Labour’s urgent need for justice and due process

We reprint below a letter from Dr Tali Marian Chilson resigning from the Labour Party after 11 years of active membership.

She has been accused of antisemitism.

In her letter she describes her background – an academic whose expertise is Jewish Studies, from a family of Holocaust survivors – and says “I hereby reject categorically the mendacious accusations of Anti-Semitism which have been made against me outrageously by anonymous accusers.”

This case has all the hallmarks of Labour’s unjustifiable disciplinary practices – no transparency, anonymity for the accusers, no presumption of innocence (but rather a presumption of guilt) and the usual call on people accused to incriminate themselves.

Tali Chilson’s letter highlights these authoritarian, inquisitorial procedures which Labour continues to deploy contrary to all considerations of natural justice.

These procedures are quite simply unacceptable.

 

Here is the text of  Tali Chilson’s letter of resignation

The Governance and Legal Unit
The Labour Party

RE: Your Notice of Investigation Ref: L0119535 Case No: CN-3

Dear Unit,

I am writing to inform you that I have tendered my resignation from The Labour Party yesterday (12th March 2020) after 11 years of active membership. My resignation is with immediate effect.

I have supported the labour movement and its core principles, among them: Freedom of Speech, Equality before the Law, Social Justice and Due Process – for all my life, but I no longer feel that my party will support and uphold the very same principles, especially with respect to my membership.

As a woman who was born and raised in the bosom of the Jewish faith and who is both the daughter of – and married into – a family that has survived the Holocaust having faced the Nazi atrocities in the ghettos and concentration camps in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria (Lodz, Auschwitz, Terezin, Petrich and Karnobat), I hereby reject categorically the mendacious accusations of Anti-Semitism which have been made against me outrageously by anonymous accusers. The allegations are without any foundation or basis and challenge every sense of reasonableness and decency. The assortment of my 7 year old tweets, appended to your said letter, cannot be regarded as ‘evidence’ by any stretch of the imagination. Certainly not of ‘Anti-Semitism’ in any shape or form.

As the great-niece of the Jewish Bulgarian-born (and naturalised British) writer, the 1981 literature Nobel prize laureate, Elias Canetti (1905-1994) , it will not go amiss to remark that I can only wonder what Canetti would lived to see his own family members accused of the same anti-Semitism which he himself had endured in his lifetime.

I am not clear as to how the daughter of a Jewish family who was born and raised in Israel, can be at all ‘Anti-Semitic’. The Labour Party is bringing itself into disrepute by persecuting its most loyal members. If a Party that is purportedly a ‘broad church’ is purging its own loyal members, how can such a party hope to regain the trust of our nation?

Being an academic whose expertise is Jewish Studies, and having spent my entire career, studying and teaching the literature, history and culture of my Jewish heritage, I am certainly better placed than my anonymous accusers to recognise authentic Antisemitism wherever it raises its ugly head. I would also contend that I am more committed than my accusers to the continuation of the historical fight against persecution, racism, bigotry and genocide which my ancestors have been spearheading for generations. In fact, I consider myself a proud inheritor of this Jewish tradition.

In the UK, from Peter Benenson to Sir Gerald Kaufman, British Jews have been proactively involved in the on-going fight for Human Rights all over the world, including the State of Israel. I have endeavoured to do the same. I have spoken out against the apartheid and prejudice of the Palestinians within Israel, the cold-blooded murders of Palestinian children and the oppression of a nation who under international law is entitled to the same fundamental rights, once denied to my own family. This entails of course incisive criticism of the political and military establishment in the country of my birth. It is nothing short of disgrace that the Labour Party should fail to resist those who are pushing it to side with the oppressors, contrary to its very core values.

I once believed that the Labour Party would protect both the children of Holocaust survivors and their beliefs, rather than make the cynical and impertinent claim that they themselves are Anti-Semitic.

The decision of the Labour Party to entertain in earnest the claims made against me, reveals the extent to which the Labour Party misunderstands what Anti-Semitism really is, and how ill-equipped it sadly is when it comes to rooting out Anti-Semitism where it still lurks in our society. It’s political short-sightedness is reflected throughlut its choice to weaponise Anisemitism for serving the interests of those who wish to purge the Party from socialists and impose a reign of terror typified by suppressing the Membership’s entitlement for freedom of speech .

