Tag Archives: Labour Party

Rigged selection process: More power to members!

The furore over the parliamentary selection process and the restructuring of Jeremy Corbyn’s office show that Labour HQ is still focussing on the top, says Carla Roberts

Enfield North, Ealing North, Nottingham East, Bassetlaw, Rother Valley, Coventry South, Luton, Liverpool West Derby, Poplar and Limehouse, Durham City – these are just some of the Constituency Labour Parties where local members have spoken out against what they quite rightly perceive as a stitch-up over the selection of their parliamentary candidates.

Even in some CLPs where candidates had already been chosen by local selection panels, the whole process was scrapped in September. Then, at the beginning of October, the national executive committee decided to take it over and installed a so-called “fast-track process”.

For priority seats with retiring or defecting Labour MPs, the NEC drew up lists of potential parliamentary candidates. These long lists of about half a dozen candidates were then handed over to “mixed panels” to whittle down the candidates for a shortlist. Mixed panels are comprised of at least one NEC member, representatives from the regional board and a couple of hand-picked local party officers. Then, and only then, have party members been given the chance to get involved and choose between those few remaining candidates.

It doesn’t look much better in those seats not currently held by ex-Labour MPs or retiring Labour MPs: There, the long lists are being  prepared by  regional executive committees, “working in partnership with CLPs”.

This is particularly worrying, as the decision to take the selection out of the hands of local members was made not by the full NEC, but its officers group, which is – at least on paper – dominated by the ‘left’ (unlike the NEC as a whole). Of the nine members, six can be described as supporters of Jeremy Corbyn: NEC chair Andi Fox (from the TSSA union), treasurer Diana Holland (Unite union), Jim Kennedy (chair of the NEC organisation committee, Unite union), Claudia Webbe (chair of the NEC disputes panel and Campaign for Labour Party Democracy), Ann Henderson (chair of the NEC equalities committee), as well as Corbyn himself. The three rightwingers are Ian Murray MP (who believes that “Corbyn will cost Labour the election”), Tom Watson and Cath Speight (chair of the NEC joint policy committee and a rep of the rightwing GMB).

Outrageously, the NEC does not produce minutes or reports of its decisions or discussions, making it difficult to work out who argued for what or to hold our representatives to account.

It appears though that, while some of the NEC officers demanded that local party members should have no input at all into the selection of candidates and that the NEC should simply impose them, we had, on the other side, the unusual picture of Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson both arguing for the same thing: namely that the whole process should be run by local Labour Party members only. Clearly, this would have been the correct and democratic way to go.

So who voted against it? Claudia Webbe and Ann Henderson were elected onto the NEC as part of the ‘centre-left slate’ supported by Momentum and the CLPD. We presume – though we can be far from certain – that they probably supported Corbyn’s position. Which means that he must have been opposed by the two representatives from Unite.

The compromise, like most compromises, stinks to high heaven. We hear that in NEC backroom deals, Momentum, Unite and the GMB have been busy dividing up parliamentary seats to make sure they get ‘their’ people in. Momentum’s owner, Jon Lansman, for example, wants his chief minion, Laura Parker, elected in Enfield North; while Momentum company director and Lansman loyalist Sam Tarry has just been selected for the safe seat of Ilford South. Neither of them has actively supported their boss’s witch-hunting of the left – but they certainly have not spoken out against it either. Both strike us as the kind of careerists who could quickly turn against the left.

To make matters worse, the long lists that have been presented by the NEC to the mixed panels often exclude the candidates favoured by local members – no doubt, in order to take out the competition. Just like during the worst days of Blairism, we see yet again candidates being parachuted into constituencies, over the heads of local members. And, in areas where the long lists were relatively balanced, we hear of underhand shenanigans and stitch-ups by regional and local officers to make sure that the most outspoken leftwingers are excluded from the shortlists going forward to CLPs.

And even where socialists got through to the short list, we hear of at least three cases where they were then removed hours before the CLP hustings at which members were going to elect their candidate. One is Colin Monehen, who gave the rousing pro-Palestine speech at Labour Party conference 2018 and who was deleted off the shortlist for Epping Forest after complaints by the Jewish Chronicle, who falsely accused him of having “defended a notorious anti-Semitic image”. The ‘evidence’ in that rag shows Colin having a discussion with somebody about the image – but he certainly did not “defend” it. Still, in today’s shrill McCarthyist atmosphere, being charged by the JC seems to be enough for party HQ to buckle. In another CLP, a candidate was bounced off the shortlist one hour before the hustings – among the reasons she was given was her support for Chris Williamson (she had uploaded a picture of both of them on social media).

