‘Labour Together’ Report: It was the witch-hunt, stupid!

The ‘Labour Together’ review of the 2019 general election campaign manages – over 154 pages – to list all sorts of reasons that are supposed to explain why Labour’s vote was slashed from 40% in 2017 to 32,1% in 2019: No doubt, it is true that there was the confusion over the party’s Brexit position, a disorganised party centre, a muddled electoral programme etc. 

But the report manages to spectacularly miss the key reason. The 15 Labour grandees (including Lucy Powell who took part in the 2016 chicken coup) appointed to run the review focus on platitudes like “Jeremy Corbyn was deeply unpopular” – but the authors seem to chiefly blame Corbyn’s character for that, rather than make any attempt to get to the bottom of what happened in the last five years. 

We are happy to help: It was the witch-hunt, stupid (to paraphrase the Clinton adviser James Carville). 

The campaign to get rid of Corbyn started as soon as it looked like he would win the Labour leadership election in 2015. Millions were inspired and over 350,000 socialists and left-wingers joined, making Labour the biggest social democratic party in Europe. This posed a real problem for the ruling class – Tony Blair had worked hard to transform the party into a safe ‘second eleven’ that could be trusted to run capitalism. But most attempts to undermine and sabotage Corbyn were like water off a duck’s back. The more silly the accusations, the more inspired and empowered his supporters felt. The result of the 2017 election is an indication of the level of this support. 

However, all that changed when Corbyn was accused of harbouring antisemites in the Labour Party. Instead of calling out the lie that the Labour Party was overrun by antisemites, the Corbyn leadership sought to appease right-wing saboteurs, pro-Zionist groups and the self-appointed leadership of “the Jewish community” who set out to obstruct the new members and the move towards socialist ideas. The Corbyn leadership behaved as though they believed this lie. The ‘leaked report’ shows that in the process they displayed an inability to recognise real antisemitism, while eagerly trying to get rid of prominent activists like Marc Wadsworth, Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson, none of whom can be accused of even a trace of antisemitism.

LLA statement on the Momentum NCG elections

Labour Left Alliance welcomes efforts to reform and democratise Momentum, which are sorely needed and long overdue. Although we have reservations about the scale of the challenge, and the time and energy that many activists will need to utilise, we offer solidarity with those undertaking a genuine struggle. 

We posed questions to all the candidates of the upcoming National Coordinating Group (NCG) elections in order to help clarify their political stance on a number of key issues, to help people to decide how to vote. We thank all those that responded – see the questions and answers here: https://labourleft.org/uncategorized/our-questions-to-all-momentum-ncg-candidates/

We encourage particular support for Syed Siddiqi of Ilford South CLP who is standing in the London Region, and we wish him every success in the NCG election. Syed has been suspended from the Labour Party since December 2017 and his case is mentioned in the leaked Governance and Legal Unit report. He is an LLA signatory, and provided some positive responses to our questions.

While we do not offer endorsements for any other specific candidates or slates, we encourage all Momentum members to take part in this election process to support candidates that will commit to a real transformation, and to consider their responses (or failure to respond) to the questions from LLA.

Our questions to all Momentum NCG candidates – and their answers

Momentum’s election to the National Coordinating Group begins on June 16. There are lot of different views on Momentum within the LLA – some think it’s pointless to try and reform the organisation that Jon Lansman has gutted of all democracy (click here for some background material on Momentum’s history and current structure), while others believe that it can be changed and there are three different ‘slates’ running in the NCG elections. The steering committee of the LLA has therefore decided to ask all candidates a set of questions. Our organising group, meeting on June 13, can then look at the answers and decide if the LLA should support any slates or candidates.

Update June 13: Nobody from Momentum Renewal replied to our request, despite the fact that we contacted them officially as well as wrote to all candidates individually. Forward Momentum and Syed Siddiqi (London) have sent us statements rather than detailed answers: FM statement here and Syed Siddiqi’s statement here. Find further below detailed answers supplied by the Anticapitalist Platform and Jae Robinson (Midlands and East Region), who unfortunately did not receive enough nominations in time.

1) Will you campaign for Momentum to have a sovereign members’ conference/AGM that sets policy and elects its National Coordinating Group?

2) Regarding the selection of NEC candidates, will you campaign for an end to backroom deals and for Momentum to implement a democratic internal process, which involves all members and then seek a democratic selection process within the whole Labour Left? 

Reinstate the Liverpool Wavertree 4!

Sign here: https://www.change.org/p/labour-party-reinstate-the-wavertree-4

Defend free speech in the Labour movement!
The Labour left will not be silenced on party democracy and Israel/Palestine!

