Migrant rights – we have to build a campaign now

I really learnt things today in conversations with European migrants whilst talking politics. Two with Labour comrades and friends, the other with an elector met on our Labour Party’s stall.

I say ‘met’ with the elector. It was mainly me pursuing her to be honest. I just had to give an answer to her initial quite angry comment as she passed our stall. She said ‘I could never vote Labour again after what Corbyn did with Article 50’. She was a very intelligent and political European, but with British citizenship and strong connections with other EU migrants in the area.

After I almost chased her down the street, we managed to have a very useful debate. Me – agreeing with her in part. I too was against Corbyn’s line on Article 50. It sent the wrong message, especially to people like her. It indicated that Labour would unconditionally accept a Tory Brexit. 

But I pointed out to her Labour had made a manifesto pledge to protect EU migrants currently here.  I also pointed out that there were those in the Party still fighting for free movement. For the future of families wanting to be reunited; for those who wanted to expand their horizons and opportunities; and in a growingly divided Europe to encourage an internationalist identity against growing and mutually hostile national ones.

I tried to explain to her the pressures that Corbyn was responding to. From the right of the Party as well as, unfortunately, the left. Those who believed, rightly, that we had to seriously engage with most working class Brexitters. But after the UKIP and BREXIT shock, they had been panicked into believing that concessions had to be made to nationalist beliefs e.g. that ‘British people had to be looked after first’. As if one human life was worth more than another.

My newly-made European friend told me about the racism that she and friends were suffering from. Her and her friends refraining from phoning home and using their own language from fear of the hostility they encountered from people around them. She told me of the distress of her friends from elsewhere who were now facing abrupt demands to leave the country – I don’t think these were citizens of an EU state but just outside. She was obvious concerns that all possible government parties might allow that to continue.

I listened, I learnt but I think I managed to persuade her that a vote for Labour was the best way for her and her friends future.

I then went to meet a friend and comrade from the Czech Republic. The story he told me was fascinating. Working in a local factory. Trying to get his union, affiliated to the Labour Party, to campaign for Remain in the referendum – just by putting a poster up in the notice board. That was refused. 

Then he told me about the change of atmosphere in the factory after the referendum. People openly implying around him that those like him were soon ‘going’. Some looking at him with hostile eyes. I imagine/ hope these were just a minority of racists – but they feel that they are in the ascendancy. He certainly felt they were widespread.

He has been here FOR OVER TEN YEARS!

In the pub, my Czech comrade and my Portuguese friend, here for about 20 years, spoke about their forthcoming battle to try and get British citizenship. The £1,000 fee – ‘the test’. 

In the test now they have to know all the dates – the date of the Magna Carta, the siege of this the battle of that. If they fail, they lose the money and possibly the right to stay here.

We obviously need to politically relate to those politically disengaged working class Brexitters. We need to explain to them the importance of working class unity of all nationalities. But don’t let us forget our responsibility to confront the growing xenophobia and stand by our European sisters and brothers.

We may and should have BME officers and campaigns. But xenophobia is wider and we are not yet organised well to defeat it.

Unite’s campaign at SportsDirect and others such as the 3 COSAS of largely migrant workers in London are indicators of what should be done. But as well we urgently need a political campaign for migrant rights.

Let’s make this election campaign the starting point.

Labour should fight nationalism – and vote against Article 50

As expected the Supreme Court on Tuesday demanded that Parliament take the decision on how Article 50 is triggered. Today (26th Jan) we will hear how the government intend to carry that out. Now the debate will intensify in the Labour Party about what it does.

To start with, we should recognise the weakness of the Tory revolt against Brexit. Article 50 will almost inevitably be triggered on Theresa May’s terms. Even Anna Soubry has confirmed she will vote for it. Poor old Ken Clarke looks to be completely on his own on the Tory benches. The Tory parliamentary majority will hold. That will make inevitable a rapid 2 year exit from the EU.

So, even though it won’t save Britain’s membership of the EU, should Labour still vote against the triggering of Article 50 when May brings it to the Commons in the next few weeks?

I believe they should. The issue is not whether Britain can be kept in the EU – Tory unity will make sure that can’t happen. But what is at issue is how the Labour Party indicates it will act in the course of the Brexit process.

While an assured Tory majority for Article 50 is inevitable, the main reason to vote against  is to make clear that we oppose what May will inevitably include in her Brexit package.

Why vote against?

A vote for Article 50 would strengthen the impression that May has wanted to portray, that 52% of the people voted not only for Brexit – but for ANY Brexit – UNCONDITIONALLY.

