Motion banned by the Labour Party prefaced by complaint about the decision
Complaint sent to Jeremy Corbyn about ‘out of order’ instruction
To Jeremy Corbyn
Discussion of political differences over the issue of anti-Zionism and alleged anti-Semitism was blocked at the November 10 AGM of Ravenscourt branch Labour Party in the Hammersmith constituency - on explicit instructions from Labour HQ.
My motion (see below), condemning “the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign and witch-hunt against the Labour left and supporters of Jeremy Corbyn”, had been circulated with the agenda to the 231 members of the branch - 70 of whom joined during 2016. Four new members were among the 26 present. Members looking forward to an open discussion between comrades - the best way to overcome misunderstandings and mistrust, and to clarify different opinions - were dismayed by the bureaucratic gagging of debate from above, and made “nervous” by the dangerous precedent that party HQ can control discussion in a branch.
The branch secretary read out an email received earlier that day from a Mr Ben Westerman of the party’s “governance and legal unit”, endorsed by “the leader’s office” - ie, presumably by you yourself - instructing the branch to rule the motion out of order.
When members asked why, the secretary confirmed that no reason was given in the email, but gave an indication of some of the reasons Mr Westerman gave in a phone conversation, including that the motion was “objectionable on almost every level” and was the kind of thing that “should not be put before new members”, as it “would give the wrong impression of what the Labour Party is about”.
Surely such patronising nonsense, sacrificing debate to sanitise appearances, is characteristic of New Labour’s discredited method, and the antithesis of your “straight-talking politics” brand, and must be overcome in the struggle to democratise Labour and advance socialist politics in the party.
- Can you please confirm whether you do, in fact, endorse this instruction that the motion be ruled out of order and not discussed? If so, please tell me the reason or reasons. (No reason was given in the email instruction.)
- Do you endorse the view attributed to Mr Ben Westerman that the motion is “objectionable”? If so, precisely which words in the motion are objectionable?
- If anything in the motion is objectionable, why cannot branch members be trusted to debate, explain and reject them, without Big Brother-type intervention from above?
- Do you endorse the patronising ‘not in front of the children’ view attributed to Mr Ben Westerman that my motion should not be put in front of new members?
I feel that the democracy of the party has been infringed by this instruction. I feel that my right as a member to raise an issue of concern to me, among my comrades in my party branch, has been blocked. Likewise, many members will feel that their rights too have been blocked - an injury to one is an injury to all. It is the curtailment of democratic rights which will “give the wrong impression of what the Labour Party is about”.
Looking forward to enjoying your support in this matter.
Proposed motion to Ravenscourt BLP (Hammersmith CLP)
‘Anti-Semitism’ smear campaign and witch-hunt
This branch/constituency Labour Party/conference:
1. Rejects the Zionist concept of so-called ‘new anti-Semitism’, which conflates anti-Jewish racism with political criticism of the state of Israel and its ongoing colonisation of Palestinian land, and with criticism of the political ideology of Zionism.1
2. Condemns the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign and witch-hunt prompted by the Israeli establishment and carried out by the mass media, the Tory Party and the Labour right against the Labour left and supporters of Jeremy Corbyn. The claim that anti-Semitism - ie, anti-Jewish racism - is rife in the Labour Party, particularly in the left wing of the Labour Party, is simply untrue.
3. Calls for the immediate lifting of all of the suspensions and expulsions from Labour Party membership in any way connected to the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign and witch-hunt. That includes Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Tony Greenstein, Gerry Downing and numerous other supporters of the Palestinian cause.
4. Calls for disciplinary proceedings to be instigated against John Mann MP. He publicly attacked Labour NEC member Ken Livingstone in front of TV cameras, calling him a “disgusting Nazi apologist” - an accusation without foundation. Mann’s attack played a key role in stepping up the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign and witch-hunt and could only but damage Labour’s chances in the May elections. Presumably the aim was to create the conditions for the removal of Jeremy Corbyn as leader.
5. Condemns the willing collaboration in the witch-hunt of the Labour Party’s compliance unit and the Labour Party general secretary, Ian McNicol. They have been more than ready to accept at face value obviously false and malicious complaints of anti-Semitism.
6. Condemns the lack of due process in the suspensions and expulsions of Labour Party members. The failure to apply the principles of natural justice brings the Labour Party into disrepute.
7. Calls for the abolition of the Labour Party compliance unit and for the establishment of democratic, transparent disciplinary procedures which follow the principles of natural justice, and in which disciplinary decisions are made by elected representatives, not by paid officials l
1. The misnamed ‘Jewish Labour Movement’ - a political Zionist organisation, formerly ‘Poale Zion’ - continues to assert that the EU Monitoring Centre on Racism’s working definition on anti-Semitism is the standard definition. However, its successor body, the Fundamental Rights Agency, has junked this definition, which equates criticism of the Israeli state with anti-Semitism.