Custom Search 1

Labour activists call for justice for Wadsworth

PLEA: Marc Wadsworth has launched a crowdfunding appeal

LABOUR ACTIVISTS are urging party chiefs to reinstate expelled member Marc Wadsworth.

Supporters for the veteran anti-racist campaigner say there has been growing grassroots support from party members angered at what they see as a case of victimisation.

Some 24 Labour organisations across the country have joined a campaign to pressure the Labour party hierarchy to reinstate Wadsworth, who was expelled following a clash with an MP at the launch of a report into anti-Semitism and other forms of racism.

Wadsworth, a veteran campaigner who helped the parents of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence set up their campaign for justice, was ousted from the party in April after a disciplinary hearing found he had breached a rule which says members must not act in a way that brings the party into disrepute.

He was not found guilty of anti-Semitism. Among the Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) that have backed motions calling on party bosses to reinstate Wadsworth is the campaigner’s Croydon North branch, in south London.

It is calling for an overhaul of the party’s much-criticised disciplinary rules under which he was expelled. Grassroots Black Left motions in support of the ex-member have also been passed at CLPs in constituencies which have serving black and minority ethnic (BAME) MPs including Brent Central (Dawn Butler), and Wolverhampton South West (Eleanor Smith), as well as Bath, Hastings and Rye, Hackney South and Shoreditch, Hove, Croydon Central, Ealing, Newark and Norfolk in recent weeks.

REPRESENTATION

Wadsworth was initially suspended from the party in June 2016 after accusing Stoke on Trent North MP Ruth Smeeth, who is Jewish, of working “hand in hand” with a right-wing journalist to undermine party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

However Wadsworth’s supporters claim that most of what he said at the launch of the report by Shami Chakrabarti, was about the need for greater black representation in the Labour party.

He denied knowing that Smeeth was Jewish when he made the remarks that led to his explosion. Labour currently has no process by which ex-members can directly appeal a decision handed down by Labour’s National Constitutional Commit- tee (NCC) disciplinary body.

Wadsworth’s case prompted deep splits in the Parliamen- tary Labour Party when it was heard in April. Around a dozen MPs led by Wes Streeting, including Jess Phillips, Louise Ellman, Luciana Berger, Rachel Reeves and Margaret Hodge marched with Smeeth as she arrived to give evidence at the activist’s disciplinary hearing. No BAME MPs joined them.

Trade union activist Glen Hart, a Wadsworth supporter, said: “The sight of a gang of white MPs marching against one black activist was sickening. Why weren’t they protesting to support the Windrush generation or Grenfell victims?”

Fellow Labour MPs Chris Williamson, Clive Lewis and Keith Vaz rallied around Wadsworth, giving evidence on his behalf. Williamson, a close ally of Corbyn, said of the decision to expel Wadsworth: “It ies in the face of the evidence that was presented and offends against the principles of natural justice.

“The NCC’s decision has all the hallmarks of predetermination and tramples on the Labour party’s record of standing up for fairness.”

Wadsworth said: “I’ve been told of motions of support in the pipeline in Shef eld, Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham, Chester, Enfield Southgate, Brentford and Isleworth Wales and Scotland.

“There’s a tsunami of outrage building up from the party grassroots over the miscarriage of justice. Members feel it glaringly exposes the fact that the current discredited party disciplinary process is unfit for purpose, as Chakrabarti said in her report, and needs to be rapidly overhauled.”

Wadsworth added that supporters from “across the Labour political spectrum” had backed his reinstatement in Croydon – and he urged MPs to take note of the motions that have already been passed.

He said: “Elected representatives, including MPs, must take heed of the opinions of the party members who selected them, especially when those views are clearly overwhelming.”

Wadsworth stated he would continue to press for a “negotiated settlement with Labour that avoids a damaging High Court hearing”, and will look to drum up further support for his reinstatement.

He has launched a crowd- funding appeal in support of his campaign.

For further details please visit: https://uk.gofundme.com/justice4marc

Read every story in our hardcopy newspaper for free by downloading the app.

Facebook Comments