In other words it could concede that the result of the referendum justifies 1) accepting immigration controls and 2) pulling out of the terms of European regulations that protect the environment, workers rights, women and part-time workers rights, whipping up national hostilities through trading conflicts etc etc.

There is all sort of talk about Labour amendments to whatever Bill the government brings forward today. It is unclear exactly what tactics will be adopted on either the government or the Labour front bench. Continue reading

The Essence of Democracy

Guest post from my comrade Dora Polenta. The title is my own but summarises what I consider to be the considerable force of her argument

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I find the concept of a “virtual conference” lifeless and unimaginative; as if we are surrendering ourselves to the fragmentary nature, isolation, atomisation and alienation imposed to us by this capitalist system. It feels like we are giving up on the collective memory and history of our struggles as has been imprinted to our structures and surrendering to the placebo hyper-reality of a house virtual socialism; searching for Pokemons…I find the concept of a virtual conference circumscribed, rigid, top down and inflexible as there is a very restricted repertoire of interactions and interventions, mode of communications imposed by the “media being the message” social media and platforms creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived. 
I do not want a conference of emoji’s, smiley faces, angry red faces and thumps up. I want a rowdy conference of human beings, representatives of collectives, with all their concreteness physicality and materiality. A conference of jeering, booing, cheering, occasionally swearing and ultimately comradery and collectively building breaking and re building in an open ended way our collective identity…

I want a conference of human beings, with all of our gloriously and infuriatingly different perspectives, dispositions, talents, personalities and madnessess navigating together and sketching our journey within the borders of the neighbourhood of sense. A conference of all of us that see politics not as a technique and scope of manoeuvre of what is “feasible|” within the suffocating straight jacket of their normality, but view politics as an art in itself and of itself, as the ability to make the impossible possible, the possible inevitable and the inevitable inescapable concrete reality. The socialist revolution is not timely is ever present: in the possibility of widespread destabilization, breakage of regularity, the emergence of the imagination and creativity of the collective doing.

I would not like to add anything on assessing the 3rd of December Momentum NC meeting. Other comrades, Momentum National Committee members and Marxian organised collectives have already done that from a first/third person perspective coherently and concisely. I would like to cast some random incoherent, unfocused and raw thoughts. At some points/sentences, I will be using borrowed words and quotations as my mouth is currently dry and some of my thoughts (the most persistent ones) are still resting on the realm of non-verbalised experience…

Maybe, it is my instinctive reaction and immunity against the atomisation of OMOV “horizontal e-democracy”; from participating and being a partaker within organisations that operate under the “wooden” “luddite” parochial “pre-internet revolution” democratic centralism. You see some very “educated” journalists like Paul Mason and Owen Jones would have us believed that if Lenin was borne within the context of Facebook, Twitter, OER, www, virtual reality, augmented reality, hyper-reality etc. democratic centralism, revolutionary parties etc. would not be part of our lexicons and ammunitions of struggle; we would all be enjoying our socialist virtual reality from the comfort of our own home fooling the senses and fooling the mind…

I feel fully represented by the contributions and analysis of my AWL comrades. I believe in communities, collectives, extended identities and not in the Thatcherite conception/dystopia of a country of fragmented atomised individuals …I am going to defend the delegate based under mandates and accountable to our local and regional Momentum groups ‘real-face to face’ physical and concrete conference (against Foucault’s heterotopia of a virtual conference) first of all by detaching myself from a Marxian analysis and references. By using the concept of organic unity. Or as a Greek the Aristotle quote ‘“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Just think of any great rock group-the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Spice girls, take your pick, and even as good the members of those bands maybe something special was created when they recorded and performed together. The four lads from Liverpool certainly created some fantastic music on their own after their band broke up, but few would say any of it compares to the collective output. 

The same happens when we are partakers within an organised Marxian collective/ within our local union/ within our community; when we are partakers of the active/ live/ dialectic movement that daily negates the existing order striving for human emancipation. I am not talking here about enlightened vanguards (although I am humbled to refer to most of the AWL members as my comrades as they enlighten all the shadows of my existence)…I am talking about being part of this “critical mass” of people, being fully aware that “Without a guiding organisation, the energy of the masses would dissipate like steam not enclosed in a piston box. But nevertheless, what moves things is not the piston or the box but the steam”.

Every time we are having a paper sale, every time we are having a 5 person meeting in the backroom of a noisy, not anymore smoky but staled by the smell of alcohol pub, something magic happens….This magic exceeds and supersedes its parts…crosses the boundaries between “Is” and “Not Is” creates a collective “We” and enrichens our “Is “ ..

