Hard-left at­tempt to hi­jack com­mit­tees

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY LEE HARPIN

A FU­RI­OUS row has erupted ahead of a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing to de­cide whether Ken Liv­ing­stone should be ex­pelled from the Labour Party for an­ti­semitism.

Se­nior hard-left fig­ures have been ac­cused of at­tempt­ing to in­flu­ence Labour’s high­est dis­ci­plinary body ahead of a ses­sion ex­pected to de­cide the for­mer Mayor of Lon­don’s fate later this month.

Mr Liv­ing­stone has al­ready been served pa­pers af­ter an in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­ducted by the party’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) show­ing Labour be­lieves he has a case to an­swer over com­ments in­clud­ing his claim that Adolf Hitler sup­ported Zion­ism.

He will now ap­pear be­fore the na­tional con­sti­tu­tional com­mit­tee (NCC) and at­tempt to de­fend him­self against pos­si­ble ex­pul­sion.

But at a Labour NEC meet­ing on Tuesday, con­cerns were raised about pos­si­ble at­tempts to lobby the NCC to adopt a con­cil­ia­tory tone over the high-pro­file case.

There is no sug­ges­tion Mr Liv­ing­stone was aware of the lob­by­ing on his be­half — but mod­er­ate NEC mem­bers were said to be “fum­ing” af­ter a GMB union rep­re­sen­ta­tive at­tacked a Mo­men­tum-aligned fel­low NEC mem­ber for try­ing to in­flu­ence the NCC ahead of the hear­ing.

Mr Liv­ing­stone was sus­pended from the Labour Party over the Hitler remarks fol­low­ing a fe­ro­cious ar­gu­ment with Labour MP John Mann last April.

A Labour in­sider told the JC: “The idea that an at­tempt by some mem­bers of the hard-left has been made to in­flu­ence the NCC has in­fu­ri­ated peo­ple.

“Th­ese are the same voices who shout loud­est about en­forc­ing their ver­sion of democ­racy within the party. “Mr Liv­ing­stone still re­mains some­thing of a cult fig­ure among some fringe Labour mem­bers. It seems as though some are will­ing to try any­thing to stop him from be­ing ex­pelled.

“The mem­ber­ship of the NCC panel in Ken’s case has yet to be fi­nalised. It’s a semi-judicial process so this kind of thing is li­able to back­fire badly.”

In a re­cent ar­ti­cle on the Left Fu­tures web­site dis­cussing forth­com­ing NCC elec­tions, it was stated: “It is of huge im­por­tance to the left in the party that we gain con­trol of th­ese bod­ies, which con­trol the con­fer­ence agenda and dis­ci­plinary pro­ce­dures, re­spec­tively.”

On Tuesday, Labour’s NEC re­ferred the case of for­mer Mo­men­tum vicechair Jackie Walker to the NCC for pos­si­ble ex­pul­sion over com­ments she made about Holo­caust Memo­rial Day.

Also re­ferred to the dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee were Marc Wadsworth, a party ac­tivist who, at the launch of a re­port into Labour and an­ti­semitism, chal­lenged Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth claim­ing she was work­ing “hand-in­hand” with the Daily Tele­graph.

Mr Wadsworth said he had not known Ms Smeeth was Jewish and had not in­tended to of­fend her at the event.

Labour had sus­pended Ms Walker in Ken Liv­ing­stone Septem­ber af­ter she ques­tioned why Holo­caust Memo­rial Day did not recog­nise other geno­cides, even though the day is set up to com­mem­o­rate other atroc­i­ties, in­clud­ing those in Rwanda and Bos­nia.

Af­ter the video of her com­ments at a Labour con­fer­ence train­ing event ap­peared in the me­dia, Ms Walker said who­ever leaked the footage “had ma­li­cious in­tent”, and that she was an­tiZion­ist, not an­ti­semitic.

The ac­tivist had pre­vi­ously been sus­pended from the party af­ter she wrote on Face­book that many Jewish peo­ple had been “fi­nanciers of the sugar and slave trade”. She was later re­in­stated.

Jeremy Newmark, Jewish Labour Move­ment chair, said: “Th­ese re­ported de­ci­sions ap­pear to be a step in the right di­rec­tion and could be a crit­i­cal move to­wards the party be­gin­ning to turn a cor­ner on this is­sue. How­ever there is still a long way to go. Marc Wadsworth

“Some of the cases re­ferred to the NCC to­day date back over a year and should have been con­cluded a long time ago. Other cases pre­vi­ously re­ferred by the NEC re­main un­heard by the NCC for many months.

“Mean­while key promised changes to party rules and pro­cesses and the im­ple­men­ta­tion of many of the rec­om­men­da­tions from the Royall and Chakrabarti re­ports re­main ‘un­der dis­cus­sion’.

“The rhetoric of ‘zero tol­er­ance’ needs to be matched with swift, firm and de­ci­sive ac­tion against an­ti­semitism.”


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