-Semitism must be rooted out and rejected by all socialists, alongside all other forms of racism and hate speech.”

We are no fans of Galloway, especially since his idiotic support for the xenophobe and chauvinist, Nigel Farage, and his rightwing Brexit Party. But was his tweet really anti-Semitic? While celebrating Liverpool’s win over Tottenham Hotspurs in the Champions League final, he wrote that there would be “no Israel flags on the cup”. Galloway was referencing the fact that some Spurs fans – who famously identify themselves as the “Yid army” – do indeed carry flags with the blue and white Israeli national emblem on them. Galloway’s tweet exaggerated the scale of the pro-Israel sentiment among Spurs fans – but, in any case, he was referring to Israel, not Jews. With such tweets, Lansman is helping to feed the anti-Corbyn witch-hunt.

As an aside, “Momentum’s most engaged and active members” have just received Lansman’s proposals to “democratise the organisation” (funnily enough, this includes at least one person who has been suspended from Momentum for the last six months, as well as people who assure us that they have not paid their membership fees for the last two years). So exciting times: will we finally see a democratic conference, where members can vote to get rid of Lansman as the owner, leader and all-round puppet-master of the group? Or perhaps we might be given a fair chance to democratically decide a constitution and get rid of the one that Lansman imposed after his coup of January 10 2017? Or, you know, maybe members might be given some say on the kind of campaigns and political priorities we want Momentum to advance? Which surely would be way to the left of what Lansman is doing.

Of course not. Lansman is suggesting three things: (1) to increase the number of regions from three to five; (2) increase the number of directly ‘elected’ people on the leading body from 12 to 20; and (3), our favourite proposal, get rid of the annual ‘elections’ and instead only bother with them every two years. Because, you see, “a relatively high level of resources are diverted into running elections rather than other activities.” That is a classic: increase democracy by decreasing elections. Brilliant.

This last proposal actually seems to be the main reason for the ‘consultation’ (which lasts a staggering seven days, giving the few remaining Momentum groups no time to discuss them). Proposal 1 and 2 are obviously bullshit and will do nothing to democratise anything, but it seems that the annual charade of online elections (where isolated members are asked to choose between candidates of which they know very little) seems to be too burdensome for our Jon. So this is not a proposal to democratise Momentum, but, on the contrary, to make it even less accountable.


A Zionist himself, Lansman has been partly to blame for the scale of the ‘Anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ smear campaign in the Labour Party. It is an outrage that Labour members are being suspended, investigated and expelled for stating the truth: that the so-called anti-Semitism crisis in the Labour Party has been cynically manufactured and carefully directed. Meanwhile, anti-Corbyn MPs, such as Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman and Tom Watson, insult, disrupt, make bogus accusations and work hand in glove with the capitalist media – with no repercussions. “Those making false charges ought to face disciplinary action and should be held accountable for their actions” – as Labour Against the Witchhunt’s recent statement and model motion on Willsman correctly declares (see page 11).”

However, the opposite is happening. The expulsion of the Blairite plotter, Alistair Campbell, is now being “reviewed” – we fear that his reinstatement is imminent. And that despite the fact that he has openly boasted about voting for the Liberal Democrats, no doubt in order to provoke an action by the party and, of course, the subsequent counter-reaction by Tom Watson et al, who claim to be outraged by this application of Labour’s rules. No such leniency is applied when it comes to the auto-expulsion of (leftwing) members who have merely wished candidates in other parties “good luck”. The double standards applied here are staggering and underline which way the scales in the civil war are still tilting.

Similarly, the Labour Party should call out the investigation by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) for what it is: part of the latest move against Corbyn. The complaints were lodged by the Jewish Labour Movement and the so-called Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. Clearly these two organisations have no interest in fighting racism at all: their only purpose is to get rid of a certain Jeremy Corbyn and they have actively plotted against him from day one. The JLM was refounded in 2015 specifically to campaign against Corbyn and Tony Greenstein has described how the CAA has campaigned almost exclusively against Corbyn rather than anti-Semitism or racism.

The EHRC will now investigate “whether the party has unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people because they are Jewish”. But, if there has been any unlawful discrimination by Labour against Jewish people, surely it has been against Jewish anti-Zionists. Many of them, as well as black members, are involved in the struggle for Palestinian rights, which explains the disproportionate number of expulsions and suspensions of black and Jewish comrades.

In this context, we are somewhat puzzled by the strategy proposed by a number of black activists, who think that Labour Party members should now swamp the EHRC with examples of anti-black racism. Clearly, that would only give the witch-hunters even more ammunition and lead to the predictable result that the party – and specifically Corbyn – will not just be found guilty of anti-Semitism, but of other forms of racism too. That is not exactly a winning strategy, comrades.

Trigger ballots

At the heart of the latest move is the news that the overdue trigger ballots – by which sitting Labour MPs are subjected to a possible reselection ballot of members – might finally be implemented after all. We have to say, we remain a little sceptical. Of course, as a reform agreed at last year’s Labour Party conference, it should be implemented. After all, it was only ever a compromise cobbled together with the unions to hold off the far more democratic proposal to re-establish the mandatory reselection of all parliamentary candidates (aka open selection), which would otherwise have gone through.

Still, even this slight reform represents a serious danger to many careerist MPs, who quite rightly fear that the local membership might give them the axe, given half a chance. In particular it is the separation of the trigger ballot into two separate votes that could see sitting MPs being democratically challenged for the first time since 1990. Then, Neil Kinnock abolished mandatory reselection and instead introduced the trigger ballot system, where a total of 33% of all Labour Party branches and affiliated organisations (each branch and affiliate having one vote) had to oppose the sitting MP in order to spark a full selection process between different candidates. Democrat that he is, Tony Blair increased the threshold to 50%.

It is now back at 33%, but, crucially, a full selection process starts when either 33% of a Constituency Labour Party’s branches or 33% of its affiliates say ‘no’ to the sitting MP. This is hugely important, as trade unions and other affiliated organisations have in the past often played a negative role, using their votes to side with the right in holding off more leftwing challengers supported by the CLP’s branches.

