Activists outraged at Labour’s expulsion of Black campaigner Marc Wadsworth

Marc Wadsworth speaks at a press conference with Jewish Voice for Labour and Grassroots Black Left spokespeople on 27 April.

The Electronic Intifada

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.

On Twitter, Smeeth, a former spin-doctor for an Israel lobby group, welcomed the decision to expel Wadsworth.

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.”

“Scapegoat”

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.

Jewish solidarity

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.

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Thought make-up of Nat Exec had changed? Do we have names of Panel Members? Corbyn has to bring this issue into open. He needs to publicly declare his support for Wadsworth. Absolutely critical that he now takes Israeli apologists on publicly (should've done earlier) Support from members will be overwhelming and also, I suspect, from bulk of Jewish Community. Come on Jeremy, take the gloves off. We're sick of being mauled by gang of carpetbaggers.

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Hi Terence,
it's the NCC (national constitutional committee) - I know a couple of left-wingers were co-opted at the last election (I voted for them) but I suspect it's still majority right-wing.

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The Labour Party must decide whether it is to be a Zionist party with regard to Israel, or an independent party with its own anti-imperialist agenda. The party cannot temporise and must stop trying to appease the forces seeking to bury this broad-based movement for social justice. Those forces do not compromise and they will not let up until they secure the removal or worse of Corbyn and the restoration of right wing control in the party. Giving in to the Zionist lobby's demands for police powers in the party will not result in disposing of cynical accusations of antisemitism. Doing so only strengthens the resolve of such people at a time when Israel has very little support left among the British public.

It seems a foregone conclusion at this point that Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker will also be expelled. How many times does it have to be explained that capitulating to Zionism doesn't buy you time to fight them on another day? The fight is now, the day is today. And it's a very great shame that anti-racist figures like Tony Greenstein, Marc Wadsworth and more to come are treated so shabbily- at the behest of an Israel lobby which detests the very party it's using to achieve its aim. The purge of Labour must end.

And by the way, Ruth Smeeth arrived at the hearing surrounded by a phalanx of forty Zionist MPs (and filmed by numerous news agencies) in a show of power and privilege. Marc Wadsworth arrived quietly, unheralded, accompanied by his crowd-funded lawyer. The disparity should be obvious. So should its meaning.

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A disgraceful bait and switch. Smeeth accused Wadsworth of antisemitism but quickly dropped that in the face of the video evidence. The slur kept going and probably influenced the weak-minded NCC.

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So the old tried and tested "anti semitic" ploy claims another victim! What a shame that people have not yet seen through this sham accusation!! Are these people making the accusation even Semites? I don't think so. They are the Real Anti Semites as they have a racist attitude to the Palestinians, who are the Real Semites of the land of Palestine, and its original settlers. Most of these people are paid lobbyists for the Zionists and should hang their heads in shame for their support of the Apartheid and Racist regime of Zionistan. Racism against Palestinians is acceptable it seems but Racism against Europeans (by the Nazi regime) was an evil to be overcome! How is Zionism different from Nazism? It has the same aims and the same methods of oppression, all thats missing are the gas ovens, but why build those on the land when you can drop them from above?

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Glad to see the Daily Mail named here as a source of smears. It's time to get more specific about media enablers and instigators of the Zionist attack on the Labour Party. EI has reported on BBC bias, but there's a lot more.

Especially The Guardian, which pretends to be a progressive paper. But not on Venezuela or Russia, dubiously on Syria, and definitely not on Palestine.

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Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He lives in London. Biography here.