Tag Archives: Mike Sivier

Anti-Zionism and self-censorship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mike Sivier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right answer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


NEC readmits leftwingers

But hopes that this might mark the beginning of the end of the witch-hunt could be premature, warns Carla Roberts

One of the biggest problems the Labour Party has today is its lack of a media outlet. Apart from the occasional email and snazzily produced video, we receive very little unfiltered, unbiased news from Jeremy Corbyn.

Having said that, it is, of course, far from certain that he and his allies would indeed always be prepared to share important decisions and developments with the membership. Take the last meeting of the party’s national executive committee, on January 23 in London – its first meeting since its expansion following the election of three pro-Corbyn members. We all know of the decision of the NEC to request a “pause” in the housing development in Haringey (we will come that later). But apparently the meeting also took the decision to readmit a number of members previously suspended or expelled from the party. An important and potentially very positive development, that we were informed of through an acidy skewed report in The Sunday Times:

A holocaust denier and a leading member of Militant during its takeover of Liverpool council are among a first wave of expelled hard-left activists who have been readmitted to the Labour Party. Activists have been allowed to rejoin despite still belonging to organisations ‘proscribed’ by Labour – including a Trotskyist group, the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. Others stood against Labour for hard-left parties as recently as 2016.1)The Sunday Times February 4

Clearly, the information was leaked by a rightwinger on the NEC, with the intention of inflicting damage on Jeremy Corbyn. There are no official reports or records of these decisions to be found anywhere. In fact, we still do not know how many members have actually been suspended since Corbyn’s election (and how many remain suspended) or how many have been expelled for ‘supporting’ non-Labour organisations. The Times last week wrote that the party “had to suspend 18 members for anti-Semitism”.2)The Times February 2
 If this figure is true, that immediately begs the question: how on earth can the right can get away with continuing to claim that anti-Semitism is a huge problem in the party?

We also do not know if The Sunday Times is correct when it claims that “the appointment of leftwing members to review leftwing activists’ membership appeals was part of an understanding that would allow centrist members to review their own allies’ disciplinary cases”. It seems rather unlikely that the right of the party – which, of course, initiated the expulsion and suspension of so many leftwing members – would now simply leave everything to the pro-Corbyn NEC left to deal with. Also, how many disciplinary cases are there against “centrist” members? Not many, presumably. But we have to guess here, of course.

Even the latest, extensive report sent out by veteran NEC leftie Pete Willsman (Campaign for Labour Party Democracy) does not mention any of this. We cannot even be sure if the January 23 decisions on disciplinary matters are in any way unusual, as we do not know how many cases have been dealt with at previous meetings.

The Sunday Times (and those leaking to it) does, however, present the decisions of the meeting as highly unusual, as the outcome apparently “shows the extent of the resurgent left’s control over the party after recent elections to its governing body, where Momentum candidates won a ‘clean sweep’ of new positions”.

With a bit of detective work, we can gather that the NEC on January 23 decided that the membership requests from three applicants should come “under NEC review”: They are Ken Livingstone’s “race tsar”, Lee Jasper, who stood against the Labour Party for George Galloway’s Respect in 2012; Kingsley Abrams, who stood for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in the 2015 general election; and a man convicted of fraud in 1981, for which he served a seven-year sentence.

The NEC also decided to reinstate one member suspended for anti- Semitism (under certain conditions – see below) and that the membership applications of two previously expelled activists should be accepted. Here are the cases the NEC dealt with :

Alan Fogg was a Labour councillor in Liverpool, when he was expelled from the party in 1985 for supporting the Militant Tendency (today’s Socialist Party). He stood for Tusc in the 2016 local elections. The acceptance of his membership application is good news for a number of leftwingers who have been denied membership on the grounds that they have stood for Tusc or Left Unity. It is also an indication that Lee Jasper and Kingsley Abrams will probably be reinstated, too. Good.

