Labour’s “investigations” plumb new depths

Phil Maxwell, left, with director Ken Loach and Hazuan Hashim, taken before Loach was expelled by the party

JVL Introduction

Skwawkbox tells the story of Liverpool film-maker Phil Maxwell, under investigation by the Party.

For what?

The evidence includes a  a picture of him and his partner and fellow film-maker Hazuan Hashim standing with Ken Loach!

And – shock, horror – Maxwell is also accused of saying the Jewish Chronicle was out to get Corbyn’s Labour Party – despite the JC boasting of the paper’s ‘relentless pursuit’  of Corbyn.

Or of retweeting David Rosenberg for saying he stood with Corbyn against the tukhes-leckers (arse-lickers) of the wealthy.

But you have to read the article to see the absurdity of the 35 pages of it all.

As the standfirst below says, Orwell would have been impressed!

This article was originally published by Skwawkbox on Sat 4 Sep 2021. Read the original here.

Exclusive; Labour briefs hostile journalist as party investigates film-maker for being seen with Ken Loach – and for stating the obvious

Dissection of Labour’s mind-numbing, logic-defying accusations in fact shows Starmer’s party incriminating itself. Orwell would be impressed

Labour has (again) been accused of briefing hostile journalists about its targeting of left-wing members. after right-wing hack Lee Harpin – the author of articles that cost the Jewish Chronicle huge amounts in libel damages – tweeted that Liverpool film-maker Phil Maxwell is under investigation by the party:

Harpin managed to mangle even that simple task: Maxwell, who unlike Harpin is indeed an award-winning film-maker, has confirmed that he has received a notice of investigation (NOI) from the party – but of course, not for “posting messages of support for Starmer’s ‘purge’”.

In fact, Maxwell’s NOI is an object lesson in the ridiculous depths to which the Starmer-run Labour party is stooping in its attack on the left – and its sheer idiocy and hypocrisy.

In a dreary 35-page letter, the party lists the ‘crimes’ it think Maxwell has committed – and even includes a picture of him and his partner and fellow film-maker Hazuan Hashim standing with world-famous socialist and film director Ken Loach in its evidence. But the scale of Labour’s current nonsense becomes clear on a closer reading – and shows the party committing the same ‘offence’ of which it accuses Maxwell.

One of the accusations the party outlines against Maxwell is that he claimed that he:

reposted a post which describes [presumably accusations of] anti-Semitism as some kind of absolute truth that can never be argued with

Yet it also says that Maxwell’s ‘crimes’ include… arguing that accusations of antisemitism can’t always be assumed to be true:

Item 1 –  In November 2020 Mr Maxwell agreed with a twitter thread which states that anti-Semitism is dramatically overstated for political reason [sic]

Item 3 –  In October 2020 there is a post which has been reposted by Mr Maxwell which states anti-Semitism is used by the media as a ‘political battering ram’

Item 6 – In October 2020 Mr Maxwell retweeted a post which labels anti-Semitism within Labour as miniscule and argues some of the cases are not real cases of anti-Semitism

In other words, Labour, on consecutive pages of the same document, says that saying antisemitism accusations are being treated as if they ‘can never be argued with’ is a crime – and then says that the mere act of arguing that claims of antisemitism might not be true and might be politically-motivated is also a crime.

Solidarity is a sin – even when it cites the EHRC

In the same vein, among the party’s complaints against Maxwell is that he retweeted an article:

which condemns the expulsion of a member

Not only does the party think that accusations of antisemitism must never be argued with (but that saying that is also forbidden), it also thinks its own disciplinary decisions are always above reproach or criticism – and disagreeing with them is a sin punishable by potential expulsion.

But again the party’s ludicrous hypocrisy and lack of analysis is on show. The expelled member in question is black Jewish activist Jackie Walker – and the condemnation of her treatment that Maxwell retweeted was voiced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report on the Labour party:

The EHRC condemned Labour’s treatment of Walker and also of other victims of the party’s purge. Keir Starmer and his acting-sidekick David Evans promised to implement the EHRC’s report in full, without demur or equivocation – but the party now says that agreeing with the EHRC and retweeting its criticism is a crime.