I am appealing to the “mystified and fascinated” by the e-democracy Momentum comrades to the “carriers” of the supposedly New (against the Old) not to discard the history of our red thread of struggles as embedded in our democratic structures and formations… 

I am not appealing to the two new self-appointed narcissistic ideological leaders of Momentum, who admittedly have not attended the NC Meeting and one of them has not attended any Momentum meeting: Paul Mason and Owen Jones. These two journalists (who unjustifiably so have enjoyed numerous standing ovations and shared platforms with the “irrelevant dinosaurs of the Trotskyist hard left”) have unleashed an unpreceded attack and sometimes personal slander against comrades from the revolutionary Left utilising “Red Scare” stereotypes that even Tom Watson would have been proud of…From Jon Lansman’s “Trotskyists are not running the party in Momentum” and his axiomatic “Momentum has proven Trotskyists to be an historical irrelevance” we have now the Owen Jones mantra about “real” Trotskyists (not virtual reality ones) attempting to take over Momentum and control it for their own malign “sectarian” aims. 

They have both become the defenders of the “younger, idealistic, campaign-oriented” “movementists” against the crusty old sectarians.

Most interestingly they conduct their “debate”, not through the digital platform and e-democracy portal of Momentum, not in the space of virtual reality but in the “real” space of mainstream media (liberal or not) and publications. They are the defenders of the horizontal structure of a social (quasi virtual) movement of OMOV against the “bureaucratic-factionalism” and “top-down structures of the hard left that alienates the younger Momentum members”…However there is not a hint of horizontal, participatory, inclusive, equalitarian, direct democracy in the “Red Intellectual semi celebrity” approach that they are conducting the debate…

I must admit that I have read a lot of quasi scientific social engineering human geography analysis on the electoral results on political believes etc etc I have recently comatose myself on the “BREXIT analysis” and I must have read a surplus of newspapers supplements…but nothing compares, in terms of being binary, rigid, stereotypical and therefore idiotic, to the exploratory tool of the NC Momentum meeting as a struggle of the “old (of age bitter and Machiavellian hard left Trotskyist zombies of the fourth international) against the new young enthusiastic direct action Momentum activist … 

Finally, on the red herring dichotomy between horizontal and vertical structures on the dichotomy between direct participatory inclusive movementism democracy and bureaucratic factionalism exclusive takeover of Monentum for their own purposes by the hard left; forgive me if I am wrong but I have not experienced the celebration of direct democracy and being partaker in the decision making structures so far; if I have to visualise my experience of the stream of emails on campaigning and other info from the National Momentum headquarters and from the Momentum regional meetings, I would definitely draw a vertical line with no points of accountability mandates and delegation but of a collection of self-appointed leaders that are exercising politics as a perverse of the few (albeit Leftist few) behind closed doors….

I am going to sum up using partly borrowed words:

On one side is Jon Lansman and others who are pushing for an organisation and national conference build upon internet-based “direct democracy”; advocating an internet-based, “horizontal” method of organisation, in favour of “clicktavim” and social media bypassing the structures and living memory of the working class movement. On the other are a range of activists – young and old – advocating the best democratic traditions of the labour movement: face-to-face discussion at meetings, with elected delegates accountable to local groups.

Those of us advocating a delegate-based conference, with motions submitted from local branches, affiliates, and liberation groups, and elected delegates discussing and voting on all motions.

Jon Lansman e-democracy vision of a conference, what is actually being proposed by Jon Lansman is a “conference” entirely ran by MxV (Momentum’s “digital democracy platform). This bypasses every existing structure of Momentum. Under these proposals, local and regional groups will have effectively zero say in how Momentum functions. It represents an attempt to position Momentum as a top-down body, nominally guided by all-member ballots on predetermined or safely incidental questions. Momentum should be a true grassroots movement, and a “conference” along the proposed lines would represent the end of that movement, or at least create a solid wall blocking it off from any national representation. 

In pretending to oppose the “take over” of Momentum by “sectarians”, what these various leading figures are actually doing is supporting the defence of the control of the agenda by those who already have a prominent voice. People like Owen Jones and Jon Lansman, due to their status within the Labour movement, are able to put their ideas to a vast audience. And when people do not meet others in face-to-face democratic meetings, they become atomised and can be more easily influenced solely by these individuals, whose politics are those of timidity and compromise.

At root, this is not a struggle between “movementists” and “sectarians”, but one between those who wish for Momentum to be merely a “social movement” that carries out sporadic activism and campaigning, and those who want Momentum to be an organisation that has as its primary goal the transformation of the Labour Party into a mass political movement that fights for the working class.

Rather than rendering its membership nothing more than passive “clicktivists”, Momentum should be organising activists; educating and training members to become leaders in the Labour movement and in the fight for bold socialist ideas.