Even the tame Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) has just put out a statement and a draft emergency motion, calling on the NEC “as a minimum, to allow each CLP to add an extra person to the shortlist in order that a positive and democratic response is made to the justified criticisms, and to ensure that our party is united at all levels and thus can be totally focused on winning the general election.”

There are big problems with the CLPD. Leaving aside the notion that the current Labour Party, torn apart by a civil war, could be “united at all levels”, we would also like to remind readers that the organisation gave up on the fight for mandatory reselection of parliamentary candidates as soon as Jeremy Corbyn made clear that he would not fight for this basic democratic demand himself. Instead, at Labour conference in 2018, he instructed his close ally, Len McCluskey, to use the block vote of Unite to defeat ‘open selection’.

A historic opportunity to dramatically reshape the Parliamentary Labour Party was squandered by Corbyn’s futile attempts to appease the Labour right. He mistakenly believed that this might be ‘the thing’ that would end their campaign of sabotage against him. Naturally, it only made them stronger – and robbed party members of the chance to get rid of the whole generation of Blairite careerists and pro-capitalists who are squatting on the Labour benches.

The ‘compromise’ pushed by Corbyn and his allies – the reform of the trigger ballot – has been a shambles: Not only did the NEC delay its implementation, meaning that in many areas they still have not even started. The timetable issued by the NEC is also needlessly slow and meandering: it takes nine weeks until a full selection process can even start. Should a snap election be called soon, most CLPs will not be able to finish the trigger process and, as a result, the sitting MP will automatically become Labour’s candidate once again.

Leader’s office

The “restructuring” of Jeremy Corbyn’s office has given the press some more material for salacious stories with which to attack him and the rest of the party leadership. But it also shines a rather interesting light on how members’ dues are being spent and where Labour HQ’s priorities lie.

First up, we should say that we do not quite believe that this restructuring is somehow proof of a soft coup against Corbyn orchestrated by shadow chancellor John McDonnell (in order to force Labour to adopt a stronger ‘remain’ position on the European Union). Apparently, Corbyn requested that McDonnell should head the office restructuring programme to make the party ‘fit’ for the general election – but was reportedly blindsided when McDonnell removed Karie Murphy from the office. Corbyn, we read in Steve Walker’s exacerbated blog The Skwawkbox, was so upset that at a shadow cabinet meeting, he “kept an empty seat next to him” in honour of Murphy.

Really? This story does not make a lot of sense to us. Jeremy Corbyn surely has some say over the removal of his chief of staff. Also, it is not like Karie Murphy has been sent to Siberia: she will actually oversee the party’s general election campaign – a pretty important job. We also read that she retains her title – and her massive salary of over £90,000 a year.

Do we really need to pay Labour Party full-timers that much money? Could this not be better spent? It is near impossible to find out how many people work for the party or the leader’s office or what they earn. We gather that there must be around 50 people working there alone: The Guardian recently wrote that “parliamentary records show that 46 people have been issued with parliamentary passes to work in Corbyn’s office”, while 37 of the staff have been “invited” for interviews as part of the restructuring programme.

In any case, this is, in our view, a surprisingly large number of full-time staff. As a comparison, while leading the October revolution, the secretariat of the Bolshevik Party consisted of eight people – including Lenin’s wife, Krupskaya, and his brother.

The resignation letter of Andrew Fisher, Corbyn’s chief of policy and long-standing member of the Labour Representation Committee, certainly shines an interesting light on the life in the leader’s office: It seems overstaffed, while also being underorganised – perhaps a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. He criticises the fact that the left hand does not seem to know what the right hand is doing, with different groups of advisors leaking different stories to different parts of the media; meanwhile different heads of this or that sub-team are pulling speeches and not telling others about it. “They are a snapshot of the lack of professionalism, competence and human decency which I am no longer willing to put up with daily.”

Then there are the hundreds employed in the media and communication departments at party HQ and, crucially, the regional offices, which are stuffed with people first hired by former rightwing general secretary Iain McNicol. As we now know, many of them were issued with contracts that make it almost impossible to fire them, so Labour HQ has employed many additional staff to ‘balance’ things out. But the right still seems well in charge in most areas. It did not come as much of a surprise, for example, when 124 Labour staff members of the GMB recently voted ‘yes’ to the union’s suggestion to “demand apologies from the party to former colleagues who took part in the BBC Panorama programme” that accused Labour of being riddled with anti-Semites and doing nothing about it. It seems about time that some of these contracts are brought to a swift end.