I can no longer hold confidence in the competence of the leadership of the Party if it is content with seeking expediencies such as using Anti- Semitism as a fig-leaf in a smear campaign aimed at purging the party of activists, especially those who remain committed to highlighting Human Right offences which to this day continue with impunity in Israel and the Palestinian occupied territories.

It is for these reasons, that I have tendered my resignation from the Labour Party. My membership should be considered as cancelled forthwith.

You are kindly requested to confirm receipt of this letter.

Sincerely,

Dr T. M. Chilson

Comments (45)

  • Abe Hayeem says:

    Great letter, exposing very clearly the incompetence of the those who accuse, suspend and prosecute the very precious and most valued and experienced members of the Labour Party who are being accused by anonymous persons who are deliberately attempting to undermine the whole structure of Labour, and purge it of those who are defenders of human rights of all including Palestinians under the brutal regime of the occupation by the Israeli State. The whole process is highly flawed and questionable and must be completely overhauled.

  • Josie Ryan says:

    Whatever has this poor lady written or said that is considered by the top echelons of the Labour Party to be antisemitic?

    I myself am Jewish and a life long member of the Labour Party. I was also until yesterday a member of Momentum.

  • Jan Brooker says:

    Under Jeremy Corbyn there have been 4 years in which this nonsense could have been addressed. That Corbyn allowed his friend and comrade, Chris Williamson, to be thrown under the bus, with not a squeak of public support ~ shows the futility of apologising to pro-Israeli government supporters as a strategy. As a fellow suspendee, with 40+ years of fighting racism, it was only with the encouragement of friends that I challenged my suspension, from weasely-worded AS and racism charges. The Labour Party change project is dead, and it is likely that Starmer will come to bury it ~ having already thrown Julian Assange to the wolves years ago, O me miserum [as my forced Latin].

  • David Pike says:

    How have we reached this point.

  • I can’t believe that the Labour Party who I am part of cannot get to grip with these allegations. This member sadly felt no other option than to resign her membership, the more I read about these anonymous allegations the more angry I get, surely being critical of a country which the United Nations describes as apartheid cannot be described as anti Semitic

  • Jacob Butler says:

    The NCC is not fit for purpose and appears to have been infiltrated by people intent on wrecking the party. Their intention is divisiveness and with every resignation they are succeeding.
    Please refuse to resign – hang on in until we have taken back control. We are the majority. No surrender!

  • Cath Jones says:

    I resigned over the same process. They decided that my sharing of critique did not support the LP’s fight against racism. I told them I was very disappointed in them and the process and that many good people had been wronged by it, including Tali Chilson it would appear. I also criticised the LP for caving in to suppression of debate on the issue. I’m away to vote for Scottish Independence as it feels to me now the only option for a left leaning government.

  • RC says:

    Yet another example of the success of the ‘arbitrary’ inquisition , I’m afraid. Dr Chilson’s faith in the bona fides of those who operate and supervise this process, and indeed of those three leadership contenders who claim that the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians by Ben Gurion of the Zionist left as well as Menachem Begin of the fascisant Zionist revisionists and their armed and organised murder squads was not racist – this faith is praiseworthy but naive. The Labour Party has never made a clean break from British imperialism, initially or in its current Atlanticist phase; so support for AngloAmerican imperialism’s “loyal little Ulster” in keeping ‘order’ in the unruly Middle East is part of the DNA of the LP establishment, left or right. (RHS Crossman of the Tribune group not only counselled the Haganah on the timing of its terrorist activity, but pointed out that the function of the PLP and party apparatus was to repress the socialist zeal of the membership). And the bad conscience of the Labour Party vis a vis British imperialism’s treatment of holocaust refugees and survivors before, during and after WWII is shamelessly used to justify the nakba which occurred before and after WWII, and continues to this day.
    So the inquisition is not so arbitrary after all. But to surrender to it is to stab in the back not only the Palestinian people, not only those courageous Israelis who oppose the occupation and antiPalestinian oppression by the Israeli State – it is also to stab in the back all those in the LP who oppose that oppression – particularly us Jews who have been disproportionately singled out for that opposition.

  • Jack T says:

    A very moving letter from yet another member who has been victimised by the Party which should be supporting her.