Author Mike Sivier, according to The Times, is a “holocaust denier” and was suspended last year for “comments about Jews and Zionism”:

On his website, Sivier, 48, said it “may be entirely justified” to say Tony Blair had been “unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisors”. He also said he was “not pretending it was a big problem” if Jews were omitted from a list of holocaust survivors, and claimed “I’m not going to comment” on whether thousands or millions of Jews died in the holocaust, as “I don’t know”.

Mike Sivier has commented at length on the “libellous article” and, while this writer did not have the time to investigate the whole case or all of the man’s writings, it seems pretty clear that his few words above – which have been taken from a single Facebook thread and seem to form the entire case against him – were presented to the Labour Party by the truly vile ‘Campaign Against Anti-Semitism’ out of context, out of sequence and in a seriously misleading way.

Take his most problematic comments about the holocaust – I mean, how can you pretend not to know about it? Sivier explains the context: a Facebook conversation with somebody called “Ben”, who seemed intent on setting him up. Ben sent him a link to an article in the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty’s publication Workers’ Liberty, which stated:

In 2008, the SWP issued an explanation of the holocaust that referred to “thousands” (not ‘millions’) of victims and omitted any reference to Jews. Whether this was ‘organised’ or ‘just a mistake’ seems irrelevant.

Workers’Liberty featured alongside it a picture of a scruffy Socialist Worker petition against the “Nazi BNP”. And one of the points on the petition does indeed read: “They [the BNP] deny the holocaust, where thousands of LGBT people, trade unionists and disabled people were slaughtered.” Sivier explains:

I responded: “I’m not going to comment on ‘thousands’ instead of ‘millions’, because I don’t know” – meaning, of course, I don’t know why the SWP had said that. I have always used the ‘high’ figure of six million Jews who were killed in the Nazi holocaust. Perhaps your reporter should have read my recent articles on Holocaust Memorial Day before typing that reference into his piece? Or, indeed, any of my articles.

Clearly, this man is no David Irving, problematic formulations like the “‘high’ figure” above not withstanding. Understandably, the NEC felt it needed to let him back in. According to The Times, “the NEC voted by 12 to 10 to issue Sivier a ‘warning’, but not to expel him, suggesting the new arithmetic on the body had a decisive impact.” Indeed. We also know that Jon Lansman in particular is a firm believer in the anti-Semitism “problem” in the Labour Party, so it is more than doubtful that he would indeed vote for the readmission of somebody who is indeed a “holocaust denier”. We simply presume, of course, that it was the NEC left voting in favour of his readmission, rather than the right – but who knows?

As an aside, we also wonder if the voting figure is correct, seeing as there are 39 members of the NEC and the fact that The Sunday Times got another thing wrong: Sivier has actually not (yet) been readmitted, because he is refusing to attend the NEC-instructed “anti-Semitism awareness training”.

Janine Booth, senior member of the AWL, has seemingly learned nothing from her own expulsion or those of her comrades. On Facebook, she replied “Indeed” to a comment that repeated the description of Mike Sivier as a “holocaust denier”. The writer continued: “Extraordinary to put you in the same article as a holocaust-denier. How utterly appalling. I hope he is not readmitted.” Underneath Janine approvingly posted a tweet by Richard Angell, leader of Progress, who wrote: “Why the leadership on the verge of winning an election would want to be associated with holocaust deniers and the like?” She comments: “Richard Angell (Progress) makes an even stronger connection.”

Well he would, wouldn’t he? No doubt it was his Progress friends on the NEC who leaked the decisions to The Sunday Times – in order, of course, to harm Jeremy Corbyn.

One really has to wonder sometimes about the pro-Zionist AWL. In its blind mission to label everybody on the “fake left” anti-Semitic, it fails to grasp some pretty basic political truths. The witch-hunt against the left in the party has nothing whatsoever to do with wanting to stamp out anti-Semitism, real or imaginary – it has everything to do with weakening Jeremy Corbyn by tainting his supporters on the left. Which is, of course, why the witch-hunt is also directed against members of the AWL.

