Unless you were under a rock yesterday, you’ll know This Writer’s reaction to the decision by Labour’s National Constitutional Committee to expel veteran anti-racism campaigner Marc Wadsworth – for “bringing the party into disrepute” by means of anti-Semitism.
That’s right: An anti-racism campaigner – who, by the way, started the Justice for Stephen Lawrence campaign (you may have seen coverage of the memorial service to mark the 25th anniversary of his murder) – expelled for a form of racism. The sheer, fly-in-the-face-of-facts stupidity of it is brutal.
And now we have evidence that the decision flew in the fact of the evidence presented to the NCC as well. Here’s Chris Williamson who gave evidence for Mr Wadsworth:
Very disappointed to hear the news that veteran anti-racist campaigner, @Marcwads has been expelled from the Labour Party by the party's National Constitutional Committee. Here is my statement on the matter https://t.co/1qphUKClSk
— Chris Williamson (@DerbyChrisW) April 27, 2018
His statement reads as follows [boldings mine]:
“I am astonished by the National Constitutional Committee’s (NCC) perverse determination of Marc Wadsworth’s case.
“It flies in the face of the evidence that was presented and offends against the principles of natural justice.
“The NCC’s decision has all the hallmarks of predetermination and tramples on the Labour Party’s record of standing up for fairness.
“I will therefore continue to stand four-square behind Marc and assist him in his efforts to clear his name, and his reputation as a veteran anti-racist campaigner, which have been besmirched by this absurd NCC ruling.”
Of course, some prominent (do I mean prominent? No – more accurate to describe them as mouthy) Labour Party figures had to stick their oar in:
— John Mann (@LordJohnMann) April 27, 2018
— Bill Dawson (@DampDogBill) April 25, 2018
— The Agitator (@UKDemockery) April 27, 2018
And what, exactly, is “brave and tenacious” about lying for nearly two years in order to turn public opinion against a fellow party member, and then removing the evidence of the lie from her Facebook page?
Ms Smeeth deleted the following from her page on or around February 24 this year:
It’s a fair point, don’t you think? Ms Smeeth deliberately tried to undermine the democratically-elected Labour leader – and continues to do so – yet she has not been disciplined for it. Why not?
Media sites and Labour-related organisations have already started broadcasting their opinions – and the verdicts will already be causing huge headaches for whichever genius thought it would be a good idea to make the wrong decision. Here’s Asa Winstanley of The Electronic Intifada.
Article on today's disgusting decision by the NCC incoming, but quick take: the Labour leader's office is about to have a full blown grassroots rebellion on its hands over the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth.
— Asa Winstanley (@AsaWinstanley) April 27, 2018
A line has to be drawn in the sand. And my feeling right now: it just has been.
— Asa Winstanley (@AsaWinstanley) April 27, 2018
Jewish Voice for Labour had this to say:
“The expulsion from the Labour Party of antiracist activist Marc Wadsworth marks a new low in the unprincipled campaign by enemies of the left to misuse justified concerns about antisemitism for factional ends.
“In ruling that Wadsworth subjected Ruth Smeeth MP to antisemitic abuse at the launch of the Chakrabarti Report on June 30, 2016, the National Constitutional Committee panel has ignored the factual evidence and based its decision on a distorted interpretation of the incident in question.
“An individual’s clam to have felt abused, and the perception of their supporters, must of course be taken seriously. So the Party was right to investigate Ruth Smeeth’s complaint. But that claim and those perceptions cannot be the deciding factors in the case. Sir William Macpherson’s ruling in the Stephen Lawrence inquiry was precise on that point. (Wadsworth, as it happens, played a leading role in the campaign for justice for the Lawrence family.)
“In this case, a comment by Wadsworth about an exchange he witnessed between one Daily Telegraph journalist and one MP has been represented as a generalised attack on Jews. The NCC have given their stamp of approval to manipulation by media and other commentators, which twisted an unremarkable throwaway comment to claim it as a vile antisemitic slur – that Jews collectively control the media.
“The NCC made its judgement against the background of Wadsworth’s summary suspension 22 months ago, which was itself a travesty of the transparent, fair and equitable procedures one would expect from a labour movement organisation.
“Wadsworth was punished in advance of investigation and hearing of the case. He was universally pilloried in the media as guilty of a detestable hate crime. Headlines described him as “the activist who made Jewish MP weep” and his name was linked repeatedly with antisemitism. Representing this veteran Black activist as guilty of abusing a Jewish politician is not only unjust. It risks damaging the essential cause of combating rising racist bigotry in society by pitting blacks against Jews.