Revolutionary socialists must indeed be in the labour movement on pain of sterility. They must also on pain of a different sort of sterility be autonomous — retaining the will and the ability to promote workers’ and young people’s struggles which take place outside of, and outside the tempo of, the existing labour movement. Serious socialists do not, like the sectarians, try to “build the party” irrespective of and wilfully apart from the labour movement and the working class, but, equally, we do not sink the revolutionary group into the rhythms and norms of a labour movement which is not revolutionary and which involves only a minority of the working class. That is as much a recipe for suicide as the antics of the sectarians — by an overdose of sleeping pills rather than an excess of ‘acid’, or some other sectarian hallucinogenic.

As for our party structures… the Workers’ Party USA of the ‘40s, rejecting JP Cannon’s idea of a semi-monolithic party, presents us with one of the best models of how the Marxists should organise — the way in fact that Lenin’s party organised. Of course, the majority at a given moment has to set the politics and the organisational goals of the organisation, and democratically elected officials have to be given authority to direct work day-to-day. Within that framework, without which the organisation would be nothing but a talking shop, there has to be full democratic freedom of opinion and freedom to express that opinion.

Socialists must be: the representatives of the movement’s future, active in the here and now to carve out that future. James Connolly said it well: “The only true prophets are those who carve out the future they announce”.

Amplifying the creative activity of Marxists as an organised force in the future evolution of the mass labour movement…

Where will America be at the end of Election Day?

What you say to anyone wanting to do something in the US?

In a nutshell:

1. Your country may be heading for disaster. A Trump presidency will open up a period of state-sponsored reaction. Racism, attacks on the press and democratic rights to organise and free expression.

2. A Clinton presidency may delay some aspects of that but she will continue the alienation of so many of the poor who are now seen cheering the demagogue Trump.

3. Whoever wins America urgently needs a radical working class party! 

4. In your union, in political campaigns, amongst those who mobilised for Sanders, in local radical Facebook groups; call for them to start talking with other similar groups about how you take that forward.

5. Regardless of the result of the presidential election – you will face a government under whom poverty will continue to grow and the running of society will remain in the hands of big corporations – there will be no change there.

6. In a fascinating video interview, the ghostwriter of Trump’s autobiography, reveals him as a man incapable of honesty, shame, consistency or even sustained attention. A man prepared to say virtually anything to increase his influence.

7. What the hell would a man like that do with the extraordinary power of a US President?

I would give an 80% likelihood of Trump’s election bringing about a catastrophic breakdown of the internal cohesion of the Republican Party. Like Brexit, a Trump victory will not be welcomed by business. For them, it is not necessary. It is not profitable. It may wreck the delicate foreign alliances that are of such importance to the big US corporations. It risks provoking the social disorder that always scares capitalism. 

There will also be huge disaffection in most US cities with Trump. The pretence that America is a real democracy will be over for those who hate him. Will they still believe that America is a society where the collective will of the majority of the people is best informed, understood and acted upon?

So Trump will likely be a economic disaster for American capitalism. We must make it a political disaster! And a disaster that is met by a vision of a workers America, not a ‘middle class’ America. Who are the ‘middle class’? Where do they begin and where do they end? Ironically Trump talks about the impoverished working class, lyingly and hypocritically – trying to pervert their increasing self-identity to his reactionary ends.

Will Trump start a slide towards fascism in the US?

I have seen some parallels drawn between Trump and Mussolini. Win or lose, there is a real risk that Trump may start the reactionary extra-parliamentary agitation that is the essence of fascism. His talk of refusing to accept his defeat in the election is an indicator of that.

The Trump campaign has been a wonderful opportunity for every neo-Nazi, sexist, racist, militiaman nut-job to connect up with others. But after a victory for him, what then? Would his Presidency continue these opportunities? Or like in Obama’s campaigns will those who made up the vibrant election campaign be generally politically demobilised?

What Mussolini had, that Trump and UKIP don’t have even if they were to have the same ambitions, is a unified, disciplined paramilitary force behind him, the Blackshirts, already 200,000 strong by 1922 when Mussolini was plucked out and thrust into power.

In the UK, UKIP shows us how the far right, despite being often able to successfully exploit elections and referenda, are also afterwards hopelessly divided. Following a Trump victory, like with Brexit, there may be division, acrimony and accusations of betrayal. After all he has empty policies. He won’t deliver jobs. He won’t relieve the pressures on the white poor. He won’t deal with any ‘establishment’.

His rhetoric will feed reaction on the streets – and that is a very real worry. But without an organised force in society, his rhetoric may just create disorder but not consolidate his support. 

