Against anti-semitism, for due process

Submitted by martin on 15 March, 2016 - 1:33

In the run-up to the September 2015 Labour Party leadership election, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people accused of being associated with the far left were summarily expelled from the party, or blocked from joining. Some of those have been reinstated, but there has since been a steady trickle of further expulsions, including, recently, Momentum Steering Committee member Jill Mountford, Solidarity editor Cathy Nugent, and prominent socialist lawyer Nick Wrack.

A campaign, “Stop the Labour Purge”, has been launched to resist the expulsions, carried out by the so-called “Compliance Unit”, a body outside of democratic scrutiny and control.

On 10 March, Gerry Downing was summarily re-expelled from the party after David Cameron asked questions about him in Parliament. Cameron pointed to articles Downing had written in Socialist Fight, the magazine he runs, refusing to condemn the 9/11 attacks, and to Socialist Fight's statement of "tactical military support" for Daesh (Islamic State), and insisted that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn expel him. Downing had been a Labour member since 1987. He was first expelled in October 2015, before being readmitted in early 2016.

Whatever one thinks of Downing's politics, the manner of his expulsion is an affront to justice. It may in some instances be necessary to expel members, but there should be due process and not summary action by an unelected and unaccountable body.

Workers' Liberty does not think politics such as those held by Gerry Downing on 9/11 and Daesh have any place in a healthy socialist left.

Worse is Downing's recent promotion of the openly anti-semitic Ian Donovan, who has developed what he calls a “theory” of a “pan-national Jewish bourgeoisie” which makes up the vanguard of the global ruling class. Downing has promoted Donovan on the Socialist Fight website.

We in Workers' Liberty have been long-standing critics of "left anti-semitism", and have often been in a minority on the left in acknowledging that such a thing exists and needs confronting. Anti-semitism has no place in the labour movement.

But due process does. The unelected "Compliance Unit" cannot be allowed to be the plaintiff, judge, and jury of Labour Party membership. It should be abolished.

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