Build the momentum
In an outstanding victory against the rightwing witch-hunters, Moshé Machover has been unconditionally reinstated as a Labour member. David Shearer of Labour Party Marxists urges comrades to build on the success of the campaign to overturn his expulsion
Iain McNicol: presiding over a violation of natural justice and bringing the Labour Party into disrepute. He is the one who should go
Clearly, the widespread protests by Constituency Labour Parties against the expulsion of the well-known anti-Zionist campaigner, Moshé Machover, has borne fruit. The rank and file has put so much pressure on Iain McNicol’s compliance unit that it has been forced - clearly very reluctantly - to back off.
I understand that leftwingers on the party’s national executive committee and Jeremy Corbyn himself also added to the pressure on witch-hunter general McNicol, who must now be fearing for his job. Good. He ought to be sacked and the compliance unit abolished.
When the witch-hunters summarily expelled comrade Machover, it soon became apparent that they had bitten off far more than they could chew. And now, a letter dated October 30 from the hapless Sam Matthews (the Labour Party’s “head of disputes”) has been received by Moshé. This surly little missive grudgingly informs comrade Machover that Matthews’ committee “has reviewed the matters of fact surrounding your case [what - had it not previously “reviewed the matters of fact” before expelling the comrade in the first place?] and the decision has been taken to rescind your automatic exclusion from the Labour Party”.
This is a totally inadequate ‘conclusion’ to a procedure that has been marked throughout by unsubstantiated accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ and guilt by association. Interestingly, the expulsion began by highlighting complaints (from unnamed individuals or organisations) of anti-Semitism. However, within a few days the retreat had already begun. Instead of anti-Semitism comrade Machover was deemed to be guilty of an expulsion offence merely by speaking at LPM meetings and allowing articles of his to be published in LPM or CPGB publications.
Comrade Machover has replied to the climbdown by Matthews and the compliance unit with the observation that, while they have “rescinded my expulsion from the party”, they “fail to address the allegations of anti-Semitism mentioned in your letters of October 3 and 6. Please confirm by return of email that these allegations have been withdrawn and apologise for raising them in the first place.”
There are three key lessons to be drawn from this victory for the left:
1. The witch-hunters hugely overreached themselves when they moved against a comrade of the standing of Moshé Machover - it was a purge too far. This comrade has an established political record that makes accusations of anti-Semitism against him appear simply laughable. This was reflected in the wave of condemnation from thousands of Labour Party members and many local branches, CLPs and Momentum groups.
2. Those below can put pressure on those above. Very quickly rumours began to fly that Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and other leading figures in the party were disturbed and angered by this disgraceful stunt. Rumours also began to circulate that many on the NEC were looking to remove the party’s general secretary, Iain McNicol, from his post.
A comrade has circulated this short note, received from Laura Murray of the office of Jeremy Corbyn, in reply to a letter expressing outrage at the Machover purge:
We are very much aware of the public support for Moshé Machover and the distress and anger caused by his auto-exclusion. As of yesterday, Moshé’s auto-exclusion was rescinded and he has been reinstated as a Labour Party member. I understand there will still be outstanding issues on people’s minds around the reasons for his auto-exclusion, but I am glad that he is now a Labour Party member again.
3. We have won a skirmish in a war. The momentum from the campaign to reverse the expulsion of Moshé Machover now needs to be built upon, and carried over into a drive to reinstate to full membership of all those previously caught in this anti-left purge. We urge comrades to get involved with the newly established Labour Against the Witch-hunt campaign (LAW)1 and build on this important victory in the coming months.
We publish below the most recent correspondence between comrade Machover and the Labour Party’s ‘head of disputes’.
2. Comrade Machover was originally told that his ‘Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism’ article, published in Labour Party Marxists, was “apparently anti-Semitic” - and then immediately received another letter informing him that the actual reason for his expulsion was his “membership” of or “support” for LPM and/or the CPGB.
Letter from Sam Matthews
Dear Mr Machover
Thank you for your letter dated October 16 2017.
Firstly, I would like to make absolutely clear that the party has come to no decision about the content of the article.2 Please accept our apologies if the language in our letter of October 3 2017 was unclear to you. At this stage, the allegations about your article remain allegations - the party’s intention was merely to inform you of the allegations about your conduct and that they did not solely relate to a breach of rule 2.I.4.B. The party is making no assertion as to their truth or validity and implies no guilt regarding any breach of rule 2.I.8, as this has not been subject of an investigation or hearing.
Your letter stops short of actually stating that you do not support Communist Party of Great Britain and/or Labour Party Marxists. The party is trying to assess whether the matters of fact in this case are subject to legitimate dispute. It would be helpful when the party comes to assess this fact if you categorically stated whether you do or do not support either of these organisations at your earliest convenience.
Head of disputes
Reply from Moshé Machover
I refer to your letter of October 26 2017.
1. Your apology is wholly inadequate, as it sidesteps the matter for which you ought to apologise. Your letters of October 3 and 6 were in fact all too clear. It was perfectly clear that you included in them an allegation of anti-Semitism on my part, which should never have been put in the letters at all, as it is plainly otiose as far as the purpose of the letters is concerned.
Moreover, by use of the words, “apparently anti-Semitic article published in your name”, you lent some spurious credence to that scurrilous allegation against me. I am still awaiting your apology for this.
2. As for your suggestion that I categorically state whether I do or do not “support” (whatever that means) the organisations you name (CPGB and LPM) - I find this suggestion entirely inappropriate. It carries a whiff of McCarthyism.
In any event, I have dealt with this issue in my letter of October 16. I stated that I am not nor have ever been a member of either group, and challenged your accusations of ‘supporting’ them: see points 8-12 in my letter of October 16.
I reject your attempt to move the goalposts, now that you appear unable to justify your unfair and improper decision of October 3 to summarily expel me. It is up to you to provide valid evidence that since I became a member of the Labour Party I gave illicit support (however that term is defined) to either or both of the said groups. I know of no such evidence.
Letter from Sam Matthews
Thank you for your letter clarifying you do not support the Communist Party of Great Britain and Labour Party Marxists. The party has reviewed the matters of fact surrounding your case and the decision has been taken to rescind your automatic exclusion from the Labour Party.
The party remains of the view that any reasonable person looking at the evidence available in public (which includes at least one video of you speaking at an event sponsored by CPGB and LPM, 44 articles published with your permission by CPGB’s own publication and primary form of campaigning, the Weekly Worker, and 17 videos of you speaking published on CPGB’s website, as of October 6 2017) would conclude that you have given support to at least one, if not both, of these organisations over a period of 10 years, including while you were a member of the Labour Party. Such support is incompatible with Labour Party membership, so thank you for clarifying that this was not your intention to provide such support.
The party would like to urge you to take a cautionary approach towards any actions which appear to be clear prima facie breach of the party’s rules in order to avoid any future misunderstandings regarding your eligibility for membership of the Labour Party.
Head of disputes
Reply from Moshé Machover
I refer to your letter of October 30 2017.
I note that you have rescinded my expulsion from the party. However, you fail to address the allegations of anti-Semitism mentioned in your letters of October 3 and 6. Please confirm by return of email that these allegations have been withdrawn and apologise for raising them in the first place.