“Are you now or have you ever been……” 

A message from JVL web

Today, being Friday 13th, was an appropriate day for a witch hunt. The Labour Party sent out emails to who knows how many committed Labour Party members announcing their “Notice of Possible Autoexclusion”.

Two of JVL’s Officers, our Co-Chair Leah Levane and Political Officer, Graham Bash were among the recipients. At least one other prominent and longstanding Jewish Labour Party member, Roger Silverman, also received his. He has already issued his response and published it on the Labour Against the Witch Hunt website Roger Silverman: My reply to the Labour Party’s “Governance and Legal Unit”. (See below for full text.)

The “evidence” is laughable (see below) – thin to virtually non-existent.

“Auto-exclusion” implies that the party has no choce; the accused have done something so self-evidently wrong that they have excluded themselves from the Party.

It has traditionally been applied to people who stand against the Labour Party or who nominate others who do so (see Labour Party Rule Book, 2020, Ch 2, clause 1.4). It is hard to see this rationale at work here as three of the the four organisations recently proscribed have never advocated supporting non-Labour Party candidates.

Key issues are:

  • the lack of natural justice when the support for and/or membership of the relevant organisations predated their proscription
  • the fact that you are asked to prove a negative….how would anyone prove that they are not a member, let alone supporter when the definition of supporter is drawn wide enough to potentially include those who reposted Facebook and Twitter posts from those organisations. They cannot really ask about membership since they do not have access to the membership lists.
  • the lack of justice in proscribing the organisations in the first place.

We also wish to note that JVL has never called for suspensions, expulsion or proscriptions for those individuals and organisations with which we disagree. We continue to oppose bans and proscriptions of Labour Party members.

The two letters to the JVL Officers differ slightly in detail but are fundamentally the same. Those “accused” are given 7 days to reply to this McCarthyite attack, which is, in essence, “Are you now or have you ever been a supporter of……”

There are, unusually for Labour Party disciplinary letters, no clauses requiring confidentiality, so we are reproducing redacted copies of the letters in question. You can download them here  and here.

To cut to the chase, the evidence as laid out in each case is, in its entirety:

8. We believe that you have engaged in the following acts and that these acts constitute support for LAW.
8.1. In January 2020 you signed an Open letter from LAW. The signature included the organisations you are associated with “LRC, JVL, LAW”.


8. We believe that you have engaged in the following acts and that these acts constitute support for LIEN.
8.1. On February 27 2021 you attended and spoke at the Labour In Exile Network virtual conference.
9. We believe that you have engaged in the following acts and that these acts constitute support for LAW.
9.1. In January 2020 you signed an Open letter from LAW to Rebecca Long-Bailey.

Roger Silverman: My reply to the Labour Party’s “Governance and Legal Unit”…

I have received your communication, in which you demand that I “provide evidence that I am not a supporter” of a group that you arbitrarily proscribed three weeks ago. This is a classic technique practised in all such purges going right back to the original witch-hunts of the seventeenth century. It defies all norms of natural justice. I am under no obligation to prove anything.

The sole “evidence” contained in the dossier you have sent me is a report and a photo-shot of me speaking at a rally in 2019 organized by Labour Against the Witch-hunt. Yes, I spoke there. Why? Because 1) I am Labour; and 2) I am against a witch-hunt.

Rather than rub shoulders with the likes of those MPs who actively plotted to undermine Labour’s most popular leader for decades, and those bureaucrats proven to have actively sabotaged Labour’s election campaigns in 2017 and 2019, I consider it an honour to be numbered in the ranks of generations of victimised socialists. These include George Lansbury, Stafford Cripps, Aneurin Bevan, Michael Foot, Jeremy Corbyn and countless more – among them my late father Sydney Silverman, a Labour MP for 33 years until his death, who was twice expelled from the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, Labour became the biggest political party in Europe, gaining three and a half million extra votes in the 2017 election, and more votes even in 2019 than in 2015, or 2010, or 2005 when Labour won. Keir Starmer has flagrantly betrayed his promise to continue Labour’s “radical socialist tradition”. Under his disastrous leadership, Labour has lost 150,000 members, millions of pounds in funding, and tens of thousands of votes in three successive by-elections.

