Defend Free Speech – Join the Campaign for Free Speech Launch Rally this Saturday 12.00 p.m.
Defend Free Speech – Join the Campaign for Free Speech Launch Rally this Saturday 12.00 p.m.
Defend Free Speech – Join the Campaign for Free Speech Launch Rally this Saturday 12.00 p.m.
Starmer and Evans Contempt for Democracy and the Rights of Members Speaks Volumes About What a Future Labour Government Will Look Like
Please register for Saturday Free Speech Conference here
We will have a range of speakers on Saturday including Craig Murray, the former Ambassador to Uzbekistan who was sacked by Jack Straw for exposing the country’s torture. Ilan Pappe, the Israeli Professor whose book ‘The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine’ details what happened in 1948 and Ronnie Kassrills, the Jewish former Commander of the ANC’s military wing Umkontwe we Sizwe and a Minister in successive ANC governments in South Africa from 1994-2008. Ronnie has been outspoke in condemning Israeli Apartheid see here.
There is a wholesale attack on Labour Party democracy being waged by Starmer and his glove puppet David Evans. It demonstrates the contempt that the Labour Right have for free speech and democracy.
But this is not just about democracy and free speech. Nor is it just about defending the right of Israel to continue committing its atrocities. It is also about what a future Labour government looks like.
Let me be clear. I think it highly unlikely that Starmer will win a general election. It’s not just that he has all the personality of a wet fish. It is highly unlikely that Labour will regain sufficient of the ‘red wall’ seats to even get back to the position that Corbyn achieved in 2017 with 262 seats. Given the permanent loss of the Scottish seats, the prospects of a future Labour government are slim indeed.
In retrospect Corbyn’s achievement in 2017 may come to be seen as Labour’s high water mark. Labour’s decline as an electoral force is part and parcel of the decline in European social democracy, be it in the Scandinavian countries, France, Germany and Italy. It has to date been masked by the first past the post electoral system. To put it bluntly. Social democracy now has nothing to offer.
Corbyn’s Labour did have something to offer which is why the results in 2017 achieved the highest swing since 1945. Unfortunately the fierceness of the fightback by his opponents, with ‘anti-Semitism’ being weaponised for all its worth, undermined the confidence of Corbyn and exposed the weakness of a Labour Left trapped by identity politics. Their lack of class politics proved fatal.
Starmer doesn’t even have the personality or charisma of Tony Blair. There is nothing subtle or charming about him. He is a walking corpse without a trace of humour. His commitment to rooting out ‘anti-Semitism’ is so patently insincere that it’s barely worth analysing. Suffice to say that it is in marked contrast to his attitude to other forms of racism. His response to Black Lives Matter was famously that it was a ‘moment’.
Despite all the lies about making a safe space for Jews (as long as they are Zionists) Starmer knows full well that the Report is full of holes. Given that it has been produced by Commissioner Alasdair Henderson, whose own racist sympathies resulted in his tweeting his support for two fascists, Roger Scruton and Douglas Murray, the only place it should go is a litter bin.
‘Anti-Semitism’ is useful to provide a moral cudgel, nothing more. The Board of Deputies concern about ‘anti-Semitism’ i.e. support for Israel, is a handy excuse. The real reason for the attack on party democracy has nothing to do with ‘anti-Semitism’. Starmer envisages that he will come to power in a situation wholly unlike that of Blair in 1997.
Although people best remember Blair for the Iraq War, PFI and privatisation and hostility to asylum seekers, New Labour also spent a lot of money on the NHS and tax credits. This was a time when the British economy was buoyant thanks to Ken Clarke, John Major’s Chancellor of the Exchequer. Of course by the time Gordon ‘no return to boom or bust’ Brown had taken over and the financial crash had hit us, then the economy was anything but healthy. New Labour’s bonfire of regulations led to a decade of austerity.
If, just imagine, that a Starmer government came to power in 2024 then the situation will be infinitely worse. The government has borrowed hundreds of billions of pounds thanks to the COVID crisis. It is going to have to pay that back and it is an educated guess that it’s not the rich who are going to have to pay it!
