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The Antisemitism Heresy

Marc Wadsworth

More than 40 Labour MPs formed a human shield around their Jewish colleague Ruth Smeeth this morning as she arrived at a disciplinary hearing of an activist accused of being anti-Semitic towards her.

Flanked by dozens of her colleagues, Ms Smeeth, an outspoken campaigner against anti-Jewish hatred in the Labour Party, was heckled by far-left activists demonstrating outside the hearing in Westminster.

She was due to give evidence against Marc Wadsworth, a Jeremy Corbyn supporter who is alleged to have accused her of colluding with the media during a press conference on anti-Semitism two years ago.

The exchange, which took place at the launch of Labour’s Chakrabarti report, resulted in Ms Smeeth breaking down in tears.

Mr Wadsworth was condemned afterwards by Baroness Chakrabarti, who said he had behaved “incredibly rudely”. He was later suspended pending investigation.

Read more from the Telegraph 24 April 2018:

As Smeeth walks out (from the Chakrabarti Report Launch) I hear Jeremy Corbyn dealing with what Wadsworth has said. He is dealing with it calmly, no dramatics. This is what I expect from politicians, rationality. I am too often disappointed. ‘How dare you? How absolutely dare you?’ shouts Smeeth Is that what we should expect from those who have the privilege to represent us? Yes Wadsworth is clumsy, but Smeeth is cruel.

When she shouts ‘how dare you’ and walks out it no longer matters what Wadsworth has said, what he alleges, Smeeth has changed the nature of the interaction argument to intimidation. How dare he challenge her? To challenge authority and privilege is indeed an act of daring. Observe this carefully, observe where power lies and ask who is being victimised.

Marc Wadsworth has been expelled from the party, not for the antisemitism that he had been accused of but for ‘bring the party into disrepute’. It is not however Wadsworth who has brought the party into disrepute it is Smeeth. To my eyes it is Smeeth but I suppose my eyes do not matter.

Ken Livingstone

Ken Livingstone has been in the news again. The fuss over a remark he made two years ago continues.

It seems to me that Ken made a daft and irrelevant remark that was not dismissed as a daft remark but was immediately attacked as heresy. I find the reaction a lot more scarily fascistic than anything Ken said ..

Where there is free speech there are going to things said that offend others. Sometimes this will be understandable and we will take other people’s being offended or hurt into account, at other times we will explain why what we have said is important to us.

I understand the sensitivities around comparing the behaviour of the Israeli state to that of the Nazi regime but where the analogy is apt it should not be out of bounds. The analogy is not used of particular Israel individuals, behaviours or institutions on account of their Jewishness but on account of their oppressiveness and to fail to condemn that oppressiveness is as much a betrayal of those who suffered under Nazi oppression as it is of those who suffer in Gaza under Israeli oppression. This Holocaust survivor makes this point powerfully:

(BTW, I do not endores the headlined equivalency. I don’t know much about the Zionist philosophy but I condemn oppressive Israeli practices)

Question Time Ambush

It’s interesting to watch how this battle is developing. To begin with Jeremy Corbyn was taking the brunt of it, now that he’s weathered the storm and has gained the (sometimes grudging) admiration of a lot of non-political people, they are trying to pretend they actually quite like him and make ‘hard left’ Momentum, his ‘extremist, MP threatening antisemitic supporters’, and ‘that nasty piece of work’ John McDonnell, the ‘real problem’.

The strategy was evident in everything Alistair Campbell, Anna Soubry and Quintin Letts said on QT, which had all the appearance of a coordinated ambush. Soubry’s vicious attack on McDonnell, Campbell’s quickly escalating fight with the Shadow Chancellor, the SNP’s Joanna Cherry sniping from the sidelines and Letts’ far from subtle faux affectionate attempt to associate Jeremy with Albert (the dirty old man) Steptoe.

This is a like a piece of theater designed to have a particular effect on the public mind. I hope that by holding it up, examining it, we can use it to the opposite effect.

JC and Me

Jeremy Corbyn was in Newham last Tuesday (22 Aug). It was a good evening. This is part of his speech. There’s a nice shot of me in the audience.

Matthew Parris on Boris Johnson

I don’t care much about Boris Johnson or the troubles in the Conservative Party but I am sure Matthew Parris is exactly right in his assessment of him.

“But there’s a pattern to [their lives], and it isn’t the lust for office, or for applause .. that mark out this pattern in red warning ink. It’s the casual dishonesty, … the betrayal; and, beneath the betrayal, the emptiness of real ambition: the ambition to do anything useful with office once it is attained.”

I think this probably applies to most of the political elite. This same assessment can be applied to the Labour ‘bitterites’ conducting a war of attrition against Jeremy Corbyn

See David Lindsay’s Blog for Matthew Parris’s full article.

Losing Momentum?


In some ways, that support for Corbyn seems as vehement as ever. The newly formed Labour movement Momentum, which claims to have between 90,000-100,000 supporters, is adamant that it will fend off any challenge to the leadership results in the May elections go badly for Corbyn. The group also swept the board at the party’s youth elections, albeit on a very poor turnout.

