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Witch-hunters: I like this image because it paints the Labour Party anti-Semitism fakers as cartoon characters.

How interesting that blogs like PoliticsHome are saying Labour MPs passed a vote unanimously, demanding that the party’s leadership “do more” (whatever that means) to fight anti-Semitism. This is a lie – there was no such vote.

The motion – and amendments – were taken, and Luciana Berger asked if any MP wished to vote against them. Nobody did but, as Skwawkbox noted in its summary of the meeting: “Not intending to vote against a motion is not the same as intending to vote for it. Abstentions exist – and a motion is not carried unanimously unless everyone votes for it. Also, under the current chair’s rules for PLP meetings, no front-benchers at all are allowed to speak – meaning that anti-Corbyn MPs on the back benches have a disproportionately loud voice in the meetings. In such circumstances, a reasoned and balanced debate of the motion was never going to be possible.”

Under party rules, the motion has no force whatsoever.

Note also that the expression of unwillingness to vote against the motion was taken before general secretary Jennie Formby had even taken the floor to present her report on what had been done to tackle anti-Semitism in the party.

It seems the claim that MPs had voted to support the motion comes from Margaret Hodge, who was quoted by LabourList as saying, “The resolution was unanimously supported by the Parliamentary Labour Party.” This is not accurate; it simply was not opposed.

Four MPs then put forward the same point of order – attacking Ms Formby, demanding that the unenforceable motion be enforced, and calling for Ms Formby to be brought back to face MPs again next week. But she has no obligation to report to them at all; her duties are to the National Executive Committee, where backbench Labour MPs have their own representatives. The correct procedure is to ask those representatives to answer questions on these matters.

The Skwawkbox report goes on to discuss parts of the motion, and it seems clear that the intention was for the party leadership to treat any accusation as proof of guilt. This is the witch-hunt in action and This Writer knows how it works because I fell foul of it.

The motion states: “The PLP is very concerned by recent reports that a number of cases of alleged antisemitic activity from high-profile members have been dropped. The PLP calls on the Party leadership to adequately tackle cases of antisemitism.”

This assumes that anybody who is accused must be guilty.

Prior to the meeting, Ms Formby had already sent a full response to the motion, which may be read in the Skwawkbox article.

As a party member who has been through the complaints procedure she described, I must admit surprise at her claim that “it couldn’t have been clearer that urgent action was needed to ensure our processes for dealing with complaints were robust, efficient and fair” and that she had taken such action.

My concern arises not because the system fails to punish the guilty – but that it earnestly seeks, through avoidance of proper procedure, bias, and – let’s face it – perversion of justice, to condemn the innocent.

I welcome Ms Formby’s announcement that the NCC, which hears the most serious cases, has been doubled in size but I fear that this will do no good unless the corruption at the heart of that committee is tackled. As I have stated before, my own hearing before an NCC panel (chaired by one Maggie Cousins) was a kangaroo court; the panel had clearly decided to find me guilty – based, I believe, on a directive from the NEC to do so, that was on the charge sheet (and you can see that this belies Ms Formby’s claim that the NCC has “complete autonomy of decision-making”) – and ignored the evidence, claiming to base its decision on a claim brought up in the hearing that someone had complained that something I had written had “upset” them. No evidence was produced that any such person existed, nor were we allowed to discuss what had upset them or why this should take precedence over the description and examples of anti-Semitism that had been adopted by the party.

And, of course, the whole case was meaningless because it was based on rules that were not in force when I wrote the articles that formed the basis of the charges against me. I was expelled from the party under false pretences.

That doesn’t change the fact that Labour MPs have no right to demand anything from the general secretary.

She was well within her rights to “defy calls from MPs to prove the party is clamping down on abuse”, as the Mirror‘s report puts it. Note that this report does not point out this fact. Note that the Mirror did not report the fact that Ms Formby reports to the NEC, not MPs. But then, what can you expect from a piece that quotes the hysterical leader of fringe hate-group the Campaign Against Antisemitism, Gideon Falter?

Melanie Melvin had this right on Twitter:

(… Although her use of the term “cabal” may see her accused of anti-Semitism by some of the more shrill witch-hunters.)

And the volley of supporting comments from hard-right politicians posing as Labour MPs has met with similar disdain:

The issue here isn’t anti-Semitism, despite what the right-wing Labour backbenchers want you to think. It’s bad faith by those same backbenchers.

Look at the people involved. Luciana Berger, who proposed the motion, just got rinsed as an ambitious publicity-hunter with no integrity in a Twitter thread by rising star Shaun Lawson.

Margaret Hodge got into the headlines with a foul-mouthed rant against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that had nothing behind it but an interest in smearing him as an anti-Semite.

And Chuka Umunna seems deeply confused about whether or not his party is “institutionally” anti-Semitic or racist. He said it wasn’t in 2016 but changed his mind two years later – when it suited him.

With these attention-seekers at the forefront of this latest attempt to smear the Labour leadership, it has no credibility at all.


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