Electronic Intifada asks – Is Labour expelling members identified by the Board of Deputies?

Becky Massey (center) was expelled from Labour after appearing on a secret hit list. Brighton PSC

JVL Introduction

We reproduce here a piece from Electronic Intifada revealing redacted emails obtained by a former Labour Party member that seem to suggest she was expelled following receipt by the party leadership of a “hit list” compiled by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

EI’s Asa Winstanley writes that Brighton Palestine Solidarity activist Becky Massey was one of 11 named by the BoD to be removed on antisemitism charges.

Within days of the BoD sending the leader’s office its target list, correspondence between party staffers shows them highlighting a tweet expressing respect for former MP Chris Williamson to use as a pretext.

This was enough to have Massey suspended that very same day. Expulsion followed a few weeks later.

Asa Winstanley’s investigation follows.

 

This article was originally published by Electronic Intifada on Fri 20 Nov 2020. Read the original here.

Revealed: the Israel lobby’s Labour hit list

The UK’s Labour Party has been purging members using a hit list by a leading Israel lobby group, The Electronic Intifada has learned.

In a secret document in May, the Board of Deputies of British Jews said a Palestine solidarity activist and 10 other Labour members would “require permanent expulsion.”

A redacted section of the hit list was revealed last week after a data access request made by Becky Massey, one of the targeted activists.

You can read the disclosure in full at the end of this article.

“This is a political hit list,” Massey told The Electronic Intifada. She was suspended a few days later and expelled the following month.

The revelation comes amidst an escalating civil war in Labour, triggered by the ongoing manufactured anti-Semitism campaign against former leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Labour leader Keir Starmer on Wednesday announced that Corbyn could no longer be a Labour MP – despite a disciplinary panel readmitting him to party membership the previous day.

Corbyn was first suspended as a party member last month. The pretext was a statement by the former leader that the scale of anti-Semitism in the party had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.”

This overly cautious, blandly factual statement caused outrage among the party right and the Israel lobby.

Labour’s remaining left-wing MPs rhetorically condemned the suspension, but did very little.

However a backlash among the Labour membership and the threat of a party split – along with potential legal action – may have played a role in ending the suspension.

Five Labour councillors in the northern city of Lancaster quit the party in protest at Corbyn’s suspension and Labour’s lurch to the right.

“For a brief time, a ‘moment’, the Labour Party offered hope to millions, to the many not the few. Today under Starmer, it is offering a return to ‘business as usual’,” they said.

Corbyn backpedals

On Tuesday, a Labour disciplinary panel ruled that Corbyn should be readmitted to the party. According to The Times, they also “ordered” Corbyn to delete his statement that anti-Semitism has been dramatically overstated from social media.

However, the BBC reported that this was only “a suggestion” not a requirement.

Either way, as of this writing, Corbyn has not deleted the posts. But the former leader did – once again – capitulate to demands made on him.

In another apologetic statement issued on social media the morning the disciplinary panel met, he seemed to reverse his earlier statement that anti-Semitism had been “dramatically overstated” for political reasons.

“To be clear, concerns about anti-Semitism are neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated,’” he wrote.

Corbyn’s backpedaling did him no good.

After Corbyn was readmitted, Labour Friends of Israel supporter Margaret Hodge, a right-wing Labour MP, threatened to quit the party. Israel lobby group the Jewish Labour Movement accused Corbyn of having “offered no apology for his total failure of leadership to tackle anti-Semitism.”

Starmer announced the next morning he had “taken the decision not to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn” – meaning that Corbyn cannot be part of the Labour group in the House of Commons.

The purging of Corbyn is only the most high-profile sign of a much wider problem in the Labour Party: the fabrication, exaggeration and weaponization of anti-Semitism in order to attack the left and the Palestine solidarity movement.

That purge has been raging for more than five years now, dramatically ramping up since Starmer took over in April.

“Good spot”

Starmer – who says he supports “Zionism without qualification” and has been richly backed by prominent Israel lobby funders – made his very first acts as leader meetings with the Israel lobby to confirm his intention to meet their demands.