But, unless the NEC publishes a timetable and guidelines on how to launch such trigger ballots, nothing can happen. In January, Jennie Formby was commissioned by the NEC to urgently produce such documents – but then Chukka Umunna and his friends split from the party and the leadership got cold feet. “In an attempt to stop further defections, Labour could delay the start of re-election battles,” reported The Guardian in February. It added: “Labour is set to put back the start of the formal MP selection process … which could have led to vast numbers of MPs facing deselection.”

Perhaps it was the hilarious news that Change UK was about to split itself into oblivion that led to the latest reports about the overdue implementation of the trigger ballots being imminent. As we said, while we would obviously welcome such a move, we remain sceptical. After all, it would require Jeremy Corbyn and his allies to finally come out fighting and stop their campaign of appeasing those rightwingers who would probably get the chop by the local membership. And we have yet to see any evidence of that.

CLPD silence

Unfortunately, the same goes for Peter Willsman’s own organisation, the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy. The CLPD is characterised by its uncritical support for (or, more precisely, total submission to the thinking of) Jeremy Corbyn. In fact, the first sentence of the lead motion to its recent AGM (written, we believe, by Willsman) read, rather creepily: “Full support to the party leader at all times”. That also just about sums up its current attitude to the witch-hunt against its secretary, Pete Willsman: Because Jeremy Corbyn remains tight-lipped and does not come out in support of Willsman, neither does the CLPD.

In fact, the organisation and its leader have been very quiet over the whole witch-hunt. Had it not been for the two secret recordings of Willsman, we would not actually have known where exactly he stands on the issue of the smear campaign. Shortly after Chris Williamson’s suspension, the CLPD published a short, mealy-mouthed defence of the MP – but also distributed the so-called instruction that allegedly bans branches and CLPs from discussing any motions on ongoing disciplinary cases. As Labour Against the Witchhunt has usefully pointed out, there is in fact “no ban” on such motions. “True, they are categorised as “not competent business” (which means they will not be discussed by the NEC), but it is always up to the members of any meeting to decide what they want to discuss.

And every single statement, every public resolution will add to the pressure to get our comrades reinstated whether the NEC discusses them or not.

However, the CLPD pretends nothing has happened. We are assured that “of course” CLPD members stand in solidarity with Pete. But no public statement has gone out, explaining how their comrade was the victim of a sting, no information has been sent to members – nothing. Unsurprisingly though, behind the scenes all hell has broken loose. We hear that Willsman was urged by other officers to resign as CLPD secretary, though that does not actually seem necessary, as the ridiculous rules of the organisation only allow full Labour members to be members. With his suspension from the party, he was automatically suspended by the CLPD. The chickens have come home to roost …

He was swiftly replaced by Barry Gray and Jake Rubin, with the latter being particularly keen to distance the organisation from Willsman. We have been forwarded an email of Rubin’s, where he argues: “Pete should apologise for his comments and I won’t be advising that CLPD defend them. ‎It is not true that the problem of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is solely the product of Israel.”

Pete Willsman did not actually say that. Remember, on the tape we can only hear a version of his comments that was heavily and purposefully edited. For example, at one point Willsman quite clearly states he is talking about “all of this anti-Semitism against Jeremy”, for which he quite correctly blames “the Israeli embassy” (ie, the Israeli government).

So we are down to this: “One of these things about anti-Semitism is they’re using that to whip people up – they use anything, any lies. It’s all total lies and they whip it up.” You could try and take that apart, bit by bit, to try and work out what exactly he means by “it’s all total lies”. But remember, this is not somebody giving a well-prepared speech for an audience, but somebody speaking out over a cup of coffee with a person pretending to be sympathetic.

But his own comrades are not giving him the benefit of the doubt. With even his leading figures in the CLPD twisting his words and throwing him to the wolves, what chance does Willsman have of a fair trial in front of the party’s skewed disciplinary body?

This is particularly shameful, as comrade Willsman has been a leading figure in the CLPD for close to 50 years and his position on the NEC has kept the group going for much of this time. The CLPD is, shall we say, a little on the inert side – and has, funnily enough, become increasingly so since the election of a certain Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. Before that it occasionally posed left, but, as soon as Corbyn was elected, it dropped its key demand for mandatory reselection and has been shadowing his campaign of appeasement.

Apart from proposing a few left-leaning motions to annual conference and publishing the useful (though rather tame) daily voting guide, ‘Yellow pages’, at conference itself, the organisation does very, very little. Its role in the Grassroots Centre Left Alliance (GCLA), which for the last 30 or so years has been recommending soft-left candidates for various internal elections, is diminishing by the day. This latest failure of the CLPD to stand in public solidarity with its leading member will only increase the speed with which the organisation heads towards implosion. That would be a loss.


Labour Against the Witchhunt model motion

Reinstate Pete Willsman!

This branch/CLP notes:

  • On May 31, Labour Party NEC member Peter Willsman was put under “administrative suspension” after he was secretly recorded by the Israeli-American author, Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • The audio was recorded in January 2019, but leaked to the press over five months later, no doubt to coincide with a new hotting up in the campaign to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn.

We further note:

  •  Tenenbom claims that he ‘happened’ to come across Pete Willsman in a hotel bar and that his sound engineer ‘happened’ to have left a hidden microphone switched on.
  • However, Tenenbom has published a number of books in which he uses exactly this kind of method. He secretly films and records people, often guiding them into making the kind of unguarded comments he was looking for, in order to prove how anti-Semitism is rife in Germany, Palestine, the USA, etc.
  • Tenenbom has given lectures, in which he explains why “the suffering of Palestinian people is bullshit” (https://bit.ly/2MAH1xo) and has told LBC radio: “He [Pete Willsman] is a nice guy, he has a great sense of humour, he’s knowledgeable. But like Jeremy Corbyn – I met Jeremy and he’s also a nice guy, very fatherly – but they suffer from a disease of really hating the Jews” (www.lbc.co.uk/news/labour-israeli-embassy-behind-antisemitism-smears).

