Leah Levane, co-chair of JVL, expelled from the Labour Party

JVL members standing in solidarity with Leah Levane outside the Labour Party conference.

Leah Levane, Co Chair of JVL was elected as a delegate to Conference by her Constituency Labour Party. Having attended on Day 1, her entry was blocked on Day 2 (this morning, 26th September) and her delegate’s credentials removed.

In August she received a “Notice of Possible Autoexclusion” because she had signed an Open letter (along with 5,000 others) organised by Labour Against the Witch Hunt and spoken at an online meeting organised by Labour in Exile Network, both of which are organisations that were banned in July.

She has now been expelled. What does this say about political freedom and the failure to address racism, to respond to the leaked report that, if true, showed shocking levels of racism and Islamophobia – to say nothing of misogyny.

Are Labour Party members never to speak at – or even attend meetings of – organisations that the Labour Party might, at some point in the future, decide are not acceptable?

Essentially it is retrospective justice – normally recognised as grotesque injustice – a punishment for having engaged in activities which were perfectly legal at the time they took place.

On the specifics: Leah replied to the original notice within 3 days but heard nothing until Day 2 of the conference when she was told that she had been sent an email. In fact she had missed two emails sent late on Saturday night. The first stated that:

“we have concluded that you have, through your conduct, demonstrated the sort of support for the Organisations that the NEC has declared to be incompatible with continued membership of the Labour Party. Consequently, we conclude that you are no longer eligible to be or to remain a Labour Party member.”

And the other, sent 6 minutes later saying that:

Due to a change in your membership status it will not be possible to accept your application as a delegate. Your Labour Party membership record shows that your membership is currently subject to an administrative suspension. Accordingly your rights as a member are restricted and you may not attend Annual Conference 2021.

Your application is therefore rejected and a refund if applicable will be processed. Any badge issued will no longer allow access to the Conference.” (Our emphasis throughout)

In its reply, the Party rejected the argument that the punishment was retrospective, i.e. the actions predated the proscriptions and, of course, she was unable to do the impossible thing that they had requested, prove a negative – that she was not a supporter.

This is yet another example of left-wing Jews, especially JVL Committee members being accused – directly or indirectly – of antisemitism. In fact this has nothing to do with tackling the real threat of antisemitism. It is  an attack on the left in the Party, the only part that has the ideas that can truly address the crises facing working class people made far, far worse under this pernicious Tory government.

We shall keep fighting; at our JVL Fringe meeting on tonight, “Crisis in the Party – tackling racism”, JVL and Labour Black Socialists will explore the experiences of Black people and left-wing Jews and how the focus on antisemitism has eclipsed the struggle against anti Black racism, Islamophobia and racism towards the Gipsy, Roma and Traveller community.


Leah Levane’s expulsion letter

Comments (41)

  • Joey says:

    Sitting in the Conference Hall, horrified at the spin put on antisemitism. We’re all anti Semitic now, it seems

  • Linda says:

    Is it practicable at both national and constituency level to collate the details of every case where individuals are being suspended for dubious reasons – and suspended possibly by employees who are temps and / or lack the relevant training to be competent?

    Then to take these details to the constituency and national Labour MPs and councillors and point out the destabilising effects on the CLPs and their future chances of getting elected if this situation continues? And point out the local and national press and social media interest in the injustices done to the people wrongly suspended? Mock up the articles that WILL go out to the local, regional and national press if the MPs and councillors can’t help you get redress?

    I’d go in hard too. If it’s practicable to take out umpteen grievance cases personally against David Evans for bullying and incompetence in his job, do so … The press will be interested. Starmer may see the folly of his ways in supporting Evans. Starmer may in fact lose his leadership job more quickly than would otherwise be the case – sadly a new leader may be Labour’s best hope of getting free of the swamp it’s now in.

  • Robin Vyrnwy-Pierce says:

    This is getting ridiculous. Starmer is behaving like an autocrat with the Labour Party as his fiefdom.
    I am almost 72 and have supported the Labour Movement since I started work at 15. I have been an official of my union at various levels and an official at various levels of the Lsbour Party. It makes me weep to see what the party has become.

