Tag Archives: Witch hunt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


AWL: Despicable participants in an ongoing witch-hunt

In their latest attack on Jackie Walker, Chris Williamson MP and LPM, the social-imperialists of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty have shown once again that they constituted themselves as allies of the Labour right, the mainstream media and the Israeli political establishment, writes Carla Roberts

The latest issue of Solidarity features an unpleasant, unsigned ‘Diary of a delegate’, who only seems to have managed to attend one session at Labour Party conference: namely the afternoon of Tuesday September 25, which saw the debate around the motions on Brexit and Palestine. The unnamed author writes:

Emily Thornberry’s speech was rambling, but she said; “There are sickening individuals on the fringes of our movement, who use our legitimate support for Palestine as a cloak and a cover for their despicable hatred of Jewish people, and their desire to see Israel destroyed. These people stand for everything that we have always stood against and they must be kicked out of our party.”

These people are not just on the fringes of our movement. I sat just behind the honourable member for Derby North – a man who is happy to peddle the idea that the whole anti-Semitism issue is really a matter of it being “weaponised” by the right to harm Jeremy Corbyn. Extreme holocaust denial may be on the fringes, but anti-Semitism in the form of wanting to see Israel destroyed, as shown by the chanting at Labour conference, is not.

In a disgusting attack, ‘Labour Party Marxists’ in their Red Pages bulletin took exception with Rhea Wolfson being allowed to chair the session on Palestine! She has pro-Palestinian views? Ah, she is a member of the Jewish Labour Movement and a Zionist! They raised no objections to anyone else chairing sessions.

That sort of dog-whistle anti- Semitism from LPM, coupled with the glowing reception two members of Neturei Karta got when leafleting, shows that some Labour members have a long way to go on managing to make solidarity with Palestinians without falling into the trap of anti-Semitic actions and views. 

This is pretty low even by the standards of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. Of course, everybody knows that it has a thing about ‘anti-Semitism’. Their leaders and writers see it everywhere – and have been doing so long before it became quite so fashionable with the Daily Mail and the right wing in the Parliamentary Labour Party. It is, after all, the AWL’s ‘unique selling point’, with which it tries to distinguish its otherwise pretty unexceptional Trotskyist economism from that of the rest of the left. Or “fake left”, as AWL guru Sean Matgamna insists on calling all other leftwing organisations in its irregularly published Solidarity.

Back in 2003 Matgamna declared that, forthwith, AWL members shall proudly call themselves “Zionists”. And, boy, have they made their master proud. In 2016, the AWL’s representatives on the then steering committee of Momentum voted enthusiastically with Jon Lansman to kick Jackie Walker off the organisation’s leading body when she was first falsely accused of anti- Semitism – perhaps giving the owner of the organisation’s database the last bit of courage he needed before he went on to abolish all democratic structures in Momentum in his coup of January 10 2017.

This episode could stand symbolically for the AWL’s whole misguided approach to the witch-hunt. Some people just cannot see the wood for the trees (or maybe they just ignore it). Even when AWL member Pete Radcliffe was expelled from the Labour Party two days after a hilariously misinformed Owen Smith (remember him?) accused the AWL on Question time of “flooding the Labour Party” and “bringing anti-Semitic views”, the penny did not seem to drop.

While there are a few isolated cases of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party (just as there must be, statistically speaking, of Islamophobia, homophobia, paedophilia and even bestiality), the witch-hunt has clearly had nothing to do with opposing anti- Semitism. The aim of the charade is to get rid of a certain Jeremy Corbyn.

By accepting the false narrative that Labour is awash with anti-Semitism, the AWL has provided leftwing cover for the witch-hunt – even while its own members became collateral damage. You could not make it up.

Zionist chair

According to Sean Matgamna, a Zionist nowadays is anyone who believes “in the right of Israel to exist and defends its existence”.