    As a member who has been told I am no longer welcome, it has been obvious for a long time that at its core the Party is not just rotten, it is corrupt. I have to ask, is the Party recoverable from the virus which is now destroying it or is it beyond saving? At the very least, the LP needs a new General Secretary who will look after ALL member’s interests and not cower in response to threats which we know originate in Tel Aviv!

  • Rene Gimpel says:

    I have been a Party member for decades and I despair at what it’s turning into, when I read Dr Chilson’s letter. It’s almost as though there’s a malevolent… anti-Semitism at work within the Party, so perverse is its behaviour.

    We in JVL and others in sympathetic Jewish groups within the broad Socialist and Labour family, need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in support of those singled out for such persecution.

  • Rod Webb says:

    The letter of resignation is so well written that I have saved it for future reference. The description of the accusations as ‘impertinent’ is particularly, apt.

  • Colm Bradley says:

    It is an absolute outrage that things have come to this. I am angry that the Labour party now bows the knee to a state which is openly apartheid and which via LFI has infiltrated and eaten into the very heart of our party. Israel has no place in or around the Labour party.

  • Steven says:

    “The NCC is not fit for purpose and appears to have been infiltrated by people intent on wrecking the party. Their intention is divisiveness and with every resignation they are succeeding.
    Please refuse to resign – hang on in until we have taken back control. We are the majority. No surrender!”

    What the hell did the NCC do?

    In this case: NOTHING!

  • David Morgan says:

    When I read this, I wonder whether there’s any point in my remaining a member, too. I’m not Jewish, but it would still be an awful experience to be accused of antisemitism. Should I “jump before I’m pushed”, as I’m sure my views on Palestine are similar to Tali’s, so I could be open to the same Kafkaesque process of vilification?

  • David Hawkins says:

    I was a very moving testimony and I agree with every word.
    And of course everyone must make their personal decision and be fully supported in that.
    There is an alternative strategy which is to send the letter, refuse to resign and refuse to cooperate at all with the disciplinary process.
    It is just morally wrong that good people like this should be hounded out of the Labour Party while Friends of Israel occupy prominent positions.
    But Dr Chilson has every right to make this decision and must be supported. The Labour Party is slowly being stripped of it’s humanity and that is shameful. Why is anyone still a member of Momentum and why will anyone vote for Jon Lansman at the forthcoming NEC election ?

  • Diane Miles says:

    Who are these people in the Labour Party who decide that someone is anti-Semitic – leaving some of our most active, honest, hard-working, dedicated socialists to leave – at a great loss to our party. Who are they? Why are they allowed to get away with it. The Labour Party has plenty to fight for – socialsim – without having to expend energy fighting this virus from within.

  • A very moving testimony. It’s a shame that so much of this has happened under the watch of Jeremy Corbyn, in whom so many have placed their hopes.

  • Afryl kelly says:

    This is absolutely disgusting, I cannot believe this wonderful personhas been accused of anti-semitism for calling out human rights abuses whether it be in Palestine or anywhere else! Shame on the Labour party! SHAME!

  • Carol says:

    This is yet another injustice.
    I was quite jarred to see the letter addresses to ‘Dear Unit’. My goodness what had the LP come to that those accused of anti-semitism not only receive a letter from a ‘Unit’ but also the accusers are anonymous. If this was a serious accusation then the accusers must be identified. And the evidence must be worthy of examination.
    Shame on the LP. I am so sorry that you have been so accused.

  • David Elkins says:

    ❤😥❤

  • John Leonard says:

    Dr T M Chilson I am appalled at the Labour Party has driven you to leave. This has happened too many times and cannot go on. I have been a member for over 50 years. I wonder how long I can go on with behaviour like this You have my sympathy although it is our loss. The fools!

  • Diane Hatton says:

    I myself am not Jewish but I am the daughter of a man who in 1939 with his sister travelled from Manchester to London to oppose Oswald Mosley in his demonisation of Jews in the lead up to the 2nd World war. I along with my siblings were raised in a home where discrimination racism and of any kind had no place. Despite the values by which I was raised and my total belief in freedom of speech and condemnation of any form of persecution I too have been branded anti Semitic by unknown accusers and as such I totally understand your reasons for resigning from a party that has been far too conciliatory in its acceptance that AS exists to the extent the media has reported. Worse still is the LP handling of these ridiculous accusations have been handled. In your case as a person raised within the Jewish faith with family connections to the Holocaust makes this whole thing extremely sinister. I wonder how the historians will report these events in our history books.

