A campaigner against racism is resisting attempts to have him expelled from the UK’s Labour Party over fabricated claims of anti-Semitism.
Marc Wadsworth faces a disciplinary hearing of party bureaucrats on 25 April, he told The Electronic Intifada, and has had to hire a lawyer.
He has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help with legal costs.
The hearing is a high-profile part of what Labour activists say is a “witch hunt” of left-wingers and critics of Israel.
The Jewish anti-Zionist and anti-racist campaigner Tony Greenstein also has a hearing on Sunday about his suspension from Labour.
The attempted expulsions of Wadsworth and Greenstein are thought by campaigners to be the prelude to a new attempt to expel former mayor of London Ken Livingstone from Labour.
In April 2016, Livingstone was suspended from Labour for a year, after having made accurate historical comments about connections between the Zionist movement and the Nazi government of 1930s Germany.
Livingstone’s suspension was then extended for a further 12 months in April 2017.
Black community support
His case is being supported by prominent Black figures in the UK, including Simon Woolley, the director of Operation Black Vote, King’s College London professor Paul Gilroy and editor-at-large of The Guardian Gary Younge.
Over the last two years, Labour’s internal pro-Israel lobby has led calls for Wadsworth to be expelled, after he publicly criticized a lawmaker at a 2016 launch of a report into anti-Semitism.
Ruth Smeeth, a right-wing Labour politician, staged a walkout during the event, which had been supposed to focus on a report by civil rights lawyer Shami Chakrabarti into allegations of anti-Semitism in Labour.
Smeeth is a former Israel lobby spin doctor who, after entering the UK’s parliament in 2015, continued to be funded by two leading figures from her former employer, BICOM – the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre.
The latest official register of financial interests for members of Parliament shows that Smeeth continues to be funded by the Israel lobby.
Last year, she registered a donation of more than $7,000 from Trevor Chinn, a member of BICOM’s executive committee.
Labour headquarters’ ongoing purge of left-wingers has habitually utilized false allegations of anti-Semitism.
Labour Against the Witch-hunt
Labour Against the Witch-hunt, a group recently set up to combat the purge, is supporting Wadsworth’s case, calling him a “victim of the ongoing civil war in the Labour Party” and the charges against him “ridiculous.”
The filmmaker Ken Loach, a veteran socialist, has called the purge “nonsense” and “part of the right-wing attempt to destabilize the Labour leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and [shadow finance minister] John McDonnell.”
Labour’s internal Israel lobby has dogged Palestine solidarity veteran Jeremy Corbyn with often exaggerated, and sometimes entirely fabricated allegations that “left-wing anti-Semitism” has taken over the party under his leadership.
But Chakrabarti’s report found that the party was “not overrun by anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or other forms of racism.”
At the launch, Wadsworth told the room that the Black voters who overwhelmingly support Labour were not well represented either in that room, or among party staff, and called for the party to “get our house in order.”
He also criticized Smeeth for “working hand in hand” with a journalist from the Conservative Party-supporting newspaper The Telegraph, by giving one of its journalists a press release he had been handing out.
Smeeth’s “media conspiracy”
Although Wadsworth made no comments – either direct or implied – about Smeeth’s Jewish background, Smeeth responded by shouting over Wadsworth, and dramatically walking out of the event in a display apparently targeted at the journalists she was sitting by.
In a demonstrably false press statement, Smeeth later claimed Wadsworth had used “traditional anti-Semitic slurs to attack me for being part of a ‘media conspiracy.’” The statement was later deleted from her website.
But Wadsworth had not done any such thing. He had made no comment about Jewish people, and he did not use the words “media conspiracy.”
Despite how all of this is easily verifiable in the above video, which was widely disseminated online, most of the press coverage of the event – hostile as ever to Jeremy Corbyn – either implied or outright stated that Smeeth had been attacked by an anti-Semitic heckler.
According to Wadsworth, Smeeth then called Labour headquarters demanding he be expelled. Wadsworth says he was initially expelled without even a hearing. But after he hired a lawyer, the penalty was reduced to a suspension.
Wadsworth says he has hired legal representation to fight the Labour bureaucracy’s attempt to expel him for “anti-Semitism.”
On the crowdfunding page, Wadsworth demands “an opportunity to clear my name” in the face of “a blatant breach of the due process and natural justice” called for in the Chakrabarti report.
Guilty of “attempting to defend” himself
In a Labour “charge sheet” seen by The Electronic Intifada, Wadsworth is accused by party apparatchiks of “making an allegation against Ms. Smeeth in terms which were regarded as anti-Semitic by persons present” at the Chakrabarti launch.
A second charge accuses him of subsequent “bullying” and “aggression and intimidatory behavior towards Ms. Smeeth” by having “attempted to defend” the remarks he made at the launch in a small number of articles and social media posts.
Wadsworth told The Electronic Intifada: “The charges against me are false, slanderous and damaging to my reputation as someone who has devoted his life to anti-racist campaigning.”
He said it was “deeply concerning I’ve been tarred with the brush of being ‘aggressive’ and using ‘intimidatory behavior,’ which are widely considered in the Black community to be racist stereotypes.”
“As we know from history,” he explained, “such stereotyping led to Black men being literally lynched in the past.”
Newmark told The Observer that the group would “be closely monitoring the outcomes of a number of high-profile cases.”
He added that the cases included those of Wadsworth and Jackie Walker, a Jewish anti-Zionist activist who has also been suspended from Labour.
The paper claimed that “party sources” had told it “that a group of members, including activists and councilors, was preparing legal action against the party for failing to act on complaints about anti-Semitic incidents.”
Wadsworth told a Labour Against the Witch-hunt meeting last month that it is “deeply disturbing that life-long anti-racist campaigners like Jackie [Walker] and Tony [Greenstein], who are Jewish, and myself, a Black man, have been targeted. Yet anti-Black racism and Islamophobia, which are more prevalent than anti-Semitism, have been ignored by the Labour Party.”
- Marc Wadsworth
- Labour Party
- Labour Against the Witch-hunt
- Jeremy Corbyn
- Tony Greenstein
- Ken Livingstone
- Simon Woolley
- Operation Black Vote
- King's College London
- Paul Gilroy
- Gary Younge
- Ruth Smeeth
- Shami Chakrabarti
- Trevor Chinn
- Ken Loach
- John McDonnell
- Jeremy Newmark
- Jewish Labour Movement
- Israel Lobby