But behind the scenes at constituency parties, new supporters seem reluctant to get involved with the new era they’ve created. The drudgery of monthly branch meetings has set in and most of these new members have stopped showing up, if they ever did.
Original article.

This is an interesting article and it confirms my own experience. There were just nine people at my first ward meeting on Thursday with me being the only new member. This despite the claim of 80 plus members on paper, most of whom were new. I think this is a problem but instead of bemoaning it we should be looking at strategies to overcome it.

Having voted for Jeremy to become leader I felt obliged to support him but I understand the factors keeping many people from participating. If people are not participating in a project or part of a project it is because it is not perceived as accessible, it’s not perceived as relevant to their needs, or its goals and direction are not perceived as congruent with their own goals and directions.

How do we address this? I would like to have that conversation but a clue may lie in the reasons that new members were so attracted to Jeremy. Among these reasons are:

1. Authenticity – clear about values, focused on them.

2. Radicalism – going to the root of the issues not just tinkering with them. Jeremy is genuinely challenging the status quo

3. Vision – clarity about direction

4. People Orientation – focussing on inclusion of people rather than systems and structures

5. Moral Autonomy – Jeremy is not a ‘good soldier’. He is more interested in doing the right thing than in doing things right.

It was for these reasons, and because he was seen to have lived them, that young people (and not so young people) were inspired by an old man. If they don’t see these characteristics in the party they will not feel inspired by it or motivated to participate.

Dan Jarvis


Blairite Labour MP Dan Jarvis has been making a few waves recently and is being touted as a possible challenger to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Most people criticising Jarvis and his recent Demos speech focused on it’s lack of substance. But there was a passage in it that spoke volumes about his character. He said:

“The training in the Army prepares you to deal with the emotional impact of what you see.
There is a job to be done and you get on and do it.
I went to war three times in three different places and managed to do it without shedding a tear… other than on the 14th day of being handed pork casserole rations!
But I don’t mind telling you that when I first heard the Barnsley Youth Choir sing, I struggled to hold it together.
It wasn’t just the music that got to me, although it was amazing.
It was the thought of those talented young people, full of the joy of life, full of hope, full of ambition.
It was the sorry thought that at least some of these young people, or others like them, will be let down.
It was a sense of shame that we do not do more to secure the future for the kids in Barnsley”

To highlight further:

“I went to war three times in three different places and managed to do it without shedding a tear… other than on the 14th day of being handed pork casserole rations!”

Presumably Jarvis fought in Blair’s illegal and immoral wars. He failed to see the illegality and immorality and he failed to be moved by the suffering he was in part responsible for bringing to the people of Iraq or Afghanistan or the suffering of his fellow soldiers and their families. I would prefer a leader who would refuse to do the ‘job to be done’ if it is the wrong job, who would recognise when it is the wrong job, who would work to oppose the injustice of it and who would shed tears not only for Barnsley children but also for Afghani and Iraqi children. Fortunately we have just such a leader.

Momentum and Ward Meetings

I attended a ‘not Newham Momentum’ meeting on Tuesday evening (8th March) and a meeting of the Wall End Ward branch of the Newham Constituency Labour Party this evening. I refer to the first meeting as ‘not Newham Momentum’ because a Newham Momentum group has not yet been recognised by Momentum nationally. There are however Newham members of Momentum who at a previous East End Momentum meeting said that they wanted a Newham Momentum. I think that this would be a good idea because greater localisation will facilitate more people getting involved and also contribute to community building.

I found both meetings interesting. There were 25 people at the Momentum members meeting held at the Froud Centre. Some people I had seen at previous meeting and some I was seeing for the first time. I was a little disappointed that more people from previous meetings were not there as it is important to solidify connections. The introductions gave us time to say something about ourselves and our views regarding Momentum, Jeremy Corbyn and Labour. It was especially interesting to hear Mike and Linda who were members of a ‘disabled people’s group within Momentum’; like most of the people present they have been activists for a long time. The meeting called for people to help at street stalls that Tahir Mizra and Obaid Khan would set up this weekend (Sunday) in support of Sadiq Khan’s mayoral bid. In my introduction and at the end of the meeting I took the opportunity to advocate again for the use of social media in particular the Newham Democracy Facebook group at:

There were 9 people, including myself, at the ward meeting, which also discussed supporting Sadiq Khan through local campaigning on Saturday. I can’t help as I am heavily committed this weekend. There was some general discussion about the EU referendum that was interesting and Newham councillor Frances Clarke noted that the council was planning or considering extending controlled parking zones to everywhere in the borough. I was not the only one who thought this would be very problematic and I asked if there had been any consultation on this. Frances wasn’t sure about how much consultation there had been but it was clear that for a decision this bid there had not been nearly enough.

Although both meetings were, as I said, interesting, I would have liked to have seen more younger people at both. It is surely worth asking why more people in there 20’s and 30’s are not involved. We need people from all sections of the community involved in community discussions and decision making; not necessarily through these particular meetings/groups but as part of some open forum.