We believe:

  • That anti-Semitism, like all forms of racism, must be vigorously combatted – ideally, through education and debate, not disciplinary measures and ‘zero tolerance’.
  • That the Labour Party is not institutionally anti-Semitic, as the figures published by Jennie Formby prove. On the contrary, many claims of anti-Semitism have been taken out of context, exaggerated and weaponised in order to undermine Jeremy Corbyn, an outspoken supporter of the rights of Palestinians. Anti-Zionism has been wilfully and wrongly equated with anti-Semitism.
  • That nothing Pete Willsman said was anti-Semitic. Pete did, however, point to some uncomfortable truths exposed by the Al Jazeera documentary The lobby, which has been ignored by the mainstream media. The documentary revealed a systematic effort by the Israeli embassy to involve itself in the internal battles in the Labour Party. Also revealed were the efforts by the Israeli ministry of strategic affairs to label opponents of Israel as anti-Semites.
  • That this proven interference should be the subject of an overdue investigation, as demanded by Jeremy Corbyn in a letter of January 2017.

We further believe:

  • A stalwart of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, Pete Willsman has been serving on Labour’s NEC for many decades and is one of the few real allies of Jeremy Corbyn on that body. This is why he has been on the radar of those who will do anything to get rid of Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party.
  • That anti-Corbyn MPs such as Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman and Tom Watson insult, disrupt, make bogus accusations and work hand in glove with the media – with no repercussions coming their way. Those making false charges ought to face disciplinary action and should be held accountable for their actions.

We therefore express our full solidarity with Pete Willsman, Chris Williamson MP and all the other Labour Party members who have been suspended, expelled or disciplined on bogus charges of anti-Semitism or because of their support for leftwing groups. We want to see them immediately reinstated.

Important information

There is no ban in the Labour Party on moving motions in support of comrades in ongoing disciplinary cases. As in the case of Chris Williamson MP, the ‘advice’ sent out by Labour Party HQ merely declares such motions to be “not competent business” for the NEC to discuss. That merely means the NEC will not look at them – but the rest of the workers’ movement will certainly do so. Any motion, any statement, any act of public solidarity will add pressure to get our comrades reinstated, gives courage to other Labour Party members and branches and shows the victims of the witch-hunt that they do not stand alone.

More information on this issue and detailed guidelines on how to move a motion are here: www.labouragainstthewitchhunt.org/campaigns/there-is-no-ban-on-moving-motions-in-support-of-chris-williamson-mp.


Jewish Labour Movement: In praise of Momentum

(our picture shows Momentum’s Navendu Mishra posing with the JLM outside a protest against a David Icke event)

The Jewish Labour Movement has recognised Jon Lansman’s ‘valuable work’ in support of Zionism, reports Carla Roberts

Reports of the AGM of the Jewish Labour Movement have been splashed all over the bourgeois media, because it voted “almost unanimously” for a motion stating that “the leadership of the Labour Party have demonstrated that they are anti-Semitic and have presided over a culture of anti- Semitism”; that “Jeremy Corbyn is unfit to be prime minister and that a Labour government led by him would not be in the interest of British Jews”; and that therefore the JLM has “no confidence” in Corbyn.

So far, so predictable. Gathered in the JLM are, after all, some of the most vile rightwingers who have been plotting against Jeremy Corbyn from day one – ie, long before the smear campaign to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism really took off. You would have thought that this campaign – which has proven so incredibly successful since then and has led to the suspensions and expulsions of thousands of Corbyn supporters – would have led to a massive influx into the JLM.

But we read that in “the closest vote of the day” a mere 148 people took part. And apparently that is not down to huge numbers of abstentions, as elsewhere an attendance of 160 has been reported. Now remember, you do not have to be Jewish or a Labour Party member to join the JLM – for example, Gordon Brown recently signed up. He thought it would be a good idea to join his former nemesis, Tony Blair, and engage in a bit of anti-Corbyn propaganda just before the local elections. He ‘stars’ in a video produced by Hope Not Hate – or ‘No Hope, Hate Corbyn’ as it should henceforth be known. In the video, Brown claims that “the Labour Party has let the Jewish community and itself down. They should never have allowed legitimate criticism, that I share, of the current Israeli government to act as a cover for the demonisation of the entire Jewish people.” Who exactly is ‘demonising’ the entire Jewish population, Gordon?

Anyway, on this basis, 160 members coming to an AGM is, to put it mildly, pathetic. This organisation claims to be “the” voice of Jewish members in the Labour Party. Clearly it is not. Jewish Voice for Labour should reconsider its policy of not publishing its membership figures, because it would quite clearly and easily trump this hands down.

This “closest vote of the day” does affect the JVL, as it happens. And it makes for interesting reading. The main motion (besides expressing no confidence in Corbyn) concerned itself, naturally, with anti-Semitism. After all, that is the main reason why the JLM, which was pretty inactive for a number of years, relaunched in 2015 with the expressed aim of harming Jeremy Corbyn, as the award-winning Electronic Intifada has uncovered.

This main motion contained a sentence that charged Momentum, the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy and the Labour Representation Committee as having “acted … to protect and support those engaging in anti-Semitism”. This displays a considerable lack of actual knowledge when it comes to the left of the party. The CLPD has been shamefully quiet on the witch-hunt against Corbyn supporters.

As for Momentum – or, more precisely, its owner, Jon Lansman – it has been playing a very active role … on the side of the witch-hunters: as soon as Jackie Walker was first suspended from the party (over charges that were later dropped because they were so flimsy), Lansman immediately moved to have her removed as vice-chair of Momentum – with the help of the pro-Zionist Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, who were in turn booted out during his coup of January 10 2017.

He then turned on his long-term comrade in the CLPD, Pete Willsman, when he was accused of being soft on anti-Semitism, removing him from the Momentum-endorsed list of candidates for Labour’s national executive committee (Willsman was re-elected nevertheless).