  • John Bernard says:

    JVL, absolutely appalling, but not a surprise. Labour as you well know has been taken over by Zionist racists, and Leah is the wrong kind of jew, being a member as she is of an organisation which seeks justice for Palestinians and supports BDS. Evans confirmation as GS merely demonstrates how firmly this cabal have assumed total control of what used to be the Labour Party, for ghastly monsters like Luke Akehurst and the vile creatures of the Gnasherjew ilk. It is now time for you JVL (along with the Marxist left who also continue to bang their heads against a brick wall) to engage with political reality,stop wailing and gnashing your teeth in the wilderness, start thinking outside the box, and move on to building an alternative.

  • Rob Gardiner says:

    Disgust. Shock. Disbelief. Despair. That nameless party is descending into an area that Dante might recognise, is nightmarish and grotesque. There are at this moment no words that can describe my feelings. A dark night of the soul has infected the party!

  • Jack T says:

    How many of us have been subject to the same appalling behaviour as Leah from Starmer’s Labour? We all know it has absolutely zero to do with whatever meetings we’ve attended, it’s because we are Socialists who oppose the racism which Starmer and his crew support.

  • David Hawkins says:

    Leah Levane’s treatment is shameful but unfortunately unsurprising. Comrades should recognise that Labour under Starmer has become a Racist Endeavour. Certainly the “anti Semitism” Witch-hunt is an excuse to purge the left but it is also an expression of authentic racism.
    Can I end this with a small personal request? I am a proud non Jewish member of JVL and I would passionately like to remain a member not just a supporter. I made the decision to leave the Labour Party with my head held high rather than experience the personal. humiliation of inevitable expulsion. It would mean a lot to me if I could remain as a member. Could you consider changing the rules so this is possible?

  • Jill Friedmann says:

    Shocking action. Are the leadership so keen to lose loyal members and any chance of winning back our lost voters in any future elections?

  • Paul Smith says:

    This is a carefully calibrated provocation. There will be many more. It is vital not to resign but to work patiently, as did the right-wing (including Starmer) to combat these attacks.

  • Mary Davies says:

    Love & Solidarity Leah x

  • Chris Khamis says:

    Am I being stupid, or is there no logic to the LP’s rejection of Leah’s retrospective point? Point 10 reads like gobbledygook and makes no mention of the retrospective point yet Point 11 rejects Leah’s argument in a complete non-sequitur. Looks like the Starmer leadership and the Evans apparatchiks are going to expel most of JVL’s officers. Clear evidence of antisemitism on their part. Keep fighting and we must all keep building support and solidarity with you.

  • DAVID JONES says:

    My membership will also cease. Who wants to belong to such a party?

  • John Morgan says:

    What is the total number of Delegates to Conference who have been suspended or expelled? (Are they all CLP Delegates, or are some from trade unions or affiliates?) Is that total greater than the margin of victory for any conference vote? If it is, we have a very simple soundbite with which to challenge this practice.

  • Dr Rodney Watts says:

    Very irksome but yet another illustration of the sewer level politics practiced by the current stalinist regime. One more reason why I wouldn’t consider in the remotest way of wasting money on an LP subs.

  • Richard Samson says:

    Mr Evans, Mr Starmer and their cronies make me feel ashamed to be a member of the Labour Party.

  • Emma Tait says:

    What is the point of staying in the Labour Party when socialist keep getting thrown out?

  • Miriam Yagud says:

    Leah’s expulsion andvthat of the other JVL committee members is a disgrace.
    There may be little that can be achieved through taking on the bureaucracy but there is a great deal of good that can be achieved through making sure as many members and people belong the LP get to hear what is happening and build people’s confidence to speak up about racism in the party and support for Palestine.
    Hundreds of thousands of people are now politically homeless. We need a political realignment of the left that is internationalist, antiracist, anti-elitist and anti-misogynist.

  • Adrian Stern says:

    Heartbreaking! Should I now resign from the party? I only joined finally in 2013 at age 65 in order to try ens help return the party to its roots as a socialist party. I never joined earlier as I was wary of precisely this kind of activity. It’s shameful

  • Graeme Atkinson says:

    Absolute disgrace. A proper socialist being expelled by a bunch of political scabs in an antisemitic action.

    Full solidarity with you, Leah.

  • Dave Bradney says:

    Yes it’s sickening. But you won’t help yourselves by ignoring what the letter actually says. Paras 9 and 10 make it clear that for as long as Chapter 2 Clause 1.4.B has been in place and worded like that, members have not been allowed to join or support a “political organisation” unless it is an “official Labour group or other unit of the party”.

    So arguments about retrospectivity and formal membership are irrelevant in this context. “Support” could be as little as posting a comment on a website or being present at an event. I wonder how the RB defines “political”!?

