When less than 200 MPs, peers and staff wrote to demand Chris Williamson’s re-suspension after his Labour membership was restored following an investigation into false allegations of anti-Semitism, general secretary Jennie Formby acted at once. Now more than 6,000 party members have demanded that this decision be reversed, and she has done nothing at all. Why?
To put this in proportionate terms, more than 30 times the number of Labour members who had Mr Williamson re-suspended have said the decision should be reversed. Labour is supposedly a democratic party and the will of the majority should prevail. But Ms Formby has done nothing.
The figures come from a LabourList weekly survey, which also revealed that an even larger majority of respondents believe that Labour’s disciplinary process – which sends serious cases to the “quasi-judicial” National Constitutional Committee – is subject to political interference and should be scrapped in favour of an independent process. The treatment of many cases – in which mere accusation was taken as an assumption of guilt – led to the NCC being dubbed the “National Kangaroo Court” by many, including This Writer.
And this is not the only development. The Labour Party of Northern Ireland has published a statement on Mr Williamson’s suspension, along with a motion that may be taken as a model for other Labour constituency parties.
The statement quotes in full the words said by the MP which have been selectively quoted by his critics, and also quotes analysis of anti-Semitism in the party that shows it is a negligible issue with only 0.05 per cent of members being said to have engaged in any activity that could even be claimed to have been anti-Semitic. This compares with a national average of around five per cent (which in itself is a shocking figure).
It continues: “All anti-semitism should be considered a scourge and a problem that needs addressing. However, it is a fair comment to say that the Labour Party does not have any form of particular problem with anti-semitism . It is also fair to say that Labour Party members are not to blame for the narrative that suggests that there is a particular problem with anti-semitism in the party.
“It logically follows that members of the Labour Party should not feel that they should be apologetic about something that has been shown to be false.
“It does not diminish the scourge of anti-semitism to state these things. Members are entitled to feel proud of the Labour Party’s history of anti-racism and support for minority communities and for all of those facing discrimination and oppression. They are entitled to encourage others to join the party and to support it on the basis of its anti-racist and wholly inclusive credentials.
“Any member is entitled to say that those who are agreeing and apologising for the Labour Party having a particular problem with anti-semitism, is a concession to falsehoods and distortions. In a climate where such falsehoods and distortions proliferate, members are entitled to challenge the narrative. They are entitled to scrutinise complaints. They are entitled to adopt an inquisitorial approach to allegations. Every member who is accused is entitled to the absolutely fundamental principle of justice; that they are considered innocent until it is established otherwise.
“Most of all, every member is entitled to be subject to the democratically determined rules and procedures governing the Party and to demand that those rules and procedures be upheld and not be subject to the arbitrariness of public opinion and pressure.”
In my own case, I was treated as though I were guilty from the moment I was falsely accused. Chris Williamson has had the same treatment. So have many others.
And those who endorse the falsehoods and distortions are still being given the oxygen of publicity by mass-media news organisations. Only last week, Labour Lord Falconer appeared on the BBC’s #PoliticsLive to deplore Mr Williamson’s perfectly reasonable comments as anti-Semitic and to damn him further by association with (among others) Jackie Walker, who had been accused of saying that Jews were chief financiers of the slave trade – except, of course, we know that she didn’t say that. The other person in the video is Tosh McDonald, a friend and supporter of Mr Williamson.
I reckon Charlie Falconer knew that what he was saying wasn’t true. Ms Walker would have made it perfectly clear in her defence and I made it perfectly clear in mine (two of the charges against me related to my support for her). He referred to notes, so he should have had that information. And now, of course, the BBC has confirmed the falsehood of the claim.
Yet Lord Charlie Falconer has faced no censure whatsoever for his words. When will his party membership be suspended? When will his misbehaviour be investigated? When will questions be asked about his motivations?
I reckon we all know the answer to that: Never.
Labour’s general secretary, Jennie Formby, was bombarded with tweets demanding action to reinstate falsely-purged party members including myself, Ms Walker and Mr Williamson after the BBC’s admission. To my knowledge, she has not responded in any way at all. She is running away from her party’s
Perhaps she’ll respond if a party member – or several of them – makes an official complaint.
Who’ll give it a go?
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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