Liverpool’s Riverside constituency has been at the centre of controversy recently over allegations of antisemitism by its MP and officers against members – including at least one Jewish member – who condemned the actions of the Israeli government, accompanied by accusations of ‘entryism’ against members trying to exercise their democratic rights within their local party.
The antisemitism allegations – which if true should, both legally and according to Labour party rules, have been reported to police – seem to have petered out with no action taken against any Riverside CLP (constituency Labour party) members. Instead, the CLP has suffered the imposition of a branch/delegate structure that largely disenfranchises most members and is easier for experienced right-wing members to exploit.
This is a troubling and deeply anti-democratic move that lays bare the real motivations behind the convenient appearance of hate-crime allegations by right-wing party members and functionaries when left-wing members look like achieving the democratic control of local parties that their numbers merit.
Even more troubling in the context of similar allegations suddenly materialising against a Brighton CLP over the last few days – just as, again, left-wing members looked likely to elect a full ‘slate’ of officials to run the CLP. More on that to follow in a separate article.
Now, it has emerged that the anti-democratic tactics of certain Riverside officials has gone even further.
Riverside Labour MP Louise Ellman is Honorary President of the JLM (Jewish Labour Movement) and vice-Chair of Labour Friends of Israel (LFI). The former organisation is highly controversial because of its affiliation with the openly pro-apartheid Israeli Labour Party ‘Havoda’ and the latter because it was specifically mentioned by the Israeli embassy operative filmed by an undercover Al Jazeera reporter, in connection with his activities in setting up pro-Israeli groups within the Labour party.
Supporters of both groups have been prominent in the discredited but still persisting antisemitism smear against the national party.
And it appears that Ms Ellman and her allies in Riverside CLP – in spite of their obvious conflict of interest – have no intention of allowing members to add their voices to the calls for a full Labour investigation into the infiltration of the party by a foreign government.
In their CLP meeting at the end of January, members tried to move an amendment to a tabled motion that had already been refused, to call on Labour to investigation Israeli intereference. This is the wording of the amended motion (emphases are by this author):
Riverside CLP supports the call by the Labour Party leadership to ask the Government to have a full investigation into the extent of Israeli embassy and Israeli Government interference in British policy making; regarding Israel and Palestine and their efforts to discredit politicians in both the Labour Party and Conservative Party who support Palestine and are critical of the Israeli Government.
Liverpool Riverside CLP therefore calls on Labour’s NEC to lead by example and undertake an internal investigation into allegations that attempts have been made to infiltrate and subvert our party by a foreign state.
Specifically, we ask that the investigation examine the £1m fund being set up primarily to be accessed by Labour MPs sympathetic to the Government of Israel.
We ask that the investigation examine the purpose and nature of this fund and that the findings be shared with all CLPs via the NEC.
A CLP member described events that followed – again, emphases are by the SKWAWKBOX:
An email had been sent to the exec with details of the amendment, However, no reply to the email was received and the chair attempted to skip over the original motion without making any comment or acknowledgement in relation to the proposed amendment.
At this point the proposer of the amendment objected and a very short ‘discussion’ took place where the chair ruled that she was not accepting the amendment as the original motion “had been resolved.” Whatever that means! This was questioned by members who held a copy of the standing orders used for the meeting. The amendment proposer then insisted that the motion was taken as an emergency motion instead and that was also rejected by the chair and the MP waved the antisemitism stick at anyone who objected.
Many of us are not surprised that serious party business in relation to an issue involving national security was brushed under the carpet in such a cavalier manner when our neighbouring CLP had felt the issue had sufficient merit to be given an emergency vote.
We must remember here that the documentary in question suggested that political opponents of Israel were likely systematically targeted, using false allegations of antisemitism, by the agents of the Israeli government and their UK lobby in the Labour Party and that this may well have been the case in Liverpool Riverside itself.
What is now clear to us, is that three members still have not been cleared of the allegations nine months on.
The following statement by Andy Smith from Labour Party region has been offered:
“The NEC have received a number of complaints in regard to individual members in Riverside. Where the NEC finds that there is a case to answer for individual members, they will be contacted in due course.” Andy Smith, NW Labour Party Liaison
A member commented on this as follows:
As you can see the option is still open to proceed against individuals. XXXXX has confirmed that no local CLP action will be taken and that all complaints and allegations are with the national party.
I have now had a reply from Andy to say that the quote comes from a response from the National Compliance Unit acting on behalf of the NEC.
The Al Jazeera documentary was raised earlier in the meeting, when a member specifically mentioned the JLM and Joan Ryan, MP. Louise Ellman’s response was to blatantly misrepresent what the member had said in relation to Joan Ryan in order imply that something improper had taken place. It was outrageous that in response to a member’s concern about the episode called “An antisemitic trope,” where Joan Ryan misrepresented and twisted the words of a Labour Conference delegate, that Louise Ellman would immediately attempt to do the same. She further suggested that it would be folly to make such a claim in a public place, thus implying that it was antisemitic in its nature.
When challenged, she refused to retract what she had claimed was said. The meeting did not appear to be impressed. [Well-known right-wing councillor] questioned the member on why the matter had been raised. Well why not?
Lousie Ellman explained that she was the president of the JLM and that it had been affiliated to the Labour Party since 1924, which is meaningless in respect of some of the charges that call its impartiality into question. She also claimed the documentary was outright false, despite it having significantly more robust evidence than any of allegations that have been covered by the MSM in respect of antisemitism accusations. It appears that this whole strategy has backfired on them.
She further suggested that the Al Jazeera documentary had been edited, which of course most these things are, particularly when they are recorded over a six month period. She also suggested that the documentary was “being looked into,” but failed to tell the meeting by whom!emer
So it seems the MP seems to think there is sufficient reason to investigate Al Jazeera, but her and the chair of the CLP, feel there is not sufficient reason to investigate what it alleges is underway in the Labour Party.
If this pattern is being repeated elsewhere, it means that JLM/LFI supporters in the party have no qualms about ignoring their unarguable conflict of interest, which should require them to abstain from any influence over the matter, in order to impede Labour members from exercising their democratic rights. If you’re similarly affected, contact the SKWAWKBOX with details of your situation.
Members around the country are sending an unequivocal message to Labour’s National Executive Committee to properly investigate the matter of Labour officials collaborating with an interfering foreign power even to the extent of undermining the party and its leader – and to sanction those involved.
Except where they’re being blocked from doing so.
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