John McDonnell offers to be witness for suspended JVL party member

JVL Introduction

Resistance is growing to the arbitrary actions of the Labour Party  in suspending activists up and down the country for expressing solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn and opposing the diktats of the Acting General Secretary in banning discussion of a range of topics of great interest to members.

Here John McDonnell rallies to support Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi a JVL activist and vice-chair of Chingford and Woodford Green CLP who, together with the chair of that CLP Gary Lafley, has fallen foul of these new arbitrary bans.

And, we have reposted an unusually even-handed MSM report which appeared in the Evening Standard. See below.

This article was originally published by LabourList on Fri 4 Dec 2020. Read the original here.

John McDonnell offers to be witness for suspended JVL party member

Former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has declared that he would be willing to be a witness at a party disciplinary hearing for a ‘Jewish Voice for Labour’ member who was suspended by Labour this week.

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, vice-chair of Chingford and Woodford Green Constituency Labour Party (CLP), was suspended alongside chair Gary Lefley after her local party considered a motion ruled “out of order” by the party.

JVL, which is not formally affiliated to the Labour Party, was set up in 2017 as an organisation for Jewish members in the party supportive of Corbyn’s leadership. The group campaigned for the reinstatement of Jackie Walker.

Commenting on a video by Double Down News featuring Wimborne-Idrissi, McDonnell today tweeted: “I know Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi. She’s a decent, sincere socialist. Not everybody may agree with everything Naomi says.

“We all have the right to speak and the right to disagree but disagreement shouldn’t result in suspension. I’d be a witness for her at any party disciplinary hearing.”

Former Labour parliamentary candidate Faiza Shaheen, who fought for the party Chingford and Woodford Green in the 2019 general election, also spoke out against the suspension, adding that she knew Wimborne-Idrissi personally.

“Naomi lives local to me and was kind enough to offer her car to us during the election… She doesn’t deserve this,” Shaheen tweeted. “I know this probably puts me in the firing line but I don’t feel comfortable being silent on this.”

The Jewish Chronicle reported on Thursday that Wimborne-Idrissi had been suspended after allegedly creating a “deeply unpleasant environment” at a meeting on Monday in which she criticised Corbyn’s suspension as “unjust”.

Wimborne-Idrissi received support on Thursday from Momentum co-chair Andrew Scattergood, who described her as a “principled socialist and anti-racist” and criticised the suspension of members in relation to Corbyn’s disciplinary case.

Labour’s general secretary David Evans warned local parties in November that motions related to the suspension of the whip from Corbyn, including “expressions of solidarity” for the former leader, would be “ruled out of order”.

The most senior party official said such motions were “providing a flashpoint for the expression of views that undermine the Labour Party’s ability to provide a safe and welcoming space for all members, in particular our Jewish members”.

Incumbent general secretary Jennie Formby in March 2019 informed elected local party officials that motions on individual disciplinary cases were “not competent business” for discussion at CLP meetings.

Wimborne-Idrissi reportedly told her CLP on Monday: “The idea that Jewish people require for their comfort that whole swathes of subjects should not be debated by the membership of this party is insulting to Jewish people.”

The JVL activist also questioned whether Jewish members should be “seen as gatekeepers” for topics of discussion in meetings and described the situation as a “dangerous road”, according to the Jewish Chronicle.

The suspension follows a number of similar incidents in recent weeks at other local Labour parties, including Nottingham East, Hampstead and Kilburn, Tottenham and Bristol West, over motions related to Corbyn’s suspension.

Last month, the chair, co-secretary and a number of other members in Bristol West Labour were suspended, reportedly over considering motions on Corbyn’s suspension and tweets calling for the resignation of the party’s regional director.

The chair and vice-chair of Hampstead and Kilburn CLP were suspended for reportedly allowing a motion in support of Corbyn, which prompted criticism from local Labour MP Tulip Siddiq who said she was “angry and saddened”.

In Nottingham East CLP, the chair was suspended after a motion was discussed which local Labour MP Nadia Whittome described as “clearly out of order” and which led to a Jewish member saying they had to leave the meeting.

It is also understood that the chair of Tottenham CLP has been suspended pending investigation after the JC reported that they considered a motion in support of Corbyn despite being warned against doing so by regional officials.

