On 27 March, Jackie Walker was expelled from the Labour Party. Her case had been running for three years, since she was first suspended from the Labour Party in May 2016.
Back in 2016, we opposed her suspension – for remarks which surely had antisemitic connotations, but were offhand fragments from social media and meetings – though we supported her removal from the position of vice-chair of the Labour left group Momentum.
Walker eventually got her case heard by a National Constitutional Committee panel whose members, on their records, were neither right-wing nor likely to be unreceptive to a reasoned defence. Then Walker quit the hearing without offering a defence, on the grounds that she was not allowed to make an opening statement (but regular court proceedings don’t start with a statement from the defendant…).
The groups organised around Walker’s three-year campaign – Labour Against the Witch-hunt, Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Representation Committee – have been subdued. They have got signatures for a letter to the Guardian (which wasn’t published, though another was), but it comes across only as “making the record”.
By contrast, over the three years, Walker and her associates have campaigned to present the whole life of the Labour Party as a drama pivoted around themselves. Their hostility to Israel makes them the main target of the conservative forces, and almost all complaints about antisemitism in the Labour Party are concoctions by those conservative forces. “Right-wing” is pretty much identified with “pro-Israel”. So has gone the story, with a film, a touring one-woman show, attendance at international conferences, and more.
Maybe some have become half-aware that this agitation, by automatically disqualifying almost any concern about antisemitism, paints itself into the antisemitic corner.
Substantively, not to expel Walker would have been a slap in the face for all the Jewish Labour Party members raising concerns about antisemitism.
We accept the NCC’s decision. We argue for it to be a spur to the discussion and education on antisemitism (including its modern variants sailing under the “anti-Zionist” flag) which the Labour leadership has lamentably failed to develop.