Janine Booth also proudly posted a tweet by Jeremy Newark, leader of the Jewish Labour Movement, who wrote: “Putting other politics aside, I know that Janine Booth’s readmission means the Labour Party gains a robust and fearless voice against anti-Semitism – much needed right now.”

Her lack of political astuteness (acquired through years of membership in the AWL) aside, we do, of course, welcome Janine’s readmission into the Labour Party. The party should be the home of all socialists and trade unionists – and there will be plenty of members with perhaps even funnier ideas.

Her reinstatement gives some hope that we might be seeing the beginning of the end of the witch-hunt against the Marxist left in the Labour Party.

Her case is, however, quite different to that of the dozens (hundreds?) who have been expelled from the party for their alleged support for groups like Socialist Appeal and Labour Party Marxists. It does, however, highlight how the rules are being used, abused and even ignored, depending on who is applying them and for what reason.

Janine was expelled from Labour in 2003, after having stood as a candidate for the Socialist Alliance in Hackney in the general election of 2001 and the local elections of 2002. She was expelled under rule 2.4.1. A, according to which “anybody who stands for election … in opposition to a Labour candidate shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a party member”. It carries an automatic ban of five years.

She applied to rejoin in 2015, when the (not yet Corbyn-dominated) NEC ruled that it had no objections to her readmission and that it was solely up to her CLP (Hackney South and Shoreditch) to decide on the matter. The CLP “objected on the grounds that (a) I (allegedly) support Tusc and (b) I’m a member of Workers’ Liberty.”

The first accusation is quite funny, of course, because it shows how little the witch-hunters know about the left. The AWL never did more than back a few individual Tusc candidates. She “freely admitted the second, arguing that there are plenty of factions in the Labour Party and that is part of healthy debate”.3)www.janinebooth.com/content/my-exclusion- labour-party A week later, she received an official letter refusing her application to rejoin. It mentioned, however, that she could reapply in two years’ time.

Which Janine did again last year, when once more the NEC ruled that it was up to her CLP to make the decision. This time, the local party agreed – no doubt a reflection of the dramatic political changes in its membership.

Bans and proscriptions

The Sunday Times complains about her re-admittance: “Activists have been allowed to rejoin despite still belonging to organisations proscribed by Labour – including a Trotskyist group, the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.” Further on though, the same article quotes “a senior party source” as saying that the party

no longer recognised the list of proscribed organisations, so people linked to them could not be banned. “There is a debate about whether these existed at points in Labour history,” the source said. “Our view is that they no longer exist.”

Proscribed-Groups-1935 2Labour has not had an official list of proscribed organisations since 1973. In 1930, the party leadership produced its first ‘proscribed list’, squarely aimed at the Communist Party of Great Britain, which included organisations and unions influenced by the CPGB.4)www.labourpains.group.shef.ac.uk/dust In 1939 the NEC added the Socialist League to the list, then in 1942 the Labour Research Department (which had originally been founded in 1912 as the Fabian Research Department, an offshoot of the Fabian Society). In the McCarthyite atmosphere of the 1950s, a few more organisations and publications were added, including Socialist Outlook and the Socialist Labour League (of which Gerry Healy was a leading member).

In 1973, general secretary Ron Hayward abolished the list, because “Difficulties have been experienced in keeping a current record of the many political organisations that are established, many of which are of short life, change their names or merge with other organisations.”5)R Hayward, ‘Discontinuation of the proscribed list’ (circular to secretaries of affiliates and Labour Party organisations, July 1973 In other words, it was not a democratic policy – quite the opposite. The list had been viewed more and more like an entry visa for all those organisations not featured on it.

For the Militant Tendency (today’s Socialist Party in England and Wales), the bureaucrats had to think of a new trick: after various failed attempts to kick it out, in 1982 they proposed the establishment of a register of non- affiliated groups that would be allowed to operate in the Labour Party. Militant was invited to apply – and was rejected. Not a few of its members were expelled over the next few years.