Last, but not least, there is the massive expansion of the ‘governance and legal unit’ (formerly known as the compliance unit), which is the party’s witch-finder department. Dozens of new ‘case workers’ have been employed to investigate the mostly false and malicious charges against party members made by rightwingers like Margaret Hodge MP, Tom Watson or the vicious ‘Campaign against Anti-Semitism’. The party spends huge resources on investigating and harassing its own members in this way.

We are aware that we are in the middle of yet another round of suspensions in the party, probably in the hope that, by throwing Labour Party members under the bus now, they cannot be targeted by the right, come a general election. Most of the charges are, as can be expected, ludicrous and we note that in a number of cases, articles from Labour Party Marxists supporters have been listed as incriminating ‘evidence’. For example, a report of the 2018 Labour conference, in which we criticised Emily Thornberry’s stomach-churning, witch-hunting speech that she despicably interspersed with cries of “No pasaran!” We quite rightly called her a “pro-Zionist”.

None of the charges are quite so ludicrous though as the ongoing campaign to kick Chris Williamson out of the party. Rather than accepting the NEC’s anti-Semitism panel’s decision to reinstate him to full membership, the party must have spent thousands of pounds of members’ dues fighting him in the courts – and, of course, scrolling through his Facebook and Twitter posts to find ‘evidence’ against him that would allow for a third suspension.

With the influx of hundreds of thousands of new members since Corbyn’s election, the Labour Party certainly has amassed a small fortune. But it seems to be spending the money entirely on the wrong things. Surely, the bulk of it should find its way back to the organisations on the ground. But CLPs still rarely get more than the “minimum cash allocation of £1.50 per paid-up member” – per year! In many areas, CLPs had to fight the 2017 general election without a single penny from Labour HQ, including in seats that were then won by Labour. We presume things will not be much different next time around.

Imagine what local branches and CLPs could do with the amount of energy and enthusiasm first released by Corbyn’s election. At the moment, this is usually spent on rather dire rounds of leafleting and canvassing those who are already Labour supporters … which causes the enthusiasm of many members to quickly dry up, unsurprisingly. Any initiatives that go slightly beyond this scope are usually shut down by some local or regional officer.

With a more energetic outlook and some decent financial support, local members could organise all sorts of local events, festivals, film showings – and perhaps even launch local working class newspapers, radio stations, even TV channels. This kind of critical engagement with the world around us is needed if we are serious about building a real working class party. The German Social Democrats in the early 20th century should serve as an example to aspire to. There were scores of local Social Democratic papers.

In other words, we need less ‘professionalism’ in the party, fewer regional officers, fewer full-time witch-hunters – and much more empowerment of those below – if we seriously want to transform the party into a vehicle for socialism.

The case of Stan Keable: No criticism permitted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freedom of speech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the Zionists do not merely propose to form and establish a Jewish nationality in Palestine, but that they claim all the Jews as forming at the present moment a separate and dispossessed nationality, for which it is necessary to find an organic political centre, because they are and must always be aliens in the lands in which they now dwell and, more especially, because it is ‘an absolute self delusion’ to believe that any Jew can be at once ‘English by nationality and Jewish by faith’. I have spent most of my life in combating these very doctrines, when presented to me in the form of anti-Semitism, and I can only regard them as the more dangerous when they come to me in the guise of Zionism. 3)Reproduced in B Destani (ed) The Zionist movement and the foundation of Israel 1839- 1972 Cambridge 2004, Vol 1, p72

Equality Act 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No demonstrations!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Article 10, ‘Freedom of expression’, states:

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

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

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

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



1 T Segev The seventh million London 2000, p28

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

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

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

Local elections: No big swings

The local election results should warn us that a Corbyn government is not a shoo-in, writes Eddie Ford 

Ever since the last general election there has been a prevalent notion amongst some sections of the left that a Labour victory at the next election is certain: Jeremy Corbyn will be the next prime minister. But last week’s local election results in England should act as a warning that this is far from inevitable.

