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Activist and journalist dispels claims he is anti-semitic

ACCUSATIONS: Marc Wadsworth (right) with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at the meeting where he allegedly left MP Ruth Smeeth in tears

Even people who voted for Britain to leave the European Union were horrified by the torrent of racism and hatred of foreigners the shock result unleashed.

A police-run site to combat hate crime, recorded a fivefold increase in reports from the public, 331 incidents, since the day the referendum was held.

Wound up Brexit supporters strutted around with “Now send them home” t-shirts.

A young black woman said on TV she was standing in a takeaway with her baby and witnessed abuse being hurled at an Eastern European by a fellow customer. The woman hurried out of the place fearing she would be next.

My British passport-holding daughter-in-law, who was born in Somalia, asked me if I thought she should be packing her bags.
Against this scary backdrop, ex-human rights group chief Shami Chakrabarti launched her Labour report about anti-semitism and racism with party leader Jeremy Corbyn by her side.

It concluded: “The Labour Party is not overrun with anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or other forms of racism.”

Though editor of the-latest.com, I voluntarily helped out as media officer for Momentum Black Connexions, (MBC), that supports my old comrade Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership.

MBC had put together a news release criticising Corbyn’s trouble-making Labour MPs who refused to accept the huge democratic vote he received from party members to become leader.

CAUSES

A large number of Corbyn backers were African, Caribbean and Asian people who recognised his unrivalled record in supporting our causes.

Corbyn had spent some of his youth in Jamaica. He was also a close friend of Diane Abbott and Bernie Grant, who in 1987 were among Britain’s first four black MPs, and an early backer of Labour Party Black Sections, to which they belonged.

The Daily Telegraph’s Kate McCann, requested a copy of the news release. A woman in front of her, ignored me, and asked McCann for the release, which the reporter gave her.

All I said to the woman were three words: “Who are you?”

She replied: “Ruth Smeeth, Labour MP.”

I’d never heard of her. After the meeting I learned she’d resigned from Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, like other MPs keen to politically damage him.

McCann challenged Corbyn about the “leaflet a Momentum member and Jeremy Corbyn supporter" had been handing out accusing MPs attacking him of being traitors and asking their party members to consider removing them.

INVISIBLE

I put up my hand. But Chakrabarti treated me as if I was invisible and called other journalists. Only after I said “Shami, you haven’t called anyone black” did she say, “Ok, you’re next”.

When I spoke I praised her report and the bravery she had shown recommending changes to Labour rules to make them fairer in the wake of a witch-hunt against alleged anti-Semites, including ex-MP Ken Livingstone.

I questioned why the journalist from the right-wing Telegraph had handed a copy of the news release to Smeeth and said it seemed they were working together against Corbyn.

It was at the point when I raised the issue of there being so few African, Caribbean and Asian people in the room that Smeeth threw a strop and walked out, followed by McCann. The dramatic moment was caught on camera and the video later widely circulated in the media, which wrongly said she was in tears. But the claim made it into headlines, which proves some journalist don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.

I did not know she was Jewish. But Smeeth immediately put out a defamatory statement accusing me, a life-long campaigner against racism, of “anti-semitism”.

A couple of hours later I received a letter by email “cancelling” my Labour membership, a hasty decision based on “comments widely reported”.

MANUFACTURED

The media manufactured incident made broadcast and newspaper headlines. Smeeth’s unfounded accusation prompted a backlash online, including some vile racist abuse, against me. But, overwhelmingly, thousands of people commenting at the end of newspaper stories – Jewish and non-Jewish - supported me and observed from the video I had said nothing antisemitic.


SUPPORT: Wadsworth received backing on social media

On Twitter, Tony Greenstein, a Jewish person, reprimanded Smeeth saying she had “embarrassed Chakrabarti with ur childish tantrum u fake victim of 'anti-semitism'.”

Smeeth tweeted her “statement on the disgusting events at the Chakrabarti Inquiry”.

She attacked Corbyn for not defending her.

Greenstein countered “the only disgusting thing was that u pretended to be a victim of anti-Semitism and defamed Black activist @Marcwads”.

* Marc Wadsworth is the founder of the Anti-Racist Alliance, which helped Doreen and Neville Lawrence set up the Justice for Stephen Lawrence Campaign.

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