When Chris Williamson MP was suspended for stating that the party had “apologised too much” over the charge of anti-Semitism, Lansman did not say a word in his defence – but a day later publicised and spread a letter, in which Labour Party members “sincerely apologise to the Jewish community over our collective failure on the issue”, using similar vocabulary to that of Chris Williamson, but, of course, stating the opposite. In other words, it is a vile, scabbing letter. And that is the role that Jon Lansman has been playing for some time: he is a scab who is not just happy to throw Corbyn supporters to the wolves, but is actively undermining Jeremy Corbyn himself.

The majority at the JLM AGM, however, seems to have recognised that, in fact, Momentum is not the enemy any longer and that Jon Lansman has been acting like a witch-finder general. An amendment was moved to delete Momentum from the list of organisations said to be ‘protecting’ and ‘supporting’ anti-Semites – and replace it with Jewish Voice for Labour. That does indeed make a lot more sense.

The amendment also added a sentence, praising Lansman’s good work: “… Momentum has, for the last year, committed itself to tackling anti-Semitism within the Labour Party and wider society, through educational videos directed at Labour Party members, calling out and reporting anti-Semitic posts online, and joining JLM and other groups in protest against the likes of David Icke and Gilad Atzmon.”

Indeed it has. The mover could have added plenty of other examples of Momentum – just like the JLM – propagating and fostering the lie that Labour is overrun with anti-Semites. Not everybody in the room was convinced – too deep-seated is their hatred of what they conceive to be the left, no doubt. But 81 voted in favour of the amendment, while 67 were against.

Did the latter figure include Ruth Smeeth MP, who replaces Luciana Berger as national parliamentary chair of the JLM? After all, just after the AGM she claimed on Sky News that Jeremy Corbyn was, in fact, “responsible for anti-Semitism inside and outside of the party” (my emphasis).
Last but not least, the AGM also saw the return of Ella Rose, who quietly disappeared after the Al Jazeera documentary The lobby exposed how closely she was working with Shai Masot – “the senior political officer at the centre of the Israeli embassy’s covert efforts to influence British politics in an even more pro-Israel direction”, as the Electronic Intifada reported. In the documentary, she is heard angrily talking about how her previous employment at the Israeli embassy had been publicised: “Anti-Semites, the lot of them”, she fumes. Masot, incidentally, talks about Jackie Walker, whom he calls “problematic”, indicating she was on the Israeli government’s radar. Asked by the Al Jazeera undercover reporter what can be done about Jackie Walker, Masot responds: “Do not let it go.”

At the AGM, Ella Rose was elected unopposed as “JLM network officer” – no prizes for guessing who she might be networking with. But the main question that springs to mind is: why on earth is this rightwing outfit allowed to remain a Labour Party affiliate?

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.


Zionism is the real problem

Marc Wadsworth’s expulsion should be viewed in the context of the international situation, says Carla Roberts

Last week’s expulsion of Marc Wadsworth from the Labour Party is, as has been pointed out by motions and statements from numerous organisations, outrageous, contrary to natural justice, clearly politically motivated, counter to the recommendations of the Chakrabarti report and, as the Israeli journalist Jonathan Cook puts it, a sign that “we are living through a truly shameful period in Labour’s history”.

Clearly, it is not the veteran anti-racist campaigner who has brought the party into disrepute, but rather the rightwing of the Parliamentary Labour Party. In cahoots with much of the bourgeois media and the Tories who dominate the top positions in the Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies, they have hit a new low with comrade Wadsworth’s expulsion.

They shed crocodile tears for the pro-Zionist Ruth Smeeth MP, who was so traumatised by Marc’s claim that she and other MPs were “working hand in hand” with newspapers like The Daily Telegraph that she just had to go to newspapers like The Daily Telegraph and accuse comrade Wadsworth of being an anti-Semite.

It is rather a perverse irony that Smeeth did her best to misuse some of the recommendations of the MacPherson report established after the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence. The fact that the report even exists was in no small measure down to the Anti-Racist Alliance led by Marc Wadsworth (a recent BBC documentary showed him introducing Stephen’s parents to Nelson Mandela).

MacPherson recommended that when a victim or someone else perceivesan attack or hate incident as racially motivated, then the police must record it as such. Pro-Zionist organisations in and outside the Labour Party have been working hard to change this into something quite different. Last year, the Jewish Labour Movement, for example, tried to force through a rule change at Labour Party conference which wanted a “hate incident” to be “defined as something where the victim or anyone else think it was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on disability, race, religion, transgender identity or sexual orientation” (our emphasis).

Fortunately, the compromise formulation eventually adopted by the NEC (and subsequently by conference) enshrines the need for some kind of – you know – evidence: “… any incident which in their view might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on disability, race, religion, transgender identity or sexual orientation”. The JLM also failed in its attempt to explicitly enshrine the disciplining of members for comments or actions made in “private”.1)http://labourpartymarxists.org.uk/humpty-dumpty-and-anti-semitism/

Comrade Wadsworth, incidentally, has been charged under the old rules, which did not deal specifically with racism or anti-Semitism and did not contain the above formulation. The rightwingers would perhaps have found it more difficult to expel him under the new rules, as anybody would be hard pressed to prove that Marc’s words “demonstrate[d] hostility or prejudice based on disability, race, religion, transgender identity or sexual orientation”. Grounds for an appeal here, it seems to us.

In any case, even before the April 26 judgment, comrade Wadsworth had, of course, already been ‘found guilty’ as an anti-Semite in his drawn out trial-by-media, which lasted a staggering 22 months. It was no great surprise then when, finally, he was expelled under the wonderful catch-all phrase of “bringing the party into disrepute”. Tony Greenstein was expelled under the same rule 2.1.8 – which will probably also be applied to try and boot out Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone and other ‘troublemakers’ over the next few weeks.

