What a travesty!
If that is the standard of evidence on which the Labour Party has been expelling members for alleged anti-Semitism, I’m surprised there hasn’t been a wholesale thinning of the membership.
As you can probably guess, today (November 13) was the date of my disciplinary hearing with a tribunal from Labour’s National Constitutional Committee. It related to a charge of anti-Semitism that had been hanging over me since May 2017. And the panel found against me.
Did I mention I’m crowdfunding for court action to fight the false claims of anti-Semitism against me? As Labour leaked false information about me to the press in February, the party is vulnerable to an action for defamation. Please visit my page and contribute as much as you can spare.
There were seven “particulars” of the charge, and I arrived to be told that there was no need to go over the Presenter’s (it’s not a court so they’re not the prosecution) case and we could proceed straight to the questions.
I had an awful lot of questions. More than 200, in fact. I wanted to find out whether there were any facts behind the accusations against me.
And we did find out, didn’t we? There was absolutely no factual evidence supporting any of the claims against me.
To questions that tried to determine where, in the evidence, there was proof that my use of quotation marks (around “anti-Semitism”) was anti-Semitic, or that tried to ascertain why an article about the Israeli Embassy scandal of a couple of years ago was being used to suggest I was pushing forward the anti-Semitic “global Jewish conspiracy” stereotype, what answers do you think I received?
“We’ve not provided evidence; it’s about the impact in the public domain.”
“This is about perception… It’s about how this is perceived by the Jewish community.”
“You’re going into technicalities.”
“That is not relevant.” (This was actually used in response to a question about the words in one of the allegations against me – and also in response to a question about whether one of the facts I had quoted was true, so the facts were not materially relevant to this case; think about that.)
One of the questions related to the racist abuse suffered by fellow Labour Party member Jackie Walker at the hands of false accusers who were also said to have claimed the Nazi Holocaust exclusively for Jews. When I tried to explore the validity of the claims against me, I was told (by the panel’s chair, Maggie Cousins, who appears to have ‘form’ when it comes to interrupting proceedings before they turn in favour of the accused and who also seemed far more interested in catching her four o’clock train than in justice) that it was inappropriate to discuss another case. I wasn’t the one who had raised it!
(For more on Ms Cousins, see how she contributed to the expulsion from Labour of the son of two Nazi holocaust survivors.)
I asked why we could not talk about it and was told members of the panel may be hearing that case as well, so I pointed out that I had requested that the panel not include any members who had a conflict of interest due to any item of evidence. Then I was told that no such conflict of interest existed. So what was the problem?
I’ll tell you: The problem was the panel’s chairperson did not want to have to admit that, in this matter, the Labour Party’s controlling committee was apparently supporting the racist abuse of one of its members. I’ll explain more in a future article.
As for whether it was anti-Semitic – Holocaust denial – to suggest that anybody had claimed the Nazi Holocaust exclusively for Jews, I asked if the NEC had carried out any research into whether campaigners had made such a claim and the answer was, “No.” I have carried out such research and there’s surprisingly much of it about. I’ll explain more in a future article.
How about this comment from the Presenter: “Whether your comments are anti-Semitic is neither here nor there.”
Or this: “Your intentions are not relevant.”
You can see that they were angling that the way my words were perceived by other people was said to be the issue. The problem is, other people can say whatever they like about my words; it is whether their comments have any validity that I was trying to ascertain – and that, it seemed to me, the panel was trying to hide.
I made the point that it is very dangerous for the Labour Party to try to talk down to members – and voters – about how my articles (or anybody else’s words) should be perceived. It is for members of the public to make up their own minds. Attempts to dictate to people will make them feel patronised.
“The NEC is not here to police what people say.”
But the NCC was, it seems – as became clear over the four hours following that statement. When the panel had a chance to question me on my evidence, it was all about whether members of the Labour Party should be discussing emotive matters like anti-Semitism in public. My point that these matters were in the public domain in any case, and that it is the responsibility of Labour members to counter false claims wherever we find them (or to accept valid points in order to improve the party’s policies, procedures and offer to members), fell on deaf ears.
By the end of the hearing, the issue of anti-Semitism had been left far behind and the matter at hand was whether the Labour Party’s ruling committee has a right to gag members. In my closing statement, I argued passionately that this was a terrible idea because it would leave the public arena to the party’s critics, who would – of course – have free rein to influence public opinion in whatever way they chose, to the detriment of Labour and against the interests of the UK.