Indeed, this publication has always warned that, even if the Labour Party emerged as the majority party in the Commons, that does not necessarily translate into a Corbyn-led government – it is the monarch and the privy council – the establishment – which approaches the politician they think can command a majority in the Commons. Yes, that is usually the leader of the largest party, but it does not have to be. In other words, it is by no means certain that, even if Labour won the next general election outright, Jeremy Corbyn could actually command a majority in the Commons. Remember the 172 Labour MPs who supported a motion of no confidence against him almost two years ago? And what about the army generals who said they would rather “mutiny” than obey orders from a Corbyn government? Yet for some reason the left fails to understand what should be a fairly basic point for any Marxist – the bourgeoisie will do what is necessary if it feels its position is under threat.

For communists, however, the crucial question is not dreaming about the next Labour government, but working for the transformation of the Labour Party, especially when you see who stands behind Corbyn at the despatch box – most with sharpened daggers in their hands.

Anyhow, with regards to the recent local elections, there has essentially been no change since the general election – no upsets or major swings towards any party. Stalemate. Hence, on a 36% turnout – the same as four years ago – Labour gained 77 councillors on a very modest swing, but ended up with no change to the numbers of councils they control (74). It failed to take several key targets from the Tories, such as Wandsworth and Barnet, but it won back Plymouth and became the largest party in Trafford and Tower Hamlets. In fact, Labour had its best performance since 1971 in London on a 4% swing – winning 47% of the vote and picking up 60 seats (it performed more strongly in boroughs where it already had a healthy lead over the Conservatives when the seats were last contested four years ago).

Meanwhile, the Tories made a net loss of 33 seats and two councils with 30.8% of the vote – gaining Redditch from Labour, but losing control of Kingston upon Thames, Richmond upon Thames and South Cambridgeshire to the Liberal Democrats. In London the Conservatives lost 101 seats to finish with 511 councillors, its lowest ever tally of seats in a London local election. However, they retained control of seven councils.

As for the Lib Dems, they had a relatively good night – gaining 75 seats and four councils. But the party still remains far off the vote share it had before entering the coalition government in 2010. Meanwhile, the Greens gained eight seats overall, mainly in London and the UK Independence Party had a predictably disastrous night, losing nearly all of the 126 seats it was defending, with only three councillors re-elected – Ukip won a mere 0.4% of the vote in London. All this caused Paul Oakley, Ukip’s general secretary, to compare his party to the “Black Death” – albeit on the optimistic grounds that the plague had “led to economic growth and the Renaissance”.

Based on these local election results, the BBC projected a national vote share of 35% for both main parties (Labour up 8% since 2017 and the Tories down 3%), with the Lib Dems on 16% (down 2%). A dead heat. On this forecast, at least according to Sir John Curtice – who famously predicted last year’s shock general election result – Labour would win 283 Westminster seats (compared to 262 won in 2017) and be the largest party just, with the Tories only three seats behind.

However, it goes without saying that such projections are notoriously imprecise: Michael Thrasher, a rival forecaster, puts Labour on 261 seats, essentially the same number as the party got a year ago. Historically, oppositions that win elections start a parliament well ahead on the projected national vote measure: Labour in 1993 was 10 points ahead and the Tories were 12 points ahead in 2006. Either way, the figure is well below the 326 required for an overall majority. Turbulent times ahead, which could possibly see a period of precarious majorities, hung parliaments and minority governments – or even national governments seeking to ‘rescue the nation’ from the forces of chaos and anarchy (and Brexit).

Peak Corbynism?

The first thing that must be said is you would expect something more from Labour, the opposition party, under normal conditions (but, of course, we are not living under normal conditions). When you have an obviously struggling incumbent government – seemingly clueless about how to proceed with Brexit, featuring ever sharpening internal divisions, steadily losing votes in the Lords and having just presided over the Windrush scandal – you would expect it to be heavily punished at the polls.

Instead, the Tories came out of the election breathing a genuine sigh of relief – they only suffered a little and the level of pain was acceptable. In the estimation of the Financial Times, the Conservative vote “held up tolerably”, when you consider that the party has been in power for close to eight years and its “policy efforts have been wobbling like a shopping trolley with a bad wheel” (May 4).

Then again, if it had not been for the collapse of Ukip the Tories might have been more heavily punished. Yet it was always to be expected that Ukip would lose its purpose in life after the 2016 European Union referendum and cease to exist sooner or later – probably much sooner, as we are now seeing. Not least when Theresa May did a hard Brexit turn, making Ukip all but redundant – why vote for a joke fringe party with a different leader almost every day when you can vote for the real thing and get things done? Most Ukip voters tended to be Tories in exile, without pushing the point too much, and are returning home.