We believe that the May 29 suspensions of four Constituency Labour Party officers from Liverpool Wavertree CLP (including the chair and secretary) under antisemitism charges are deeply unjust.

The four comrades – Nina Houghton, Kevin Bean, Helen Dickson and Hazuan Hashim – dared to raise political criticisms of their local MP Paula Barker, who had written an article in the Jewish Telegraph, without any prior consultation with the executive officers. She wrote, among other things: “Luciana [Berger] leaving the Labour Party was a shock to many and I find it deeply regrettable that she felt she could no longer stay.” This article was posted on Wavertree CLP’s Facebook page.

No whitewash! Counter-conference on the ‘leaked report’

The Labour Left Alliance supports this Zoom conference planned for mid-July, to coincide with the release of Keir Starmer’s ‘investigation’ into the leaked report. Click here to register.

Confirmed participants so far include Chris Williamson, Jackie Walker, Prof David Miller, Moshe Machover, Greg Hadfield and Tony Greenstein – and the conference will also hear from less prominent cases. Email info@labouragainstthewitchhunt.org if you want to give evidence or contribute in any other way.

Starmer’s official investigation is likely to be a whitewash, focusing on who leaked it rather than the substance of the right-wing smears and campaign of sabotage against Jeremy Corbyn.

But the conference will also look at the many mistakes made by the Corbyn leadership: The report shows that they decided to support the lie that the Labour Party is overrun by antisemites. They sought to appease the Israel advocacy groups and the self-appointed leadership of “the Jewish community” and behaved as though they believed this lie. In the process they displayed an inability to recognise real antisemitism, while eagerly trying to get rid of activists like Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Ken Livingstone, Marc Wadsworth and Chris Williamson, none of whom can be accused of even a trace of antisemitism.

Click here to register and to be kept updated.

Solidarity with Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy and all those unjustly expelled!

Sign the petition HERE.

The defeat of Jeremy Corbyn has given the right inside and outside the Labour Party a mandate to press ahead with their campaign against the left. They will not rest until the Labour Party has been purged of all traces of socialism.

The latest manufactured ‘outrage’ of the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council concerns Labour MPs Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Diane Abbott. These comrades spoke in a Zoom meeting organised by Don’t Leave, Organise. This online event was also attended by Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein – and 550 other people.

Both the BoD and JLC are now demanding that the two black MPs be suspended by the Labour Party “for sharing platforms with those that have been expelled from the Party for antisemitism”.

Webinar series: Learning from Labour’s History

A series of webinars looking at the history of the Labour party and considering a number of key historical issues which remain relevant today: the relationship between Labour and the organised working-class movement, how serious a challenge did the party present to capitalism and imperialism, and the nature of the Labour left and its understanding of socialism.

Session 1, Thursday April 23 2020


The origins and formation of the Labour party 1880s-1914: the voice of the organized working class? Click here for some background reading material and Kevin’s notes for the talk.

Thursday April 30 2020

Clause IV and the impact of the Russian revolution 1917-23. Click here for some reading materials (please note that this will download a Zip file to your computer) and Kevin’s notes for the talk.

Thursday May 7 2020
Labour in government, but not in power: 1923-4 and 1929-31

Thursday May 14 2020
Looking back to 1945-the socialist moment?

Thursday May 21 2020
Let’s go with Labour? Wilson and ‘the white heat of technology’ in the 1960s

Thursday May 28 2020
‘The party is over’?: the crisis in social democracy and the rise of the Labour left 1974-1987

Thursday June 4 2020
The rise of ‘New Labour’: a Blairite counter-revolution?

Each session will include a reading list, brief outline notes and some primary historical documents for discussion. With time for questions and comments.

Starting on April 23 2020 and then every Thursday, 6pm, via Zoom. Video will be made available online afterwards.

Introduced by Kevin Bean, Merseyside LLA, author, lecturer in Irish politics, tutor of British politics, University of Liverpool (retired).

You need to register in advance here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_KDtJ5e7_TQa0Mo1uYIgmGw

Leaked report: We need a full investigation! Review all disciplinary cases!

Joint statement by Labour Against the Witchhunt and the Labour Left Alliance

We demand a full investigation into the witch-hunt and the election campaigns!
All disciplinary cases of the last five years must be reviewed!

As experienced activists in the Labour Party, we knew that the right in the party was plotting against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters from day one. We knew, because we were the victims of their wrongful suspensions, their expulsions and their public smears and lies, all based on the flimsiest of evidence.