The comrades also had almost identical ‘judges’ in their kangaroo court before Labour’s national constitutional committee (NCC), which deals with any disciplinary cases that the national executive committee feels merit further investigation – and, in many cases, such a referral leads to expulsion.

We understand that the 11 members of the NCC are asked to volunteer for particular cases. As the NCC still has a rightwing majority (only two new members are elected per year), in effect the three-person panel at expulsion hearings is usually made up of two Blairites and one leftwinger. Maggie Cosin from the rightwing GMB has chaired all these recent hearings and is usually aided by Douglas Fairbairn from the equally rightwing Community union.

It is debatable how ‘leftwing’ NCC members like Momentum’s vice-chair, Emina Ibrahim, are: she sat on the panels that expelled comrade Greenstein and comrade Cyril Chilson (a former officer in the Israeli army). If she had any objections, she certainly did not raise them. What about the Kate Osborne who sat on comrade Wadsworth’s panel? She had been proposed for the NCC by her union, Unite and comrade Wadsworth reports: “She asked tough questions of the accusers and helpful ones of me.”

But what is stopping her from telling us how she voted? Considering the timely intervention of Unite general secretary Len McCluskey last week about the anti-Semitism “smear” campaign in the New Statesman, some kind of public statement from her would have been very useful in the left’s campaign to stop the witch-hunt in the party.

But there is only silence. The same goes for Jeremy Corbyn, unfortunately. Corbyn is not just silent – he really has become complicit. Why on earth he continues to try and appease his backbenchers, the pro-Zionist lobby and their friends in the bourgeois media is beyond us. It clearly is not working. He and his advisors must surely have realised by now that the witch-hunter’s appetite grows with the eating. They will continue with their campaign until he is gone – or has changed politically beyond all recognition.

Coming war

This whole campaign is, of course, only about Corbyn insofar as he cannot be trusted to run Britain in line with US foreign policy, not least in the Middle East. Despite his shameful complicity in the witch-hunting of his own supporters, for the establishment he remains a loose cannon. And, crucially, at least historically, he has been firmly on the side of the Palestinians. No amount of bending over backwards to the pro-Zionist lobby will make them forget that. Corbyn remains unreliable, despite everything.

It is no coincidence that the heightened campaign of the Zionist lobby occurs at a time when the war drums in the Middle East are beating ever louder. As Moshé Machover put it so eloquently in a letter in last week’s Weekly Worker, the

anti-Semitism hysteria … has much to do with the hyenas positioning themselves for the next major Middle East war … The likely pretext for western military action this time will not be simply ‘humanitarian intervention’, but coming to the aid of Israel in order to ‘prevent another holocaust’. Those who demur will be branded as ‘anti-Semites’.

Since last week the campaign for another major war has been stepped up even more. First we saw Danny Danon, the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, claiming that there are “80,000 extremists from all over the Middle East who are members of Shia militias in Syria under Iranian control”, hiding away in a base “just over five miles from Damascus”, where they are preparing to launch their “ground invasion” of the Zionist state, designed to “break up Israel”.2)for example, www.express.co.uk/news/world/952532/WW3-warning-World-War-3-Israel-Iran-Syria-nuclear

The pictures that the Israeli government produced as ‘evidence’ are as ridiculous as the idea that – even if there were 80,000 ground troops waiting to pounce – the Iranians have any chanceof simply walking into Israel. As opposed to Iran, Israel actually does possess nuclear weapons and, thanks to a hefty annual cheque from the US government, their armed forces are highly trained and equipped with the latest tech. Iranian soldiers, on the other hand, have access to 1980s-style weaponry – if they are lucky.

A few days later, the world was treated to another one of Binyamin Netanyahu’s embarrassing low-tech slideshow presentations, in which he tried to prove “with half a ton of evidence” how the government of Iran lied in order to secure the 2015 nuclear deal in return for the lifting of some sanctions. This little charade was mainly for the benefit of Donald Trump, of course, who is firmly opposed to the deal, which has to be renewed by May 12.

If it does not get renewed, we are indeed one step closer to a military confrontation in the Middle East. But, contrary to what Netanyahu is trying to tell us, it is not Iran that is threatening to unleash “World War III”. It is in fact the governments of Israel, the US and Turkey who are preparing the ground to go to war against Syria. The ‘civil war’ there is drawing to an end and the side of Assad/Iran/Russia/Hezbollah seems to be emerging as the ‘winner’ (if such a phrase can be used, when one looks at the carnage in that devastated country).

 Zionism is a reality. It is right to oppose it using its proper name
Zionism is a reality. It is right to oppose it using its proper name

To stop such an outcome, a new war may well be ‘necessary’, from the point of view of the US, Israeli and Saudi governments. It is much more likely that Israeli troops are preparing for a significant incursion into Syria. The aim: to keep Syria permanently divided and, while they are at it, deal with Hezbollah in the Lebanon.

Another goal of the Israeli government is, of course, to continue to provoke the Palestinians in Gaza and on the West Bank. The March 31 slaughter of 18 unarmed civilians by hidden Israeli snipers is just a taster of what is to come – no doubt there will be more such actions – the goal of the Israeli government is to ethnically cleanse the whole of the West Bank.

No wonder that Zionists are so keen to try and outlaw comparisons between Nazis and the Israeli government. They are too close to the truth.

The anti-Semitism campaign in the Labour Party only makes sense if seen in this international context. When it turned out that Jeremy Corbyn could not simply be humiliated into giving up his post as party leader, the next stage of the campaign was launched: Operation Tame Corbyn. And this is going rather better than the chicken coup, unfortunately.

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

Al Jazeera’s powerful documentary The lobby has proved beyond doubt that the Jewish Labour Movement – which is, outrageously, still an affiliate to the Labour Party – is not just “working hand in hand” with the Israeli Labor Party (which is bad enough), but also with the Israeli embassy and therefore the government of Israel. The JLM clearly should not be allowed to remain an affiliate of the Labour Party, and the MPs who remain members of this despicable organisation should be immediately deselected by the local party membership.