In or out of the Presidency, creating disorder might be the course he pursues. In power though a President has to satisfy his social base. Trump may be able to whip up racism, he may put curbs on a free press but will be unable to do much to answer the needs of those who voted for him, to make America, i.e. their lives, ‘great again’.

Whilst UKIP and the Tory right were able to run away from the consequences of their Brexit victory, Trump may be stuck with his. Like Brexit, a Trump victory is not welcomed by business. His campaign conduct and lying rhetoric will be seen to have lost Republican seats in the Senate. His arrogance and intolerance is a threat to anyone who opposes him – including different aggressively pro-capitalist ones.

So he will face many powerful capitalist enemies at the highest level in government. If he wins, he will more than likely be forced to accommodate to the Republican Party. They can live with racism and reaction but they will not be dictated to by Trump’s mobs on the streets.

What if Clinton wins? Will the battle against Trump be won?

Not a bit of it. Clinton is absolutely predictable. The coffers of her campaign against Sanders and then against Trump have come from America’s super-rich and big corporations. Undoubtedly in fear of Trump, more democratically minded people have got involved. 

But she is solidly pro-austerity, pro-corporate, prepared to carry out any war or foreign policy deal that they require. There is no Democratic Party outside of elections – nothing formally that might hold her accountable even to the very mild political commitments she has made in this election campaigns.

Her wing of the Democrats has taken the working class poor for granted, especially the black and Chicano populations.

If she wins, probably many will breathe a sigh of relief. But there will be little to be relieved about. Trump is likely to continue to exploit the anger at poverty in American society and she is likely to do nothing progressive to relieve that despair.

Hopefully, the force that was shown during Sanders campaign will rebuild recognising that it is Clinton as much as Trump that they have to fight.

Submission to Labour’s Chakrabati enquiry – from Broxtowe CLP

This submission was submitted by me and approved by my Constituency Labour Party as our submission to the Chakrabati enquiry into antisemitism and other forms of racism including islamophobia, within the Labour Party. I publish here in response to my expulsion from the Labour Party for being a ‘supporter of the AWL’ and the slanderous accusation made by Owen Smith that the AWL is bringing in antisemitism into the Labour Party.

Submission to Chakrabarti enquiry

This CLP believes that antisemitism is an issue of concern both outside of the Party and within it.

We welcome the affirmation by John McDonnell that antisemitism has no place in the Labour Party. We believe that this primarily has to be done through an urgent education campaign rather than identifying individuals in the Party one by one for having expressed antisemitic views in the past.

As a CLP we are proud to have spoken out against the Gaza bombardment in August 2014 that led to the deaths of over 2,000 people including many children and to have organised a public meeting with Israeli and Muslim speakers that made clear our support for a democratic 2-states solution. We will continue to oppose terrorist acts by either the Israeli state, some of the West Bank settlers, Hamas or any other terrorist organisation.  But we have to recognise that much of that pro-Palestinian movement has little understanding about the reasons why Jews fled to the Middle East from the concentration camps of the Nazis, nor why the existence of the state of Israel needs to be politically defended by socialists or democrats, despite the many brutal actions of its governments.

We call on the Party to vigorously propose educational and debate events both for Party members and Labour supporters on the issue in the months ahead.

My speech against the UCU’s junking of EUMC antisemitism definition

I have been notified that I have been expelled from the Labour Party. The expulsion appears to have happened a few hours before hustings contribution on Question Time on Thursday, 8th September. In his contribution Owen Smith renewed attacks on the AWL started by Tom Watson on 15th August. He made a slanderous accusation that the AWL was anti-Semitic.

I cannot discount that my expulsion is not unconnected with Owen Smith’s attack. I know that the AWL as well as myself have campaigned against antisemitism for decades. As evidence of some of my work confronting anti-Semitism within the labour movement I am republishing my speech to the UCU congress of 2011 and some background to its context


Below is the text of the speech made against the UCUs explicit rejection of the EUMC definitions of antisemitism at its congress on May 30 2011. The motion to reject this definition of anti-semitism, explicitly motivated to support Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas ideologue, Azzam Tamimi, was unfortunately passed overwhelmingly.

At the time of writing it was not known what the alleged use of the EUMC definition referred to. As it was regarding Azzam Tamimi, who has argued that those who live now in Israel who were emigrants from the wartime concentration camps should go back to Ukraine and Poland, a clearly antisemitic assertion, if I had known that, my speech would probably have been rewritten drawing attention to Tamimi’s politics.

Probably only half a dozen against in a conference hall voted against the motion where probably more than a third of delegates had left.

