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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