Repeating Labour’s own figures is also bad

Another part of the party’s tirade against Maxwell agains accuses him of sharing an article that claims the level of antisemitism in the Labour party is ‘miniscule’:

Item 6

Retweeted post from Asa Winstanley who labels the scale of anti-Semitism in Labour as miniscule. Argues that 0.4% of members have faced anti-Semitism allegations and argues many if not all, are not real cases of anti-Semitism

But the party adds a section of the article in question, presumably because it thinks the quote is damning – even though it shows the article was simply quoting Labour’s own figures:

And by adding to the complaint the fact that the article dares to suggest some of the complaints were not accurate, Labour again falls foul of its own ban on suggesting that accusations of antisemitism must not be ‘argued with’.

The ‘Israel lobby’

The party attacks Maxwell for sharing a post that states that ‘the Israel lobby’ attacked Corbyn for comments Corbyn made in 2013. The fact that Israel has groups that lobby for its interests is unremarkable – so do the US and most other countries, as well as major industries such as arms manufacturers, Big Tobacco and so on, so the attempt to portray the mere phrase ‘Israel lobby’ as some kind of smear is misleading nonsense.

Awkwardly for the Labour party, singer Lowkey recently noted that the trustees of the Board of Deputies – one of the most vocally anti-Corbyn groups – recently published their annual report in which they noted that the BoD ‘promoted positive relations between the UK and Israel’ and had ‘a close working relationship with the Embassy of Israel… and strengthened links to the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs and the [Israel Defence Forces]‘:

A ‘conspiracy to damage Corbyn’s Labour’

The party’s next complaint against Maxwell is that he:

Retweet[ed] a post talking about a lack of coverage regarding a conspiracy to damage the Labour party during an election by Jewish Chronicle.

The Jewish Chronicle’s editor has boasted of the paper’s ‘relentless pursuit’ of Corbyn and its part in bringing about Labour’s 2019 general election defeat, which is a little awkward for Labour’s case:

Pollard also praised ‘one-man scoop machine’ Lee Harpin, who features at the beginning of this article. This praise was written eight months after the Jewish Chronicle had to apologise and pay ‘substantial’ damages to Liverpool pensioner Audrey White for a ‘litany of lies’ about her during its attacks on Labour. All were penned by Harpin.

Another of Harpin’s false Jewish Chronicle stories exposed

The Jewish Chronicle also apologised and paid damages to:

The paper also lost a string of judgments by IPSO, the usually-tame mainstream press regulator – which is currently considering a standards investigation into the rag.

“Arse-Lickers’ of the wealthy”

The next complaint is that Maxwell shared someone else’s post that was less than complimentary about unnamed people, because it contained:

a part in Yiddish which translates to ‘Arse-Lickers’ of the wealthy

Labour helpfully provided a copy of the Facebook post in question:

That’s right: the post was by Jewish Labour party member David Rosenberg, who said he stood with Corbyn against ‘the arse-lickers of the wealthy’. He said it in Yiddish because, presumably, he is Jewish and speaks Yiddish – and did not specify which arse-lickers he was talking about.

That Labour assumes that Rosenberg must mean Jewish people are those worshipping the wealthy suggests that Labour is antisemitic, of course, not Maxwell or Rosenberg.

Appointed, not elected – but don’t dare criticise them

The party has accused Maxwell of being critical of two constituency party officers who – against normal procedure – were appointed by the party and not elected. Skwawkbox will not address these in detail as it would involve revealing their identities, but Maxwell’s comments about the anti-democratic nature of their appointment, as well as the withholding of meeting minutes disempowering local members are self-evidently unproblematic, as well as being an expression of opinion – and not a topic for disciplinary action. Maxwell’s quote of Tony Benn, which forms part of the so-called evidence against him, is worth repeating:

There can be no socialism without democracy and no democracy without socialism.

In addition, the party’s complaint is debunked by their own evidence. While the party claims Maxwell made accusations against the unelected officers in question, the evidence shows that he in fact put forward three questions in an email about issues that concerned him, then referred to WhatsApp messages that had leaked and said they should be released to members in full, ‘for the sake of transparency’.