There was some urgency to get me to say I would consider re-education on anti-Semitism – which I rejected out of hand, something like four times during the course of the day.
The panel retired to consider its verdict and, on its return, said that on the balance of probabilities the charges against me were proved. With what – thin air? Did I have anything to say in mitigation?
I said: “No mitigation. The charges are false. I am innocent.”
This seemed to set the cat among the pigeons because the panel took another half an hour to come to its decision to rescind my party membership for 18 months, following which I would be able to reapply to join.
That’s not exactly a resounding condemnation, is it?
Oh – but I was going to talk about Stan.
After I finished referring to the evidence in my closing statement I expressed regret that I had been forced to discuss the issues of the case, because I had put together a nice speech about my own beliefs, prompted by the death of superhero comics creater Stan Lee on November 12. I asked if the panel wanted to hear it anyway and the members didn’t seem opposed so I gave it to them:
“Stan is best known to the world as the creator of the Marvel superhero universe, that has entertained generations of comic-book readers in the 20th century and led to some of the biggest movie blockbusters of the 21st.
“He created the X-Men, a series that has the struggle against racism – of any kind – as its central theme, and some may think that is reason enough to mention him here.
“But his most famous character is Spider-Man, the bullied schoolboy who gains fantastic abilities and uses them, not to make easy money or achieve easy romantic success, but to stand up for the poor, the weak, those who cannot defend themselves because, as Stan put it, “With great power comes great responsibility”. That is a message I certainly hope the members of the panel take to heart today.
“Stan always made it clear that, although his protagonists wore masks, it was the actions of the human beings behind those masks that made them heroic – their choice to do things, not because they were easy, but because they were hard.
“He had a huge effect on my life – as a young reader of Stan’s work, I learned these lessons well, and they have deeply affected my work as an adult.
“An obvious example would be the two years I spend forcing the Conservative government to release its statistics on the number of people who have died after being forced off sickness benefits under the work capability assessment system. Many people thought I should give up but I persevered – not because it was easy but because it was hard. And I won. And the scandal of the homicidal Tory benefit system has been big news ever since.
“Another example might be this case, and my determination to show that it is perfectly reasonable to discuss the subjects mentioned today, in the ways I have discussed them, without expecting to be accused of wrong-doing.
“I owe my determination to do what’s right, even when it seems an impossible struggle, to Stan.
“If you’re asking why that is important to this hearing, I’ll tell you:
“Stan Lee was Jewish.
“His real name was Stanley Martin Lieber. Like his collaborator Jack Kirby (or Jacob Kurtzberg) and other contemporaries, he was one of a generation of Jews who built up the US comics industry from the 1940s onwards.
“Stan wrote an editorial that is relevant to today’s proceedings, that was published in Marvel comics in 1968 – before I was even born. A friend put it up on Facebook last night; it covers the subject that concerns us today and reflects my own feelings.
“He wrote: “Let’s lay it right on the line. Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them is to expose them – to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are. The bigot is an unreasoning hater – one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately. If his hang-up is black men, he hates ALL black men. If a redhead once offended him, he hates ALL redheads. If some foreigner beat him to a job, he’s down on ALL foreigners. He hates people he’s never seen – people he’s never known – with equal intensity – with equal venom. Now, we’re not trying to say it’s unreasonable for one human being to bug another. But, although anyone has the right to dislike another individual, it’s totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race – to despise an entire nation – to vilify an entire religion. Sooner or later, we must learn to judge each other on our own merits. Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our hearts with tolerance. For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God – a God who calls us ALL – His children.
“”Pax et justitia,
“They’re his words, but my thoughts too. It IS totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race – to despise an entire nation – to vilify an entire religion. We MUST learn to judge each other on our own merits – as I was doing when I wrote the articles that form the basis of the complaints against me today.
“Using those words to combat the evils we have discussed may not be the best way to pay tribute to Stan, but it’s the best I can do.”
Of course, I was saying that a person who had been so profoundly influenced for the positive, by a person who was well-known as a Jew, could not possibly be an anti-Semite.
Even Stan Lee couldn’t make a speech heroic enough to sway a tribunal that seemed to have made up its collective mind before the hearing started.
So allow me to remind you that I have a crowdfunding page and you are invited to contribute – if you have an interest in justice.
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