Marc Wadsworth. Photo: Twitter

Jewish and Black activists united in support of antiracist campaigner Marc Wadsworth

A JVL Statement, 25 April 2018


One of the most prominent campaigners for justice for Stephen Lawrence, whose racist murder 25 years ago we commemorate this month, was black journalist and activist Marc Wadsworth. In 1998 Marc, a leading member of the Anti-Racist Alliance (ARA), helped organise a meeting between Nelson Mandela and Stephen’s parents, Doreen and Neville Lawrence, giving an enormous boost to their campaign for justice.

The Stephen Lawrence inquiry under Sir William MacPherson, which reported the following year, identified “institutional racism” at the heart of British policing and set the framework for identifying hate crimes and bringing perpetrators to book.

Now Marc Wadsworth himself is the object of a massive injustice, wrongly accused of a hate crime he did not commit, allegedly directed at a female Jewish MP. To compound the irony, the incident in question occurred at the launch in 2016 of a major report into racism in the Labour Party.

Responding to charges that there was a problem of antisemitism within the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn commissioned a report by respected human rights lawyer Shami Chakrabarti. Its launch by both Corbyn and Chakrabarti in June 2016 was attended by Marc Wadsworth in his capacity as a journalist, a Black activist and a Labour Party campaigner. He brought with him press releases drawing attention to the disruptive activities of some Labour MPs opposed to the Corbyn leadership.

At the press conference Marc asked a question focusing on the need for Labour to do more to integrate members of BAME communities into the life of the party. This key feature of the Chakrabarti report received no attention from other journalists present who seemed fixated on attacking Corbyn. One in particular, from the Daily Telegraph, had demanded that he denounce the press release Marc had been distributing. In response, Marc said – as a preamble to his main question – that he had seen the Telegraph reporter handing a copy of his press release to an MP, apparently working together.

At that, pandemonium broke loose, the MP in question walked out of the room followed by the Telegraph reporter and several others, and all attention focused on her, not on the content and implications of the Chakrabarti Report.

From this incident a wave of hysteria grew, in which Marc’s brief comment was twisted to allege antisemitism against a man who has fought racism all his life. Marc Wadsworth was peremptorily suspended from the Labour Party and today (April 25), nearly two years after the event, has been arraigned before a panel of the National Constitutional Committee for this supposed offence.

Jewish Voice for Labour believes that he must be cleared of any charges of antisemitism, and that his suspension should be lifted forthwith. His treatment has been a travesty of the transparent, fair and equitable procedures one would expect from a labour movement organisation. It is a further irony that his summary suspension followed by 22 months in limbo would not have been possible if the relevant recommendations of the Chakrabarti Report had been implemented. Although adopted by the National Executive Committee soon after its publication, the party’s entrenched bureaucracy, in place before Corbyn was elected leader, has obstructed the implementation of the report’s recommendations. Instead it has continued to suspend and harass pro-Corbyn party members – especially those who support justice for the Palestinian people – using the flawed rules which Chakrabarti declared unfit for purpose.

This out of control regime has resulted in the unjust silencing of hundreds of Labour Party members committed to working for a progressive Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. We trust that the rejection of the totally ill-founded charges against Marc Wadsworth will herald the end of this sorry chapter in the Party’s history.

 

See previous postings:

Marc Wadsworth defends himself against unsubstantiated allegations, now apparently withdrawn…

Crowdfunding appeal for Marc Wadsworth to defend himself against charges of antisemitism