It is unlikely that Rishi Sunak will impose a wealth tax of say 20% of all liquid and fixed assets on the top 10% of society to meet the COVID bill. Instead it will be the working class who will be told to pay up. Starmer is nothing if not the bastard offspring of the ruling class. He is the only member of the Trilateral Commission, an international ruling class organisation containing such luminaries as Henry Kissinger. We are facing austerity on stereoids.
A future Labour government will not be a reformist government. It will be an echo of Ramsay Macdonald’s 1929-31 government which cut the dole and led to a national government. We can’t of course foresee the exact circumstances in which such a government gains office, almost certainly as a minority government, but the omens aren’t promising.
That is why Starmer is determined to crush the Left now and that is also why socialists have to fight, fight and fight again (to borrow Hugh Gaitskell’s slogan) against Starmer and the even more pitiful Rayner. It is a measure of how pathetic and weak the Campaign Group of Socialist MPs is that they are unable even to mount a defence of Corbyn.
Corbyn himself, instead of leading the fightback, has resorted to trying to secure backroom deals and a form of words that will placate Starmer. Instead of taking to the stage and mounting a campaign against Sturmer and Evans he is remaining silent hoping to slide back and regain the Whip.
According to Skwawkbox Corbyn and Long-Bailey’s offending statements were pre-approved by the treacherous Starmer. That is quite likely, not least because we know as a fact that Starmer’s office was leaking to the press in July that Corbyn was likely to be suspended when the EHRC report was released.
If the Campaign Group and Momentum had any political analysis then they would look forward and see that the battle against the neo-liberal Starmer has to start now. Starmer is our enemy. There should be no question of uniting with him or the right. This has been the fateful mistake of the Labour Left historically. Today it represents a disaster in the making. When Starmer/Evans attack the democracy of the Labour Party they are doing it on behalf of capital and the City. That is why rich benefactors are standing by, reading to replace trade union money.
That is why we should support a group of 7 Labour Party members, 4 of whom are Jewish (but the wrong sort of Jews) who are taking the Labour Party to court about the breach of their most basic democratic rights. Despite the EHRC saying that Labour’s procedures are unfit for purpose and making a series of proposals to improve them, the Labour Party witchhunters are saying that the EHRC proposals don’t apply to them! Thus making a complete mockery of Sturmer’s acceptance of the Report lock stock and barrel.
Please support Labour Activists 4 Justice crowdfunding appeal,
It has raised just over half of the £100,000 necessary in order to bring judicial proceedings. But they need another £50,000.
Seven members of the Labour Party today filed a claim in the High Court in light of the Party’s acceptance that its disciplinary process is unfair and not fit for purpose.
The group of members, Labour Activists For Justice (LA4J) who have all been unjustly accused of undermining the Party’s ability to campaign against racism, have been working for six months to persuade the Party to improve its disciplinary process for the benefit of all members, but have been rejected at every approach. Last month the EHRCReport n its Investigation into Antisemitism in the Labour Party found that the Party’s disciplinary process was not fit for purpose, and recommended that the Party should put in place a new fair system.
When the EHRC Report came out, the Party said it would implement all the recommendations as a matter of urgency and would commission a new process. So LA4J approached the Party again to ensure that the Party did not continue with its investigations under the unfair process, only to be told the Report did not apply to them and the Party would continue to use the same disciplinary processes that were found to be seriously unfair by the EHRC. Today LA4J filed a claim in the High Court through their solicitors, Bindmans LLP, to ensure that the Party must now address what they and the EHRC say are multiple failures in its disciplinary process.
The points made by the EHRC are almost identical to the points made by LA4J, including:
· the lack of clear guidelines on how antisemitism cases are judged
the Party has now confirmed that it uses a version of its Code of Conduct to judge what is antisemitic that it will not publish or even send to people under investigation
· withholding the identity of accusers without good reason
· a lack of fair process for the accused
· a failure to provide adequate reasons for the decisions made.
The members of the group, four of whom are Jewish, have all had disciplinary action taken against them and are currently under investigation over alleged rule breaches relating to antisemitism, which they strongly reject. They know that many other members are in similar situations. They are making this High Court claim because the suggestion in many cases, including their own, that there is anti-Semitic content in the evidence provided by the Labour Party is unfounded and offensive. They want a fair disciplinary process to be implemented for ALL Labour Party members where the criteria by which they will be judged are clear and public and the procedures are fair.