Disagreement with our decisions will be punished

Item 12 in the party’s lengthy nonsense is a complaint that Maxwell ran a campaign against the expulsion of four Labour members and that he did so, unforgivably it seems, ‘on Microsoft Teams meetings, Facebook and Twitter’. The complaint is accompanied by a number of screenshots of Maxwell and others showing placards and posters saying they ‘stand with the Wavertree 4’:

Again, it seems solidarity is not in line with the current Labour party’s values – and, again, that Labour itself is saying that it is a crime to dispute accusations.

A clampdown on talking about our clampdown on free speech

Perhaps one of the most ridiculous of the complaints against Maxwell – and that’s a high bar in this document – is the accusation that Maxwell spoke out about Labour’s assault on freedom of speech. Specifically that Maxwell made:

A Facebook post publicly talking about a member seeking advice before sharing a video. Also refers to the attack on free speech in the Labour party.

The ‘member’ was the unelected secretary, who had reportedly promised to share the video then asked the party whether it would be ok to do so. But the undiluted irony of Labour taking disciplinary action against a party member for talking about the party’s attack on free speech is as blatant as the Starmer-Evans all-out war on the free speech and democratic rights of left-wing members, which is so obvious and undisputed that you’d have to be blind (or a member of the ‘mainstream’ media!) not to know or talk about.

As Maxwell observed in the remainder of the complained-about Facebook post:

What next? Will members be told not to read certain books or watch certain films? Please share this film because refugees should be welcome in Liverpool and there should be no place for censorship in the Labour Party.

Pointing out one thing is not another thing is a Very Bad Thing

Actually, the preceding point is not the most ridiculous. That ‘honour’ should go to Labour’s complaint that Maxwell had shared a post arguing, perfectly factually, that one thing is not the same as something different, namely that he had posted a link to a petition that:

talks about opposing attempts to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism

Of course, anti-Zionism isn’t the same thing as antisemitism. The latter is hatred of Jewish people, while the former is opposition to a political position, as many left-wing Jews have pointed out – although most of them who are in the Labour party have also been vastly disproportionately targeted too. But as the letter to Phil Maxwell makes clear, in Keir Starmer’s Labour party facts and common sense are not allowed to interfere with a good purge.

Don’t complain about hate-crime – or about someone doctoring your emails!

Oh. So it was speaking too soon to say the previous point was the most ridiculous. What a surprise. After complaining that Maxwell shared an opinion piece – by a Jewish writer – that a former Labour MP had allowed the media to conflate right-wing attacks on her with supposed ‘left abuse’, the mind-numbling list of accusations rounds out with a complaint that Maxwell had:

talk[ed] about the [sic] you being a victim of a hate crime… [and] allege[d] emails being doctored in order to hide the hostility towards your work as a disability lead

Maxwell, who is disabled, points out that it was in fact Merseyside Police that categorised the incident in question as a hate incident – and that he could show that the email in question had been edited to remove evidence of contempt by a councillor.

The party’s own supposed evidence against Maxwell in fact revealed that he had been further abused, with the disabled Labour member’s complaint labelled as ‘tantamount to blackmail’ and ‘a vitriolic attack’. While Labour might be conflicted about whether it’s permissible to challenge claims of antisemitism, it appears to be entirely comfortable with right-wingers dismissing the complaint of a disabled member – also a protected category in law – because it is happily pursuing a victim of abuse and quoting in its accusations the contemptuous comments of those who dismissed the abuse he says he suffered.

Phil Maxwell told Skwawkbox:

I’ve been waiting for a response (for over 2 years) to a 93 page evidenced complaint against the NW office, which is now with the Forde Inquiry as evidence. But I have no intention of playing ball with the Starmer thought-police. They embrace tactics that the Stasi would approve of.

Labour does not comment on individual cases. What right-wing party staff or officials are prepared to leak to the hostile press is, of course, a different matter.

Comments (11)

  • Tony R says:

    Dancing on the head of a pin to justify your antisemitism

    JVL web says: Tony R sends us regular contributions which are usually simply binned. We’re approving this one as it is better argued than most…

  • David Hawkins says:

    Labour is a racist endeavour.