The secret Board of Deputies document was sent the following month, on 11 May. Seven days later Massey was suspended.

Earlier the same day Labour Party staffers had discussed how to have the activist expelled, redacted emails released to the activist by Labour under her subject access request show.

Under British law, individual members of the public have the right to access most information an organization holds on them.

You can read the full chain as redacted by Labour below.

“Good spot,” wrote one of the staffers, after a colleague found a tweet by Massey to use as a pretext.

The November 2019 Twitter posting had been a expression of respect for Chris Williamson, an MP who wrote in an article – linked to in the tweet – that he had “resigned from Labour to spend more time fighting for socialism.”

Williamson had been the only Labour MP to call out the smear campaign. He was pushed out of the party as a result.

The letter suspending Massey was sent the evening of the day of the email chain. Earlier that day, Starmer had met with the Jewish Labour Movement.

A Labour Party spokesperson at the time told me that it was “categorically untrue to claim or imply that this or any other suspension was in any way connected” to the JLM meeting – even though the group has for years been demanding suspensions and expulsions of leftists from Labour.

But a statement the very next day by the Board of Deputies suggested there was indeed such a connection.

Obliquely referring to the hit list later revealed by Massey’s access request, the Board wrote they had “sent Labour a briefing on 11 cases of anti-Semitism that we believe to be outstanding.”

The hit list is titled “Briefing: Eleven Outstanding Labour Antisemitism Cases.”

The statement went on to say the Board was “heartened by Sir Keir’s meeting with the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) yesterday.”

Political interference

The hit list is marked “confidential” on each page and is dated 11 May – exactly a week before Massey was suspended.

The email chain released to Massey also suggests that Labour’s “investigation” process is a sham, with staffers discussing the fact they had suspended her “with a view to her autoexclusion.”

By way of contrast, the letter sent to Massey said only that she had been suspended “subject to the approval of the next meeting” of Labour’s ruling national executive.

A failed redaction in the email chain also suggests that Keir Starmer’s office is guilty of political interference in the disciplinary process.

The subject line of most of the emails reads: “Subject: [REDACTED] Rebecca Massey.”

But one email in the chain reveals that the unredacted subject had read: “Subject: RE: For LOTO: Rebecca Massey.”

“LOTO” is a reference to the office of the “Leader of the Opposition” – Keir Starmer.

This suggests that Starmer’s office initiated the purge of Massey and the other left-wing Labour activists, or at least was informed about it from the outset.

And Starmer’s contemporaneous meetings with Israel lobby groups in which they demanded the expulsions of those on the hit list – combined with the contents of the document itself – shows that, once again, the so-called crisis of anti-Semitism in the party is actually being driven by the Israel lobby.

Ironically, “political interference” is exactly the charge that the Labour right and the Israel lobby leveled at Corbyn during his time as leader, accusing him of protecting “anti-Semites.”

controversial report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission last month also accused Corbyn of “political interference.”

After a 17-month investigation, the report failed to find Labour guilty of the alleged “institutional anti-Semitism.”

“We lobby unashamedly for Israel”

Becky Massey is a leading activist in one of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s most visible branches, in Brighton on the south coast.

Massey’s suspension in May came as part of a wider purge of Palestine solidarity activists from the party, including others in Brighton PSC.

Responding to the new revelations on Thursday, a spokesperson for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign said they had “warned on many occasions of the wrongs of any conflation of anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism” of Israel.

They said Labour should make its complaints process “fair, transparent and free of political interference.”

They said Labour should not restrict members’ rights to discuss the “historical and ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people and to call for action, including via support for boycott, divestment and sanctions.”

The Board of Deputies and the Labour Party did not reply to requests for comment.

Although it represents itself as almost the sole spokesperson for “the Jewish community,” much of the Board’s activities are devoted to protecting Israel’s crimes.

In 2013 its president wrote that “we lobby unashamedly for Israel.”