Of course, historically, Zionism was a “definitely reactionary ideology“ (Lenin), according to which Jews and gentiles could never live together peacefully and Jews therefore needed a separate Jewish state. The creation of Israel and subsequent expansion has been characterised by horrendous crimes against the indigenous Arab population, including, crucially, the nakba – the forced expulsion of around 800,000 Palestinians. What began as a colonial ideology of the oppressed has metamorphosed into a full-blown ideology of colonial oppression. Modern-day Zionism, as the state ideology of Israel, not only retrospectively justifies the foundation of Israel, but seeks to perpetuate and extend the privileged position of Jews in that state. Witness the recent passing of the Nation-State of the Jewish People’ law, which constitutionally enshrines the long-established discrimination against Israel’s non- Jewish citizens.

So, yes, we should oppose in the strongest terms the fact that Rhea Wolfson, who proudly self-defines as a Zionist, chaired a session debating the oppression of Palestinians! Wolfson – until recently an editor of the AWL’s magazine The Clarion – is a member of the pro-Zionist Jewish Labour Movement, which supports and aligns itself with the Israeli Labor Party: the same party that orchestrated the nakba and presided over the conquest of the Golan Heights and the West Bank in 1967.

Hilary WiseIt is no surprise then that Wolfson chaired the session in a highly biased way. For example, she rudely interrupted Hilary Wise from Ealing and Acton Central CLP (pictured), who spoke passionately about the anti-Semitism smear campaign: “I never seen anything like the current campaign of slurs and accusations made against Jeremy Corbyn and the left in the party. I am afraid it is an orchestrated campaign and if you want to know how it works I urge you to watch ‘The lobby’ on Al Jazeera.”

At that point Wolfson warned her: “I would ask you to be very careful. You are straying into territory here.” What “territory” exactly? Telling the truth about the smear campaign?

Comrade Wise went on to warn quite rightly that “this campaign will only get worse and the list of people being denounced as anti-Semitic will get longer, often simply for being proponents of Palestinian rights”. Here, Wolfson interrupted her again: “I urge you to be careful” – and then went straight on to tell her abruptly: “Take your seat – your time is up now.”

After two minutes and 45 seconds, that is. All other delegates got a minimum of three minutes, with Wolfson gently requesting that they finish when their time was up. The video of comrade Wise’s speech and Wolfson’s interruptions is available online.

palestine flagsFlags everywhere: conference was in full solidarity with the Palestinian cause. The Labour membership clearly rejects the ‘Anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ slurs and lies




Choosing a Zionist to chair this most controversial session of the whole conference (which also included the debate on Brexit) was, of course, a highly political move by the party leadership, intended to show that it ‘takes anti-Semitism seriously’. A bit like if Barbara Castle had been asked to chair a session on the impact of Ted Heath’s anti-trade union laws. Or Jack Straw on the Iraq war.

It was another sign, if one was needed, that Corbyn is still not prepared to take on the right, but continues to try and appease members of the PLP, etc, in the vain hope of keeping them quiet. Fat chance. Wolfson was not a neutral chair – and was not supposed to be one. The AWL might pretend not to understand that, but it was pretty obvious to the rest of us.

But then, the AWL is more than friendly with the JLM – in 2016 it even organised a joint meeting with this Zionist outfit – along with, wait for it, the pro-Blairite Progress group. After all, on the question of Israel-Palestine, there is nothing that indicates that the AWL might stem from a socialist tradition. Mike Cushman brilliantly describes this bizarre meeting as a “love-in” over a “common object of affection”: Israel. He writes:

But not the Israel we see every day abusing Palestinians and harassing dissident anti-Zionists. It was an Israel of their imagination, moving gracefully to a two-state solution, abandoning settlements and occupation on the way.

What he says is well worth a read if you want a taste of the AWL’s ahistorical and emotional attitude to the question.

Qualitative difference?