But, returning to Labour, it did worse than predicted – or at least worse compared to its own predictions: Owen Jones had grumbled a day before the election that the party was “guilty of failing to manage expectations” (TheGuardian May 2). Conversely, George Osborne’s London Evening Standard and various Tory spin doctors hyped up the prospect of a Conservative armageddon, clearly hoping to frighten Tory voters into the polling stations – with some effect, it seems.

Probably more in wishful thinking than psephological analysis, Justine Greening – the former Tory education secretary – said the results revealed that Labour had reached “peak Corbyn” since last summer’s general election. Rushing straight into battle, figures on the Labour right promptly called for an “inquiry” on what went wrong. Particularly annoyed was Chuka Umunna, who at one stage was the great black hope of the Labour right until he pulled out of the leadership contest three years ago under slightly mysterious circumstances. He told the BBC’s World at One programme that advances which could be expected at this stage in the electoral cycle under a “divided and incompetent” government had failed to materialise – “the whole Labour leadership” had to address this failure, arguing that the party’s national executive committee should appoint someone to do a “proper post-mortem”.

Alastair Campbell was also irate, bitterly complaining to a Progress meeting that “if we cannot beat this shamble of a Tory Party, we don’t deserve to be in the game” – before hitting out at Momentum on the BBC’s Today show: “We are really clutching at straws,” he said. “If I see one more person from the Momentum side saying, ‘These are the best results since 1971’ … What planet are they on?” These are bad results, Campbell went on, especially when we are talking about “possibly the worst government in living memory”. Communists would certainly agree that Momentum’s belief that all we need is one more big shove to see Jeremy Corbyn safely ensconced in No10 is deluded.

Jeremy Corbyn, whatever the brave face, must have been disappointed by the results – after all, he had been booked to go to Barnet to celebrate Labour’s success (hopefully he had a refundable ticket). Unlike the rest of London, Labour lost seats in Barnet – doubtlessly the ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign was a major factor in the defeat, as Barnet has the largest Jewish population in the country at 15%. 1)Or, to be exact, subscribe to Judaism: www.barnet.gov.uk/jsna-home/demography.html In a beautiful irony, the Labour Party in Barnet is controlled by the right, including the Jewish Labour Movement – with one former councillor and JLM member, Adam Langleben, calling upon the Labour leader to come to the borough and apologise to the Jewish community (or a section of it). The anti-Semitism smears were clearly believed by some voters in Barnet, so you could argue that the right brought it upon themselves.

As our readers know, the JLM has led the way in spreading those smears, demanding that Corbyn speeds up the expulsions of anti-Zionists, and so on. By another beautiful paradox, a former Labour parliamentary candidate for the borough (Finchley and Golders Green) was none other than a certain Jeremy Newmark – also former chair of the JLM and chief executive officer of the Jewish Leadership Council. Newmark, of course, has now parted company with both the JLM and JLC after The Jewish Chronicle – widely read in Barnet, naturally – published an internal audit report into his conduct whilst JLC’s CEO, with accusations of financial malpractice and an ongoing police investigation. You would surely think that this scandal might also have something to do with Labour’s relatively poor performance in the borough.

What the anti-Semitism furore is really about, needless to say, is the Labour leader’s position on Israel and Britain’s relationship with the US and its alliance with Israel. Jeremy Corbyn clearly represents an important and welcome change in that respect, Labour historically having been close to Israel and Zionism.


1 Or, to be exact, subscribe to Judaism: www.barnet.gov.uk/jsna-home/demography.html

Labour after Formby’s election

In light of the new incoming regime at party HQ, Carla Roberts of Labour Party Marxists reports on left-wing objections to Jon Lansman’s slate

Jennie Formby is now the new general secretary of the Labour Party. With the help of most of the mainstream media, the right tried to smear her on every level imaginable: personally, as the “mother of Len McCluskey’s lovechild”, and professionally, by painting her as a mindless union bureaucrat who, it was claimed, was ‘demoted’ from political director of the Unite union to regional secretary.1)www.unitetheunion.org/news/unite-statement-on-the-smear-attack-on-jennie-formby-by-laas

Most pathetic was, of course, the attempt to present her as some kind of anti-Semite. In the last two and a half years, this smear has been employed over and over again. Editors have become so ‘oversensitised’ to the subject that they will jump with joy when they get the next tip-off, no matter how stupid. A case in point is the 250-page dodgy dossier of vile rightwinger David Collier (aka GnasherJew), in which he “exposed” the fact that Jeremy Corbyn was once a member of a Facebook group in which some people wrote shite. Big deal. Still, almost every single newspaper found this newsworthy and quoted Collier uncritically.