Corbyn’s options

Corbyn’s current Labour Party limbo leaves the former leader in a contradictory and confusing situation.

He is still an MP and still a member of the Labour Party but – at least according to the Labour leader – no longer a Labour MP.

It is currently unclear how long the suspension of the whip will last.

This situation means that, were a general election held tomorrow, Corbyn would not be the party’s official candidate for his North London seat in Parliament. The next election is due in 2024.

Corbyn could be facing a choice between giving up altogether or standing as an independent socialist MP – perhaps forming a new party.

Corbyn’s massive local support base, national profile and enduring popular loyalty would mean he’d have a serious chance of winning the seat, even standing against the Labour machine.

But Corbyn’s half-century of party loyalty means it’s hard to see a scenario in which he would willingly split off from Labour.

A far more likely scenario is for Starmer and the Labour machine to connive another pretext to have him expelled.

Comments (27)

  • Deemac42 says:

    Re Corbyn “back pedalling”: he did not withdraw his statement that the AMOUNT of antisemitism in the party had been exaggerated. This is in line with the available evidence. He said the CONCERNS had not been exaggerated. In my opinion that is true, there was a lot of concern, even if much of it was misplaced and the result of media hysteria, and it is right to acknowledge that.

  • Wendy Patterson says:

    Sorry but you are getting parts of this very wrong again. “Either way, as of this writing, Corbyn has not deleted the posts. But the former leader did – once again – capitulate to demands made on him.
    In another apologetic statement issued on social media the morning the disciplinary panel met, he seemed to reverse his earlier statement that anti-Semitism had been “dramatically overstated” for political reasons.
    “To be clear, concerns about anti-Semitism are neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated,’” he wrote.”
    1. He did not capitulate to any demands. He simply posted the statement he had ALREADY GIVEN TO THE PARTY on the day he was suspended.
    2. He has made no apology for the statement which got him suspended in which he stated that the extent of the problem had been overstated by political enemies and the media.
    3. The statement he made to the party on the day he was suspended, which he later posted on the day of the NEC meeting, was to clarify that he had not meant that ‘concerns about antisemitism had been overstated or exaggerated’. This reverses nothing he had previously said and is not an apology although of course he regrets hurt caused, as we all do. The level of concerns cannot be overstated because it cannot be measured however due to the exaggeration of the extent of the problem, it is very likely that concerns, and indeed fear among Jews and others, was very high indeed given the continuous headlines and claims from political opponents that the party is institutionally antisemitic, rife with antisemitism, not being dealt with, facilitated etc. etc.

    It really important that you correct these details. Since becoming a founding solidarity member I have greatly valued your articles for their accuracy and analysis. For the second time this week I have to request that corrections – firstly for an inaccurate headling and now for the serious and damaging inaccuracies in this article.

    • Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi says:

      We republished this article from Electronic Intifada because of its shocking revelations about pro-Palestinian Labour Party members apparently being excluded at the urging of an outside body. We realise readers may have varying views about the opinions expressed by the author and we will pass on to him the comments from Wendy Patterson and others who made similar points.

  • Chris Proffitt says:

    I only have one comment
    ‘Gobsmacked’

  • Steve Griffiths says:

    Why am I not surprised? I only hope that enough people remain in the Labour Party to give this very British Putin his marching orders. It is no longer about winning any elections, and there is no route outside Labour for doing so, for now. It’s not a Civil War started by ordinary Labour members. Behind it, our fundamental freedoms are threatened; and it was never essentially about antisemitism. The treatment of Jewish dissidents demonstrates that. They could not have chosen a more offensive pretext. It’s so tragic.

  • Paul Smith says:

    Any information re the names of the other ten on the BoD’s list? Have any others similarly sought information held on them?

  • John C says:

    What does the EHRC have to say about political interference in Labour Party complaints procedures if it comes from outside the party?

  • Simon Anderson says:

    I agree with Wendy.