Labour will only regain mass support when it confronts this government of speculators, hedge fund sharks and black money launderers and speaks out for the millions of victims of capitalism: the workers without a job, the families without homes, the youth without a future.

I joined the Labour Party more than six decades ago, and I have been a socialist campaigner all my life. Your previous feeble attempt to justify suspending me in 2016 failed because you were incapable of countering my political response. This time you have resorted instead to the cowardly ruse of sending me “notification of possible automatic exclusion” – i.e. a threat of summary expulsion without trial. Rather than cower behind hastily improvised legal loopholes, I defy you to meet my political arguments head-on. Meanwhile, I will challenge any attempt to exclude me.

Auto Da Fe (What A Day) lyrics

Candide by Leonard Bernstein et al

What a day, what a day
For an auto-da-f?!
What a sunny summer sky!
What a day, what a day
For an auto-da-f?!
It’s a lovely day for drinking
And for watching people fry!
Hurry, hurry, hurry,
Watch’em die!

Comments (22)

  • Graeme Atkinson says:

    Unspeakable and emetic.

    Are the witch-hunters part of a deep State operation to wipe Labour off the political map? They are certainly political scabs and instruments of the boss class.

  • Tony says:

    “among them my late father Sydney Silverman, a Labour MP for 33 years until his death”

    Best known for his efforts to abolish capital punishment in this country.
    We have much to thank him for.

  • Margaret West says:

    Apart from the excellent depositions from those receiving letters –
    i.e. the extremely flimsy evidence presented in them –
    GLU appear to be relying on their proscription of
    the four organisations to expel these members. However
    we have never heard any coherent reasons as to WHY
    these are proscribed – but from occasional snippets in
    the press members of these have apparently uttered
    statements in CLP meetings varying from “toxic” to “the
    most toxic ever” . However we have never ever heard any of the
    (1) who
    (2) where
    (3) what
    (4) when
    let alone any evidence that the “toxic” members had any opportunity to defend themselves.

    There was an apparently a 9 hour meeting of the NEC which (among
    other things) voted to proscribe these four groups – possibly on no evidence but certainly on any evidence that was subject to challenge.

    Given (in addition) the treatment of the members receiving the notices – would this be allowed in any reputable Court of Law – or is
    this in any sense justice – well no and no.

  • Allan Howard says:

    I don’t know about wiping Labour off the political map Graeme, but they most certainly want to ‘exorcise’ the left from the Labour Party AND main-stream politics. And I must confess that I got something completely wrong – ie that once they’d demolished and deposed Jeremy, the A/S black op would ‘magically’ come to an end. But I couldn’t have been MORE wrong!

    Anyway, talking about the Deep State, in a post sent out to members and supporters yesterday, LAW said ‘The Labour Party has of course no access to our database.’ Well, no, they shouldn’t have of course, but you can be 100% certain that the Deep State – ie the evil fascist dark forces hidden from just about everyone except their prey – have been ‘monitoring’ LAW from its inception and, as such, know exactly who their members and supporters are.

    And I have no doubt whatsoever that they ALSO ‘monitored’ Jeremy from the moment he was elected an MP and, as such, they knew exactly what he was doing and what he was saying, and the ‘Mural’ episode and the meeting in which the Israeli State was ‘Compared to the Nazis’ episode and the ‘English Irony’ episode etc didn’t just magically and oh-so fortuitously come to light in 2018 (and 2019), and the Deep State knew about these things at the time they happened. To think otherwise would be naive.