The report ‘The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014 – 2019’, produced in response to the investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, now gives us irrefutable proof of the plotting and outright sabotage committed against Corbyn and the hundreds of thousands who joined the party to fight for socialist and democratic change. 

Labour leadership elections: Stay and fight! Join the Labour Left Alliance!

The election of Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner as leader and deputy leader of the Labour Party is a serious setback for the left. Speculation is rife that Starmer will gladly accept an invitation by the government to take a position in a ‘war cabinet’ – an invitation that is designed to neutralise the opposition. Labour activists must fight such moves.

Because of Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party has grown to more than 500,000 members, with many committed socialists. The composition of annual conference changed dramatically. Inspired by Corbyn’s principled politics, the left gained influence in numerous local areas – and is now part of the leadership in many CLPs. Continued affiliation of the trade unions makes Labour a true mass organisation of the working class – and the biggest democratic socialist party in Europe. Many are now talking about leaving the Labour Party. But the LLA will fight hard against that.

LLA NEC elections (round 1, for LLA members only)

As agreed at our launch conference on February 22, we are now planning on how the LLA can intervene in the next full elections for the Labour Party NEC, which will be held this summer.

The process for selecting left-wing candidates has for far too long been shrouded in mystery, while many of those who have eventually been elected as part of the left slate often turn out to be anything but left-wing. There is very little accountability and even less transparency.

The LLA wants to help change that. We therefore agreed that we will approach other Labour left organisations with the view of putting together a joint slate of candidates in a democratic and transparent manner. Please click here to read the full successful motion online (which has also been discussed in our Facebook groups for a few months now).

First though we want to ask all LLA signatories if they are interested in becoming a member of the ruling body of the Labour Party. There are nine positions for representatives from Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) and one position as the BAME representative.

Please find below the candidate statement of all LLA signatories who have put themselves forward. All of the candidates have declared that they:

  • agree to campaign – as a minimum – for the political positions contained within our appeal.
  • will cooperate fully with the steering committee and the organising group of the LLA .
  • in the case that they are not selected, will not stand against the slate agreed by LLA.

CLP reps (9 positions)
Jo Bird
Esther Giles
Bryn Jones
Trish Williams
Karunakaran (Suga) Thekkeppurayil
Roger Silverman
Aram Rawf
Chaudhry Qamer Iqbal

BAME (1 position)
Mehmood Mirza
Chaudhry Qamer Iqbal
Aram Rawf

Jo Bird

Like many Labour party members, I was inspired to join the party by Jeremy Corbyn’s vision of socialism for the many.

I’m Jewish. There is no place for antisemitism or any form of racism in our party. In my lived experience, the Labour party is a welcoming home. My positive messages often go viral. For example, over 80,000 people have viewed my ‘Jews are welcome in Labour’ video.

I was dismayed to have been suspended twice from Labour, in March 2019 (over my play on the words “due process”) and then again in February 2020, while I was standing for the NEC by-elections. After a huge public outcry and nominations by 118 CLPs, I was told that my “behaviour did not amount to a breach of the party’s rules” and was reinstated as a candidate and to full membership.

As your NEC representative, I will stand up for members, democracy and transparency at every opportunity, just like I have done as secretary of Wirral Labour Group.

As your electe d NEC representative, I will support 4 key changes:

1. Fairness and natural justice in our complaints system
2. Open selection of Labour MPs just as we have for Labour councillors
3. Freedom, justice and equality for all people under military occupation
4. Members-led policy decided at a sovereign democratic conference

This is our Labour Party. We, Labour Party members, should decide who can be a member and who cannot. We should not outsource this to some outside agency that works against our interests.

Esther Giles

I rejoined the Labour Party in 2015, and since then have put my best efforts into supporting the local Party. I’m currently CLP Secretary, Branch Chair and Treasurer for the LCF, so I understand the workings of the Labour Party. I’ve recently retired from a career in NHS Finance and now work part-time in my own gardening business. I’m a Unite Community member and have previously been a member of Unison (where I was a workplace representative), Unison’s managers’ wing – MiP, and Unite.

Since rejoining the Party, I have been uplifted by comradely solidarity and at the same time dismayed by the lack of democracy, and, too often, the lack of socialism in the Party. I’ve been concerned too by the hold that neoliberal identity politics has on our Party. I’ve been suspended for allegations of anti-Semitism, and then had the suspension lifted without explanation. At the 2017 Conference I challenged Iain McNichol to justify the Party’s spending on suspending people. 

