The Socialist Network condemns the series of summary suspensions of Labour Party members on the charge of anti-semitism and calls for them to be lifted immediately. We welcome the lifting of Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker’s suspension at the end of May.
The Socialist Network opposes all forms of racism including anti-semitism. We believe that combatting oppressive and discriminatory behaviour in society and in the labour movement is integral to socialist activity. However, the accusation that “the Labour Party has a major problem with anti-semitism” is part of an orchestrated campaign and is a cynical abuse of the genuine concerns about the treatment of Jewish people in British society.
The campaign against alleged anti-semitism led to the suspension of a number of party activists in quick succession. It has brought together an alliance of the the right-wing of the Labour Party, the leadership of the Tory Party, the mainstream media and representatives of Zionist organisations in the UK and the Israeli state in an orchestrated campaign that has two objectives.
First, to undermine and isolate the Labour leadership in preparation for an internal party coup against Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour right-wing has never accepted the legitimacy of Jeremy Corbyn’s election as party leader, which they correctly see as a rejection by Labour’s members and supporters of the Blairite legacy of neoliberalism and imperialist intervention. They will use any means available to them to remove him.
Second, to close down the space for debate about the politics of the Middle East by equating anti-Zionism with anti-semitism. Support for the concept of a single, secular state in which Jews and Palestinians enjoy equal rights and live in harmony can in no way be described as being motivated by hatred of Jews or a wish to discriminate against them. It is also legitimate to discuss controversies over the history of the Zionist movement. Nor is it anti-semitic to condemn the role of the leadership of the state of Israel in perpetuating the oppression of the Palestinian people over seven decades.
The suspensions violate the basic principles of natural justice. What is the constitutional basis for removing the rights of party members before they have had a chance to hear the case against them let alone respond? In some cases, for example that of Jackie Walker (who was first informed of her suspension by the Jewish Chronicle), news of the suspensions has been leaked to the press before the person charged has been notified that action of any sort was contemplated.
The suspensions process has been far from open and accountable. The unaccountable disputes committee, along with unelected party officials, appear to have been involved in initiating and carrying through suspensions. Disciplinary action against party members should be approved only by an elected body of the party such as the National Executive Committee and the individual concerned should have the right of representation.
The Socialist Network calls for the establishment of an open and democratic disciplinary process, that should be under the control of the elected bodies of the Labour Party.