  • Nick Elvidge says:

    yes – an attack on Solidarity itself (winston in ‘1984’ was NOT obliterated he was made to renounce his love – evil beyond evil)

  • Rodney Watts says:

    So this is what a modern comedy of errors reads like! The absurdities in places actually did make me laugh out loud, but sadly, the serious side to it all is that people are being subjected to undue stress and interruption of normal daily life. All this while this country is being run by a thoroughly disreputable government with virtually no competent opposition. The latter in fact is well illustrated by this piece which shows yet more evidence of unbelievably stupid self incriminating and discriminatory behaviour.
    Coincidentally today I had a conversation with a neighbour, who practices as an employment solicitor, and of whom I enquired about socialist belief as a protected characteristic, as mentioned by Dave Putson She is certainly no Tory, but was scathing of Starmer, especially because she expected much different from him as a lawyer. It really does seem that there are grounds for legal action.

  • John Noble says:

    Starmer’s ignorance is astounding, in fact he is behaving as a simpleton, who will rid us of this fool.

  • Brian Burden says:

    Excellent article, though it makes one feel powerless against the party machine. Small quibble: the phrase is “plumb the depths” – not “plunge”.

    [JVL web replies: When you are right, you are right. Have changed the title, though the earlier error will remain encapsulated in the url!]

  • Dr. Steven Cowan says:

    Thank you for this update.
    All very shocking indeed. My view is that taken more broadly, stuff like what is being reported here, is one aspect of the decline of the British Labour Party as it cuts itself adrift from basic notions of democratic values and purposes. The treatment of Jeremy Corbyn is a stain on the Labour Party. I’ll be voting for the Green Party next time after having been involved with Labour for over 50 years.

  • Alan Stanton says:

    I prefer to read what people themselves have to say. So I searched for something Phil Maxwell himself posted online. There’s a treasure trove. Blogs especially with photos and a few videos. So far I haven’t had time to do more than glimpse into this rich archive.

    The notion that the current Labour Party has no place for Phil Maxwell and people like him is a tragedy not just for the Labour Party but for all Democratic Socialists.

    Phil, If you read this, please give us your personal choice of links where you’d like people to start. (My occasional peeks in the Skwawkbox suggest is sometimes has its own unhelpful biases.)

  • Paul Smith says:

    So bad is this, that if I were an addict of conspiracy theories then I would argue that Labour’s head office had been infiltrated by ‘lefties’ intent in doing damage to the Starmer-Evans project. But I know better than to indulge in such fantasies: it’s just ‘badder still and badder shall they values go’ (with apologies to ‘Land of Hope and Glory’!).

  • Caroline Carney says:

    There can be no finding of guilt unless innocence is presumed in every case until guilt is proved in every case. But even before that, you have to establish the charge. What is the charge here? If it is antisemitism then define it legally IHRA was a working document that was never worked on and has no legal precedence. Is having a picture with you and someone Starmevans says is antisemitic enough for evidence of your antisemitism? Can you charge people with breaking the rules if the law or statute you are applying did not start until years after you did something that was not breaking the rules when you did it? Can you be guilty in retrospect? The legal term Ex post facto is seen in most legal systems to be wrong. The US Constitution forbids and it is illegal under the European Convention of human rights. In the UK it is up to Sovereign Parliament to decide. I was a party member in the 1980s the Militant purge years they were hideous and aggressive times and many comrades mostly young and of the left were abused for wanting to discuss racism and the need for Black Sections in the party. I was once screamed at by a male member in his 50’s that “we don’t have none of them, queers, in here we don’t fuckin want ’em” to which I replied, “well I can see at least 6 that I know of in this room”. I was not a member of Militant but I appreciated the contribution they made to Trade Union work and running branches. What happened in those years was ugly and a very bad look for the party. Now however we have the perfect example of how to remove the Labour Party from history and it amazes me how involved with it all the right in local CLPs and branches is. There appears to be no one there to say this is anti-democratic and anti-socialist wrecking of the party. I hope the conference will open delegates eyes to how bad this is as I am certain there will be many moments of chaos whilst Starmevans try to get around properly made points and motions they don’t like and making mistakes about who will be speaking to motions etc.

  • Mark Francis says:

    I was in Tower Hamlets CLP with Phil Maxwell, Christine Shawcroft & Matt Wrack and I can personally say that any accusations made against them are ridiculous lies. The people making those accusations know it.

Comments are now closed.