  • Dr ALAN MADDISON says:

    Outside groups sending in complaints to only one party would suggest this is not about tackling antisemitism, but silencing cr,itics of Israel’s racist and apartheid activities.

    That Starmer, a Labour leader, would facilitate such undemocratic activities which contradict Labour values, by influencing outcomes, is appalling.

    So what would the EHRC make of such alleged indirect political influence of the BoD and JLM, via LOTO, on Labour’s disciplinary process?

    The NEC need to investigate urgently and take appropriate measures.

    This farce must be ended.

  • Steven Reynolds says:

    In peace. Supporter Member.

    Shocking. Forensic analysis of the mistakenly incomplete redaction of emails alleged to have been used via the current LOTO must be patiently sought and reviewed. Who? When?

    But I hope comrades will remember also the unity required to defeat racism, whether in Palestine or against my Jewish comrades and neighbours. Splintering arguments over the watery style of some more recent statements from JC may not be showing unity as clearly as we need. Not necessary to score points on perceived purity.

    Comradely.

  • Simon Dewsbury says:

    I am no sort of expert on the the data protection act but I wonder if the the Labour Party has failed to comply with the requirements of a subject access request. Most of it is redacted and that is normally in order to protect personal data relating to others, such as names . However LOTO is not an individual and therefore there would be no breach of personal data by including this. It would appear that the person who who carried out the redaction has not done so properly, presumably under the expectation that they could get away with it ( apart from being careless). Maybe the solution would be to repeat the the request with a requirement that only personal data relating to others be deleted. It appears to be another example of highly improper practice within the organisation.

  • Simon Dewsbury says:

    Also, this will not have been the only investigation. It is very likely that 10 other people will have had their social media trawled through because of the BoD demand. It would be interesting to know whether any others on the list are currently suspended. It will presumably have happened at around the same time, in May so others suspended at that time are quite likely part of the same ‘batch’. Maybe other subject access requests are in order if people suspect they are part of the ‘BoD 11’.

  • Carlene Edmonds says:

    I think every one expelled/suspended in this scam should do similar FOA requests. Could be quite revealing.

  • It is irrelevant whether Corbyn backpedalled since being suspended. He spent the whole of his leadership backpedalling on what he stood for.

    As a matter of fact Corbyn is wrong in his correction where he says concerns about antisemitism have not been exaggerated. Oh yes they bloody were. ALL the concerns of the Board and the Zionist lobby were fake.

    This article by Asa is dynamite and proves what I have been saying repeatedly. The left in the Labour Party is compounding its defeat and will recover its position until it realises that this whole ‘antisemitism’ campaign was a fraud, a hoax, a contrived political campaign.

    The use of ‘antisemitism’ as a weapon against the Left did NOT start with Corbyn. It was tried and tested under Reagan against the Sandanistas in Nicaragua and then repeated again against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.

    Its only the arrogance and chauvinism of much of the Left which things that imperialism wouldn’t do the same in Britain which prevents people from understanding that what happened in Labour over the past 5 years was already part of the Zionist and CIA/US playbook.

    Becky Massey, who is named in Asa’s article is a close comrade. There isn’t a trace of racism about her yet she has been named as the 8th worst antisemite in Britain. The failure of Momentum and the Campaign Group to recognise what the ‘fight against antisemitism’ is really about is not only an act of political cowardice but is the equivalent of signing a political suicide note.

    My latest blog complements Asa’s article

    https://azvsas.blogspot.com/2020/11/you-cant-unite-with-rattlesnake-left.html

  • Margaret West says:

    The point is surely that after a legally constituted NEC Complaints Committee, (set up by the Party Secretary and aided by Party lawyers) had reinstated Corbyn to the Party – this decision was reversed! Bear in mind that the NEC had only recently been democratically elected by the Labour Party members. This is an insult to
    (1) The group of NEC members who heard the case – for it seems their time was wasted
    (2) The Labour Party members who voted for the NEC a few short weeks ago ..

    Apparently this was because the decision did not accord with the views of
    the UK Jewish Community. Now not only does this assume there is only ONE Jewish Community – but more importantly it is Political interference – which is expressly forbidden by the Commission.

