Labour Party activists expressed outrage on Friday as grassroots anti-racist campaigner Marc Wadsworth was expelled from the UK’s main opposition party, allegedly for “bringing it into disrepute.”
His expulsion came after false allegations of anti-Semitism by a Labour lawmaker.
After living in the limbo of membership suspension for almost two years, Wadsworth finally appeared this week before a party disciplinary panel.
During the launch of a report into anti-Semitism allegations in June 2016, right-wing Labour lawmaker Ruth Smeeth accused Wadsworth of using “traditional anti-Semitic slurs to attack me for being part of a ‘media conspiracy’” – a false allegation which Smeeth later deleted from her website.
Wadworth told journalists at a press conference on Friday that he was talking to his legal team about his next steps.
He could ask a court to review the Labour Party decision and potentially reverse it.
“I have been overwhelmed by the support I’ve received,” Wadsworth said in a statement. “Including those who have contributed to my Crowdjustice campaign.”
Wadsworth has been raising money online to cover legal expenses in his effort to clear his name.
However, she did not repeat her earlier false allegations that Wadsworth had used “traditional anti-Semitic slurs,” changing tack with a line that “abuse, bullying and intimidation have no place in our movement.”
Wadsworth was one of the earliest supporters of the campaign for justice for Stephen Lawrence – the Black teenager murdered by a gang of white racists in the late 1990s.
He said his legal team “won the arguments hands down” during the expulsion hearing over the last three days.
Left-wing Labour activists and lawmakers reacted with outrage on Friday as the news broke.
The Grassroots Black Left group said in a statement that it was “appalled” at the decision and would “fight beside Wadsworth to help him clear his name and get reinstated.”
The group’s co-chair and Unite trade union activist Deborah Hobson said that Wadsworth has been “made a scapegoat in the battle between anti-Jeremy-Corbyn zealots and those people who support a twice democratically elected party leader.”
At the press conference, Hobson said that “a white, privileged member of Parliament has used her status to attack, and try to bring down Marc and we’re going to fight this with every breath we’ve got.”
Wadsworth told media that the office of party leader Corbyn had called him during the hearing to express support privately. The Labour leader’s office declined to comment on the record.
Left-wing group Jewish Voice for Labour condemned the expulsion as “a new low in the unprincipled campaign by enemies of the left to misuse justified concerns about anti-Semitism for factional ends.”
The group’s spokesperson Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi condemned misleading press coverage of the incident that led to Wadsworth’s suspension.
“He’s been presented as a Jew-hating anti-Semite, which I, as a Jewish activist, absolutely refute,” Wimborne-Idrissi said. “This is divisive and it’s dangerous.
Labour lawmakers Chris Williamson, Clive Lewis and Keith Vaz submitted statements to the party defending Wadsworth, Grassroots Black Left said.Williamson said he was “astonished” by the “perverse determination of Marc Wadsworth’s case.”
He said he would “continue to stand four-square behind Marc and assist him in his efforts to clear his name, and his reputation as a veteran anti-racist campaigner.”
Lewis wrote on Twitter Thursday defending his decision to support Wadsworth after a right-wing Labour activist suggested that he was tolerating anti-Semitism.Backing Wadsworth, RMT trade union activist Glen Hart tweeted that “no one should be punished for speaking truth to power.” Influential Labour Party activist Max Shanly wrote that the decision to expel Wadsworth “brings the Labour Party into disrepute more than his offending comment ever did.”
Shanly said Wadsworth had been subjected to “trial by media.”Other left-wing Labour activists accused the party of institutional racism and attacking the rights of activists. Influential pro-Corbyn blog The Skwawkbox – which has good sources in the Labour leader’s office – wrote that Wadsworth’s original comment “cannot sensibly be said to be bringing the party into disrepute” and predicted that Wadsworth would go to court to clear his name.
Like Smeeth, the Jewish Labour Movement, an anti-Corbyn group with close ties to the Israeli embassy, welcomed the expulsion of Wadsworth and called for “action” against former mayor of London Ken Livingstone and Black anti-Zionist Jew Jackie Walker as well.
- Marc Wadsworth
- Ruth Smeeth
- Labour witch hunt
- Labour Party
- Jeremy Corbyn
- Stephen Lawrence
- Grassroots Black Left
- Unite (UK union)
- Deborah Hobson
- Jewish Voice for Labour
- Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi
- Chris Williamson
- Clive Lewis
- Keith Vaz
- Glen Hart
- Max Shanly
- Jewish Labour Movement
- Ken Livingstone
- Jackie Walker