It will be a long time before Labour lives down the shame.
Socialist Voice puts the decision to expel Jackie Walker from the Labour Party into context:
BREAKING: Jackie Walker, a black Jewish political activist, has been expelled by the Labour Party
The Labour Party’s persecution of left-wing pro-Palestine Jews continues pic.twitter.com/wWDECrKTQc
— Socialist Voice (@SocialistVoice) March 27, 2019
That’s about the size of it. Thanks to its hugely prejudicial and politically-motivated “disciplinary” (if you can call it that) procedure, Labour has positioned itself as the party that persecutes left-wing Jews who support a peaceful solution to the Israel/Palestine question.
You can reverse-engineer that statement to work out Labour’s definition of anti-Semitism – any statement that might be said (you can’t put it any more strongly than that) to offend a right-wing, Zionist/pro-Israeli-government Jew.
Ms Walker was expelled after a panel of Labour’s National Constitutional Committee said she had committed “prejudicial and grossly detrimental behaviour against the party” – by being secretly recorded taking part in a training session on anti-Semitism run by the Jewish Labour Movement.
That’s right – she was asking perfectly reasonable (in context) questions about how the organisers defined anti-Semitism; about the genocides commemorated by Holocaust Memorial Day; and about the necessity for security at Jewish schools. Her crime, it seems, was in not knowing that somebody was recording her, intending to use her words to set her up as an anti-Semite herself.
Labour has said the finding against her also took account of a pattern of behaviour in the two-and-a-half years or so since her membership of the party was suspended – but I think it’s clear that this is nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to justify the unacceptable.
A previous attempt to frame her – by hacking into her Facebook account and sending the most prejudicial material to be found (a claim – accurate – that Jews were among the financiers of the Caribbean slave trade) to a Jewish-orientated newspaper that turned it into a smear piece – had failed.
Members and supporters of the Labour Party, who know the history of this squalid smear, have been tweeting their support for Ms Walker since the verdict was revealed:
I stand behind Jackie Walker. She has done nothing wrong and is not anti-Semitic or racist. This is just a witch hunt against her because she supports the Palestine cause.
Good people like her are expelled and war criminals like Blair etc remain. It’s unfair.
— Nadeem Ahmed (@Muqadaam) March 27, 2019
“The subtext being that if you are Left and you have any opinions at all, then consider the trapdoor open anyway. The NCC are cowards. The system at the top, as regards these glorified back-room office drones, really needs an overhaul,” added Michael Clarke.
The expulsion of Black Jewish anti-Zionist Jackie Walker by Labour's desiccated bureaucrats is a stark injustice that must be reversed before the party can ever truly call itself an anti-racist body https://t.co/swGyHifCI5
— Asa Winstanley (@AsaWinstanley) March 27, 2019
Hear, hear. This is an assault on people who have been termed “the wrong kind of Jew” – and is therefore racist in itself.
In stark contrast to the public response is the coverage by the (ha ha) mainstream news media and those who claim to represent British Jews. Consider:
Agree with Jackie Walker's expulsion or not, surely one thing we can all agree on is that the Guardian's deliberate refusal to mention that Walker is Jewish in this article is the kind of grossly deceptive journalism we're all utterly sick of?https://t.co/tfHpDW68Hy
— Another Angry Voice (@Angry_Voice) March 27, 2019
Tom Clark of Another Angry Voice is right – there isn’t a single mention of Ms Walker’s own ethnicity in the article. Is someone ashamed of the fact that this crusade against anti-Semitism actually targets Jews?
It does mention the fact that her words were secretly recorded – but fails to question this unethical behaviour or why it should stand as evidence against her.
Apparently the Jewish Chronicle couldn’t bring itself to admit that immoral methods were used to frame Ms Walker – it couldn’t even get the charge right:
Anti Racist and Pro Palestinian Activist Jackie Walker was NOT Charged with Antisemitism and was NOT expelled for Antisemitism regardless of the Twisted report by Jewish Chronicle. @jewishchron
— Luqman Khan Power concedes nothing without Demand (@luqmankhan555) March 27, 2019
LabourList carried a hideously one-sided piece that would put a professional news organisation in danger of legal action for failing to be fair or accurate. It carried no comments in support of Ms Walker – had reporter Sienna Rodgers even sought any?