    Best thing might be to insist on consistency. Obviously Momentum can be thrown out en masse any time the top brass choose to grasp that nettle. But consider that Progress – or whatever it is called now – also falls foul of this rule. And it won’t help to argue that you ceased your involvement with Progress – you did what you did then and so you must go!!

    To cheer you up, here are some words from Lewis Carroll:

    ————–

    Justice
    “ There’s the King’s Messenger. He’s in prison now, being punished: and the trial doesn’t even begin till next Wednesday: and of course the crime comes last of all.”
     “Suppose he never commits the crime?” said Alice.
     “That would be all the better, wouldn’t it?”

    * Lewis Carroll: Through the Looking-Glass (quote from Britannica)

  • Martyn Meacham says:

    Starmer’s fake labour party deserves to die its well deserved death…and a new democratic socialist party formed ,with decent socialist MPs at the helm.

  • Peter Jenner says:

    I was suspended from the Party largely because of my support for JVL – which I regard as a breath of fresh air – and for Jo Bird in particular and for calling out the JLM’s weaponisation of antisemitism for factional reasons.

    I have now left the Party. I only joined in 2016 to support Corbyn. I had never joined a Party before and don’t intend to again.

    The Corbyn Project was the last chance saloon. We have seen the lengths the establishment are willing to go to and the depths they are willing to sink to to prevent even a moderate attempt to move away from the disastrous policies of the last forty years or so.

    We are facing many existential threats. The current state of our politics is totally inadequate to meet these challenges. The Labour Party now is beyond a joke, inward-looking and irrelevant, providing no opposition to this appalling government.

    Full solidarity to Leah and her colleagues in the JVL who face similar threats.

  • steve mitchell says:

    This is one of the most disgraceful incidents in all my 81 years. I am upset and very angry. The description “Stalinist ” doesn’t even begin to cover it. It makes my flesh creep. I joined the Labour Party in 1956 as a Young Socialist. I never wavered in my belief that the Party is the only organization capable of saving this country. Until now. Rayners description of the senior Tories is apt but the same description can be applied to those leading Labour.

  • Margaret West says:

    I shall never leave the Labour Party .. I think it more important
    to stay and fight if only for the sake of my local Labour Party
    who so far have not been targeted by David Evans. There are also some brilliant members of Young Labour and Green Labour to give hope. Ive just been watching the brilliant fringe Conference discussion sponsored by Labour List and broadcast live on YouTube.

    The action in expelling Leah utterly disgusts me .

    So from now on we are supposed to walk on by when we see
    those ex-Labour Party members who have been expelled! I
    do not think I know any of these members so maybe they should wear some sign to indicate their status ?

    Any suggestions?

    PS Am sorry if this offends Jewish people !

  • Dina Groden says:

    If enough JVL members are expelled for dubious reasons would it be possible to take the Labour party to court for anti-semitism?

  • Linda Poulson says:

    I am utterly disgusted but sadly not surprised by this despicable action. I have followed JVL for a few years now and have always found them to be a beacon of hope and integrity, that’s obviously why they are no longer wanted in Starmers Labour Party. If there is anything I can do ( as a non Jewish socialist) I would be honoured to give my support.

  • Tim Baker says:

    I echo what David Hawkins says above as another non-jewish Associate Member via my union but left in disgust over what happened to Rebecca Long-Bailey and others.

    I couldn’t join fully as I have voted for and happy to work with/support other parties and live somewhere where my Labour vote would be rather wasted…I am a socialist at heart though, even if I am one totally appalled at what Keir and co. are doing.

    But one of the few shining lights of Labour is JVL, and the work you do. I guess you have to block outside members to be one of the ‘supported’ groups, and this all seems very scary and Stalinist the retroactive expulsion of people…but yes, if we can support you other ways that would be good.

    The work you do is really important, and please keep fighting the good fight – the idea that people can turn a blind eye to Palestine (and racism, Islamophobia, sexism, transphobia in the party and elsewhere) for political gain is horrifying. We don’t get anywhere working with oppressors and bigots.

  • Gerry Dominey says:

    Solidarity, Leah, from one who was expelled as a Militant in 1985.

  • Phil Bradley says:

    Absolutely appalling. Solidarity Leah.