  • Sian Rider says:

    If Starmer wishes to purge the party of all pre-Palestinians he’ll end up with a mass exodus.
    But perhaps he wishes to leave Labour with insufficient membership funding to pay its winter heating bill – or, indeed, the legal expenses the party will be involved in should he continue his vendetta against Corbyn?

  • Joanna Drayton says:

    So basically you can only be a member of the Labour Party if :-
    1. You don’t criticise the apartheid regime of Israel.. as this is being an anti-semitic (!) and
    2.You do not show any solidarity for the plight of the Palestinian people who suffer as a consequence.
    Tell me, how does this fit with the principles and aims of a truly socialist Labour Party? We have truly lost our Labour Party which is utterly tragic.😥

  • Stephen Richards says:

    Constant references are made of the real ‘FEAR’ felt by ‘THE Jewish Community’ about anti-Semitism. The EHRC hides the 70 anonymous Complaints it investigated so we are unable to judge for ourselves, surrounding itself in secrecy.
    Ephraim Mirvis gave an insight into the cause of the ‘great fear’ when he addressed an AIPAC meeting & congratulated those who prevented the ‘Socialists’ Bernie Sanders & Jeremy Corbyn obtaining high office. For AS read Socialism.

  • Ian Kemp says:

    I totally agree Corbyn whatever he does is not going to satisfy these zealot’s. It is best that he stop this nonsense by BoD ACC JLM and expose their lies because that is what they are. rather keep caving into the likes of Hodge et al . They will never accept anything he says. Best to sue and gets the facts out in the open and expose these people and their political activities.

  • John Hall says:

    The left must call out the human-rights-abusing brand of settler-colonial Zionism They must point out that criticising what is an essentially Christian-backed and promoted, end-of-times-welcoming movement, cannot be anti-semitic. If settler-colonial, ethnic-cleansing Zionism if not backed by all Jews or presumed to be a “Jewish trait”, can criticising it be “anti-semitic”?
    I’m astonished not to hear anyone asking these questions which I would love to hear the likes of Starmer attempt to answer. At 66 years of age, having been asking such questions myself for many months, I’m almost ready to throw in the towel. I don’t know why the pro-Zionists are effectively untouchable. I’m am reminded of the lines in King Lear where “the strong lance of Justice” breaks against those dressed in finery, but against those dressed in rags, “a pigmy’s straw doth pierce” (it).
    What is this “finery” that supporters of this brand of Zionism clad themselves in?

  • Richard Steele says:

    I find this article frightening. The Labour Party’s disciplinary procedures need a complete overhaul and David Evans needs to be removed. For your interest I was disciplined recently for apparent anti-semitism. See below the text of my email to Starmer. Needless to say I have not received a reply from him or the disciplinary team.

    Dear Sir Keir ,

    Following receipt of the message from the Governance and Legal Unit attached below, I am tendering my resignation from the Labour Party. The letter and it’s contents came with no prior warning so I was effectively charged tried and sentenced in absentia by the NEC, something redolent of oppressive regimes throughout history, more recently the Nazi Party and the Communist Party in the former USSR. Just for the record, I am not anti-semitic but do feel I can criticise the acts of the Israeli government, such as crimes against humanity, illegal settlements, proposed annexation, racism, shooting children, jailing children, blockading Palestine and preventing the transfer of medical supplies, the list, as I am sure you are aware, goes on and I am not prepared to be silent. You seem to consider this anti-semitism, I and others that have been expunged from the Party don’t. I am also aware that these are not the only crimes against humanity being committed throughout the World, but, as we were responsible for the Balfour Declaration that eventually led to the formation of the state of Israel, I feel we have a moral obligation to try to stop the asymmetric warfare conducted by the said state. I and others also have considerable disquiet at the influence of the Board of Deputies in the Labour Party. Just to be clear, I deny having made any anti-semitic remarks, nor have the details of the accusation been made clear to me.

