Jo Bird and Mo Azam must be immediately reinstated!

At the time of her suspension, Jo was the leading candidate running for an NEC CLP seat with 63 CLP nominations (as we publish this, she has 84 nominations). Jo’s candidacy was already endorsed by the Labour Left Alliance, Jewish Voice for Labour and the Labour Representation Committee. These facts make the timing of Jo Bird’s suspension suspicious, therefore we can only conclude that Jo Bird’s suspension is the latest in a long list of hostile and deliberate moves by some in the party to obstruct socialists from running for office and thus undermine members’ wishes and Party democracy. No less suspicious is the timing of the suspension of veteran party and anti-racism activist, Mohammed Azam. At the time of his suspension Mohammed had won 23 CLP nominations and the endorsement of the Left-Wing Campaign for Party Democracy and the Labour Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

The LLA urges Labour Party members to keep nominating Jo at their CLP nomination meetings to demonstrate solidarity and determination to assert member’s democratic rights. If CLP chairs obstruct nominations for Jo Bird, members are advised to challenge the ruling of the chair and if that fails to call an emergency AMM/GC as soon as possible to debate and move to condemn threats to the Party’s democracy from systematic misuse of our disciplinary processes to secure partisan advantage in internal elections.  

The LLA also urges Labour Party members to write to Jennie Formby to demand the restoration of the integrity of the NEC by-election process with Jo Bird’s and Mohammed Azam’s immediate reinstatement. 

Jo Bird is popular with the membership for her principled stands. Many of us at LLA have known Jo for a long time and have campaigned with her. Jo is open about and proud of her Jewish heritage. Jo has been a lifelong, active opponent of any form of racism, including anti-Semitism. Other prominent anti-racism and socialist activists like Jeremy Corbyn, Chris Williamson, Jackie Walker and many others too numerous to mention, like Jo, have all been singled out for targeted harassment and weaponised charges of anti-Semitism to drive them out of the Labour party and/or office.  

The LLA condemns such attacks and attempts to obstruct left-wing members from standing for office in the party, as tyranny by some in the Labour party. The LLA supports Jo Bird’s candidacy for the NEC CLP seat, she is a principled, respected and popular left-wing candidate, hence she held the lead for CLP nominations on the candidate list at the time of her suspension. On behalf of Labour members, the LLA demands that if Jo Bird and Mohammed Azam are not immediately reinstated, that Jennie Formby’s office suspends the nomination & election process until an urgent investigation into the veracity of the source and cause of Jo Birds and Mohammed Azam’s suspensions and its findings are reported back to the membership.

We also call upon all other NEC candidates to express their support for a fair election. 

Model motion: Suspension of two NEC candidates

This CLP calls upon General Secretary, Jennie Formby, to immediately suspend the nominations process for CLP NEC representatives, until the investigations into the two suspended candidates has been concluded. We also submit that all nominations submitted, should stand, until the conclusion of the investigation.

We further call on the Gen Sec to ensure that the investigation is expedited, whilst ensuring due process is maintained for the accused, and that nominations submitted should be honoured, should the accused be exonerated.
This CLP is deeply concerned that should the process proceed, without the two leading candidates, at the time of suspension, it could:

  • Bring into disrepute the election process; and
  • Question the legitimacy of any subsequently elected candidate, who will be seen to have unjustly benefitted from the two suspensions, especially should those suspended be later exonerated.

We also ask that, once the investigation has concluded, the Gen Sec should investigate the wider problem of politicised complaints against members, who are merely exercising the right to legitimate free speech and political commentary.

We believe that complaints, originating from groups external to Labour, should be treated with care and not lead to the automatic suspension of accused members, as this can then be used to undermine the Party by hostile media.

Some letters to Jennie Formby

Subject: Suspension of Jo and Mo

Dear Jennie,

I am writing to you as an extremely concerned Party member and Councillor to express my astonishment that our Party process has allowed for, in my view, two of the most caring, courageous and democratic candidates to have been suspended from the party without any explanation or postponement of the NEC CLP nomination proceedings.

This is more worrying as it is in the middle of the nomination process for one of the most fundamental committees at the top of our Party’s structure. We must get the elected representatives on this committee right so that the membership feel fulfilled.

For this to happen as it is unfolding in our own Party raises serious concerns about our own ability to provide social justice, democracy and fairness in line with the values that I promote every single day for the Labour Party. Those same values are the values that Jeremy Corbyn possesses that enabled me to join the Labour Party in 2015.

I have personally seen the work that both Jo Bird and Mo Azam do as Councillors and the work they achieve trying to improve democracy for CLPD. They are assets that have been smeared, attacked and undermined from all aspects of our Party.

As a member who has already voted for Jo Bird and Mo Azam, I feel demoralised and it is causing me to question whether I am actually in a Party that truly cares about fairness and justice.