One of the group, Diana Neslen, an 81year old Orthodox Jew said:
‘Throughout its history the Labour Movement has fought for the rights of workers, including the right to a fair and just disciplinary process. If any employer tried to impose the party’s process on their employees today, the Labour Movement and the unions would be up in arms. It is a disgrace that needs to be fixed.’
‘Over the last six months we have drawn the party’s attention to our concerns with several lawyer’s letters, but every time they refuse to address our arguments. The idea that the EHRC Report does not apply to us is the last straw. A legal challenge is not a road we want to go down, but they have left us no choice. ‘
LA4J’s Crowdjustice and other funding approaches have been, and continue to be, well supported by hundreds of individual contributors, many of whom have said they have donated or pledged precisely because we are taking action on behalf of ALL members. However the likely costs of the action will run to six figures so LA4J would be grateful for any further contributions.
The Labour Party owes it to all its members to treat them with fairness and due process.
This should start now!
The Members of LA4J :
Diana Neslen(age 81) is a General Committee delegate to Ilford South CLP. She is an Orthodox Jew. She rejoined the Labour party in 2015 following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader and is a member of Jewish Voice for Labour. She has been a long time Palestinian and antiracist activist. In September 2018, five months after the sudden death of her husband and while undergoing cancer treatment, she received a reminder of conduct from the Labour Party detailing eleven ‘offences’ she had committed. All were social media postings related to Israel’s policies and conduct. There was no indication anywhere as to the identity of the complainants or the definition of antisemitism the Party was applying, and some of the postings predated her Labour party membership. Although she contacted the Party to discover the nature of the ‘offences’, she received no response. In May 2020, while shielding alone, she received a notice of investigation from an anonymous employee of the Labour party detailing seven items that required investigation for antisemitism. The complainants were again anonymous and the definition not based on the published code. Although she has made contact with the party to request further information and later on to explain the proper context in which what she said must be understood, they have at no time had the courtesy to reply. It is chilling that the Labour party feels emboldened to accuse a Jewish woman of antisemitism on the basis of a hidden definition, and by its unfair processes expose the truth of the EHRC findings about its unjust complaints process.
Jonathan Rosenhead (age 82) is Chair of Hoxton West branch and serves on the Executive of Hackney South and Shoreditch CLP. He first joined the Labour Party in 1962, and was a Labour Parliamentary candidate in 1966; he rejoined the party in 2015. His Notice of Investigation served in May 2020 cited as evidence i) a speech at the February CLP meeting nominating Jo Bird for the NEC, in which his mention of her well known ‘Jew-process’ joke was allegedly a disciplinary offence; ii) words which were incorrectly asserted to be part of his verbal evidence as a witness at Ken Livingstone’s disciplinary hearing in 2017; and iii) an article he had written in Open Democracy in October 2017 describing the launch meeting of Jewish Voice for Labour (but which of the 3000 words were problematic was not specified). His conduct is being judged on the basis of an unpublished version of the code.
Michael Ellman (age 83) is Auditor of Junction Ward branch of Islington North CLP. He is a practising Jew. He joined the Labour Party in 1980, re-joined in 2015, and is a solicitor and former Vice-President of FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), who has fought for human rights and against racism all his life. He proposed a motion in August 2020 to an internal branch meeting to reconsider the IHRA definition of antisemitism because it might stifle legitimate political debate, and substitute the Oxford English Dictionary definition, which was leaked to the Press by an unknown person and he was immediately suspended from the Party for conduct grossly prejudicial to the Party following a complaint by an unknown person.
Mike Howard (age 68) Member of Hastings & Rye CLP. Active Labour Party member for over thirty-five years, holding office in six CLP’s during this time. Twice elected Hastings Borough Councillor. Retired (former office-holding) Unison life member. Unite Community, JVL and PSC. He is a Jewish, lifelong anti-racist whose family escaped the murderous pogroms in pre-war Russia/Poland and fought the fascists in their East London neighbourhood. Mike has suffered real anti-semitism, and finds it completely unacceptable that Labour Party HQ, knowing that he is Jewish, has not responded to his solicitors’ request to drop an anonymous complainant’s accusations of anti-semitism against him which is based on the process the EHRC found was unfair and based on a code the Party will not publish.