So I welcomed the rise of the LLA and joined at the earliest opportunity. I completely agree that “there is now an urgent need to build a democratic, transparent and socialist Labour Left Alliance”, and would like to do everything I can to implement the aims set out in the LLA Appeal. I would be honoured to be considered for service on the NEC.

Bryn Jones

The Corona emergency is reshaping the political landscape. Labour and the NEC will need decision-takers with experience, know-how and clear convictions. I put myself forward because of my unusual combination of political experience, intellectual expertise and socialist values:

  • with one break,  an active Party member for about 40 years
  • current Unite Community union member but experience in shop steward roles in (what are now) the Public and Commercial Services Union, and Universities and Colleges Union;
  • leading roles in community campaigns, such as football supporters groups and local environmental activism, especially on local transport ;
  • various roles in Labour’s election campaigns;
  • CLP Political Education and Policy Officer.

My academic research and writing covered political processes, economic issues and communication strategies. I have analysed and proposed the democratisation of corporate power. Together with other left academics I co-authored a 2017 book on Alternatives to Neoliberalism. The conclusions of which anticipated some of the key features of Labour’s ethos under Jeremy Corbyn. Born and bred in the West Midlands working class, I know and understand the Brexit mentality and Tory voting there and in the North.

The values and policies worked out from this practical experience and academic analysis are clear-cut:  more participatory democratic decision-making is essential, in the Party and government; but also in businesses and public bodies. We must put right Labour’s 2019 campaigning mistakes but the transformative ideas from the Corbyn project must be continued and developed. These are not obstacles to electoral success but key ingredients for it.

Trish Williams

Standing as Parliamentary candidate in Berwick-upon-Tweed in 2019 I learned first hand of the sense of betrayal, abandonment and injustice felt by so many former Labour voters.

It’s time for change, but electing a new Leader and Deputy is not enough; the Party must also refresh its organisational structures, including the NEC.

As a CLP Secretary, l have worked with colleagues and Party officials to address issues with Party systems and processes. My 32 nominations in the NEC by-election, came about because I am trusted to deliver on my promises, by colleagues who have seen my organisational skills and persistence in action.

My priorities are:

Complaints

  • Create a fit-for-purpose complaints/disciplinary process that serves ‘natural justice’;

Communications

  • Improve transparency and accountability by publishing NEC agendas, minutes, and organisational and business process information.
  • Regular dialogue between NEC reps and members.

Diversity

  • Regionally elected CLP reps,
  • Reps for LGBTQ  and members with disabilities.
  • Support for NEC members with work and caring responsibilities.

Democratisation

  • Update Constitution to facilitate remote access to meetings and online voting for internal democratic processes.
  • Devolve decision-making on selections, campaigning and local structures, to democratised and empowered Regions and CLPs
  • Introduce open selection for Parliamentary candidates.        

I seek equality of opportunity, and social and economic justice, for everyone. If elected I commit to continuing our internationalist, Socialist agenda, to fight against this cruel and incompetent Tory government, and to help transform Labour into an election winning Party.

Roger Silverman

I first joined the Labour Party 59 years ago. I remember canvassing for Labour from the age of 14. I’ve been an active member ever since, with the exception of the “New Labour” years, when along with hundreds of thousands of others I let my membership lapse. I rejoined the party in West Ham in 2015, and have been an active campaigner and GC delegate since then.

My father was practically a founder member of the Labour Party, an elected member of the National Executive Committee and a Labour MP for 33 years until his death. My mother was an LCC Labour councillor. In 1961 my father was temporarily expelled from the Parliamentary Labour Party for voting in line with Conference’s democratic resolution in favour of nuclear disarmament – an act which was branded as disloyalty to the current Party leader Gaitskell. (That was a punishable offence in those days!). Recently I too was arbitrarily suspended, without warning and without charge, and then reinstated following a telephone interrogation.

As an NEC member, I would campaign vigorously to end such abuses, restore the supremacy of party Conference, and uphold the democratic right of open selection of candidates for office. Without that, all our efforts to elect a Labour government on a socialist programme will be under threat of defection.

Labour’s defeat in the December general election was a disappointment, but despite media distortions it was not “the worst result since 1931”. Labour actually won more votes in 2019 than in 2015, 2010 or even 2005 (when Labour won). We are still the biggest political party in Europe. In these days of crisis, the Johnson government is already largely discredited. We must seize the opportunity to harness the energies of our half a million members to build a Britain for the many not the few.