I would ask for:

• more transparency
• the investigation to be dealt with within 7 days.
• To re-run or postpone the election.

Solidarity always,

Councillor Sam Gorst
Cressington Ward

Kind Regards,

Councillor Sam Gorst
Labour Councillor for Cressington Ward
Assistant Cabinet Member for Housing

The Executive of Liverpool Walton CLP has sent this letter to Labour General Secretary Jennie Formby regarding the suspensions of NEC candidates Mohammed Azam and Jo Bird:

Dear Jennie,

I am writing on behalf of our members to express our concern at the news that two of the leading candidates for the posts of CLP representatives, Jo Bird and Mohammed Azam, have been suspended from the party.

For this to occur in the middle of the nomination process raises serious concerns about democracy. Members have received no explanation why Bird and Azam have been suspended and have had their choice of candidate abruptly narrowed. Members who have already voted for these candidates will feel disenfranchised.

We feel that the disciplinary process should be transparent and that the NEC elections should be re-run.

We would appreciate an early response.

In solidarity,
Alan Gibbons
Liverpool Walton CLP

Dear Jenny Formby

I am writing to you in your capacity as general secretary of the Labour party in relation to the suspension of Jo Bird and Mo Azam.

As you will be aware both are/were, front runners in the NEC bye elections.

As you will also be aware the suspension of these two candidates debars them from standing in the election.

This is not the first time that candidates for internal elections or potential candidates for election to public office, have been subject to allegations that have led to suspension, that in turn has prevented the accused from standing for the position.

It is a system that is open to blatent abuse and leads to a situation where a sanction is effectively imposed, before anything is proven. This is done without those who the allegation has been made about, having had the opportunity to defend themselves or challenge the accusations that have been made.

This surely goes against due process and natural justice. That in turn surely brings our party, that is based on the trade unions, into disrepute.

Such action should be reserved for the most extreme cases, where very genuine concerns exist.

The frequent use of this tactic to secure political gain through organisational manoeuvres is what is really bringing the Labour party into disrepute.

In addition it must be pointed out that this cynical manipulation of the rules, potentially denying due process and natural justice in the eyes of the law, makes the party vulnerable to a legal challenge.

Only recently the party was hit with legal costs, when it lost a case over the treatment of Chris Williamson.

I am aware that there are other legal cases ongoing where party members and ex party members, claim they have been the victims of bogus allegations.

We do not pay our subscriptions as members of the Labour party or trade unionists to see our money squandered in this way.

I appeal to you to ensure that Jo Bird is immediately reinstated and allowed to stand in the NEC bye election.

Yours Fraternally

Dear Ms Formby

Membership Number: L….
Submission to Compliance Unit

I should like to refer myself to your Compliance Unit, for ‘antisemitism’ for the reasons I detail below. Firstly, however, I should like to share with you a little bit of background about myself.

I gave up on politics a long time ago; because I believed all politicians to be corrupt and self-serving and those who were not would never have a chance within the structures that exist to effect any really change. Then Jeremy Corbyn, a man with a 40yr record of standing up for the most vulnerable in our society, both nationally and internationally came along. When he was elected as leader, this gave me a reason to hope, a spark was lit that made me begin to imagine that there was an awakening and that perhaps the movement that was being built could start paving the road to a fairer and kinder society. This hope led me to join, for the first time in my life, a political party, Labour. I campaigned hard, spoke for the first time to people about the need for them to vote, told them that for the first time in our generation we had the chance to vote for real change, a real alternative neoliberalism that is decimating our communities and planet.

Then the antisemitism accusations started. Now as an antiracist, with one of the first books I remember choosing to read as a child being ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’, I was appalled and frustrated that there would be people holding such views within the party I belonged to, views that we know from history led to centuries of persecution and ultimately to an attempt to annihilate a people. After calming down I reflected upon it, as a pragmatist, I realised that any party would have members that unfortunately held the similar broad range of views that society does and this includes at times racist and bigoted views. I was relieved, however, when the investigation was undertaken and the figure was proven to be 0.08%, it needed to be dealt with, but made me feel confident that, as I would expect from a ‘socialist’ party, that this was a minority view and a very small minority at that. I was disappointed; however, that there appeared to have been no investigations into other forms of racism.

The situation didn’t end there, however, the accusations continued, we were apparently now suffering a ‘crisis’ and then we started seeing more and more people being suspended, but now it was different, members were being suspended for ill-informed and clumsy posts, indeed I have had to go on my own journey of understanding antisemitic tropes, given I knew very little about Jewish history outside of the basics of the Holocaust and what my first boyfriend, who is Jewish, told me. Others though, were being suspended for reasons that do not hold out under any reasonable scrutiny and the meaning of antisemitism began to change so it no longer appeared to be about protecting Jews, but rather protecting those and only those who adhere to a political ideology. A political ideology that in practice is used to dispossess, oppress and subject the Palestinian people to an apartheid system. These people included proven veteran antiracists, people of colour, lifetime socialists. Meanwhile, others, high profile individuals within the party who threatened members, who smeared our twice democratically elected leader, got a free pass to undermine our party, to weaken the movement and helped the re-election of what is clearly a far-right government that threatens to take our country into neofascism.