The ‘anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ campaign has already succeeded in imposing the idea of what a properJew is – one who does not criticise Israel, but supports the pro-Zionist, pro-Tory Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies. The proud tradition of socialist Jews opposing Zionism has been brushed aside and vilified. Jews are being presented as hegemonic supporters of Zionism. Momentum owner Jon Lansman has already stated that the word ‘Zionism’ should be abandoned, because “to the Jew in the street it might only mean the Jewish state of Israel, safe and secure – nothing more than that – not a separate ideology”.

How wrong can you be? From the start, modern Zionism as an ideology fought for the foundation of an exclusive colonial-settler state, which had to be based on the violent displacement of the native Arab population – that or their savage oppression. It is not the word ‘Zionism’ that is the problem – it is the reality of an ongoing colonial-settler project. By attempting to remove the right to criticise Zionism by name, Lansman is actually attempting to undermine the fight against systematic national oppression.

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

What is Jon Lansman up to?

Iain McNicol gone, JLM calling the police, rumours about Ken Livingstone being reinstated … But it’s not all plain sailing for the left, warns Carla Roberts of Labour Party Marxists, as Jon Lansman declares he wants to run for general secretary

What a week it has been for lefties in the Labour Party.

First, there was the fallout from the establishment’s rather desperate attempt to make a spy out of Jeremy Corbyn. Not only were the claims quickly disputed by the Czech and German spy agencies – soon followed by the more serious newspapers, which had to admit that, despite their displeasure at Corbyn’s politics, it was pretty normal for politicians of all parties to meet with people employed by other states. No accusations of any substance materialised – it was nothing but hot air.

The young and ever so eager vice-chair of the Conservative Party, Ben Bradley MP, was forced to eat humble pie of rather enormous proportions after claiming that Corbyn had “sold British secrets to communist spies”. Confronted with some rather serious legal threats by Corbyn’s lawyers, he swiftly deleted his tweet and was forced to admit that he “made a seriously defamatory statement”, which “was wholly untrue and false”, and for which “I am offering my unreserved and unconditional apology to Jeremy Corbyn for the distress I have caused him”.

Worst of all – from the establishment’s point of view – is the fact that these accusations have done very little to hurt Corbyn or the Labour Party. According to a YouGov poll for The Times, only 8% of voters said that this ‘scandal’ made them “think worse” of Corbyn – and most of those are Tory voters. To 64% it made no difference; and 6% “now think better of him”. The same poll showed that Labour “extended its lead to two points”, putting it on 42%, with the Tories on 40%. Similar polls show pretty much the same picture, with Labour continuing to be ahead.1)The Times February 24

We also saw a new twist in the scandal that keeps on running: days after Jeremy Newmark stepped down as chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, the organisation stated that it had referred “certain internal financial matters” to the police. We wonder if they might just have anything to do with Newmark? But, of course, the real problem with the JLM is not financial irregularities. It is politics. The JLM is the British branch of the Zionist and racist Israeli Labor Party. As shown by the Al Jazeera programme The lobby it has played a disgraceful role, in conjunction with the Israel embassy, in the witch-hunting of socialists and pro-Corbyn activists in the Labour Party. Surely, it should not be allowed to remain a Labour affiliate.

And, of course, a certain Iain McNicol – he who once suspended a member for stating on social media, “I fucking love the Foo Fighters” – regarded Newmark’s conduct as a “private matter” and refused to open an investigation. Maybe this was the final straw for Jeremy Corbyn. Either way, we know that McNicol did not resign just to spend more time with his family or “pursue new challenges” in the labour movement. Proving perhaps that he is not quite as soft a hippie as many presumed, we understand that Corbyn paid McNicol a visit, during which he ‘convinced’ him to go, but allowed him to resign to save face. Not that McNicol has got much of a reputation left. There are rumours that he might be made a life peer in return for his overdue departure – he would certainly fit right in with that bunch of overpaid and underqualified blighters, whose main task is to ensure that elected representatives do not undermine the interests of the ruling class.

We very much agree with the statement quickly put out by Labour Against the Witchhunt, a campaign that certainly helped to heap the pressure on the now departed general secretary:

McNicol was directly in charge of the unelected and discredited compliance unit, which has purged thousands of pro-Corbyn members from the party.

We see his resignation very much as an important symbol and an integral part of our fight to radically transform the Labour Party, which is undergoing a long overdue democracy review, to which we have also contributed.

The automatic and instant expulsions and suspensions overseen by McNicol – especially those based on alleged anti-Semitism and those based on members’ alleged “support for other organisations” using rule 2.1.4.B – have brought the party into disrepute. They have prevented and discouraged new members from getting involved in party life, while valuable resources have been wasted in persecuting some of the most energetic and effective campaigners for social change.

Two days later, we read in The Observer the excellent news that Ken Livingstone’s suspension would not be renewed and that he would become a member “with full rights” when his two year suspension runs out on April 27. 2)The Observer February 25

It looked like Christine Shawcroft, as new chair of the NEC disciplinary panel, had acted swiftly. Livingstone’s suspension, like those of Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth and hundreds of others, is a total injustice. Moshé Machover (among others) has proven that Livingstone was – despite some small factual inaccuracies – in essence entirely correct to claim that the Nazis and the Zionists collaborated in the 1930s. It is historically verifiable fact 3)For which comrade Machover was swiftly expelled himself before being readmitted three weeks later.

Shit hits the fan

However, since then the proverbial shit has hit the fan, proving that the civil war in the Labour Party is very much alive and well. The usual assortment of rightwingers have let it be known they would be “outraged” if Livingstone was let back in. And unfortunately Corbyn seems to have rolled over. Within hours, the national executive committee let it be known that Livingstone’s suspension would not ‘run out’ after all, but that the NEC would launch “a new enquiry into allegations of anti-Semitism” against Livingstone. Not so new, actually. The enquiry was announced 10 months ago, but never saw the light of day.

