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No to McCarthyism! Over 1,500 people sign our petition in less than 24 hours

In less than 24 hours, over 1,500 people - many of them Labour Party members - have signed a petition which urges "solidarity with Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy - and all those unjustly expelled". Both Labour MPs have come under fire from the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, because they addressed an event organised by the group Don't Leave, Organise, where a number of former members expelled by the Labour Party were also present. Tony Greenstein and Jackie Walker later spoke in the debate.

The Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council now demand that both black MPs be suspended from the Labour Party. Labour Against the Witchhunt is concerned that this would set a hugely dangerous precedent and would represent a serious attack on the right to free speech and free assembly. Suspending or reprimanding members of the Labour Party because they attend the same meeting as somebody who has been expelled from the party - unjustly in our view - is pure McCarthyism. It is an attempt to make 'unpersons' out of Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Chris Williamson, Ken Livingstone, Marc Wadsworth and the hundreds  of other activists who have been hounded, vilified and wrongfully smeared as antisemites.

Labour Against the Witchhunt calls on the Labour movement - and particularly Diane's and Bell's colleagues in the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs - to stand up to this campaign by the right, show public solidarity with Diane, Bell and all those unjustly expelled from the party and say: Enough is enough!

The full petition, which is also supported by the Labour Left Alliance and the Jewish Network for Palestine, is available here and reads:

Solidarity with Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy - and all those unjustly expelled!

The defeat of Jeremy Corbyn has given the right inside and outside the Labour Party a mandate to press ahead with their campaign against the left. They will not rest until the Labour Party has been purged of all traces of socialism.

The latest manufactured ‘outrage’ of the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council concerns Labour MPs Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Diane Abbott. These comrades spoke in a Zoom meeting organised by Don’t Leave, Organise. This online event was also attended by Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein – and 550 other people.

Both the BoD and JLC are now demanding that the two black MPs be suspended by the Labour Party “for sharing platforms with those that have been expelled from the Party for antisemitism”.

1) We believe that these expulsions - like the vast majority of others - were hugely unjust and the investigations deeply flawed. Despite forming the cornerstones of the report produced by Shami Chakrabarti back in 2016, due process and natural justice remain absent from Labour’s disciplinary process. While antisemitism and other forms of chauvinism exist in the Labour Party (as in wider society), the number of real antisemitic incidents in the Labour Party has been grossly exaggerated for political purposes.

2) Neither the Board of Deputies nor the Jewish Leadership Council has a democratic mandate to speak for all Jews in Britain, many of whom are very critical of the actions of the state of Israel. The organisations are clearly pro-Israel and work to a political agenda to attack, discredit and destroy any opposition to the systematic and brutal oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli state. To this end, they energetically encourage the conflation of anti-Zionism with antisemitism.

3) Furthermore, we note with great concern that Jonathan Goldstein, chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, reports that he had a meeting with Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner where, “it was agreed that no Labour MP should be sharing a platform with anyone expelled from the party for anti-Jewish racism“. The validity of many of these cases is being energetically challenged by many of the accused and their supporters. Furthermore, the leader of the Labour Party is not entitled to make such a promise: The policies and rules of the Labour Party are determined by its members at annual conference. If Keir Starmer has made such an undertaking, he must be reprimanded and ordered to withdraw it.

4) Guilt by association, as demanded by the BoD’s so-called 10 pledges, is a deeply troubling attack on the right to free speech. Already in our party, the witch-hunting right wing have concocted Kafkaesque charges against many members that would be laughed out of court even by the deeply flawed standards of the UK’s legal system. Transparently, this is an ongoing campaign against the left in the Labour Party; it is not a campaign against the scourge of antisemitism!

Therefore, we are putting out this urgent call for solidarity from CLPs and Labour Party branches, from trade unions, Labour councillors and particularly from those Labour MPs organised in the Socialist Campaign Group:  

  • Publicly stand up for Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy and to reject any reprimands or sanctions against them
  • Campaign vigorously against the implementation of the BoD’s ‘10 Pledges’ and to defend the right to freedom of speech and freedom of association in the Labour Party and trade unions, in the Palestine solidarity movement and in society at large
  • Proudly appear on platforms and in meetings with those who have been unjustly smeared, vilified, suspended and expelled from the Labour Party in the campaign against Corbyn and the left
  • Join us in the fight for a just and transparent disciplinary process in the Labour Party
  • Reject the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, which conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism
  • Support the individual and national rights of the Palestinian people
--- ENDS ---

More info about Labour Against the Witchhunt 

  • At Labour Party conference 2018 and 2019, LAW handed out more than 5,000 leaflets and hundreds of Palestine flags and organised successful fringe meetings with hundreds in attendance.
  • More than 7,650 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.
  • Almost 5,000 people signed our petition urging Rebecca Long-Bailey to distance herself from the Board of Deputies' so-called '10 Demands'. Her refusal to do so has played a big role in her losing in the Labour leadership election, we believe. The petition is available here.
  • LAW sponsors include:
    • Alexei Sayle, comedian
    • Noam Chomsky, author and activist
    • Ken Loach, film director
    • Ian Hodson, president of the Bakers Union
    • LAW’s honorary presidents are Professor Moshé Machover and Ken Livingstone
  • 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.
More details and background information on our campaign, click here.  

Stan Keable, LAW secretary: 07817 379 568
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