“It is a bitter irony that Wadsworth’s unjust treatment would not have been possible if the relevant recommendations of the Chakrabarti Report had been implemented rather than being obstructed by the party’s entrenched bureaucracy. The machinery in place since long before Corbyn was elected leader has continued to deploy the flawed processes, that Chakrabarti declared unfit for purpose, against pro-Corbyn party members.
“Some cases of genuine antisemitism – hostility towards Jews for no other reason than that they are Jews – have been identified,, and these need to be dealt with in a just, equitable and transparent manner.
“It must be a priority for the new General Secretary to ensure that:
“* Marc Wadsworth has the opportunity to appeal the judgement against him and to have the appeal heard by an independent arbiter
“* other outstanding disciplinary cases, involving antisemitism and other allegations, are reviewed and unjust suspensions lifted,
“* disciplinary procedures and structures are reformed as part of a review process involving the full spectrum of opinions in the party.
“Jewish Voice for Labour looks forward to playing a positive role in this process.”
And here’s Red Labour:
For clarity, it says:
“We are extremely concerned at the expulsion of long serving anti-racist activist Marc Wadsworth from the Labour Party this morning.
“The first thing to say is that the hearing could hardly avoid being prejudiced by the media circus around it, not helped by the 40 or so MPs who theatrically marched Ruth Smeeth over to where Marc’s case was being heard.
“The second thing to say is that it wasn’t, as widely reported, about anti-Semitism. The charge against Marc Wadsworth was one of “bringing the party into disrepute”. We have to ask, how many members of the party, never mind the public, will understand that, considering the media storm? In the meantime, a lifetime anti-racist’s reputation is tarnished.
“Thirdly, the evidence of Marc’s “bringing the party into disrepute” was plain for all to see; it was captured on video. Almost everyone who watched that footage will have been perplexed at the idea that his actions were serious enough to warrant expulsion. The idea, promulgated by the MPs mentioned above and their chums in the media, that his intervention was anti-Semitic was so ridiculous that even Smeeth deleted the charge from her website.
“Yes, of course, we can have a debate about what is appropriate behaviour from party members, whether experienced or not. People will often misjudge situations and make mistakes, but they are not expellable offences. Sorry episodes like this really damage the party, and we should do all we can to stop them. Unfortunately, many in the PLP have instead fanned them, in order to undermine the leadership.
“What is so reckless about this, in addition, is the specific damage it has done to the trust and engagement that many BAME members have in the party. Expelling prominent black activists divides those communities and gives a clear signal to BAME activists that already feel marginalised by the party’s structures.
“Lastly, the way the Marc Wadsworth case has been handled undermines faith in the party’s structures and processes. The thing about justice is that it must be consistent to be credible. You can’t, say, have one rule for one member of a party and another for a different member. In addition, that consistency must cut across personal loyalties, favours, power and influence. It’s not about what is politically convenient, ever. It should only be about justice. And when you set a precedent, it must then apply to all. That’s why you must be very careful that you are 100% correct in setting them.
“In other words, we’re looking forward to similar disrepute hearings for our finger-jabbing friends on the Labour benches, who daily rip up the rule book, abuse the democratically-elected leadership and treat the party’s members with contempt.”
So the Wadsworth decision:
- Flies in the face of the evidence, offends natural justice, appears to have been predetermined and tramples on fairness.
- Relies on distorted evidence rather than factual information, to produce a result that was pre-demanded by MPs.
- Gives the NCC’s stamp of approval to manipulation by media and other commentators.
- In expelling a BAME member under false pretences, has increased concern about racism in the Labour Party rather than calming them.
- Shows that Labour MPs are abusing the party’s structures in order to harm the innocent, while they get away with huge abuses themselves.
As a Labour member whose case is likely to go before the NCC in the next few months, who has also been subjected to trial-by-media after details of the National Executive Committee’s deliberations about me were leaked to a Tory-supporting paper, who faces accusations that rely on distorted evidence rather than factual information, and who has been frustrated by party structures that have made it practically impossible for me to state my case without it being misrepresented by party officers, it seems perfectly clear that I won’t get justice.
So I agree with Alan Shore (above) – it’s time all Labour members of good conscience made a formal complaint to Labour’s compliance unit and/or general secretary Jennie Formby.
If I recall correctly, both may be contacted at Southside, 105 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6QT.
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