  • Ray Mooney says:

    I too as a CLP Chair am receiving a twitter storm of abuse and accusations by right wing so called Jewish Labour members for my support of the Palestinian course.
    My heart breaks at the treatment of such comrades as yourself by our party.
    It needs to grow a pair and fight these accusers head on.

  • Cyril Wheat says:

    I am so saddened and angry at this. My membership is hanging on a thread and this could well be the proverbial straw. It is disgraceful that we have come to this and punished people based on anonymity and faux accusations.

  • Hilary Wise says:

    I wonder if this powerful letter will be given the courtesy of a reply. Probably not, as it is in fact unanswerable.
    I am – very reluctantly – staying in the party, just in case I can add my voice to others and shift it from the disastrous path it is on. We cannot abandon all hope!

  • Edward Hill says:

    It may be worth pointing out here that Dr Chilson was the ‘silent friend’ when her husband Cyril Chilson appeared before the NCC in 2018. For his illuminating account of trial by Kangaroo court see Tony Greenstein’ s Blog 22 April 2018: ‘Labour’ s Expulsion of Cyril Chilson, a Child of Holocaust Survivors, Says Everything You Need to Know About Labour’s Antisemitism.’

  • RH says:

    I can’t add anything more to the sentiments here that are a total condemnation of the decay within the administrative core of Labour. Whether driven by malevolence or simple ignorance, there is something rotten and smelling of stinking fish.

    All I can say, as others have – is ‘Don’t resign’ – there needs to be a kick back instead of a process of leaving the Party the whims of the venal and the ignorant.

  • Philip Ward says:

    It is truly appalling that the Labour Party apparatus seems to think the priority is harassing opponents of Zionism in the midst of a world public health emergency. Compounding that, it is totally failing to call out Johnson’s approach for what it is. Failing to test and contact test, failing to implement a lockdown a month ago (at least) and herding children together in schools for far too long (and now the most vulnerable with the most likely to be infected) are acts of criminal irresponsibility, possibly motivated by Cummings’ eugenicist views.

  • Diana Kornbrot says:

    How sad. How appallling. Admore and approve your action
    I am staying in the Labout party in the hope that new leadership will IMMEDIATELY implement procedures to ensure anyone accused of racism, anti-semitism or antiLabour actions is 1. innocent until proved guilty 2. accusers are named 3. hearings are swift and open.
    If this does NOT happen I too will resign
    Hopefully it WILL happen and you and others unjustly accused will be invited and welcomed to rejoin the Labour party

  • Linda Edmondson says:

    Would Tali Chilson be willing to publish the charges that the ‘Unit’ has been investigating? As she has decided to resign from the Labour Party she is not bound by the requirement to withhold details of her ‘crimes’. It would be very helpful for JVL members to know what is being classed as antisemitism and it would make it easier for us to decide what steps we might take to resist this continuing attack on free speech in the party.

  • Tali Chilson says:

    [The link to Twitter no longer works. Dr Chilson has sent us at JVL web the text of the reply she received. it read, in its entirety, as folows:

    Subject: RE: Letter of Resignation from the Labour Party
    From: Disputes
    To: Tali Chilson
    CC:

    Dear Dr Chilson,

    Please treat this email as confirmation of receipt of your letter.

    Kind regards,

    The Disputes Team]

    https://twitter.com/thistle8blower/status/1241328920940752897?s=19

    This was the Labour party’s answer to my above letter.

    Thank you everyone for your kind words.
    I am just one of many.
    It needs to be stopped!

  • Derrick Hibbett says:

    I’m afraid this campaign against “anti-Semitism” will continue until all mention of Palestine ceases.
    What is wrong with the people who make up the NCC? Don’t they realise what is happening, or do they realise and are happy to go along with it?
    Are they stupid or unprincipled, or both?

  • Adrian Turner says:

    I have never heard the word Jew spoken in a labour party meeting in all my 60 years of attending such meetings

  • Mary Wyatt says:

    I am sincerely sorry that this can happen in the Labour Party and this urgently needs to be stopped.

  • Bob Pitt says:

    Could I second Linda Edmondson’s request for more details of the complaints against you, Tali?