Another recent victim of the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign is, of course, regular Weekly Worker contributor Tony Greenstein, who was expelled from the party on February 18 – for being rude on social media. Members of the compliance unit could not prove the original charge of anti-Semitism, so they settled on “bringing the party into disrepute” – a very stretchy and flexible charge.

As an aside, it has been quite worrying to see not only Momentum vice-chair Emina Ibrahim vote in favour of comrade Greenstein’s expulsion at his Brighton hearing – but also how many Corbyn supporters seem to find it impossible to defend comrade Greenstein, because they claim to have been so appalled by some of the things he has written. 4)Disappointingly, that also includes Free Speech on Israel: http://freespeechonisrael.org. uk/tony-greenstein-abusive-yes-acerbic-yes-not- antisemitic/#sthash.ngIOgkET.dpbs

However, one person’s rudeness is another person’s robust argument. We should also stress that in reality comrade Greenstein has not been expelled for being rude: he has been expelled because he is an ardent and very vocal supporter of the rights of the Palestinians, and a socialist to boot. Had he been less rude, chances are they would have got him under some other charge.

It briefly looked as if comrade Greenstein – with McNicol finally out of the way – might have been the last victim of the compliance unit. But the Livingstone episode proves that this is far from certain. In fact, the civil war, which has been simmering under the surface for some time, is far from over. The left has made some important advances in recent months, starting with the change in the balance of forces on the NEC. The right will not take any changes lying down and will undoubtedly become more and more vocal if and when a range of small, but overdue, improvements are introduced (many no doubt as part of the Corbyn review at this year’s annual conference).

We have seen uproar, for example, over the admittedly rather strange appointment of Andrew Murray as part-time advisor to help with the “party’s Brexit strategy”. He was, after all, a longstanding and leading member of the Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain, which prides itself on pursuing a “national path to socialism”. In the run-up to the 2016 referendum, the CPB joined the deluded Left Leave or Lexit campaign to come out of the European Union 5)www.communist-party.org.uk/britain/eu/2258- leave-eu-new-group-formed-to-fight-for-an-exit- left.html – when Murray was still a member of the CPB. His appointment was always going to rile the right in the party, many of whom have gathered behind a pro-EU banner.

But Murray is Len McCluskey’s trusted chief-of-staff, a reliable source of strategic thinking for Corbyn and a close friend of Labour’s communication chief, Seamus Milne (they were both involved in supporting Straight Left, a publication that appeared to be Labourite, but was, in fact, the front for a Stalinite faction of the old CPGB). Murray, who has never hidden his sympathy for Joseph Stalin, is, of course, also the man who as chair of the Stop the War Coalition led it into some rather dodgy political waters. He went along with the barring of Hands Off the People of Iran as an affiliate. Hopi, as a matter of principle, insists that it is necessary to fight not only against the war threats of western imperialism, but also the theocracy in Iran. Murray has a soft spot for dodgy third world regimes which he considers to be ‘anti-imperialist’. Bizarrely, under his watch, STWC promoted pro-Tehran speakers at its conferences. They even boasted of the number of sex change operations notched up in  Iran – homosexuals are given the choice of being executed or undergoing surgery.

Next general secretary

Murray is, however, very unlikely to become – as has been rumoured – the next general secretary of the Labour Party. For its part, the Skwawkbox website is certain that the new general secretary “will be a woman”. The possible female candidates whose names have been leaked are Unite’s Anneliese Midgley, Labour’s governance and membership director Emilie Oldknow and the GMB union’s Lisa Johnson. The most likely female candidate, however, is Jennie Formby.

Formby is a vocal critic of Israel and a supporter of the rights of the Palestinians. On the NEC, she objected to the selection of Jan Royall to lead the investigation into anti-Semitism allegations against Labour students at Oxford University, because she was able to prove that Royall had been a member of Labour Friends of Israel, and had visited Israel in 2007. Formby was also a “prime mover behind a vote passed by the executive last November to bar the security firm G4S from tendering to handle security at Labour’s annual conference because the firm does business with Israel”, writes The Independent.

We have to admit that we do not know how Formby has voted on various political issues or disciplinary matters that have come before the NEC. She has not exactly been the most vocal leftwinger on that committee and we are far from certain that she would demand an end to the purge of organised socialists under rule 2.1.4.B, which bars from membership anybody who “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the party” and has exclusively been used against leftwingers.

But, for the time being at least, Unite supports Corbyn’s agenda. And, considering the disgraceful way in which the rightwing party bureaucracy has acted against him by purging hundreds, if not thousands, of his supporters on trumped-up charges of anti-Semitism, Formby’s appointment would send a very powerful political signal. We can certainly hope that the beginning of her tenure would mark the end of the witch-hunt.

Lansman throws his hat in the ring

Momentum owner Jon Lansman has also indicated he might throw his hat into the ring. According to the Huffington Post, he is “being urged to run”, following “claims by the right that Formby was being ‘railroaded’ through as the favoured candidate of key allies of Jeremy Corbyn”. This smacks of fake news. Run some media stories about a Palestine supporter (read, anti-Semite) and trade unionist (read, leftwinger) being a virtual shoo-in for the post, and the centre and the right will do anything to stop her. Maybe even vote for one of Corbyn’s closest allies!

However, Steve Watson, editor of Skwawkbox, is openly supporting Formby. Funnily enough, he is doing so by using exactly the argument that Lansman employs when he is trying to convince everybody to vote for one of his slates: if Lansman does not withdraw, he would be “opening the door for any rightwing candidate who decides to apply” to slip in through the middle. In this case, however, it seems pretty certain that the successful candidate will be a leftwinger broadly in line with Corbyn’s politics.  The Guardian stated on February 28 that “a late-night conference call failed to persuade the grassroots group [read Lansman] to rally around the Unite candidate” and a day later, Lansman finally declared he would run. 6)The Guardian February 28 2018

The article also states that Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell support Formby and not Lansman. That is certainly interesting. We have always presumed that Lansman acts in close cooperation with and on behalf of Jeremy Corbyn – and no doubt most of the time that is the case. However, opening up a rift with Unite is a risky strategy for Lansman. After all, Corbyn owes his position in no small measure to the direct support of Len McCluskey and his massive union machine. And Corbyn cannot afford to lose the support of the leftwing unions on the NEC.