It is difficult to talk of ‘quality’ in this context, but the latest rant in Solidarity represents, perhaps, a qualitative difference. AWLers used to be rather careful, for example, not to label Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker as full- blown anti-Semites and desisted from calling for their expulsions from the Labour Party. When Matgamna fumed that Livingstone is a “functioning anti-Semite”, who “should be expelled from the Labour Party”, the Solidarity editorial committee quickly pointed out that “our editorial position is that we do not call for Livingstone to be expelled. We want to limit, not expand, the powers the current party regime has to ‘ban’ political views.” All clear then?

Now Labour Party Marxists is accused by the AWL not just of “dog- whistle anti-Semitism”, but also of “anti-Semitic actions and views”. We did not see Matgamna at conference, so we presume this is not one of his ‘special’ articles that have to be taken with a handful of salt, but the “editorial position”.

The article does not specify if the AWL thinks LPM members should be expelled from the Labour Party. But clearly this is the logic of what it is doing by naming and ‘shaming’ people in the middle of this vile witch-hunt directed against Corbyn and those who defend him from the right.

We have been assured that the AWL does not actively report people to the Labour Party’s compliance unit – but it might just as well. Its poisonous campaign has certainly helped to create and maintain today’s toxic and fearful atmosphere in the party and will no doubt have encouraged others to report cases of alleged anti-Semitism to the thought police. This has nothing to do with helping to ‘cleanse’ the workers’ movement, as some turncoats on the left seem to think.

Labour Against the Witchhunt was spot on to launch its open letter, ‘No, Jennie, we will not be informers’, in response to requests by general secretary Jennie Formby that members should report cases of alleged anti-Semitism to the Labour Party’s ‘complaints department’ (aka compliance unit).

As LAW writes elsewhere, “We have seen people being suspended for using the word ‘Zio’ or for expressing their outrage of the horrendous crimes committed by the state of Israel in a confused manner. The vast majority of these people are clearly not anti-Semitic. And yet, they have been publicly labelled as such” by the mainstream press and the right inside and outside the party, “often causing great distress to the member” in question.

We agree with LAW that “open and democratic debate, without fear of being reported, is the best way to educate people and fight prejudice and racism”. Reporting people to the thought police in the party, however, will only strengthen the hand of the witch-hunters and the right wing.

Neturei KartaMembers of Neturei Karta, an anti-Zionist, ultra-orthodox Jewish sect, handed out a good leaflet, ‘Jews in support of Jeremy’, at Liverpool conference. They condemn the foundation of a secular state of Israel as religiously blasphemous. The so-called Alliance for Workers’ Liberty prefers Zionist advocates of colonisation and ethnic cleansing


In its article, the AWL does not just attack us, but also the two members of Neturei Karta, anti-Zionist ultra- orthodox Jews who were calmly giving out their rather good leaflet, ‘Jews in support of Jeremy’, at the Labour conference; not to mention Chris Williamson MP, whom the AWL labels a “sickening individual” with a “despicable hatred of Jews”. Now, I am not an expert on legal questions, but that is not just pretty stupid and clearly untrue, but also sounds pretty libellous to me. Talking of which, it seems the AWL has now also taken to calling Jackie Walker an “anti-Semite”. Or, more precisely, to shout about it.

According to a statement posted on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/jacqueline.walker.3990, October 5 2018), AWL members told students at a fresher’s fair that they are “fighting anti-Semitism in the Labour Party” and that “we’ve got known anti-Semites living in this area. Jackie Walker, for example”. Jackie Walker has sought a retraction from the AWL and has emailed it twice, but has so far not even received an explanation. She says she is now considering reporting it to the police as a “hate crime”. [Update from Jackie Walker, October 12: “The AWL finally finished their investigation and got back to me …. and guess what, none of their activists owned up as having named me as an antisemite in their local recruitment drive. Everything however about this incident is now on file. I know the time it happened so identifying the person involved from the description would not be problematic.”]

We do not advocate bringing the state into disputes inside the workers’ movement and we would urge comrade Walker not to get the police involved. Having said that, it is, however, questionable whether the AWL should still be considered a part of the left.

