Tag Archives: Momentum

West Ham Labour cancels meeting

1 Apr

Wenborne and Hedley

The CWU Postal Engineering Branch delegate to West Ham CLP (left, obvs.) in his other job.

West Ham Labour party cancelled its monthly general committee (GC) meeting last week, after rival motions were proposed on the matter of antisemitism in the party. One affirms “our solidarity with the Jewish community and the Jewish Labour Movement as antisemitism in the UK continues to rise and is found within our own party.” Another confirms the CLP’s “implacable hostility to all forms of racism, anti-semitism and Islamophobia, and its determination to fight them in all their manifestations.”

But a third, proposed by the Postal Engineering Branch of the Communications Workers Union, “refutes the allegation that Labour is antisemitic” and

rejects the current atmosphere of hysteria, denunciation and rush-to-judgement over antisemitism that is now being stoked by certain existing and ex-Labour MPs and amplified by the mainstream media…

…too often, accusations of anti-semitism are blown out of all proportion; use distorted comments or quotations taken out of context; or are levelled against those who are making justified criticism of the unjust treatment of Palestinians by the current Israeli government.

The motion continues: “This relentless focus on antisemitism is diverting the public’s attention… and side-lining other forms of racism such as Islamophobia and other prejudices against immigrants.” It alleges that allegations of bullying in the party are “a cynical tactic by those Labour MPs who have become unpopular with their local members because they are unwilling to democratically represent them.”

This all follows an ill-tempered episode during the February GC meeting when the guest speaker Dr Bob Gill, who had been invited to speak on the NHS, made a comment in which he suggested that allegations of antisemitism within the Labour Party were ‘fake’ and ‘a distraction.’ Formal complaints have been made about the conduct of certain delegates following those remarks. Arguments continued at the Executive Committee two weeks later.

Local party officers took advice from London region before deciding to cancel the meeting, telling delegates “if we simply debate these we are in danger of repeating the events of February, rather than moving forward in a more positive manner.”

The CWU postal engineering branch delegate to West Ham GC is also the chair of Newham Momentum. Last September, the group hosted a meeting with Chris Williamson MP, as part of the latter’s Deselection (sorry, ‘Democracy’) Roadshow. Williamson was later suspended from the Labour Party over remarks he made about, er, antisemitism.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Labour Party in West Ham. I am not a member of the General Committee.

Hat-Tip to Jewish News for their original coverage of this story

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Deselection roadshow latest

10 Sep

IMG 0176

Momentum activists have been busy on Twitter and Facebook promoting their ‘deselection roadshow’ meeting with Chris Williamson tomorrow night.

And to add a little extra incentive they’ve invited a couple of extra speakers. One of them is Steve Hedley (pictured above). He is billed as a ‘national officer of the RMT’ union. Which of course he is. But he is also a veteran opponent of the Labour Party.

Until 2013 he was a member of the Socialist Party, the organisation formerly known as Militant. He left not due to ideological differences but to insulate the party from embarrassment over allegations of domestic violence made against him by his former partner.

In 2012 and 2014 he stood against Labour on the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) ticket, first for the London Assembly then in the Newham council election in East Ham South. He finished in 7th place with just 3% of the vote.

Despite an RMT investigation clearing him of the domestic violence allegation, comrades on the far left were sufficiently disturbed that they petitioned the TUSC executive to remove its endorsement of his candidacy ahead of the election, saying

“We are writing to ask you to support this petition, opposing the selection of Steve Hedley as a candidate for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in East Ham South ward, Newham:

“We do not think this an unreasonable demand for a socialist organisation that claims to stand for ensuring “women have genuinely equal rights.”

I am not a Momentum member, so it’s not up to me to say who they should and shouldn’t invite to meetings, but it seems peculiar that an organisation of Labour members wants to hear the opinions of someone like Mr. Hedley on a matter of internal party democracy.

Unsurprisingly, I won’t be there to hear him.

Gaining Momentum

22 Aug

Newham Momentum members with Chris Williamson MP

Newham Momentum members with Chris Williamson MP in Ilford

Chris Williamson MP will be in Forest Gate next month to address the Newham branch of Momentum, as part of his Democracy Roadshow. Although ostensibly a call for mandatory re-selection of all Labour MPs, these ‘road show’ events are mostly being held in constituencies held by MPs on the centre left of the party, leading them to be dubbed by some as the ‘Deselection Roadshow.’ 

Earlier this month Williamson spoke in Ilford, whose two MPs – Mike Gapes and Wes Streeting – are noted Corbyn-sceptics. A number of Newham Momentum members attended, including the chair of the council’s Labour Group, Cllr Suga Thekkeppurayil and former councillor Obaid Khan. This resulted in the invitation to for Williamson to come to Newham. I wonder what Lyn Brown and Stephen Timms make of that?

The Derby MP previously courted controversy by suggesting that Labour MPs who agreed with Theresa May that Russia was behind the Salisbury poisonings were as much “political enemies” as the Tories. He suggested they should face de-selection (are you sensing a pattern here?). He has also shared a platform with Marc Wadsworth, who was expelled from the Labour party for haranguing Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth at the launch of the party’s anti-Semitism review in 2016.

Yesterday the Huffington Post reported:

A Labour MP has said it was a “privilege” to meet and listen to a talk by a controversial pro-Assad blogger, who has previously described murdered MP Jo Cox as a “warmongering Al Qaeda advocate”.

Vanessa Beeley made the comment in a tweet almost a year after Cox’s death, and has also written that “Zionists rule France”.

… She has written that the White Helmets, the volunteer group that rescues people from the rubble of Syria’s civil war, is a terrorist-linked organisation that fakes its activities to elicit sympathy in the West for a regime change plot against Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad.

Who you appear on a platform with and how their views then attach to you is a hot topic right now. Might councillors who are now so publicly embracing Chris Williamson come to regret it? It’s not just MPs who can find themselves in a re-selection battle.