Scottish Daily Mail

Labour anti-Semitism probes could be axed as far-Left take con­trol

- By John Stevens Deputy Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

HARD-LEFT ac­tivists last night de­manded Labour halt all ac­tion against mem­bers ac­cused of anti-Semitism and racism as the party’s dis­ci­pline chief was ousted in a coup.

Just hours af­ter sup­port­ers of Jeremy Cor­byn seized con­trol of the party’s rul­ing body, they re­moved Ann Black as chair­man of Labour’s dis­putes panel.

It de­cides whether to probe ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ism, racism, ho­mo­pho­bia and anti-Semitism against mem­bers.

She was re­placed by Chris­tine Shawcroft, a veteran Left-winger who was sus­pended from the party her­self for sup­port­ing dis­graced for­mer Tower Ham­lets mayor Lut­fur Rah­man.

The pro-Cor­byn Mo­men­tum group tight­ened its grip on the party on Mon­day when founder Jon Lans­man and two al­lies swept the board in elec­tions for Labour’s rul­ing body.

The vic­to­ries mean Cor­byn loy­al­ists have a clear ma­jor­ity on the Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee for the first time, giv­ing them power to set the di­rec­tion of the party and paving the way for re­forms that could in­clude a purge of mod­er­ate MPs.

A group of hard­line ac­tivists call­ing them­selves ‘Labour Against the Witch Hunt’ yes­ter­day de­manded the suspension of dis­ci­plinary ac­tion against any mem­bers ac­cused of racism and anti-Semitism. They said: ‘There will now be a so­cial­ist ma­jor­ity on the NEC. From now on there is no longer an ex­cuse for the witch hunt of so­cial­ists.’

Their let­ter – ob­tained by the Daily Mail – is signed by Jackie Walker, who was re­moved as Mo­men­tum vice chair­man fol­low­ing a row over anti-Semitism, and Tony Green­stein, who faces dis­ci­plinary ac­tion af­ter writ­ing on­line that Margaret Thatcher was an ‘ob­vi­ously le­git­i­mate’ tar­get for the IRA. At a Mo­men­tum con­fer­ence in Septem­ber 2016, Mrs Walker ar­gued that the prob­lem of anti-Semitism in the party had been de­lib­er­ately ‘ex­ag­ger­ated for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses’.

She was pre­vi­ously sus­pended for de­scrib­ing Jewish peo­ple as ‘fi­nanciers of the sugar and slave trade’, but was re­in­stated. The pair also raised the case of Marc Wadsworth, who caused out­rage at the launch of a Labour re­port on anti-Semitism, af­ter he ac­cused Labour MP Ruth Smeeth of work­ing ‘hand in hand’ with right-wing me­dia to dam­age Mr Cor­byn. Miss Smeeth, who is Jewish, fled the event in tears. Labour mod­er­ates yes­ter­day voiced un­ease at how Miss Black had been re­moved from her post within hours of the NEC elec­tions.

Young Labour NEC representa­tive Jas­min Beck­ett said she was ‘dis­gusted’ by her oust­ing.

And Richard An­gell, direc­tor of the mod­er­ate cam­paign group Progress, ac­cused Mo­men­tum of ‘con­tempt for due process and party democ­racy’.

Miss Shawcroft, a direc­tor of Mo­men­tum, was sus­pended from the party in 2015 for pub­licly sup­port­ing Mr Rah­man both be­fore and af­ter he was found guilty of elec­toral fraud.

In Fe­bru­ary 2016, she drew ridicule when she claimed Bri­tain should deal with Is­lamic State ter­ror­ists in Syria over cups of tea, rather than re­sort­ing to air strikes. Some Labour MPs fear that Cor­byn loy­al­ists could use their in­creased power to start a purge of mod­er­ates.

Cor­byn ally and for­mer jour­nal­ist Paul Ma­son yes­ter­day told BBC Ra­dio 4’s To­day pro­gramme: ‘Just like when we go to the cof­fee shop and get to choose be­tween latte, cap­puc­cino and tea, I want once in ev­ery five years to have it hanging over ev­ery law­maker that they could be de­s­e­lected if they don’t do their job prop­erly.’

An MP ab­sent from Par­lia­ment on health grounds af­ter be­ing sus­pended by Labour faces calls to re­sign or ex­plain how he rep­re­sents con­stituents. Jared O’Mara, 36, who has cere­bral palsy, has not voted in the Com­mons, nor held surg­eries in his Sheffield Hal­lam con­stituency since apol­o­gis­ing in Oc­to­ber for misog­y­nis­tic web posts he made as a young man.

‘Con­tempt for party democ­racy’

 ??  ?? Ousted: Ann Black was re­placed as head of the dis­putes panel by Chris­tine Shawcroft
Ousted: Ann Black was re­placed as head of the dis­putes panel by Chris­tine Shawcroft
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