    The one example you’ve shared on twitter involved you referring to the 2013 Rothschild investment bank report that recommended an increase in interest rates on student loans. Apparently the allegation was that by mentioning the word Rothschild you were promoting an antisemitic conspiracy theory, which was clearly nonsense.

    Can you provide us with some other examples of the tweets that were used against you? As Linda says, it’s helpful to know what sort of material is deemed potentially antisemitic by the Labour Party these days.

    (As the response to your Rothschild tweet shows, the charges against party members are becoming increasingly ridiculous. One Facebook friend was suspended on the basis of a post linking to Peter Oborne’s very mainstream Channel 4 documentary Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby.)

  • Kenneth Burch says:

    The response you got from the Persecution Team was despicable…and telling.
    #StopTheLabourInquisition

  • Colin Lomas says:

    Perhaps during this period of enforced isolation, the senior people in the Labour party will reflect on the self-destructive policy of acting on every accusation of anti-Semitism.
    While the hidden accusers enjoy watching the party destroy itself, a Kafkaesque charade of a “justice” take place. The Chakraborty recommendations are well and truly buried.

  • Simon Cohen says:

    Sadly, the Labour Party has bowed and buckled before the establishment libels. From early on in this libellous business, despite there being zero evidence of institutional antisemitism (a conclusion supported by a Select Committee) they have bowed and scraped before Zionist oriented bodies like the BoD and the CAA (a foul and villainous organisation) ignored real Antisemitism in the Tory Party and danced to a tune that supports a mis and disinformation campaign.

    I am still a member but very uncomfortable with it. Assisted by our ghastly media the issue is now, it seems irreversible and was one ingredient in the toxic set of lies that destroyed Labour’s chances after the achievements of 2017.

    All praise to Dawn Butler and Richard Burgon that they did not buckle so easily.

    I am twice ‘bereaved’ now: The loss of Labour as a Government and the loss of my own Jewish Community that (other than a brave 20-25% or so) seems to have bought the lie hook, line and sinker and voted for a mendacious con artist who represents a Government that has damaged the fabric of our society with needless austerity resulting in death, suffering and a calloused populace.

  • Shoada Patrick says:

    Brilliant letter… I will be following suit the day JC leaves… LABOUR are fast becoming the the party of appeasement to Netanyahu’s horror show… That WILL never be right… Solidarity!

  • john tymon says:

    This struggle in the Labour Party is so reminiscent of the struggle by the Jewish War Veterans that Edwin Black – the son of Holocause survivors wrote about in “The Transfer Agreement”

  • Mark Francis says:

    I should like to see the bizarre phenomenon of non jews accusing jews of anti semitism investigated as anti semitic in itself. I myself do not self identify as jewish despite an ancestral link .

  • Cherry says:

    This is disgraceful. We need to stand together as Labour in this national emergency.

  • Catherine Newall says:

    I joined Labour Party at the age of 68 to support Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign having never before belonged to any political party. I knew that the smears of antisemitism against him would get worse but I never expected the seemingly all-out attack on anyone that rightly criticises Israel’s atrocities. Nor was I prepared for so many Jewish Labour members to be on the receiving end of such outrageous accusations from what appears to be a stasi controlled “unit”. I have considered leaving the party so many times since Jeremy lost the election and especially since the present leadership contenders have caved in to the demands of Board of Deputies. The only reason I haven’t done so is because this would mean I could no longer be a solidarity member of JVL. I am in a dilemma. However I fully support the stand taken by Dr. Chilson.

  • Janet Elizabeth Stains says:

    Catherine – you are not alone in your dilemma regarding support for JVL; I actually joined the L/Party so that I could support them. I have been disappointed by what seems to be a dark and unpleasant “something” at the heart of the labour organisation that seems intent on expelling good socialists, and Jewish people at that! Dr Chilson’s experience, as with so many others, really leaves me no choice – a letter to Jennie Formby with my membership card, will shortly be in the post, now Jeremy’s leadership is about to end ….so sad to see him leave the HofC yesterday following PMQs
    May I request JVL to consider allowing solidarity members who, for reasons of conscience, can’t remain in the L/Party but do not identify as Jewish,
    (I do have Jewish ancestry) to remain as supporters?

  • Eric Gillett says:

    That is shocking. This lady has the right to know who her accusers are. Anonymous accusers could be anybody or nobody. This is manifestly unjust.

Comments are now closed.