Tag Archives: Lisa Forbes

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.