NEWS RELEASE ON THE SUSPENSION OF ASA WINSTANLEY FROM THE LABOUR PARTY
Labour Against the Witchhunt condemn the suspension of Asa Winstanley, a journalist and associate editor of Electronic Intifada. Asa learnt this from a story in the Jewish Chronicle, which stated that he had been suspended for calling the Jewish Labour Movement a “proxy for the Israeli Embassy”.
The disciplinary measures against Asa Winstanley are a full frontal attack on freedom of speech. Asa has written a number of well-researched articles showing how the ‘anti-Semitism campaign’ in the Labour Party has been manufactured by pro-Zionist groups (for example, How Israel lobby manufactured UK Labour Party’s anti-Semitism crisisand Jewish Labour Movement was refounded to fight Corbyn).
The last two weeks have seen a worrying acceleration of the witch-hunt against pro-Corbyn members. It seems that general secretary Jennie Formby has reinstated automatic suspensions over the most minor accusations:
- Councillor Stuart Porthouse, former mayor of Sunderland, was suspended for sharing an interview with George Galloway on Sky News.
- Sean McCallum, mayoral candidate in Mansfield, has been suspended on the basis of two tweets questioning the origins of a meme that Naz Shah MP had posted.
- Jo Bird, a Jewish councillor in the Wirral was suspended for telling jokes (our statement is here).
- And Chris Williamson MP has been suspended for daring to question the party’s tactics over the campaign to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism (our petition calling for his reinstatement, which has been signed by over 2,500 people is here).
None of the above are under investigation for anything remotely anti-Semitic. It has become an offence merely to question the very assertion that there is widespread anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. What we are now seeing is Orwellian. As Asa Winstanley said at a recent meeting: “They’re trying to defeat the man by demoralising, splitting and defeating the left movement supporting him.”
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This campaign is, at the heart of it, a campaign to delegitimise any criticism of Israel and its racist policies towards non-Jews. As an outspoken supporter of the rights of the Palestinians, Jeremy Corbyn is an unreliable ally when it comes to the strategically important alliance of Britain with the USA and Israel. They will do anything to get rid of him as leader of the Labour Party. This campaign to paint his supporters as anti-Semites is an integral part of it.
We are outraged that once again, the compliance unit has leaked details of Labour’s disciplinary processes to the Jewish Chronicle and the press before the person themselves has been notified. This is in clear violation of the General Data Protection Regulations and is illegal. The compliance unit should be shut down. It is not fit for purpose.
More info about Labour Against the Witchhunt
- LAW has collated all statements, quotes and resolutions passed in support of Chris Williamson MP. So far, at least seven CLPs, five Momentum branches and dozens of trade union bodies and left Labour organisations have come out in solidarity with Chris Williamson MP (we know of couple of other CLPs where it was decided not to publish the successful resolution). They are joined by outspoken Corbyn supporters like Mike Leigh, Ken Loach, Alexei Sayle and John Pilger. The webpage featuring those memes and all statements has already been 'liked' by over 2,300 people.
More details and background information on our campaign, click here.
- At Labour Party conference 2018, LAW handed out more than 5,000 leaflets and hundreds of Palestine flags. We also organised a showing of Jackie Walker's show 'The Lynching' and held our first ever conference fringe meeting with Chris Williamson MP, comedian Alexei Sayle, Jo Bird (Jewish Voice for Labour), Tony Mulhearn (Liverpool 47) and others. Click here for a report.
- Almost 7,500 people have signed our ‘Open Letter to Jeremy Corbyn and the left on the Labour Party NEC’. The letter, initiated by Labour Against the Witchhunt and signed by Noam Chomsky, investigative journalist Asa Winstanley, former vice-chair of Momentum Jackie Walker, Israeli socialist Moshe Machover and many more, calls on the Labour leadership to resist increasingly vicious attempts by the right in and outside the party to conflate justified criticism of the actions of the state of Israel with anti-Semitism and to put an end to the witch-hunt against supporters of Jeremy Corbyn. The letter is available online here.
- LAW sponsors include:
- Alexei Sayle, comedian
- Noam Chomsky, author and activist
- Professor Moshé Machover, Israeli socialist and founder of Matzpen
- Ken Loach, film director
- Ian Hodson, president of the Bakers Union
- Launched on October 21 2017, LAW celebrated an early success: pressure from members, branches and CLPs led to the reversal of the expulsion of emeritus professor Moshé Machover, one of a long line of socialists and Corbyn supporters expelled or suspended on bogus charges of anti-semitism. Machover is now Honorary President of Labour Against the Witchhunt.
- Celebrated film director Ken Loach spoke at our first public rally on January 29 2018 in London. Click here.
Stan Keable, LAW secretary: 07817 379 568