Similarly they lapped up the charge by the mysterious campaign, Labour Against Anti-Semitism (LAAS), which accuses Formby of “making anti-Semitic comments regarding the suitability of Baroness Royall to conduct an NEC inquiry into alleged anti-Semitism among Labour students at Oxford University”.

More recently we saw the attempt to charge her with having been personally responsible for hiring Vicky Kirby, who did indeed make some rather problematic comments on Twitter a few years back. Kirby was suspended from the Labour Party, but has been reinstated since. Unless we support Berufsverbote for people who have made stupid comments online, this is clearly not much to go on. And in fact, as Unite has explained, Kirby was appointed by a panel.

In the last couple of days, LAAS has also charged Formby with not having

adequately explained her relationship to the ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’ group, made up of divisive suspended or expelled members such as Jackie Walker, who have supported her application for the role of general secretary. We seek assurances from Ms Formby that she has no relationship with this body or any of its members, as we believe this may prejudice her ability to uphold and implement the rules relating to racial discrimination that are embedded in the Labour Party rulebook.

Well, we can put the mind of the anonymous witch-finders to rest: to our knowledge, Jennie Formby has no relationship at all with anybody from Labour Against the Witchhunt. In fact, had LAAS checked their facts, they would have been able to ascertain that LAW’s support for Formby was openly “critical”:

We are concerned about her record on Labour’s NEC, where it appears she has, as recently as last week, failed to oppose the witch-hunting of Jeremy Corbyn supporters by rightwingers who have weaponised false claims of anti-Semitism despite Formby herself being the target of such smears. Nobody in the Labour Party can truly be a socialist if they support the purge and that includes the future general secretary.

That does not really read as if Formby was a fully paid-up member of LAW now, does it?

Some of the rightwing unions on the NEC even went as far as giving “tacit backing” to Momentum owner Jon Lansman over Jennie Formby, clearly judging correctly that he is to her right. After Lansman ally Christine Shawcroft’s ill-judged call to break the union link, that support evaporated quickly and Lansman had to withdraw his candidacy to avoid being crushingly outvoted on the NEC.

Last, but not least, we saw the coordinated resignation (or “exodus”, as The Independent puts its slightly hysterically) of six Blairite Labour staffers, two days before Formby’s expected appointment. Taking their cue from the right in the Parliamentary Labour Party, they clearly tried to do as much damage as possible by going to the press about their joint departure.

Good riddance to them. They include two female employees who directly worked for Iain McNicol; ‘head of policy’ Simon Jackson and, most interestingly, John Stolliday, ‘director of legal and governance’, whose name has popped up in the documents obtained by many of those suspended and expelled from the Labour Party.

Clearly, these Blairite apparatchiks jumped before they could be pushed (or their short-term contracts ran out). Only The Guardian seems naive enough to write that Iain McNicol “stood down unexpectedly”.2)The Guardian March 21 Clearly, McNicol and his willing minions had been living on borrowed time ever since Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader. Once the balance on the NEC shifted in favour of the left, they knew their time was up.

Hotting up

This coordinated attempt to damage Corbyn also serves as a reminder that the civil war in the Labour Party is far from over. The faux outrage over Corbyn’s demand for some form of proof before throwing himself head on into a new kind of cold war with Russia is a case in point. The entire bourgeois media has been joined by the usual assortment of rightwing Labour backbenchers, but also a few frontbenchers like Keir Starmer, who is clearly biding his time before he further twists the knife – he has got quite a good job now under Corbyn, after all.

The leftwing mass membership has, after three long years, finally produced a leftwing NEC, which in turn was able to elect a leftwing general secretary (who will hopefully soon rid HQ of the witch-hunters too). But the right has not yet given up. The Parliamentary Labour Party, the regions and the mass of councillors are still dominated by the right.

NEC regionsLabour First and Progress have just announced the launch of a new campaign by “Labour’s centre-left” (ie, Labour’s right) to increase the number of NEC delegates. Apparently, the “nine centre-left grassroots candidates standing for the NEC” (ie, the nine rightwingers standing against the nine being put forward by Momentum and/or the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance and which include Luke Akehurst3)https://www.necregions.co.uk/about) want “each region, Scotland and Wales to get a members’ place on the national executive committee and the number of places for Labour councillors (currently two) would double.”