Karunakaran (Suga) Thekkeppurayil

I have been a Labour Party member since 2010. I was born and brought up in a working class family in Kerala, a south Indian state where I learnt much of my socialist political ideology and its application.  And I am very proud that my parents were members of the Communist Party.  They had helped me to shape my left political values.  It has been reflected in my interaction with society wherever I have been and fought for it.  It was no different whether I was in Delhi as a cop or in London as a student or as a worker.

I fought for student’s rights; I fought for rickshaw pullers’ rights and people living in slums in Delhi and against police atrocities. I fought for waiters’ rights in London. I fought for travellers against air tickets scams. I fought against the witch-hunt within the party even before JC became the leader.

I marched with comrades against war, rights for the Palestinian people, against austerity, against the fascist Modi government

I went to the various picket lines in London and across the country such as in Swindon against Honda plant shift and stood for migrant’s rights and against deportations.

Comrades my point is I am very much left oriented and very tough on that and never going to be compromised on left political agenda.

I strongly believe that we are on the path of reclaiming our party and we need me like comrades in the NEC in order to do that.

Aram Rawf

My name is Aram Rawf. In twenty years I have gone from being an asylum seeker on the back of a lorry to being a Labour councillor.

I was born to an Iraqi Kurdish family in Iraq.

I arrived in the UK in 1999 as a child refugee. With the support of my local community I managed to resist attempts by the Home Office to send me back to Iraq.

I was granted British citizenship in 2011.

I worked as an interpreter with Migrant Helpline for many years and I have volunteered with Kent Refugee Support Group and Kent Refugee Help. I Speak Kurdish, Arabic, Farsi and English.

In 2006 I was the first refugee in the UK to join St John Ambulance.

I’m an active member in many campaigns such as for our local hospital, Stop The War and campaigns against racism with Kent Anti Racism Network.

In the 2015 General Election I was a member of Stand Up to UKIP and I helped to stop Nigel Farage becoming an MP in South Thanet.

In May 2019 I was elected as a councillor to Thanet District Council and Broadstairs Town Council becoming one of the first councillors in Kent from a refugee background.

I would like to take the opportunity of joining the NEC to use my skills and unique perspective to encourage other BAME members and be a much needed voice for social justice in the Labour Party.

Chaudhry Qamer Iqbal

A Labour party member for the last 12 years serving as

  • A Chair of Southall Broadway Branch
  • A CLP secretary of Ealing Southall
  • A proud member of Unite the Union

I am a proud socialist who fully supports Jeremy Corbyn. With strong campaigning background I have been active in every election since 2007. Since I took over as CLP secretary in 2018 I delivered to transform my CLP into fully active and functioning CLP.

My CLP is only the CLP in West London, which passed a motion against the adoption of IHRA without an amendment of freedom of free speech being protected. We passed various motions against the suspensions of comrades based on political views and vile attacks on Jeremy Corby and his leadership.

I am signatory of LLA. I will:

  • Work closely with Party leadership, NEC and CLPs to fully implement the recommendations of the Democracy Review including OPEN SELECTION
  • Make it my top priority to fight for the rights of every GRASSROOTS member to make sure a fair & transparent disciplinary process is in place
  • Not support any suspensions based on political views
  • Seek NEC members to be more accountable to local members and CLPs
  • Improve the communication and report back to the members
  • Be supporting our newly elected leader to win back the trust of communities we lost in the last election
  • Promote and fully support socialists policies to make sure grassroots members have a greater say on policies and how party is run

Face book: https://www.facebook.com/qamer.iqbal.7

Email:Qameriqbal@yahoo.com
Twitter: @chqamerlab

BAME seat only

Mehmood Mirza

I am standing for the vacant reserved BAME place on Labour’s NEC for the following reasons:

  • The allocation of this special place on the Labour Party’s NEC is an eloquent recognition of the special threats and hardships faced under capitalism by members of ethnic minorities, and a practical demonstration that their needs can be met only as a fully integrated section of the Labour Movement.
  • I will campaign passionately for clear socialist policies to challenge the brutal and divisive programme of the Johnson government, which endangers the basic human needs of the vast majority in society. This is especially true in the case of ethnic minorities, as is demonstrated by the continuing Windrush outrage. 
  • Along with the hundreds of thousands of newly inspired members of the Labour Party, I strongly support the radical policies set out under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and in Labour’s 2019 election manifesto.
  • I will campaign for the utmost resistance to the Tory government’s war on trade unions and the right to strike.
  • I will strongly support the democratic right of Labour Party members to select candidates of their choice to represent Labour at elections.
  • I will fight against racism in all its forms and campaign without fear or favour against oppression and colonialism wherever it raises its head.

Please vote for me in solidarity with these objectives.