The bans continued. In 1990, a proposal to ban the newspaper Socialist Organiser was confirmed at Labour’s annual conference. In response, the Socialist Organiser Alliance dissolved and in 1992 launched a new grouping: the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty! Some people claim that this means the AWL and the Socialist Party remain the only two organisations that are featured on the (unofficial) list of organisations proscribed by the Labour Party.

Of course, we welcome the news that the list seems no longer to be “recognised”. It has always been a tool of the right to keep the party ‘safe’.

Whose rules?

While Marxists today are not being excluded for membership of explicitly “proscribed” organisations, they are, of course, still being expelled. In the wake of the publication of Tom Watson’s ridiculous ‘Reds under the beds’ dossier of 2016, supporters – and alleged supporters – of LPM, Red Flag and the AWL have received a standard expulsion letter, which reads:

It has been brought to our attention that you have been closely involved with and supported [named organisation], whose programme, principles and policies are not compatible with those of the Labour Party. Chapter 2.I.4.B of the Labour Party’s rules states:

A member of the party who joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or unit of the party … shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a party member” (my emphasis).

The first paragraph does, of course, give the impression that there is – perhaps in some well guarded location – a secret list of dangerous organisations or some sort of overview of banned terms (like ‘revolutionary’) that could explain what makes a group incompatible with the Labour Party.

It seems not. More likely the bureaucrats have been picking and choosing from the rulebook as they see fit. According to the constitution, it does not actually matter if the programme of the organisation you are deemed to be supporting is “incompatible” with that of the Labour Party. Indeed, the organisation in question does not even have to have a programme to lead to the instant expulsion of any “supporter”. The witch-hunters have mangled up 2.4.1.B with rule 1.2.5.A, which deals with organisations wanting to affiliate:

Political organisations not affiliated or associated under a national agreement with the party, having their own programme, principles and policy, or distinctive and separate propaganda, or possessing branches in the constituencies, or engaged in the promotion of parliamentary or local government candidates, or having allegiance to any political organisation situated abroad, shall be ineligible for affiliation to the party (my emphasis).

Neither the AWL, Socialist Appeal, Red Flag nor LPM have applied for affiliation – though we are very much looking forward to the day when socialists organisations can do so again – an absolute necessity in the fight to transform Labour into a real party of the whole class.

It goes without saying that both rules should be abolished (along with a few others!) as part of the long process of transformation ahead of us. According to rule 2.4.1.B, Janine Booth would now have to be expelled again, because she openly admits to being an active member of the AWL.

While it obviously makes sense to stop Labour Party members from standing against the party, rule 2.4.1.B has to go. It is wide open to abuse. Notoriously, Moshé Machover was expelled for having articles published in Labour Party Marxists and the Weekly Worker. That, apparently, was enough to prove his “support” for a non-Labour organisation. After a national campaign, in which dozens of Labour Party branches and CLPs issued statements in opposition, he had to be reinstated within three weeks. How different from the case of Mike Palin, who remains expelled under the same rule – simply for sharing Facebook posts that included a handful of articles from Labour Party Marxists and the Weekly Worker.

All this proves that the problem is not the rules in and of themselves. The problem arises from those in charge of applying them. Of course, we will continue to demand the abolition of the various witch-hunting rules (like 2.4.1.B and 1.2.5.A), but an important part of that fight is to get Labour Party members and branches across the country to protest publicly. The active involvement of the largely pro-Corbyn membership is the best way to aid this necessary transformation – as will continuing pressure from campaigns like Labour Against the Witchhunt.


1 The Sunday Times February 4
2 The Times February 2

3 www.janinebooth.com/content/my-exclusion- labour-party
4 www.labourpains.group.shef.ac.uk/dust
5 R Hayward, ‘Discontinuation of the proscribed list’ (circular to secretaries of affiliates and Labour Party organisations, July 1973