Labour suspends two senior officials in Chingford and Woodford Green CLP in latest civil war

Sophia Sleigh, Evening Standard, 4th December 2020

Labour has suspended two more senior officials of a London party after a heated meeting in which they spoke out in support of Jeremy Corbyn over the anti-Semitism scandal.

Chair of the Chingford and Woodford Green CLP Gary Lefley and vice chair Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi have been suspended pending an investigation, the Standard understands.

It comes amid a wave of suspensions across local Labour parties after they were ordered not to discuss Mr Corbyn’s suspension or criticise the Equality and Human Rights report into the party’s anti-Semitism crisis.

The Standard revealed that two other officials were suspended from Hampstead and Kilburn CLP earlier this week.

A number of high profile left-wing figures have rallied behind Ms Wimborne-Idrissi including columnist Owen Jones and former parliamentary candidate Faiza Shaheen.

Ms Wimborne-Idrissi, who is Jewish, is a prominent member of the left-wing Jewish Voice for Labour group and has regularly spoken out to support Mr Corbyn over the anti-Semitism crisis.

The pair were suspended following a meeting of the CLP on Monday evening, it is understood.

Ms Wimborne-Idrissi allegedly backed claims about the “weaponisation” of antisemitism allegations and described Mr Corbyn’s recent suspension from Labour as “unjust”, according to the Jewish Chronicle.

Meanwhile Mr Lefley, a former general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, allegedly openly attacked Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

He allegedly claimed that Sir Keir was in breach of party rules and the Equality and Human Rights report into Labour’s anti-Semitism problem.

Former leader Mr Corbyn this week called for the reinstatement of those who had been “sadly” suspended for speaking out at meetings, according to website Guido.

The Islington North MP was readmitted as a Labour member last month, after a short suspension for his reaction to the damning EHRC report into anti-Semitism in the party.

However, his successor Sir Keir has refused to restore the whip which would allow Mr Corbyn to sit in Parliament as a Labour MP.

A Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate action is taken.”

The Standard has made attempts to contact Mr Lefley and Ms Wimborne-Idrissi.

Columnist Jones tweeted: “You don’t have to agree with Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi to find it intensely problematic that Labour have suspended this left-wing Jewish activist.”

Meanwhile, Ms Shaheen who ran for Labour at the last election in the Chingford and Woodford Green seat, said Ms Wimborne-Idrissi “doesn’t deserve this”.

A spokesperson for Jewish Voice for Labour said they “deplored” Ms Wimborne-Idrissi’s suspension, adding:  “We note that she is not alone.  As well as the chair of her Constituency Labour Party, many other chairs and secretaries and ordinary members have been suspended across the country.

“However, we are prevented from direct comment about her case as the Labour party bars everyone suspended or investigated from sharing any details of their cases.”

Comments (13)

  • Abe Hayeem says:

    These suspensions are obviously completely out of order, and also contrary to the the EHRC report and recommendations that state that under Section 10 of the Human Rights Act, members can speak out or comment on aspects of the disciplinary procedures.
    This kind of purge is reminiscent of the Stalin purges in the 1930s and 40s, and are antisemitic in themselves as it seems that left-wing Jewish members, vulnerable ones at that, who have an honourable record on action against racism and as supporters of all human rights, are being targeted. The Labour Party should be investigated and challenged on this record. To silence these voices are probably against Party rules and certainly breach Section 10 of the Human Rights Act, and bring the Labour Party into disrepute.

  • goldbach says:

    ….. and not just the Human Rights Act.
    the Labour Party is regularly acting in defiance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (sections 2 and 19) which was adopted by the UN (including the UK).
    It is UNIVERSAL, and so it doesn’t exempt anyone, not even members of the Labour Party who don’t agree with Starmer – and I thought that he was supposed to be a lawyer.

  • Mary Davies says:

    Disgraceful suspension of the lovely, decent, socialist Naomi> Solidarity with her and other recently suspended members of the LP.

  • Jack T says:

    It’s a bit late John, you should have defended Socialist Jews much earlier on, the damage has been done. That’s not to say you should not support Naomi but don’t then spoil it by in any way speaking up for the JLM or the LFI who have been the major cause of the Party’s current chaos.

  • Valentin Kovalenko says:

    Suspending somebody for describing Corbyn’s suspension as unjust goes beyond the 1930s Stalinist purges. Is the Labour leadership sleepwalking into some kind of inquisition?