“Those arguing for the motion say that this definition intimidates free debate on the Palestine/ Israel issue. No definition of any form of racism can ever prevent misuse. Each time an accusation of racism is made, of whatever form it should always be assessed by the specifics of its application. Who makes it, can they justify it? In particular does it crudely generalise a condemnation of a part of the people onto a whole people, nation or race?

The fact that definitions of antisemitism may have been misused is no argument that definitions are wrong or that it should not be used.

What does this definition actually say?

The most controversial part appears to be where it says that those who claim that ‘the existence – THE EXISTENCE – of the Israeli state is a racist endeavour’ are antisemitic.

Consider the refuseniks who serve prison sentences because of their opposition to the racist Israeli government’s repression in Gaza and the West Bank.

Consider the left wing peace movement Gush Shalom who advocate a withdrawal from the occupied territories and who as Sue Blackwell pointed out yesterday are being threatened by their government.

The definition means that to call people such as the refuseniks and Gush Shalom racists is an antisemitic act. And that is entirely right.

To blur the distinction between the racist Israeli government and a huge proportion of the Israeli people who oppose it IS antisemitic.

Comrades we should be endorsing this definition not condemning it.

Finally comrades bear this thing in mind. We know yesterday and from leaflets distributed today that we are probably going to have a fiercely contested General Secretary election. Partly because of this, but more importantly because of the inevitable attention that will be given to any union so prominently in opposition to this government as our own, we need to take care.
The business of our congress has never more been in the public eye. Do we really want to give enemies of our union the gift of seeming to think that antisemitism is not a problem.

It is a problem!”

I will not accept my expulsion from the Labour Party

Please support the Stop the Labour Purge campaign acting on behalf of all witch-hunted socialists in the Party

I have been informed today that I have been expelled from the Labour Party after a total of 35 years of Party membership and in spite of being Chair of Broxtowe Constituency Labour Party.

This follows an anonymous complaint about me to the Party. I don’t know what has led anyone to complain to the Party about me. I cannot believe that it comes from anyone in my constituency party where inclusiveness and comradely respect is genuinely shown by all party members. I am very grateful for the quick statement of support made by all of my fellow officers of Broxtowe CLP.

I am told that I am expelled because of I am an ‘active supporter of the AWL’ .

The AWL publishes a very useful and educative paper Solidarity and I welcome and am proud of  its significant contribution to debate in the Party and the wider labour movement.

My expulsion appears to have been activated without the knowledge of either myself or my fellow constituency officers – 2 days before I was notified. It was only hours before Owen Smith renewed the attacks on the AWL as ‘hard left’ and made preposterous claim that the AWL is anti-Semitic. The implication is therefore that I, as an individual, am also anti-Semitic. I have campaigned virtually all of my political life against anti-Semitism within the labour movement and I have evidenced some of my work on it below. I consider that implication and the action against me are motivated and contribute to slander against me.

I believe that this is not an attack solely on me as an individual. It is intended to disorganise my constituency party and demoralise its members. It is also part of a national witch hunt conducted by figures still powerful in the Party who are attempting to drive away the hundreds of thousands of new members who have moved it to the left.

I have long advocated that our Party should be open to all who want to fight for a Labour victory. Free speech and free debate are fundamental to socialism. They are essential to anything claiming to be a socialist political party.

Hundreds of thousands of energetic people are being attracted to our Party. We should welcome them and I believe that in my role as Chair of my CLP I have the responsibility to contribute to that.

That is why I, along with the other officers of my CLP, wrote in protest to the General Secretary and Chair of the PLP against the attempt to oust our leader unconstitutionally by trying to force him to resign without allowing a vote by the Party membership.

It is why, as officers of Broxtowe CLP, we protested to the General Secretary and the NEC about the further discourtesy shown to new members by instituting an unexpected freeze date that denied them the right to vote.

Later still on August 9th individually I organised an accredited online petition calling on the Party to refrain from using the full force of the appeal courts to enforce that freeze and give yet further offense to our new members. Over a 21 hour period, the petition was signed by over 1,000 Party members.

The day after sending that petition to the General Secretary, Tom Watson released his dossier on far left entryism. The following day I first began to hear from journalists, briefed by persons unknown, asking me to respond to accusations of being a ‘Trotskyite entryist’.

For the next 2 days I had journalists contact me before an article appeared in Politics Home claiming that I had been reported to the Labour Party as a ‘hard left’ activist and was being ‘probed’ by the Labour Party. That was on August 17th –  over 3 weeks before the notification of my expulsion. During that time, I heard nothing from the Labour Party and presumed this was a fictional provocation intended to damage the Party. It appears I was wrong.

