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Derek Hatton: Victimised?

I’m not buying the Labour leadership’s claim that it suspended Derek Hatton after two days because of a tweet, of which the party had been “not aware”.

I don’t know much about Mr Hatton; he was kicked out of Labour when I was still at school.

But I do know that his return to the party has been under discussion for a considerable period of time. In the case of a controversial figure like Mr Hatton, it is inconceivable that party officials would not research his behaviour thoroughly before that decision was made.

Not only that, but the basis on which the tweet is being used to justify the suspension appears to be false.

According to The Guardian, the 2012 tweet stated, “Jewish people with any sense of humanity need to start speaking out publicly against the ruthless murdering being carried out by Israel!”

I imagine the attempt to generate outrage is around the suggestion that any Jewish people might not have a “sense of humanity”, but this is hard to justify considering that the tweet as a whole is a plea for an end to the killings of (we take it) Palestinians by a land-grabbing Israeli government.

There are several considerations to be made here:

Firstly, according to the party’s rules, this tweet cannot be used to suspend or expel Mr Hatton because it was made when he wasn’t a member. The appropriate action would have been to discuss it with him before readmitting him.

Secondly, even if he had been a member at the time, the tweet would have to be judged in relation with the party’s rules of the time, which allowed expression of opinion in a much wider sense than current rules do.

I am forced towards a conclusion that the Labour leadership did know about this tweet before readmitting Mr Hatton, and always intended to use it as an excuse to suspend him, to send a message to others.

Several of us have been expelled due to false accusations of anti-Semitism. I am challenging my expulsion; I know Marc Wadsworth is going to court over his.

Mr Hatton’s treatment seems, to me, to be an expression of intent: If we succeed in gaining readmission to the party, Labour’s witch-hunters will dredge up something else we have written, or said, or done, and kick us out again.

That’s victimisation.

It’s also the threat of victimisation.

It is the tactic of the gangster.

It is an attempt to instil fear in the innocent.

It is a message that Labour’s leadership will not tolerate those who debate anti-Semitism allegations rationally, and will not accept any criticism of the apartheid state of Israel.

Whatever Mr Hatton may or may not have done, it is unacceptable.

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