  • Allan Howard says:

    Talking of evil (here’s John Pilger doing so in an article posted on Counterpunch yesterday):

    ‘A Day in the Death of British Justice’

    I sat in Court 4 in the Royal Courts of Justice in London yesterday with Stella Moris, Julian Assange’s partner. I have known Stella for as long as I have known Julian. She, too, is a voice of freedom, coming from a family that fought the fascism of Apartheid. Today, her name was uttered in court by a barrister and a judge, forgettable people were it not for the power of their endowed privilege.


  • DJ says:

    If we catch you “denying” that the Labour Party has a severe problem of antisemitism you will be purged. If we catch you associating with or defending those we have purged then you will be purged. You could be forgiven for thinking we have been transported to Hong Kong or Belarus.

  • George Wilmers says:

    I think we should note that the reason that these witch-hunt trials are not as ideologically credible as Stalin’s purges of the 1930’s unfortunately were to huge swathes of the left is that the victims have not been tortured into confessing their guilt. Otherwise the quasi-judicial process is remarkably similar. Given the attitude of Starmer and his acolytes to the use of torture by the security services I believe we should be thankful that they are not in power.

  • Linda says:

    What will it take for the “Guardian” to report fully and accurately what’s going on in the Labour party? And to stop “moderating” / silencing posts which seek to discuss these issues?

    Yes, the “Guardian” has covered the expulsion of Ken Loach – but only in terms that “centrist Labour” might well use and without explaining any of the reasons for the conflicts between Starmer, his allies and other parts of the Labour family.

  • Linda says:

    Post from SHEVII (on the UK Polling Report web site) offered because I so much agree with what she writes. I have no idea whether SHEVII is part of the JVL community already. If she’s not, SHEVII’s views are so close to many of ours as to suggest the distaste for Evans’ and Starmers’ authoritarianism may be much more widespread than we’d hoped.

    “David Evans is so far a temporary appointment needing to be ratified by Labour Conference so it’s not exactly “replacing” in the traditional sense. It’s not a “plot” either, it is a transparent campaign ever since mass suspensions started.

    I don’t think the doubts about his abilities (or at least his extreme factionalism) are just coming from Corbynites. He’s presided over an authoritarian regime of mass suspensions and closing down of party democracy. According to Jewish Voice for Labour (yes on the left of the party):

    “almost five times more Jewish than non-Jewish Labour members have faced complaints of antisemitism” and they estimate that “JVL members have been subject to actioned antisemitism complaints at a rate 20 times greater than non-Jewish Labour members.” https://spotlight-newspaper.co.uk/politics/08/10/labour-virulently-anti-semitic-under-starmer/

    Of course anyone’s opinion is going to be based on their politics but I have little doubt that this factionalism has been spearheaded by Evans in tandem with other right wing Labour party officials. Labour has never had this level of intervention and suspensions before (perhaps with Militant but that had widespread support among the membership and few on the left had a problem with proscribing them) and I think your middle of the road Labour Party member would be deeply concerned at the level of control being exercised by Evans and co.

    On top of this we now have a McCarthyite campaign to identify members of the recently proscribed groups: https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/article/are-you-now-or-have-you-ever-been/

    Uniting a party is never an easy task but that was what was promised by Starmer and he couldn’t have done a worse job. Hiding behind the excuse of antisemitism might be a valid argument for tough action were it not for the figures quoted by JVL above.

    Of course no one individual is responsible for any of this or the finances that went from £13m net assets at the end of 2019 General Election to “one month’s payroll” and 90 redundancies with other medium term contracts ended but Secretary is a key post who has to be held to account to some extent for these failings.

    There really is no justification for keeping Evans other than the political opinion that Corbyn and his supporters should be purged from the Labour Party.”

    I think SHEVII wasn’t (or at least didn’t stay) a Corbyn supporter and seemed to align more closely with the centre-Left than the radical Left.