We should also consider the actual, real-life implications of the AWL’s comments and articles. Being expelled from the Labour Party is one thing. But comrade Walker has become something of a pin-up for the witch-hunters; her face is plastered all over the hate-filled outputs of GnasherJew, Guido Fawkes and other such unpleasant mediums. The bomb threat made during the screening of the documentary, ‘The political lynching of Jackie Walker’, at the Labour conference was ‘only’ a hoax, but one can imagine the possibility of some deranged person being tempted to ‘do a Jo Cox’.

By supporting and perpetuating the witch-hunt against comrade Walker, Chris Williamson MP and Labour Party Marxists, the AWL has managed to stoop to a new low, even by its standards.

In defence of Pete Willsman!

Even after everything that has gone before, the attacks on Pete Willsman for his comments at last month’s meeting of Labour’s national executive committee are truly incredible.

Comrade Willsman can be heard in a secretly recorded intervention questioning the allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ among Labour members. He said: “I think we should ask the … rabbis [who had been amongst those making such absurd accusations – PM]: where is your evidence of severe and widespread anti-Semitismin this party?” Some people, he said – including those whom he described as “Trump fanatics” – were “making up duff information without any evidence at all”.

And that is it. Yet, absurdly, comrade Willsman himself has been attacked throughout the media for anti-Semitism! The press has rushed to give space to the ludicrous responses of anti-Corbyn Zionists. For example, Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, described the above words as a “disgusting rant against the Jewish community and rabbis”, for which he should be “summarily expelled”! As for Luciana Berger MP, the parliamentary chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, she absurdly declared: “Anyone listening to this recording will be appalled to hear the venom and fury directed by Mr Willsman at the British Jewish community”!

Er, he was not attacking the “Jewish community” at all. He was angrily criticising all those – Jewish or not – who were responsible for so many false allegations. Quite right too. And just about everyone in the room knew that what he said was true, but no other NEC member dared say so, it seemed.

And now Momentum has responded by dropping comrade Willsman from its list of recommended candidates for election (in his case re-election) to the NEC. The statement from the “elected officers of the national coordinating group” noted: “While it is welcome that he has made a full apology and will attend equalities training, his comments were deeply insensitive and inappropriate for a Momentum- backed NEC candidate.”

It is difficult to know whether to laugh or cry at such nonsense. But it is very much a pity that comrade Willsman felt any need to apologise – let alone accept the need for “equalities training”! While it was hardly a “full apology”, his expression of regret for failing to discuss “contentious issues” in a “fully civil and respectful way”, itself gave too much ground to his accusers. He was right to be angry at the campaign of slander directed against good comrades and he should not have retreated on this.

Hopefully those Labour members who have not yet voted will show Jon Lansman and co what they think of this by voting for all nine candidates, including comrade Willsman,on Momentum’s original recommended list.

Please join Labour Against the Witchhunt, which will be organising a number of interventions and events at this year’s Labour Party conference – including a counter-mobilisation to the demo planned by the right.

Problems with playing the ‘long game’

It is not often we listen to Labour deputy leader Tom Watson with interest. But in an interview this week he reminded us that the civil war in the Labour Party is very much alive and kicking.

He simply cannot understand that his former flatmate, Unite leader Len McCluskey, seems to have turned his back on him. “Sadly, we fell out over that week when Jeremy went into the second leadership election, and I’ve not spoken to him since that week.”

“When Jeremy went into the second leadership election”… well, that is certainly an interesting way of describing a full-on coup, which had none other than Tom Watson among its instigators, of course. And just because of that silly little coup his old mate McCluskey is apparently now “coming for me”:

He’s powerful enough, if he wants to take me out as deputy leader, he probably could, but that’s up to him. They’re upping their delegates and all of that. I’m just going to get on and try to bring everyone back together and do what I can, as best I can.

Sure you are, Tom. You’re all about unity. And just like the rest of the right wing in the party, you tend to appeal for it when your own career prospects might be under threat.

Watson seems to say that McCluskey is getting his own Unite troops ready to challenge him for his role as deputy leader. Just like for leader of the party, there are no regular elections for deputy leader. The incumbent either has to die, resign – or be challenged.