    I joined the Labour Party when Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader, my wife and I have worked tirelessly to raise the profile of the Labour Party on the Isle of Wight and have spent considerable sums of our money in support of these aims, I helped form, and was the Chair of the West and Central Wight branch of the Labour party until January 2020.

    I have tried to contact the Governance and Legal Unit by phone and email for an explanation, but unsurprisingly with no result, I imagine that I won’t receive a response from you either.

    Yours sincerely,

    Richard Steele,

  • Mark Douglas says:

    The mendacity of the Zionist lobby knows no limits. It is damaging the Labour Party with the collusion of careerists and party bureaucrats who should all be removed from the Labour movement.

  • Linda Edmondson says:

    I wrote to Jeremy Corbyn several times when he was leader and being assailed by the vicious and vindictive representatives of ‘the Jewish Community’. Like others, I begged him not to apologise for his alleged crimes, but to turn the tables on his accusers and give a coherent account of the reasons for his support of the Palestinians and his criticism of Israel’s policies towards them, from Independence to the present. Having seen the ways in which he was rubbished by the MSM (not least, to their eternal shame, The Guardian), I came to the conclusion that even the most informed and coherent account would have had no positive outcome, but would only have been twisted to show the depths of his antisemitism and lack of understanding of Jewish sensibilities and experience.
    I also came to realise how impotent Jewish critics of Israel like myself are in the face of the established ‘Jewish Community’ and Israeli hasbara. But I have been astounded, even so, by Starmer’s reaction to Corbyn’s quite measured response to the EHRC’s report. Having just learnt about Starmer’s rebuke of Stephen Kinnock (hardly a Corbyn enthusiast!), I have begun to think that Starmer is losing the plot. Not a hint of that ‘forensic’ skill that so recommends him to the ‘left of centre’ media. Now that Corbyn has appointed lawyers to demand papers from the Labour Party relating to the issue of his suspension and withdrawal of the whip, I have begun to hope that legal action against the party might halt this continuing persecution in its tracks. Apparently, the huge sum of money raised for his defence against the threatened libel action by John Ware cannot be used, but a separate crowdfunding appeal could well be just as effective. How can we make this happen?

  • Margaret West says:

    It seems to me that the recommendations of the Commission
    cuts both ways. They were correct in requiring a change in
    the Disciplinary Process(es) which were not fit-for purpose.
    In theory these are being reviewed and rewritten by – er – not sure who?
    Will Party members get a chance to look at these? If so they
    will surely have to change so that they are based on commonly accepted
    standards of Justice. The unfair catch-all of “detrimental to the good standing of the Labour Party” (or similar) should be struck out.

    What about the people currently suspended and in Limbo – there may
    be a case for them to be re-instated if their original suspension is not
    according to the new processes .. Similarly for those declared innocent
    of charges but with a mark against their name or of course
    those unfairly expelled.

    In particular what has happened regarding Trevor Philips’ suspension? I take it that the new disciplinary processes will apply to ALL kinds of transgression.

    Lots of questions – the Commission I guess did not make any recommendations about current cases.

  • Jock Orkin says:

    The problem with l’affaire Corbyn is that the supporters of the erstwhile leader are convinced that there is a conspiracy orchestrated by the Zionists and their disgraceful allies ( inter alia the Board of Deputies, Mossad, wealthy American Zionists ,the Israeli Embassy,Donald Trump,Benjamin Netanyahu )
    Alas the methinks that the truth is more mundane . Jeremy Corbyn underestimated the antisemitism that thrives so well in certain sections of the Labour Party . Had he taken more resolute action to stamp it out he could still be the party leader .

  • DJ says:

    The BoD deciding who the Labour Party should expel is preposterous. So was accepting names of who to investigate from members of the Israeli lobby who spent hours trawling social media to find statements about Israel they defined as antisemitic.

  • DJ says:

    Jock Orkin. This is not the first time you have asserted that antisemitism is widespread in the Labour Party. Where is the evidence to back up your claim?

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