  • Sue Blackwell says:

    I love the stuff from the GS about undermining “the Labour Party’s ability to provide a safe and welcoming space for all members, in particular our Jewish members”. Which Jewish members does he mean? Clearly not the ones who have just been suspended.

  • John Pursaill says:

    I have been a trade unionist for over 50 years and a member of the Labour Party for 40 years. However I have felt compelled to end my membership of a party in which it has become a crime to criticise the state of Israel for acts against Palestinians which are contrary to international law. The Labour Party is even suspending Jews for being “anti-Semitic” when they do this. It would s shameful that a leader supposedly stands for the rule of law should preside over this. I am disgusted. From where I stand, The Labour Party no longer supports the weak or allows free speech.

  • Brian Walford says:

    This is getting ridiculous. Its been obvious from the start that its about anti Socialism and not anti Semitism, David Evans needs removing for a start and people have to stand in solidarity with persecuted members

  • Jacob Ecclestone says:

    It is a melancholy reflection on the state of politics in Britain today that a member of the Labour Party can be suspended because she declared her solidarity with another member who had just been found “not guilty” after an investigation into a trumped up offence by the National Executive Committee.

    Have we gone through the looking glass, like Alice, and entered the world of the Red Queen ? Is the party’s general secretary, David Evans, now demanding “sentence first and verdict afterwards…..” ? The answer seems to be “yes”, because what other explanation can there be for such irrational, arbitrary and autocratic behaviour

    There are two clauses in the European Convention on Human Rights which bear on the present lunacy in the Labour Party – Article 10, which deals with freedom of speech, and Article 11 which covers freedom of association (the right to form trade unions or a political party).

    The European Court of Human Rights (as opposed to the Convention) has described freedom of expression as “one of the basic conditions for the progress of democratic societies and for the development of each individual”. If that is the case, then the attempt to silence members and to suppress discussion on political issues within the Labour Party means that the leadership – both political and bureaucratic – has embarked on a policy which is anti-democratic and fundamentally at odds with the human rights convention which Britain helped to write in 1951.

    The Labour Party as a corporate body may not be legally bound by Article 10 (which means that members cannot look to the convention to protect their right to free speech within the party), but Article 11 is a different matter. The European Court of Human Rights has frequently heard cases involving the rights of political parties. How bizarre, then, that although the existence of the Labour Party is protected by both the convention and by decisions of the Court, it can apparently deny members the most basic rights to freedom of speech under Article 10.

    Such a position is illogical, unreasonable, unfair and undemocratic. To deny members the right to speak freely brings the Labour Party into disrepute and it dishonours the sacrifices made in the past by those who were willing to risk their freedom – and sometimes their lives – in order to win the right to dissent from authority.

  • Philip Horowitz says:

    Comparisons to Stalin’s purges are ludicrous and indicate a total lack of knowledge and imagination. See, for example,

  • Stephen Richards says:

    My father’s family were gypsies – Irish tinkers & travellers. Where is our ‘safe space? We are not recognised, even by the IHRA. There are no memorials; no homeland…….not even recognition of what happened @ Auschwitz. Why am I not surprised that if I dare criticise IHRA or EHRC that I will be threatened with expulsion from the Labour Party.
    I understand that Sir Keir Starmer seems to take instruction from the Board of Deputies, but no political party in any healthy democracy, should be dictated to nor accept demands made by any religious group. Ephraim Mirvis has made it quite clear that he despises ‘Socialism’ & praises AIPAC for preventing the election of Bernie Sanders & Jeremy Corbyn. This is not democracy in action.
    The failure of the 4th Estate to investigate & question begs more questions about ownership & control. Why does MSM not hold our ‘Guardians & Protectors’ to account? Why are there no questions asked about the EHRC as all panelists are political appointments. More serious questions could be asked about the relationship between Doughty Street Chambers; Adam Wagner & Sir Keir Starmer. Whose interests does Adam Wagner serve; the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism or the Guardian Newspaper? How independent are the EHRC commissioners, appointed on whose recommendations? How many panelists work for Pinsent Mason & how many contracts have they enjoyed courtesy of chums in gov’t? The class war is over.

  • steve mitchell says:

    All this reminds me of Orwells prediction. The Ministry of Truth is right here in the UK. History is what we say it is. I expect nothing less from the extreme Right who now own the Conservative Party but when our own leaders dismiss democracy we are in real trouble. Orwells description of IngSoc comes to mind.

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