Of course – and Watson knows this very well – affiliated unions play no role at all when it comes to such a challenge. Potential candidates need the support of “20% of combined Commons members of the Parliamentary Labour Party and members of the European Parliamentary Labour Party” before they can make it onto the ballot paper.

So the fact that Unite is “upping their delegates and all of that” has no relevance to there being an active challenger to Tom Watson – or not (needless to say, in our view there definitely should be a challenge – the man is a rightwing backstabber par excellence). Rather Watson is speaking here as a kind of representative of the whole ‘moderate’ right in the party and particularly in the PLP. There have indeed been moves by a number of unions and affiliated organisations to increase the number of branches affiliated to local CLPs – and not just by the left. The Jewish Labour Movement, for example, has approached pretty much all CLPs. The difficulty these national affiliates have is proving that they indeed “have members who are registered as electors within the constituency”, which is the main requirement for local affiliation.1)Labour Party rulebook 2018, chapter 7, clause III, point 2. See http://labourpartymarxists.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Labour-Party-Rule-Book-Labour-Party-2018-Rule-Book.pdf.

Once they are affiliated to a CLP, those local affiliates could play an important role in the highly undemocratic trigger ballot – currently the only way that you can get rid of an MP. If the sitting MP wants to stand again, all the constituency’s Labour Party branches and its local affiliates have a single vote each. Each branch and each affiliate is counted equally, irrespective of the number of its members. If a simple majority of branches/affiliates votes ‘yes’, the sitting MP automatically becomes the official candidate. A full selection procedure only takes place if a majority of branches/affiliates votes ‘no’ at this stage. Then, every Labour Party member casts a vote (the affiliated organisations are not involved at this stage of the process).


In other words, Tom Watson is warning Len McCluskey not to challenge rightwing MPs like himself on a local level. His intervention is no doubt also designed to see off the lame proposal for a slight reform of the trigger ballot procedure. Despite the fact that Jon Lansman has campaigned for the mandatory reselection of parliamentary candidates for decades (it was, after all, the main demand of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, in which he played a leading role), he has now dropped it and merely calls for raising the threshold from 50% to 66% – ie, two-thirds of the local branches and affiliates have to vote ‘yes’ to a sitting MP, otherwise a full selection process begins.

But this still disproportionately favours the sitting MP: rather than allowing for a full and democratic automatic reselection process before every election, a sitting MP would still have to be challenged. Lansman’s tinkering would merely restore the trigger ballot to what it was when it was introduced by Neil Kinnock in 1990 in order to curb the power of the unions, before Tony Blair reduced it to today’s 50%. Lansman here appears to be following the lead of Jeremy Corbyn, who has declared that nowadays he is not in favour of mandatory reselection.

In this context, we are very pleased to see a much more radical rule change going forward to this year’s conference from International Labour – the party unit to which party members living abroad belong. IL is putting a deal of energy and effort into publicising the motion, no doubt in order to stop it from being ruled out of order, or batted aside by the conference arrangements committee in favour of Jon Lansman’s lame proposal.

The rule change by IL simply removes the whole trigger ballot process. While the trade unions currently have no role in the local selection process of parliamentary candidates, this would also remove their role in potentially blocking reselection. Having said that, it is clearly a huge and important step in the right direction towards transforming Labour into a real party of labour. MPs must become truly accountable to the membership.

Unite actually voted in favour of mandatory reselection at the union’s policy conference in 2017. The motion read:

MPs have not got ‘jobs for life’. They represent their constituency, but ultimately they are selected by and accountable to their Constituency Labour Party. To ensure democratic accountability and the rights of party members to select candidates that reflect their views, conference supports the need for mandatory reselection of Labour MPs in each parliament as essential.

Should Len McCluskey get behind IL’s motion, there is a real chance it might actually go through.