Interesting, isn’t it, that rightwingers now think they have to use the language of the left to get anywhere in the party. The ‘model motion’ is full of Momentum-style blurb about “giving the members a voice”. In reality though, they would achieve the opposite – a bit like the proposals advanced by Momentum.4)http://labourpartymarxists.org.uk/momentums-loose-cannon/

An additional eleven NEC members would be elected from ‘the regions’, plus two more councillors. Those delegates should be elected by “one member, one vote”. But, because “a national ballot is expensive, prohibitive and extremely difficult without a grouping backing you”, the campaign wants to see those delegates elected by regional conferences. And – you guessed it – those are, of course, still run and dominated by the right. A rather obvious attempt to shift the political balance on the NEC back in favour of the right. This is clearly not about giving “the members a voice” (who in their majority are now to the left of Corbyn). Of course, the proposal has no chance of being implemented by the NEC, but will undoubtedly pop up in branch and CLP meetings across the country.

It is also of concern that the party’s national constitutional committee (NCC) is still firmly in the hands of the Blairites. This deals with any disciplinary cases that the NEC feels merit further investigation – and, in many cases, such a referral leads to expulsion. The few token leftwingers on this committee have proved to be far from useful – or leftwing, for that matter. Momentum’s national vice-chair, Emina Ibrahim, for example, was supposed to be the alibi leftie on the three-person NCC panel at Tony Greenstein’s expulsion hearing – and, despite the obvious democratic shortcomings, lack of natural justice and due process in the accusations against him, she voted in favour of him being expelled. For being rude.

We understand that there are currently about 20 cases before the NCC, with many having lingered there for many months – some for years. The vast majority of them were clearly referred there by an NEC with a very different political balance. We support LAW’s demand to refer all of them back to the now left-majority NEC.

Of course, we are aware that the cases of Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth and many others might not automatically be dropped by the NEC (especially as the last meeting decided to refer three further cases). But clearly there has been such a lack of natural justice and due process in all these cases that a new examination of the ‘evidence’ is long overdue. We also hope that, with the election for general secretary out of the way, Unite delegates on the NEC will feel emboldened to speak up against the ongoing witch-hunt of left activists. Maybe Len McCluskey will now even affiliate Unite to Jewish Voice for Labour – a promise he made with much fanfare at last year’s Labour conference.

Start again?

New spikes in the Labour civil war are usually accompanied by chatter about the right wanting to break away. We know that ‘moderate’ Labour MPs have been meeting with Liberal Democrats and Tories to discuss how to stop Brexit. During these cross-party meetings, the idea of a new, pro-European party was mooted some time ago. The ‘Russian agent’ crisis has apparently accelerated this process, so that now we even know the name of the dreamed-up new organisation: Start Again.

According to The Times’ Rachel Sylvester, “for Labour MPs who feel increasingly as if their party has been stolen from them, last week was a tipping point … The equivocation over Russia followed revelations of [Corbyn’s] membership in an anti-Semitic Facebook group” is the last straw for many, apparently. “Labour has mutated into something completely different, and it is increasingly clear that moderates need to recreate the party they once joined. Chatter has focused on the idea of a new pro-European alliance, but this is so much more than Brexit.” Yes, it is. It’s nonsense.

But the right will not do us the favour of breaking away. Unfortunately. No other than ex-Wunderkind Tony Blair has been pulling his hair out over how to do it, and has admitted that it cannot work, thanks mainly to the undemocratic British voting system. With elections based on proportional representation, it would be much easier to build a new party and be represented in parliament. But the failure of the Gang of Four’s Social Democratic Party continues to serve as a stark reminder to Blair and co.

It is much more likely that the right will continue to stay in the party and fight: with leaks to the media, underhand briefings, backstabbing motions, witch-hunts against leftwingers and, one day, if Jeremy Corbyn – or somebody like him – really does become prime minster, perhaps even in cooperation with the full force of the British state.


But the left is in no less disarray, unfortunately. Apart from relatively successful single-issue campaigns like Labour Against the Witchhunt, the left’s conduct in the Labour Party has been characterised by political confusion, a serious lack of democracy and a political method that has more in common with Stalinism than socialism.

We have previously written at length about Momentum’s farcical and worryingly quick descent into the Jon Lansman show. The man runs the organisation with an iron fist that would make certain historical figures gasp with admiration. No wonder the rest of the organised left is increasingly fed up with his methods. Unfortunately, this does not always lead to outcomes or methods that are necessarily preferable.