  • Allan Howard says:

    Re Ken Loach being auto-expelled from the party:

    Ken Loach is by FAR the most high profile member of LAW *and* any of the four groups who were proscribed and, as such, the MSM were well aware that he was a member of LAW (including the Daily Mirror!) and, in fact, one of their named sponsors, along with Alexei Sayle and Noam Chomsky, who aren’t exactly unknown EITHER, and yet the MSM en masse omitted to point this out at the time. I wonder why!!

    Oh, right, because just about everyone on the planet who is familiar with Ken and his work over the past fifty-five years would have known that all the malevolent poison about ‘poisonous beliefs’ and a ‘warped world view’ etc were black propaganda falsehoods AND, that Ken would hardly be a member and a sponsor of a group with ‘poisonous beliefs’ etc, and they – ie those who are familiar with him – would of course quickly concluded that it is a disgusting and despicable big iie by those who are now running the Labour Party.

    And my point is of course that the most obvious thing in the world for the MSM to have done is to have pointed out from day one (of the story breaking) that Ken is a member (and a sponsor of the group) AND, as such, pose the question to their readers and viewers and listeners: ‘Is their really anyone in the whole country who for one single moment believes that Ken Loach has poisonous beliefs and a warped world view?’, AND, in so doing, expose the black op smear for the Big Lie that it is, AND those dissembling the despicable smear for the fascists that they are. But they didn’t!!!


    NB And check out the wikipedia entry for Ken, and especially the section entitled ‘Political Activities’.

  • Allan Howard says:

    PS And as I’ve said before, if the members of these groups have ‘poisonous beliefs’ etc, then how come Starmer & Co waited some fifteen months before proscribing them.

    Doesn’t add up or make sense of course, and in the Real World it would have been one of the first things you did as leader, what with having said in your victory speech that you are going to pull this evil out by its roots! And ESPECIALLY in view of the ‘fact’ that members of these four groups were the worst abusers of Jewish people at CLP meetings, as a ‘party source’ was quoted as saying in a Haaretz article at the time. Oh, right, and I expect Ken Loach was one of the WORST of the worst!

    What we are dealing with here – as we have all along – is really REALLY sick and twisted and malevolent people! Utterly and totally evil!

    There really is no other way to describe them.

  • Alan McGowan says:

    Love the tenor of this (and the logic.) Well done Roger! But I wonder if this is your swan song.

  • John Bowley says:

    Inside the Labour Party is vile injustice and hypocrisy. Eh, Keir?

    Actually, this from me is very inadequate. I am deeply upset by these events.

  • Jenny Mahimbo says:

    I have also been given notice (and spotted the omission of the confidentiality clause). My crime was to “like” 3 posts about the July 20th protest – they were solely notices of the impending action, no “contentious” script, and thus predates the proscription of the groups in question. I was told to supply evidence that I don’t support these groups. My answer to that is that they have to prove categorically that I do. The “evidence” clearly came from members in my own CLP. Another of our CLP exec has also been served a similar notice and a further member of our exec has also been sent a threatening email together with a similar screenshot and ordered to resign. The right-wing faction in my CLP has been after us for years, with some success. I note the weapon of choice now seems to have shifted from claims of antisemitism to claims that we support a party within a party. Is this because recent respected international organizations have now spoken out about the actions of the Israeli government and called it apartheid, making it somewhat awkward for the witch hunters? Or is it just that they have found a better weapon and so have left the fight against antisemitism behind? The old weapon has outlived its usefulness.

  • It may seem irrelevant but it is not that Barrack Obama when running for president instigated a team whose only task was to scrutinize his (Obama’s) whole life. Why did Obama decide this? Because he knew from political experience that his opponents would be doing exactly the same thing. Obama knew that his whole life would be examined, by his enemies, in an attempt to find anything that could be used against him.
    This is the same procedure that has been used against Jeremy Corbyn. There is not the slightest doubt that everything that Jeremy has said,or done, since the age of perhaps 15 that has not been pored over in desperation to unearth ANYTHING that could be remotely misconstrued as “antisemitic”
    The definition of “witch hunt” is invent a crime and then look for the “guilty” It is a foul and disgusting corruption carried out by foul and disgusting people.