LRC and Gordon

Unfortunately, Jeremy Corbyn is still trying to appease the right in the party. Presumably, he thinks of himself as playing the long game, in which he will eventually emerge as prime minister, running a leftwing Labour government and bringing to fruition his neo-Keynesian, nationalist programme. Strategically, he is therefore trying to concentrate on ‘bread and butter issues’ like the NHS and austerity, while ‘sitting out’ more complex questions like democratisation, as well as Brexit, etc.

When it comes to even more tricky questions like the fabricated ‘anti-Semitism’ scandal in the party, he has chosen the path of least resistance: he says he will deal with the ‘problem’. So having replaced general secretary Iain McNicol with the more leftwing Jennie Formby, she was told to put on a show of combating anti-Semitism and not to object when Labour members are suspended or expelled on trumped-up charges.

His appointment of Gordon Nardell as ‘in-house QC’ to deal with disciplinary matters looks similarly good on paper. Nardell is a founding member of the Labour Representation Committee, where he was tasked, among other things, with rewriting the organisation’s disciplinary procedures. Nardell has come under quite a lot of scrutiny from the rightwing media and has quickly deleted his social media accounts – not quickly enough, mind. He has been ‘outed’ as having been a Facebook friend of Tony Greenstein (who cannot recall ever meeting or communicating with him) and having made a couple of comments in support of Jackie Walker.

The Labour Party has also confirmed that in his new job Nardell will be working with the definition of anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance – but not the 11 examples that come with it, as an outraged Jewish Chronicle reports. The examples are, of course, the crux of the matter, as they conflate criticism of Israel and Zionism with anti-Semitism.

There has been a lot of confusion over this definition and which part was adopted at last year’s Labour conference. The Jewish Labour Movement claimed that the party accepted the definition plus the examples, and the Board of Deputies has tried to get Jeremy Corbyn to confirm that. Marc Wadsworth’s disciplinary hearing even had to be adjourned so that Labour Party lawyers could go away and find out what the party had adopted.

In a sense, of course, this is pretty academic – it all depends on who is enforcing the rules and to what purpose. Marc Wadsworth, we should remember, was not expelled for anti-Semitism, but for the catch-all crime of “bringing the party into disrepute”. But it is an important and very welcome sign that Nardell has come out in opposition to the IHRA examples.

We welcome Nardell’s appointment and hope that he – and Corbyn – will stand firm against the ongoing smear campaign against him and his ‘friends’, even if they are mere online acquaintances. By endorsing what could be viewed as a highly political appointment, Corbyn does, of course, implicitly acknowledge that there is a civil war going on. It is just that he is trying to win it by stealth, rather than having the argument out in the open. That is a very dangerous game.

For example, Corbyn probably thinks he is being clever by meeting with the Board of Deputies without making any public concessions. But the mere fact he has met them – and at the same time continues to refuse to meet the comrades from Jewish Voice for Labour – means that he has given way politically.

He says nothing about Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Marc Wadsworth and the hundreds of others. He says nothing when Stan Keable is sacked from his job by a Labour-run council for stating that the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazi regime – a historical, if inconvenient, fact. He says nothing even when his old comrades and allies, Christine Shawcroft and Ken Livingstone, are in the firing line – quite the opposite. He urges them to resign. He has, therefore, become complicit in the right’s campaign against his own supporters.

But, no matter how many more pawns he sacrifices in this long game, he is very unlikely to win it. Even if Corbyn should become the next prime minister (and it is a big if, for a number of reasons) he would still be surrounded by a PLP whose members are mostly sworn enemies. In fact, the methods used against ‘prime minister Corbyn’ – if he were permitted to get that far – would make the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign look pretty tame. Why on earth would the PLP suddenly shut up and support Corbyn? Under these circumstances, it is a self-defeating and utterly hopeless strategy to seek ‘unity’ with the right – the last three years have demonstrated that they are not about to give up.


1 Labour Party rulebook 2018, chapter 7, clause III, point 2. See http://labourpartymarxists.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Labour-Party-Rule-Book-Labour-Party-2018-Rule-Book.pdf.

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