The Labour Party seems to be going through another right-wing takeover attempt – and now that Jeremy Corbyn is quitting as leader, This Writer fears it may succeed.
We have already seen that all the candidates to be leader have given in to an entirely unreasonable set of demands from the Conservative-leaning Board of Deputies of British Jews, to ensure that anybody failing to sing from a pre-approved hymn sheet (approved by the Board of Deputies, that is) may be ejected from the party without ceremony.
Now we are seeing the beginnings of such a purge. And it is as insane as we have any reason to expect it to be.
Jo Bird, the only Jewish candidate to stand for election to the party’s National Executive Committee, has had her membership suspended suddenly – on a charge that has been hushed-up but is believed to be anti-Semitism. Thank about that for a moment.
Representative group Jewish Voice for Labour had a lot to say about it:
“Jo is the leading left candidate running for the NEC so the timing of this suspension is deeply suspicious and has the hallmarks of a deliberate attempt to undermine members’ wishes and Party democracy.
“We urge all Labour Party members to argue for Jo’s candidature to be considered at CLP nominating meetings. If this is prevented members should consider the option of calling an emergency AMM/GC as soon as possible after the nominating meeting to discuss and condemn threats to the Party’s democracy from the misuse of our disciplinary processes to secure partisan advantage in internal elections.
“If the suspension is for antisemitism we can say we have known Jo for a long period and worked closely with her. We know she is a proud Jew and opposed to antisemitism just as she is has shown over the years to be an active opponent of all racism.
“Suspension before investigation is an extreme measure and the Party must show to all members why they have taken such a step in the middle of an election process.”
Ms Bird had been nominated by 57 constituency Labour parties – including, I am proud to say, This Writer’s former CLP of Brecon and Radnorshire.
Electronic Intifada associate editor Asa Winstanley has decided to quit the party rather than participate in a “show trial” over his articles about Palestine, Zionism, the Israel Lobby in the UK (yes, Labour NEC members, there really is one) and the manufactured anti-Semitism crisis in the Labour Party.
Labour’s persecution of him follows a familiar pattern because it carried out a very similar operation on me.
His membership was suspended at or around the same time as the party informed the news media – in a breach of its data protection obligations. I am currently enjoying some success in taking Labour to court over such breaches.
He submitted a Subject Access Request (SAR) to the party to which, by law, it must respond within 30 days. But it has not responded, in breach of the Data Protection Act and its own rules. I am also enjoying some success in taking Labour to court after it did the same to me. I have also received confirmation from the Information Commissioner’s Office that Labour is a habitual offender and that my case was one of many that it was investigating.
Investigators included stories he had published that have nothing to do with his party membership as evidence that he should be suspended, as they did with me. This is an attempt to prevent professional reporters from carrying out their first duty, which is to report on matters of public interest, and the party does not have any power to demand such a thing.
Officials have ignored his responses to their accusations in flagrant disregard of their own rules. This is a breach of the party’s contract with its members and, again, I am enjoying some success in bringing that point home to the party via court action.
Mr Winstanley has made his opinion perfectly clear:
“Now that the left-wing grassroots movement to reclaim Labour, spearheaded by Jeremy Corbyn, has been smashed, the party’s neoliberal centrists are seeking to reassert their control.
“The party bureaucracy conducting political purges under the guise of enforcing anti-discrimination rules is a key part of the right-wing effort to re-establish dominance.
“All the contenders to succeed Corbyn as leader have agreed to the Israel lobby’s demands to purge the party.
“The most right-wing candidate, Keir Starmer, is the frontrunner to replace Corbyn.
“Pound apparently identifies as a “Zionist shitlord.”
“These are dark days for the left and the Palestine solidarity movement in the Labour Party and the UK.
“But the hope for radical change and social justice that brought so many new members to the party under Corbyn’s leadership will not be easily extinguished.”
It won’t. I am playing my part by taking Labour to court over its wrong decision to expel me from the party. Its own rules are on my side and I do not expect to lose.
But here comes the next question.
If you are a Labour Party member, what are you going to do? Will you sit back meekly and wait to be expelled by a right-wing cabal that is perverting your party into a lie? Or will you stand up and take action against it? Your choice.
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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