The expulsion of Marc Wadsworth a longstanding anti-racist campaigner and journalist for bringing the Labour Party in disrepute is a serious mistake, setting any real fight against antisemitism backwards. The case highlights how far there is to go to reform Labour’s disciplinary procedures even while a left and pro-Corbyn majority is on the NEC.
The charges against Wadsworth stem from the launch of the Chakrabarti Report where he accused a Daily Telegraph journalist Kate McCann of “working hand in hand” with Labour MP Ruth Smeeth. Wadsworth had been leafletting outside and a copy of the leaflet was handed to McCann who passed it to Smeeth, which Wadsworth witnessed.
He was subsequently accused of antisemitism for suggesting that Smeeth who is Jewish was in a conspiracy with the right-wing media. Wadsworth was quick to say he had no idea that Smeeth was Jewish and had no intention of suggesting any conspiracy but that to him it was clear that MPs hostile to Jeremy Corbyn did work closely with the mainstream press, who were also engaged in attacks on him.
At most Wadsworth’s intervention was foolish, he took attention away from the launch of a report that if implemented would have gone someway to making the current disciplinary procedures in Labour better.
At Wadsworth’s hearing footage was played from the event which showed that word originally attributed to him by Smeeth, that he had suggested a conspiracy had not been said and that she had not left the room in tears as originally suggested. The whole way the case played out with the lobby in support of Wadsworth being countered by a show of force for Smeeth supporting MPs has been handled very badly.
There are apparently 90 outstanding cases for the Labour Party to investigate regarding members and allegations of antisemitism. All of these should be dealt with as a matter of urgency and the findings of the Chakrabarti report should be implemented.
The expulsion of Wadsworth does nothing to help fight the battle against antisemitism on the left and in Labour.
Unfortunately in defending his case he has lined up with those who believe that there is no antisemitism in the Labour Party and that all accusations stem from a malicious campaign to shut down discussion on Israel/Palestine. This expulsion will only help those people and distract from the real fight both against antisemitism and for a Labour party disciplinary process that is fair and respects natural justice.
Marc Wadsworth’s expulsion should be reversed, and this should happen alongside a renewed push by left NEC members to change the disciplinary process and to urgently start a campaign of education on the issue of antisemitism and the left.