Labour apparatchiks smear Black activist in “anti-Semitism” witch hunt

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn talking to anti-racist activist Marc Wadsworth, following a speech to launch the Chakrabarti inquiry’s findings in 2016.

Jonathan Brady PA Images

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.

Wadsworth is a veteran anti-racist campaigner and a journalist for publications including The Voice, a newspaper for the African-Caribbean community in the UK.

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.”

Threats

Now-disgraced former chair of the pro-Israel Jewish Labour Movement Jeremy Newmark last month seemed to threaten that his group would sue the Labour Party were Wadsworth and others not expelled.

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.”

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It is quite apparent that zionists (racists) have infiltrated both the Tory and Labour just as they have done here in Australia. Their insidious influence will have a negative impact on anti-racists and communities of colour in both parties. The Al Jazerra expose clearly revealed the subversive role of no less than the Zionist ambassador who just happened to be an apartheid privileged South African expat. Ridding all parties of these subversive influences would do democracy much good.

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What, Jonathan Freedland, the Guardian's Witchhunter-in-Chief, is allowing Gary Younge to support Wadsworth? Good on Younge. I hope he doesn't lose his job at the Guardian, whose reporting on this has been as bad as anybody's.

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Your point is well taken. The Guardian has in a number of respects led the smear campaign against Corbyn, against new members, and against Palestinian rights advocacy within the party. Attacks from this quarter have been more damaging than those from the standard right wing rags that pass as newspapers in Britain, because correctly or not the Guardian is seen as a progressive outlet. As for Freedland, he earned his final measure of odium during the 2014 Gaza massacres carried out by Israel, when his control over the opinion section resulted in a shocking level of censorship. Having said that, I don't think Gary Younge has ever fallen into the orbit of such people. If anything, they need him to be himself in order to maintain the facade of a socially enlightened publication.

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Well described, tom hall. There is one more observation to be made: the witchhunt against Labour-members by using "anti-semitism" this selectively & inappropriately is fairly completely overlapping the division between Blairites and Corbynists in Labour. That is: those old "new-labour lefties" that supported Blair's Iraq war etc. (and made a nice profitable career out of it), versus the new members and their Corbyn voting. Why this huge overlap in pro-Israel and pro-Iraqwar/pro-Blair attitudes? What is the common interest between those two areas for an MP to act that way? Why are only the non-Blairites attacked this way?

The good news is that in the last general election (2017), pro-Israel anti-Corbynistas lost a lot of their relevance.

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Dear dGuard, thanks for raising that question. A question: Can you explain why you think the Blairites emerged weaker from the 2017 elections. I haven't kept track of it enough. Were some of the big warmongers, or Zionists, defeated, or didn't run? Another question, I wonder why Richard Burden and many other 'pro-Palestinians' in the Labour Party have a weak bark and no bite at all. Really lame. The only MP, as far as I know, who ever really supported all the rights of all the Palestinians (leading him to support the One Democratic State solution) was George Galloway. Tommy Sheppard seems OK, but not very effective. Do you suppose Corbyn has told the 'pro-Palestinians' to cool it a bit til this fake anti-semitism storm blows over? I mean, let's be honest, Corbyn himself stabbed Livingstone in the back and has watered down his geniune pro-Palestinianism a lot. He was the best of the two-staters, but I think his political future is more important to him. Course ya gotta git power to do any good with it, right? Isn't that what all politicians say while selling their principles for votes?
Sorry, I'm rambling. Any details on a weakened Blair faction would interest me. Thanks.

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I said less clout for Zionists/Blairites because of this: In 2017 Labour/Corbyn went 232 -> 262 seats (+30), Tory/May 330 -> 317 (-13; majority lost). Now the Labour-sabotaging Zionists can not shout "Corbyn can't win" any more.

So Jeremy Corbyn can win an election, but to get rid of those sabotage MPs and their friends in the bureaucracy is more difficult. And of course he is arm-twisted on each and every detail, so he cannot change his Party. Let alone kill this witch-hunt Tony Greenstein suffers (all the best for TG). My point again: the Blairites (Labour neocons, in economics/socialness and warmongering) and Zionists are overlapping dangerously. Why is this?

About the districts. UK has that weird district representation (1st past the post aka winner takes all), AND parties like Labour have strong restrictions against 'challenging' a fellow Labour-candidate in a district: in short, the bureaucracy dictates which candidate is on the ballot. No US-primary style preselection then. This is why it is difficult to oust creeps like Louise Ellman, John Mann, and Ruth Smeeth: with just a *few* friends in the bureaucracy, they can keep their candidacy and so seat in their district. They even do campaign saying: "Vote Labour, Vote for me, I am against Corbyn".

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Zionists/The Israel lobby (the "anti-racists") are the real and only racists we should be worrying about in the UK. Their racism dominates society and is a self-serving poison that MUST be exposed and dealt with. The proof of its toxicity is the fact that everybody (of the political and media class) is afraid to mention it or even acknowledge its existence.

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Now that party members have overwhelmingly demonstrated support for Corbyn, and a right-wing caucus revolt flopped, it must be time to clean out the rightist apparatchiks in the executive and/or staff who are hobbling the party.

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Please expel Ruth Smeeth and her chronies who are attempting to destroy Labour's commendable anti-racist policies and personnel on the grounds that a racist state cannot be criticised. I'm appalled that the party is allowing these people to attack, and potentially destroy, the party we have affiliated to.

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It must be time to tell these clearly insane groups that are targeting any who oppose Israel (the State) with life destroying slurs to go screw themselves. Pandering to them is causing many decent people hardship and heartache. Israel is a criminal rogue State and any who condone their actions in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria never mind their gross interference in countless other countries around the world are also criminal - Telling the truth should not be censored and the Labour Party in the UK is violating peoples rights to tell any truth concerning Israel. I wonder whether Corbyn is ashamed of himself or is he just another sociopathic Politician?

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I have this itch. It is often noted that Tony Greenstein is Jewish as an argument. Even on his own site, and in the header of this EI publication. However, to my best I maintain: this should not be an argument. No one should be accused of anti-semitism or framed like this.

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.