John Davies (age 66) Former Chair, St Michael’s Branch, Liverpool Riverside CLP. Member since 2015. He is accused of 7 instances of hostility or prejudice based on race or religion. The instances are mostly re-posts of material posted by others, including a former Israeli minister and a Palestinian doctor, and the charges are based on definitions of antisemitism in a version of an antisemitism code of conduct that the Labour Party will not publish. Mr Davies has been an active anti-racist all his life, and denies all the charges.
Colin O Driscoll (age 60) Vice Chair Labour International CLP (Labour Party’s International Section). First joined the Labour Party in 1978, rejoined in 2015 (pre-Corbyn). He is accused on the basis of social media posts of ]various instances of misconduct. The complaint was made some time before May 2020, by a person or persons unknown. The charges were laid in 2020 as part of an express expulsion procedure. He strongly denies the charges, which again are based on an antisemitism code of conduct that the Labour Party will not publish.
Chris Wallis (age 71) Vice Chair Hazel Grove CLP (near Stockport) . Member since 2015 (pre-Corbyn). He is accused of 5 instances of conduct prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the party relating to racism, and in particular antisemitism. The complaint was made in December 2019 by persons unknown, but the charges were not laid till June 2020, and only then after he had requested an update from the Party as he was about to be Acting Chair of his CLP. He rejects the charges absolutely, which again are based on a version of an antisemitism code of conduct that the Labour Party will not publish.
We are preparing to file court proceedings! Can you please help with our costs?
The Labour party disciplinary process has been condemned by the EHRC as fundamentally unfair to complainants and respondents. This is not surprising. Many of us who have had direct experience of the process can vouch for the fact that it is not fit for purpose. It is an opaque process, granting confidentiality to those accusers whose complaints are investigated, while treating the accused as if they were already guilty, and making vague accusations against people without letting them know the case against them or by what standards they are being judged.
It is fundamental to natural justice that an accused should know their accuser (unless there is very good reason for this not to be the case). This requirement (confirmed by the EHRC) is, however, dispensed with by the Labour Party as a matter of course. Indeed, the EHRC found that the Labour Party did not even always record the identity of complainant. The accused is therefore kept in the dark about who the accuser is, or even if there is more than one. The accused cannot therefore identify whether there might be other motivations for the complaint, including potential factionalism. Since the motives of the accusers cannot be challenged, the accused is denied a full opportunity to respond.
This is just one of the many unfairnesses identified by the EHRC that have pervaded the Party’s disciplinary processes and which still have not been addressed. Indeed, we have tried valiantly since July to engage with the Labour Party (and others have preceded us) in order to encourage the Party to address the unjust and inequitable nature of their disciplinary processes and the devastating effect it has on the lives and well-being of those the Party chooses to target.
When the Labour Party finally engaged with our legal representatives they rejected all our reasonable submissions out of hand but without providing any adequate explanation. It was not therefore surprising to discover that the EHRC’s report agreed with our concerns. It recommended that the current procedure is so unfair that the party must put in place a new fair, transparent, independent process.
The Labour Party has now publicly confirmed that it will implement the recommendations of the EHRC report and will put a new process in place. But extraordinarily, they have refused to stop the unfair current investigations, suggesting that the Report is not for us: it is for complainants and ‘The Jewish Community’. This is not only offensive, particularly to those of us who are Jewish, it is also simply wrong. The Report identifies fundamental unfairness to complainants and respondents irrespective of their ethnic background or religion. And it completely contradicts the Party’s public statements that it accepts and is currently implementing the EHRC’s recommendations by designing a whole new process for investigations.
The Labour Party cannot continue to act in blatant disregard of the recommendations of the EHRC when it suits them, while saying, in a blaze of publicity, that they accepted those recommendations and would act on them in full. It is time to hold them to account. We now have no option but to file our claim in court. We hope to file within a matter of weeks.
We are deeply grateful to all those who, because they share our views on this issue, have so generously supported this cause already. We would not be where we are without you. We still need your help please, so we are asking again for further donations at this stage to fund court action – not just for ourselves, but for all those who have been targeted and to prevent others in the future from having to suffer the same fate. This should be for the benefit of all Party members, and for all those who believe in the rule of law and fair process.
Thank you. Solidarity.
For further information contact Chris Wallis on 07973 818298