  • DJ says:

    Is a demonstration to the upcoming party conference feasible? The main demands could be for the party to adopt policies against British complicity with Israeli apartheid and to end its witch hunt of campaigners for Palestinian justice. Just a thought. I’m sure, I’m not the only one to come up with this idea.

  • Paul Smith says:

    Logically, support for Ken Loach could be the next installment of the ‘political cleansing’ of the Labour Party to make it safe and habitable for non-socialists. Never again should the Left get anywhere near the leadership of the party.

  • Angie Hudson says:

    About two weeks ago Ken released a video challenging SKS’s involvement as DPP in the disgraceful harassment of Julian Assange. Maybe this is SKS’s revenge?

  • Hilary Wise says:

    Maybe having watched a Ken Loach film will now be grounds for expulsion

  • Tony Booth says:

    It is brilliant that so many are speaking out so forcefully and with such clarity and courage – Roger Silverman, Jenny Mahimbo, Leah Lavane, Graham Bash – to mention only those named in this post. There are tweets which push the idea that only resignation from the party can demonstrate sufficient solidarity with those investigated, suspended and excluded as part of a purge of the left. I know of good people who have resigned in protest at the treatment of their partners and comrades. I know of others who feel and demonstrate equal levels of solidarity but refuse to smooth the way for the leadership to get what they want. Either way – stay or go – the accumulated resignation letters and responses to the absurd, bullying notices of suspension and threatened exclusion are important testimony on the rightward, authoritarian, post-truthery lurch of the Party.

  • Alan Stanton says:

    Once again we walk or stand around discussing the elephant in the room.
    Like the ancient Indian parable of blind people on a path to their village.

    What is it? What’s going on in the Party of Labour? What pieces of evidence are reliable? But it’s not a logic puzzle or a philosophical predicament of caves and shadows.
    To switch metaphor, who if anyone is putting all the jigsaw pieces together? And in a way which sheds fresh air and light on what’s really happening. With paths out of the trap which socialists in Labour seem to have fallen into.

    Haven’t some people supposedly on the Left as well as the Right embraced the complaints culture? Realising they can get people suspended with just an anonymous baseless denunciation? Very handy for example when voting numbers in the ramshackle party structures are close.

    After Cyril Chilson published an account of his expulsion — toe curlingly embarrassing for the Party — I assumed things must improve.

    Instead Party bureaucrats & “Leaders” have very belatedly found a way to avoid panels and time consuming hearings. (If only virtual.)

    Now it’s “Auto-exclusion”. DIY purges! A brilliantly effective device to ensure that enemies can be quickly dumped. While friends of important people seem to be gently chided.

    IKEA please note. The Labour Party has taken self-service to the next level.
    It promises prompt clearance of any backlog of mishandled cases! A way to discard any less-than-silent and non-servile members.

    And why not? Haven’t they forfeited the confidence of the Leaders and their bureaucrats? So much cheaper and more efficient to deem they’ve rubbed their own names from the membership list. No evidence ; no hearings with panels and all that pretend stuff. No need for a resignation. No postage ; no emails. No fake “we regret”. or any twaddle like that.

    It’s even faster and cheaper than the option once proposed by Bertolt Brecht – that the Government should dissolve the people and elect another.

  • rc says:

    “putting a jigsaw together” – indeed, failing to prevent others from doing so – is becoming a criminal offence in Scotland. Craig Murray, whose distinguished career includes being sacked by Jack Straw when FCO Secretary for exposing torture by allies of “the West”, is currently in gaol for exposing the fraud and repression practised by the Sturgeon government – the web is – or was at last read – of material by and about Craig. Other victims of the Straw/Blair clique of course include Walter Wolfgang. Read Craig and his supporters and those of Julian Assange – and the hand of the US is patent. And have JVL members forgotten Mike Pompeo’s threats against Jeremy Corbyn and his followers?

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