Socialist Worker

As smears continue against the Labour left - be proud to stand up for Palestine

Left wingers in the Labour Party are facing fresh accusations from the right this week, writes Nick Clark

Issue No. 2662

Dont buckle to right wing smears and keep standing up for Palestine

Don't buckle to right wing smears and keep standing up for Palestine (Pic: Alisdare Hickson/Flickr)

The Labour left faced another assault over allegations of ­antisemitism this week.

A BBC Panorama documentary by right wing hack John Ware, set to be shown on Wednesday, claimed Jeremy Corbyn’s office interfered in party disciplinary investigations.

The documentary will bolster the right’s campaign to expel Labour Party members accused of antisemitism whether they are guilty or not.

Right wing MPs have ­repeatedly demanded expulsions before hearings have even taken place.

Some have demanded that left wing MP Chris Williamson be expelled for saying the leadership had given “too much ground” to claims it is antisemitic.

Deputy party leader Tom Watson demanded that Corbyn ban Williamson from sitting as a Labour MP. He hypocritically complained that Labour’s disciplinary process “remains mired by the appearance of political interference”.

He also tried to take control of disciplinary investigations earlier this year by “logging and ­monitoring all complaints” himself.

And in April last year Labour MPs threatened to revolt unless veteran anti-racist activist Marc Wadsworth was expelled. He had done nothing more than accuse MP Ruth Smeeth of cooperating with a right wing journalist.

Speaking at the Marxism Festival organised by the Socialist Workers Party last Friday, Williamson suggested he had been targeted because he fought for democracy in the Labour Party.


His claim came as Labour MPs hit out at attempts by party members to hold them accountable.

Labour began the process of choosing its parliamentary candidates on Monday. Changes passed at Labour’s conference last year mean it is easier for party members to replace sitting Labour MPs.

Right wingers are outraged at the idea that party members should have a say in who represents them.

But the accusations of ­antisemitism are also about silencing support for Palestine.

The right has fought to discredit the left by implying that its solidarity with the Palestinians makes it inclined towards antisemitic ideas.

After an onslaught on the left last year, Labour adopted a definition of antisemitism that rules out calling Israel a racist state.

Speaking at the Marxism Festival, one Labour member said, “A lot of youth members have said they don’t want to come to meetings because they’re getting accused of antisemitism when all they are saying is they want to accept Palestine.

“When we have meetings we are now not allowed to raise anything to do with Palestine. If we mention Palestine, the chair kicks us straight out of the meeting.”

Israeli historian Ilan Pappe said that the best response is to “be proud” to keep talking about Palestine.

“I understand these campaigns of intimidation, I was a victim of it,” he said. “You will not be able to challenge these people by apologising—by trying to satisfy them.”

A long history of lies against the left

John Ware, the journalist behind the Panorama documentary, has spent his career smearing the left, defending the right, and attacking Muslims.

In 1987 Ware reported for a Panorama documentary that tried to discredit former army intelligence officer Colin Wallace.

Wallace had exposed a “dirty tricks” campaign against Labour prime minister Howard Wilson.

Ware claimed Wallace was a fantasist. But as investigative journalist Paul Foot wrote, Ware’s own report was riddled with obvious errors.

In 2015 Ware produced another Panorama documentary on Corbyn’s first leadership campaign that was little more than a hatchet job.

The documentary featured claims from a number of right wing Labour figures warning a Corbyn victory would lead to left wing “thuggery and intimidation”.

And Ware has produced a number of films attacking Muslims and Palestinians.

One suggested that Palestinian charity Interpal funded terrorism. Others have targeted the Muslim Council of Britain and Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend).

His recent attacks on Mend accuse it of antisemitism due to its members’ criticisms of Israel.

Union leaders push for EU

Labour was set to back remaining in the racist neoliberal European Union (EU) as Socialist Worker went to press—thanks to trade union leaders.

Union leaders agreed that Labour should campaign to Remain in the EU while the Tories are in government.

It came after a right wing campaign to make Labour “the party of Remain.” The right wants Labour to back the EU because it supports its pro-big business, pro-privatisation and pro-austerity principles.

Union leaders said a Labour government should still negotiate a deal to leave the EU if elected.

But this would include a customs union—a promise that protects bosses rather than workers.

Backing Remain would leave working class people who voted to Leave to racists such as Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

Labour shouldn’t back right wing versions of Leave or Remain—but fight for a left wing Brexit tied to defence of jobs, public services and migrants.

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