But there is also the not insignificant matter of Momentum’s massive database. Jon Lansman literally owns the contact details of hundreds of thousands Corbyn supporters. He can urge them to support Jeremy Corbyn and the NEC – or not. And Momentum has clearly been an important tool in getting leftwingers onto the NEC, for example, and in helping mobilise supporters during elections. Corbyn will be very aware of the power that Lansman holds – and maybe he has begun to regret letting him acquire it.

The Guardian’s “senior Momentum source” claims that “Jon has proven his popularity with the membership with his recent NEC election result” and is “expected to be a popular grassroots candidate” for general secretary. But in reality Lansman likes to run things from above. He is Momentum’s Bonaparte, not its democratically elected and fully accountable servant.

When Lansman feared he would lose control of Momentum, he simply abolished all democratic and decision-making structures in the January 10 2017 coup. He wrote a new constitution that members had no possibility of amending. They could only vote ‘no’ or ‘yes’ in an online ballot.

He has made no attempt to politically educate or organise members – he regards them as spear carriers, to be called out during elections or at conferences.

Politically, Lansman is an arch-opportunist. He has given up the decades-old fight for mandatory reselection of parliamentary candidates. Instead, he is pushing the lame proposal to raise the threshold for a trigger ballot for the reselection of MPs from 50% to 66% (at present an MP needs to win a simple majority of nominations from local party branches and affiliated trade unions and socialist societies in order to become the candidate once more). This would still disproportionally favour the sitting MP: rather than allowing for a full and democratic automatic selection process before every election, a sitting MP would still have to be challenged.

He is also playing a disgraceful role in the witch-hunt. When Jackie Walker was suspended from Labour on trumped-up charges of anti-Semitism, he quickly removed her as vice-chair of Momentum. After Ken Livingstone’s suspension, he wrote on Twitter: “A period of silence from Ken Livingstone is overdue, especially on anti-Semitism, racism and Zionism. It’s time he left politics altogether.”

 He agreed that Momentum too would bar from membership all those expelled from the Labour Party for their alleged “support for other organisations” under rule 2.1.4.B. A rule that has been used exclusively by the right in order to throw out socialists. In a letter to Labour Against the Witchhunt’s Tony Greenstein, Lansman has come out in support of keeping the rule in Labour’s constitution.

*  In the same letter, he also states his desire to keep the disgraced and much-hated compliance unit in place – and for it to remain an appointed body, rather than have all disciplinary matters dealt with by elected representatives, who would be subject to scrutiny by Labour Party members.


Applications for the position of general secretary are open until March 13. On March 14, the NEC officers will be putting a shortlist before a full meeting of the NEC, which will make its decision on March 20. According to the rules, party conference elects the general secretary “on the recommendation of the NEC”. But, because there is a currently a “vacancy”, the NEC has “the full power to fill the vacancy subject to the approval of party conference”.

Both scenarios lead to the same result, of course – conference has, to our knowledge, never rejected the candidate chosen by the NEC. However, many members are now demanding that the general secretary should be elected by the full membership, in an online ballot, in a method similar to the leadership election. According to The Guardian, those who favour this now include Momentum:

Sources at Momentum … said there was dissatisfaction that the role should be chosen behind closed doors by Labour’s national executive committee (NEC), which in practice would mean a deal struck between major trade unions for their preferred candidate.

Apparently, those “senior sources” said that they “may urge the leadership to change course on the appointments protocol to allow for an election of the general secretary” and that Lansman would be the perfect candidate, because “Jeremy’s style of politics is not that of backroom deals, but of open and transparent discussion, which is exactly what Jon would represent as a candidate”.

Oh sure, Jon Lansman just hates backroom deals! We wonder if he is really serious about challenging the power of the unions in the Labour Party – rather a big undertaking. Or perhaps he is suggesting a rule change on this matter because that might increase his chances.

A petition to elect the general secretary on www.change.org, which was only started a couple of days ago, already has well over a thousand signatures and is being circulated widely online. Rather ironically, it is actively supported by the initiator of an earlier petition (signed by 8,643 people), which called for McNicol to be sacked. But if the general secretary were indeed elected directly by the members, there would be no way s/he could be “sacked” by the leadership.

No, such a method is fraught with problems. Online Omov (one member, one vote) elections only appear democratic on the outside. For example, Labour members will soon be voting for nine Constituency Labour Party representatives on the new NEC. In fact, they only have one choice: to vote in favour of the nine Momentum candidates – or risk letting in a rightwinger We say the NEC should be elected by and accountable to annual conference.

Political posts responsible to the NEC should be elected by the NEC – by those in a position to know the candidate, their abilities, their political record. With such a method of election comes accountability … and recallability. Understandably, many members resent the fact that witch-hunter general McNicol was allowed to remain in  post for so long. His departure is a reflection of the changing balance of power. Once the NEC had a clear pro-Corbyn majority, McNicol’s days were numbered. His departure has precious little to do with particular events in Sandwell CLP or the position of Ann Black, as Skwawkbox reveals in one ‘exclusive’ after another. It is down to basic arithmetic.



1 The Times February 24
2 The Observer February 25
3 For which comrade Machover was swiftly expelled himself before being readmitted three weeks later.
4 Disappointingly, that also includes Free Speech on Israel: http://freespeechonisrael.org. uk/tony-greenstein-abusive-yes-acerbic-yes-not- antisemitic/#sthash.ngIOgkET.dpbs
5 www.communist-party.org.uk/britain/eu/2258- leave-eu-new-group-formed-to-fight-for-an-exit- left.html
6 The Guardian February 28 2018