Palestine activist removed from Labour shortlist after smear

Colin Monehen was smeared in retaliation for his 2018 speech defending Palestinians. (Labour Party/YouTube)

The activist behind an iconic speech on Palestine at Labour’s conference last year has had his parliamentary hopes dashed by the party, the UK’s main opposition.

Colin Monehen announced on Sunday he had been shortlisted to be the Labour candidate for Epping Forest in northeast London.

But the party emailed at 1pm on Wednesday telling him he had been removed from the shortlist “after due diligence.” They gave no specifics, Monehen told The Electronic Intifada.

That morning, The Jewish Chronicle had published a story claiming Monehen had “defended a notorious anti-Semitic image.”

But the journalist behind the story made his real motive clear, by denouncing Monehen on Twitter as having given a “pro-Palestinian rant” at last year’s conference.

Lee Harpin also invented the ludicrous idea that Monehen had been “dragged off the stage by security” in 2018.

After being mocked online, the article was later edited (but not corrected) to read he had been “urged off the stage.” The original can still be read online here.

What Harpin reported about the image was also untrue. Monehen had actually repeatedly condemned it.

It showed the Statue of Liberty being smothered by a face-hugging creature from the movie Alien. On top of the creature, the blue Star of David from the Israeli flag has been imposed.

“I have not shared that image nor would I,” Monehen told The Electronic Intifada on Wednesday. “We are now in a situation where any discussion around the subject is in itself dangerous.”

The Labour Party did not reply to a request for comment.

Harpin is one of several former Mirror journalists to be implicated in that paper’s phone hacking scandal in 2015.

That year, he was arrested and questioned by police over his alleged role in illegally tapping individual’s phones while he was an editor there. Charges against the paper’s editors were later dropped, even though the paper admitted criminal activity had taken place.

Monehen came to prominence among the party’s grassroots last year after his stirring speech at Labour conference.

Proposing a motion against arms sales to Israel, Monehen said there had to be recognition of the past, and how “in 1948 the Palestinian people suffered the tragedy of the Nakba, when the majority of the Palestinian people were forced from their homes.”

He was cheered by a sea of delegates waving Palestinian flags.

“This tragedy happened on our watch,” he said. The Labour government elected in 1945 presided over the Nakba in 1948, when Britain ended its occupation – only to be replaced with Israeli occupation.

“Conference, if we are silent, we are complicit,” he said. “The Palestinian people cannot be left alone.”

Videos of the speech online have had more than 160,000 views.

Monehen is the latest in a long line of victims in the witch hunt against the left and the Palestine solidarity movement that has been raging in Labour since 2015.

Update, 24 October

Labour Party activists have tweeted expressing support for Monehen.




And so continues the witchhunt. Of course it wasn't Labour's NEC who took the decision but a small subset of them and it would have been at the urging of Labour staff, the same people who used to do Iain McNicol's dirty work. Corbyn has lost control of the bureaucracy or has been frightened off exercising the same control as previous leaders did. Jenny Formby probably doesn't even care.

What is astounding is that Britain's Palestine Solidarity Campaign officers have taken a decision not to make any comment or interfere in what they call 'disciplinary cases'. Unfortunately Britain's Zionists don't take such a position


Thanks to Electronic Intifada for your excellent journalism.

There will be more chances for Colin Monehen. And so there should be!

Meanwhile, Corbyn supporters need to realise that we still have work to do for the left majority among members to be properly reflected in Party decisions.

The backroom rightwingers are still apparently able to stitch things up.

But Palestine will be free!


Kafka was right.
Who in the Labour Party is making these decisions? The process is obscure. People are suspended without being told why, then hear nothing for months. This is the behaviour of the Stasi. Where is due process? Where is transparency?
It looks like the Labour bureaucracy is an Augean stable.
All because of fear of a politics which does not submit to wealth and power.
Do we live in a democracy? No, corporate interests dominate, bureaucrats subvert, unelected advisers have the media in their pocket.
I heard of a suspended Labour member whose local party, in response to months of silence from Labour HQ, said, "Well, as far as we're concerned your suspension is lifted." That's the way to defeat this. Local parties must rise up against the witch hunt. As always, the answer lies in rational action by the common folk; but that rational action needs to be organised.


Second that. Perhaps the local party could vote to set out its view that unless they are given a decision within x days Colin Monehen will be included on the shortlist and members may vote for him. I don't know what the fallout would be but surely better than sitting there waiting for the axe to fall. If there are sufficient numbers of CLPs willing to give effect to an accord of this kind, how could it be resisted?

Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London. He is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and co-host of our podcast.

He is author of the bestselling book Weaponising Anti-Semitism: How the Israel Lobby Brought Down Jeremy Corbyn (OR Books, 2023).