In the original press attack upon me I was accused of speaking at a recent AWL event. However I spoke on the same platform as Ian Hodson, President of the BFAWU. Other speakers at the week-end event also included prominent representatives of the Progress/ Labour First right wing of our Party, Luke Akehurst, John McTernan. I cannot therefore believe that these are the real reasons for the complaint made against me.

There are no secrets about my politics. The paper Solidarity has been kind enough to cover much of my campaigning work in its news coverage. They have occasionally republished articles I have written elsewhere or on my blog. I find it scandalous that having an association with that paper and the policies it advocates, can be used to witch-hunt me or anyone else out of the Party.

The real reason some want me out of the Party must be is because they want to stop my political activities both for the Party and to influence its policies.

I list below most of the important work I have done over the last 6 years for and within the Party with links to more details. In the absence of my right to appeal, I leave others to make their own judgement on my record and the legitimacy of the attempts to remove me from the Party.

  • Building my local Party and the referendum campaign
  • Campaigning for the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader
  • Challenging the government’s support for Saudi Arabia
  • Campaigning against anti-union laws
  • Campaigning against war and terrorism and for a 2–state resolution in Israel/ Palestine
  • Campaigning against anti-semitism
  • Campaigning in support of oppressed Kurdish people in Syria and Turkey
  • Campaigning against the government cuts
    Details of my work can be read in the Appendix to this article

My history and my views have never been a secret. In 2001 I resigned from the Labour Party after, then, 29 years membership. Whilst I continued to campaign for Labour general election victories in the days of Tony Blair’s leadership, I feared that some of the changes of the Labour Party might be irreversible. Firstly, the Party’s turn away from working class communities and towards ‘Middle England’ and secondly, the marginalisation of trade unions. I stood as a protest candidate in the very safe Labour constituency of Nottingham East in 2001 and then again in 2005 after the Iraq war.

I was wrong about the Party. It was able to revive after Blair and Brown’s leadership – it had to revive in the face of a very right-wing Cameron government. Although it has left us a legacy of political alienation in many working class communities which we have seen so starkly in the EU referendum result.

I rejoined the Party in 2010 in Broxtowe after working with it to rebuild the Labour Party in areas of the borough where the BNP had got a councillor elected – another result of the collapse of the Labour Party in many areas because of Tony Blair.

I never hid anything either about my earlier disenchantment with the Party or my activities during those years. I was pleased to say I felt very welcomed by other constituency activists and officers. They showed the same solidarity I believe our Party should show to all others who want to work for its success regardless of their voting or electoral activities in the past.

Genuine political disagreements about how we fight together for the interests of all working class people, the vast majority in our society, should be met with respectful and democratic debate and not crude labelling, expulsions, exclusions and the denial of free speech.

I do not believe I have acted as anything other than a responsible socialist. I will not walk away from the Labour Party nor advocate anyone else does.

I appeal to party members and organisations to support the call for the revoking of my expulsion and my rights to resume my work for the future of this Party and the return of a Labour government. We need that to reverse the devastation inflicted on our society by the Tories and put a government accountable to the vast majority of society, working class people, in control.