So now, I will set out the reasons as to why I should be referred to the compliance unit for antisemitism, according to your policies, according to the IHRA definition of antisemitism, a definition that even its creator, Kenneth Stern, said was not to be used in this way and is being abused by right wing Jews. Also, because I am and promise to continue to, violate the ‘pledges’ that the far-right supporting, Conservative voting Board of Deputies has demanded that all potential leadership candidates sign up to. Pledges, which of course they have promised to uphold, because when it comes down to it, politicians who are truly ambitious, as I had always expected, even if they were originally motivated by the desire to help and perhaps have convinced themselves they still do, lack integrity, they are self-serving and will water down their values for expediency, even if it means selling out their comrades, especially those with a limited platform.

So firstly, I would just like to highlight that I served as a Human Rights Monitor for 3 months in Hebron, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and that experience and everything I witnessed there taught me something. Although, I can acknowledge the centuries of persecution of the Jewish people and why this would lead some to feel that the only way they could ever feel safe was to have a Jewish state and thus the political ideology of Zionism was conceived; I also have to acknowledge that whatever its original aims, it in practice means perpetual ethnic cleansing, incremental genocide and the attempted erasure of the culture, history and identity of the Palestinian people. Zionism is an ideology adopted by the far-right, Trump supporting, Christian Evangelical movement, by individuals such as Richard Spencer, Tommy Robinson, Katie Hopkins and others. Zionism is a political ideology rooted in ethnic supremacy, despite what groups have tried to state, it is not inherent to Jewish identity and you would know that if you were actually listening and interested in keeping Jews safe and making them feel welcome. A significant number of Jews have categorically stated that it is not a necessary part of their identity, more than that, there are others who have explicitly declared that it is an affront to Judaism and yet you ignore them, more than that, you silence and enable the smears against them.

So let me state this, unequivocally, so that you are not confused about the viewpoint I hold: Israel is a racist, apartheid endeavour and was from its very inception, we know this because it was built on the destroyed villages and broken bodies of Palestinians. International law is on my side and so I do not fear, nor quake as I write these words.

I will continue to support and would share platforms, if ever I have the privilege to do so, with Jackie Walker, a black Jew, with Chris Williamson, who answered a question put to him by the audience that had many Jews who supported him in it, with Marc Wadsworth, with any and every Jew in the Jewish group, Jewish Voice for Labour and with Asa Winstanley and I am and would be proud to do so!

So there you have it and know this, I will not take part in a witch trial, which would even offend the accusers in The Crucible, you should cease with the charade of a ‘trial’ and rather just invite the accused to a body of water.

These are my final thoughts:

When you allow left-wing, non-Zionist or anti-Zionist Jews to be targeted, threatened and smeared and then suspended and expelled for stating proven truths, then it is YOU that is antisemitic.

When you expel veteran antiracists of colour for exposing racism and capitulate to far-right supporting, apologists for racist settler colonialism, then it is YOU that is racist.

When you allow the disgraceful undermining of our party, its members and its hope of winning an election, by neoliberals and/or apartheid apologists who label our leader, a man of honour, as a “f*cking anti-Semite” & target our BAME representatives to continue and these individuals to remain in OUR party, it is YOU who bring our party into disrepute.

When you allow the destruction of a desperately needed progressive, true democratic socialist movement, as we face neofascism; when you make an oath to adopt pledges that are rooted in racist, anti-Palestinian ideology, including pledges that are arguably illegal than YOU are neither progressive, nor socialist, more than that, when you suspend at this time, during elections for the NEC, popular, upstanding, inspiring and proven socialists, such as Jo Bird, not coincidentally I am sure, a non-Zionist Jew, than you are not only undemocratic, but rather exhibiting fascist like tendencies yourselves.

So by all means label me, label us, just as other shameful instigators and enablers of other historical purges have done similar before you. Your labels have no meaning because they do not come from a place of honour, nor truth. Our stances are rooted in international humanitarian law and if we, as the human race get through this dark period and the commencing catastrophe of climate destruction, then it will be US that is vindicated and history will record YOUR shame, each and every one of you that sold not just the Palestinians out, but left-wing Jews, antiracists, true socialists and people of conscience.

I will continue to stand proud as I call out racist Israeli apartheid and the political ideology that enables it, Zionism and recognise that I chose to keep my integrity, the question is will you?

I will conclude my letter to be submitted as evidence of my ‘antisemitism’ to the Compliance Unit with the words of Martin Luther King Jr. that I have etched in my memory:

‘in the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends’.