But it did feature several paragraphs of hate speech from the Jewish Labour Movement in which it accused her and others (who, me? I would hope not, after I forced that … organ to retract its smear piece against me) of “perpetuating a culture of denial and obfuscation”, whatever that is supposed to mean.
“She was free to make a mockery of the Party’s processes because she was a political ally of the leadership, NEC members and had support from MPs.” Such as the 38 members of Labour Tribune who signed a letter to Jennie Formby, Labour’s general secretary, less than a month before Ms Walker’s hearing, describing her as “…someone who has been thrown out of the party for making antisemitic comments” in the certain knowledge that it would prejudice the panel at her hearing?
Or like our old friend (ha ha) Margaret Hodge, who “welcomed” Ms Walker’s expulsion, according to the JC report?
The JLM statement concluded: “Despite warm words, very little action has followed in truly addressing the scale and impact of antisemitism within the Labour Party.” That is a bold statement to make after a verdict based on the unethical secret recording of honest, innocent questions at a session where it is reasonable to expect such questions to be addressed!
A joint statement from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Community Security Trust stated: “Nobody wins in this latest ugly case of disreputable behaviour.” Certainly not the facts, it seems; the “disreputable behaviour” to which the statement referred was not that of the JLM in recording Ms Walker.
As for the Campaign Against Antisemitism – a right-wing fringe group masquerading as a charity that has been using trumped-up, falsified claims of anti-Semitism to attack left-wingers in the Labour Party for years – well, see for yourself:
According to the Campaign Against Antisemitism, Jackie Walker's expulsion means that Labour "has shown itself incapable of addressing antisemitism cases in a fair, transparent and timely manner".
What do they want? A public stoning?
— CrémantCommunarde#ActivistLawyer ⚖️ 😷 ✋ (@0Calamity) March 27, 2019
“What do they want? A public stoning?”
I wouldn’t be at all surprised.
I can mock these clowns – The Guardian, The Jewish Chronicle, LabourList, The Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Community Security Trust, the Jewish Labour Movement, the Campaign Against Antisemitism, Margaret Hodge and all the others – for as long as you like. Let’s face it – they provide plenty of material.
But the simple fact is that Ms Walker’s expulsion is mortifying – for everybody who thinks members of the Labour Party deserve better from their leaders.
Look at the charge – Prejudicial and grossly detrimental behaviour against the party. It’s a nonsense. It can be made to mean anything Labour’s highly-prejudiced and right-wing disciplinary team want it to mean – as Martin Odoni points out in this revealing article.
Look at the way Labour ignored the definition of anti-Semitic behaviour it adopted in such a high-profile way only last summer, in favour of a claim that Ms Walker would be guilty if an “ordinary person hearing or reading the comments might reasonably perceive them to be antisemitic”. Claptrap!
Look at the way Labour ignored its own disciplinary procedures – most notably in presenting Ms Walker with details of the evidence against her only days before her hearing. This runs contrary to the rules in that any evidence produced at such a late stage cannot be introduced into a case unless both parties agree to it, and time must be allowed for a response to be prepared and submitted. That is just one example among many.
We are left to contemplate – not a disgraced anti-Semite who has finally been made to face justice, but an honourable campaigner, falsely-accused, falsely-expelled, and wrongly vilified by a disgraced, debased and corrupted political machine.
If Jeremy Corbyn ever gets to read these words – and he should – it is to be hoped that he burns with shame at the travesty committed by his subordinates, not in his name, but in an underhanded and foul-spirited campaign to remove him from the party leadership.
He has been able to beat the false accusations against him – possibly because of his position. So his enemies have attacked his high-profile supporters instead. And he has let it happen.
But he can’t stop this persecution alone. Labour’s ruling organisation is the National Executive Committee, whose members have failed to lift a single finger in the cause of justice. In fact, they have cheered on the persecution carried out by the compliance unit and the NCC.
Labour needs root-and-branch reform of all three organisations. And it needs it yesterday.
Or the party will never be fit to govern.
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