Take the quarrel over the selection of leftwing candidates for the NEC (full elections take place this summer). Previously, some sections of the Labour left got together under the umbrella of the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance to settle on a list of candidates. In the past this has included Ann Black, who is clearly more in the ‘centre’ than on the ‘left’. For some reason, NEC veteran Pete Willsman seems to like her, despite the despicable role she has played in disenfranchising thousands of Corbyn supporters in the party. He ignored a decision by the executive of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (of which he is secretary) and insists that she continue to be featured on the CLGA slate.

But his long-standing CLPD comrade, Jon Lansman, disagreed. And quite right too. But, rather than having a transparent debate on the organised Labour left about who the best representatives of the membership on the NEC might be and how to make them accountable (we have a few ideas on those questions), Lansman went in the other direction and simply declared which nine candidates Momentum would support. The list is identical to the draft CLGA list – but with a replacement for Ann Black. 5)http://labourpartymarxists.org.uk/witch-hunts-when-chickens-come-home

Clearly, Lansman’s method stinks to high heaven. We welcome the fact that there is opposition. But we fear that the statement issued by the Labour Representation Committee, Red Labour and Grassroots Black Left (see below) will do little to lead to political clarity or greater democracy.

For a start, the meeting was organised on a very selective basis, as the CLGA’s gatherings have been in the past. As for stating that the “CLGA is supposed to operate on the basis of consensus”, that seems to us rather unlikely and, most importantly, not desirable. Such “consensus” (or, more precisely, compromise) has led to centrists like Ann Black having been run on a leftwing ticket. Clearly, the methods of the CLGA need to be criticised too.

Red Labour is, of course, merely “a network” or a “forum” that sometimes produces humorous pro-Corbyn memes on Facebook. It is not an organisation you can join. It might have 120,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook (rather than ‘participants’), but it has no political coherence, no programme, no strategy. Yes, it has played a useful role in shoring up support for Corbyn in the run-up to various elections. But should the people running such a loose network really be involved in making decisions about NEC elections?

Resolutions calling for increasing the number of “oppressed and disadvantaged comrades” on the Labour Party NEC miss the point. What about their politics? Why does the statement not contain any mention of the basic political principles that we would want our NEC representatives to uphold? At least a commitment that they stand for a democratic republic, abolishing the House of Lords, replacing the standing army with a popular militia, getting rid of capitalism and achieving the rule of the working class and socialism.

We understand that a representative from Jewish Voice for Labour was also at the meeting and agreed to the statement, but that the rest of the JVL executive has since changed its mind. The JVL now supports Lansman’s slate instead. There is also opposition in the LRC. Yes, its executive voted in favour of endorsing the statement, but a sizable minority of  LRC executive members opposed the move.

We would agree with those comrades. It is one thing to criticise Jon Lansman for his undemocratic methods. He deserves it and we have done plenty of it. But to seriously consider standing candidates against a slate endorsed by Momentum, is – how to put this nicely? – not tactically advisable at the moment. We understand the LRC executive will make a final decision on May 6 – we would urge them to vote against. It runs the risk of letting in rightwingers like Eddie Izzard, which, considering that the NEC does not have a rock-solid left majority, could well have dire consequences for the left’s fight to transform the party.

LRC, Red Labour and Grassroots Black Left statement

  1. The CLGA (Centre Left Grassroots Alliance) is supposed to operate on basis of consensus, but the slate has been drawn up without consultation with all its constituent bodies. The slate has to all intents and purposes been presented as a fait accompli.
  2. The GBL has been unilaterally refused membership of the CLGA on the basis of opposition from one person representing Momentum.
  3. Red Labour was invited to join the CLGA, but has been informed that this will not be permitted until its 2018 slate is finalised.

We resolve to start an online consultation process, hosted by Red Labour, to determine whether grassroots candidates want to stand and whether it is the expressed wish of rank-and-file members that such candidates be supported.

In the interest of tackling the underrepresentation of oppressed and disadvantaged comrades,
we would positively welcome applications from black, African, Caribbean, Asian and other people of colour and women.

LRC, Red Labour and GBL will update about how comrades can apply to be an NEC member.

Sent to Jeremy Corbyn, whose progressive politics we support, and Jon Lansman.

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moshé Machover: My response to my expulsion

Communication from Moshé Machover to the legal queries unit

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

16 October 2017

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

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

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


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

Personal background

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

Your allegations in relation to CPGB and LPM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right to my freedom of speech

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


  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
  2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Yours sincerely

Moshé Machover