Appendix – my recent political work for and within the Party

  • Building my local Party and the referendum campaign
    Over the last 6 years of membership of Broxtowe Constituency Labour Party, I have been a branch secretary for 3 years, constituency secretary for 2 ½ years and from last May its constituency Chair.
    Over the course of my branch secretaries position, with other activists, I built that branch into the biggest and most active branch in the constituency with regular street stalls and very successful council election campaigns.
    When I became Chair of the CLP this year my first act was to agree with fellow officers Cllr Greg Marshall and Cllr Dawn Elliott to go ahead with the production of over 30,000 of a 4 page Newsletter and then co-ordinate their distribution over the final 2 weeks of the EU referendum campaign.
    The Newsletter with its main article in support of remaining in the EU also made clear our opposition to the Tories cuts on our local services. We feel confident that the Newsletter and the energetic work of our much strengthened Party gave us a better result than most other neighbouring East Midlands constituencies – a fact acknowledged by our Tory opponent Anna Soubry MP.
  • Campaigning for the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader
    When Jeremy Corbyn put his name forward for leadership I wrote an open letter to Labour MPs in the region asking them to nominate Corbyn. I invited fellow Labour activists to sign it and 103 of them did, including 19 councillors and 1 council leader. See https://beestonleftie.wordpress.com/2015/06/
    Given that the nomination threshold was only closely met and our letter may have affected some MPs, is this why people want me out of the Party?
  • Challenging the government’s support for Saudi Arabia
    In January 2015 I wrote an open letter to Cameron following the intensification of Saudi terror on its own citizens highlighted by the flogging and threatened death sentence on free speech Saudi activist Raif Badawi. Over the following 6 months that letter was signed by over 1,000 human rights activists, journalists, trade unionists and political activists. It was supported by 11 prominent NGOs. It called for Britain to end its arms trade with Saudi Arabia and for other trade sanctions to be considered whilst the Saudi regime continued its human rights abuses.
    See http://wp.me/P5RyD9-3
    The open letter was delivered to Parliament in July 2015 on a Day of Action that I organised with the supporting NGOs. A delegation of MPs and activists delivered it to Downing Street including the now shadow transport minister Andy McDonald. raifpresentAmongst others Glenys Kinnock addressed the assembled activists in Whitehall on that day.
    See http://wp.me/p5RyD9-cY
    The same day with the support of John McDonnell’s office I organised a meeting in Parliament addressed by supporting NGOs and Sarah Champion MP speaking from the Labour Party, as well as MPs and leaders from the  SNP and Greens. Jeremy Corbyn was one of the first signatories of our Open Letter and spoke in support of the issue at later Parliamentary meetings.
    I hope that our work contributed to the greater awareness and desire for action against Saudi Arabia that helped Jeremy Corbyn force the later government climb down on their provision of prison equipment to Saudi Arabia. A topic also touched on in my speech to the 2015 Labour conference.
    The abandonment of any aim of an ethical foreign policy was a major failure of the Blair and Brown governments. Is this why certain people want me out of the Party?
  • Campaigning against anti-union laws
    At the 2015 Labour conference I spoke to our motion that was composited with other trade union and CLP motions. My CLP added a pledge to the other motions composited to restore the trade union rights of solidarity and sympathy action that had been taken away by Thatcher. My speech to conference can be viewed here

    As an active trade unionist firstly as GMWU/GMBATU steward, then a UCU branch officer throughout my employed life, restoring trade union and employment rights has always been one of my major concerns as a Party member. Like many trade unionists I consider this to be one of biggest failures of the Blair government. Is this why certain people want me out of the Party?
  • Campaigning against war and terrorism and for a 2–state resolution in Israel/ Palestine
    In July 2014 I made a successful call on my CLP to hold a public meeting on the military onslaught on Gaza. The meeting in Beeston attracted an audience of well over 100 local constituents and was addressed by our PPC of the time, a prominent Pakistani Labour councillor and through Skype by Israeli anti-war activist Elizabeth Tsurkov. All speakers at the meeting not only condemned the Gaza onslaught but made a strong call for peace through meaningful dialogue towards a 2-state settlement.
  • Campaigning against anti-Semitism
    In June of this year I wrote the submission of my CLP to the Labour Party Chakrabarti enquiry. Our submission addressed the issue of anti-Semitism. It called for education and debate in the Party recognizing that much of the contemporary left had only a superficial understanding of the reasons why the continuing existence of Israel is so important to the Jewish community. Our statement called for real action from the Party to revive the prospects of a peaceful and just 2-states settlement for both Palestinian and Israeli people. The statement can be read from this link
    I was frequently active in debates in my union, the UCU, in opposing anti-Semitism: arguing at the 2011 UCU congress that antisemitism was an issue that the union should not deny as much as it did at the time. Link to my speech at the Congress
  • Campaigning in support of oppressed Kurdish people in Syria and Turkey
    In August 2014, I spoke at Kurdish public protests against the brutal attacks on the Yazidi and Kurdish people by the at the time of ISIS’s dramatic offensive in Syria. I wrote an appeal for MPs to meet with representatives of the local 4,000 local strongly Labour-supporting Kurdish community. I led the delegation that met local MP Chris Leslie from whom we had a sympathetic hearing. I have continued to work with the Kurdish community, many of whom have joined, become active and strengthened relations between that community and the Labour Party. I work with the local Kurdish community in Nottingham and across the country in championing the Kurdish militia, the YPG, in their battle with ISIS in Syria and giving appropriate respect to Kurdish and other fighters who go to their aid. They are now facing a brutal onslaught in Turkey as well, about which this Tory government is silent. I campaign along with my Kurdish friends for the Labour Party to give real support to the Kurds but not to use them as an excuse for disastrous foreign military adventures.
  • Campaigning against the government cuts
    From 2012-13, I was secretary of a campaign, Councillors Against Cuts, that was set up with local councillors and advocated that councils consider alternative strategies to those of implementation of the cuts demanded of them by the Tory government. At that time there was a confidence in the trade union movement and an outrage in our councils about these cuts.
    I believe an alternative strategy of combined union/ Party defiance was possible. It is my personal belief that such an alternative strategy still needs to be considered before our services are stripped to the bone.