Newham Momentum


Yesterday evening I attended a meeting of Newham Momentum members or more accurately a meeting of prospective members of a prospective Newham Momentum group. The meeting took place at a ‘pop-up’ pub on Winchelsea Road in Forest Gate. There were six or seven people gathered around a table when I first got there and Rohksana, the local councillor who facilitated the meeting, introduced me saying that it was my intervention at the last meeting that has prompted this informal meeting. I said I felt that I had to be there as I had asked for this. I was very surprised when one of the attendees, Mike, said that he had read my description of the last meeting on my Netstorms blog. He said that he hadn’t been looking me up but had been looking for a report on the meeting. Of course I never expect anyone to read anything I write .. but I’m not going to let that change me or the blog.

A short while after I arrived more people arrived and I would say that there were around 25 attendees. The meeting was mainly social and afforded people time to chat informally with each other. I had envisaged a more formal informality with people expressing and listening to ideas and perspectives, but this informal informality was I think better at this stage. It was good chatting and much of the chat was about the right wing, Blairite, complexion of politics and the Constituency Labour Party in Newham. It is that complexion we need to change as part of our efforts to support Jeremy Corbyn and in order to do this we have to get involved with the local party structure. I’ve never been a party (political) animal and I am not keen on getting involved in arcane structures inhabited and run by probable hostiles but I do understand the necessity for this and accept that I have to venture beyond the comfort zone around my keyboard. I think that if I have any sort of ‘mission’ in regard to all this it must have to do with making the local political environment less hostile and more comprehensible to outsiders.

Rohksana spoke to the group briefly and confirmed that we would have the support of national Momentum in setting up a Newham Momentum group. I exchanged telephone numbers with some people. Rohksana took everyone’s email addresses. We agreed that we should meet again next months. I talked about the importance of using social media and agreed to work with another attendee, Stuart, who also keen on setting up a Facebook group and exploring the use of social media.

I thought it was a good meeting and a good start and as far as I can tell everyone else thought so too.

East End Momentum

Yesterday evening I attended my first meeting of ‘Momentum’, a group created to support Jeremy Corbyn’s agenda within the Labour Party. The meeting was local, only ten minutes by car, and held in the Working Mens Social Club in Boleyn Road. This was specifically East End Momentum covering Tower Hamlets and Newham. There were 50 to 60 people present and I was surprised that most seemed to be in their 50’s and 60’s though there were a few younger people present. I think that everyone, including the speakers on the stage, were uncomfortable with the formal setup of speakers talking down to an audience from a raised platform. The first speaker said she would have preferred a ‘horseshoe’ arrangement.

The panel consisted of an interim committee and three local councillors. They reported on a meeting of London Momentum and said that they were disappointed by the ‘chaotic’ nature of that meeting and the fact that no political issues were discussed. It appears that much of what has been happening in Momentum, London wide and nationally is about procedure and organisation building. At some point a member of the panel explained that whereas most organisations grew from a small group planning growth and development, Momentum started off as a large enthusiastic movement that now had to do the structuring work. I understand that a decision had been taken for Momentum to become a ‘membership organisation’ that would specifically exclude people who were members of parties not affiliated to Labour. This arose out of a tension between whether Momentum should be a broad organisation supporting Jeremy Corbyn’s agenda or a pressure group for those ideas within Labour and it seems that the latter vision won out.

I got the first applause of the evening when I suggested that while the procedural stuff was necessary it was also necessary to ensure that people felt included. Democracy is not just a matter of organisation but of inclusion. I noted that as a youth worker I was most successful when I facilitated groups where members related to each other and not just to me or some agenda that I had. The same principle applies to adult groups.

After that the participants took more charge of the meeting. Two proposals from the floor, that the meeting supports the junior doctors strike and that future meetings should include political as well as procedural items, were agreed by the meeting. A third proposal that a separate Newham Momentum be started was deferred with the agreement of the proposers. Nevertheless Newham attendees agreed that we would meet less formally. We exchanged contact numbers and agreed to get together on Saturday 20th at an as yet to be decided venue.

Interestingly, and delightfully, a young man who came up to me at the end and said that he recognised who I was when I started talking about being a youth worker. Over twelve years ago he had been part of a youth group that I had worked with.

Into the 21 st Century


This is brilliant. Corbyn’s critics accuse him of wanting to take Britain back to the 1970’s but they’re the ones living in the past. I’d say Jeremy was looking to the future but from the examples he cites about what’s happening in Germany and elsewhere he knows that we have to drag Britain into the 21st Century.

These Corbyn policy papers are just what we need to kick off real debate. In addition to this paper on Protecting Our Planet, Jeremy has published papers entitled Working With Women, Housing Policy, Defence Diversification, Northern Future and The Economy in 2020. But I want to fair, I should also read the policy papers of the other three candidates. I’ve looked at their campaign websites but can’t find them. Can someone kindly provide links to this?

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