  • Andrew Hornung says:

    My late brother-in-law survived labour camps and finally a death camp. He saw, first hand, the brutality of Nazism. So he didn’t feel that watching the film Shoah would teach him anything new. But he did watch it and it did teach him something new. The film’s interviews revealed the calm, well-educated, bureaucratic scruple that may be used to legitimise and organise every sort of perversion of justice.
    I was reminded of my conversation with him on this point above all by the following phrase, “Your application is therefore rejected and a refund if applicable will be processed.” So respectful and considerate in its irrelevant detail, like murderers paying meticulous attention to the funeral rites of their victims.
    Solidarity with Leah!

  • Paul Casson says:

    So angry to hear this.
    I am emailing on behalf of South Lakes Socialists and the United Socialist Campaign in Kendal to offer our moral support and best wishes to Leah and to offer her our solidarity. We are a group of Socialists, some within the Labour Party, some resigned from it becuase of its lurch to the right and its lack of democracy; together in an association with some other socialists who have joined us. Leah spoke to us at our zoom discussion group reprersenting J.V.L. on 14th June, and we were all greatly impressed by her and by J.V.L.

    If we can help in any way, do not hesitate to let us know.We are small but we have loud voices. Is there anything you would like us to do ?

    Paul Casson

  • Simon Colbeck says:

    Jewish members of The Labour Party are five times more likely to be investigated for alleged antisemitism than non Jewish members….
    an almost entirely unreported figure because it exposes the almost entirely fraudulent motivation of the ‘Labour riddled with antisemitism’ project that leapt abruptly into life in 2016. Meanwhile, and under any possible pretext, the purge is well under way…
    I’m thinking it may already be too late to reverse it.

  • Stephen Flaherty says:

    I think it’s reasonably certain that this is a tactic they’ve decided on. They’d like to proscribe JVL, but even they don’t have the brass neck to proscribe a Jewish organisation in the name of fighting anti-Semitism. So, instead, they’re going to go after all the leading members of JVL. I think we can expect more of this.

  • James McGuire says:

    Solidarity with Leah in this appalling situation. When I was a Labour Party member, although I am not Jewish I joined JVL as a support member, appreciating it as the sanest voice in the debates about the accusation of widespread antisemitism in the LP, and on many other issues. Following various events in 2020 I gave up and left the party. I’m horrified more than ever by what is happening now. Leah, you have given eloquent voice to the need for resilience in the many challenges that confront us. I feel a similar despair to that expressed by Peter Jenner on the level of threat that confronts the left and the inadequacy of present responses to it. Yet I hope there can be discussions to find constructive ways forward from this.

  • John Bowley says:

    The old establishment which controls the ‘Labour Party’ is hypocritical, nasty and dishonest. Its treatment of members shows that it is unfit for anything.

  • Michael Wright says:

    It’s appalling and cruel treatment but not surprising. Solidarity Leah.

  • Michael Howard says:

    For those thinking that the Party has lately become a Zionist supporting organisation, history tells us that it has always been so.
    From collusion in Britain’s colonialism since its founding days including helping to set up and work with the Israeli Labor Party whose leaders helped establish and run the Israeli state to now actively excluding oppositionist socialists who object to what is white western colonialism, it has always played a regressive role.
    It’s just that in the past it disengenuously presented itself to outside onlookers including many Jewish people like me as a European like democratic parliamentary state, rather than the apartheid state that it really is.

  • John Spencer says:

    Leah’s expulsion appears to have been expedited to prevent her speaking in the conference debate against proposed new rules. Under the pretence of independence the new rules pass overall control of the on-going purge to general secretary David Evans. By excluding Leah the conference organisers ensured that discussion of the rule changes would be monopolised by Ruth Smeeth and Margaret Hodge.

  • Leah Levane says:

    Huge thanks to everyone for the solidarity. As I said in several interviews (only left wing press, of course), it really is not about me, but another attack on the left and this matters because the “moderate” wing of the Party do not have the ideas that can address the crises facing people and, indeed, the planet. People are crying out for meaningful change (if not transformation) and overwhelmingly support, eg a £15.00 per hour minimum wage, decent pay for nurses, real council housing, nationalisation of railways and the untilities…but the Labour leadership is far more interested in winning than principles – as if you can do one without the other – and do not want to scare the horses….there will be improvements, more crumbs will be allowed to fall from the table and things may well improve; meanwhile we are left with these four words from Starmer that he considers are his values that are British values – and these inspiring words are: Work, Care, Equality, Security.

  • Ros Clayton says:

    Labour Through the Looking-Glass indeed. These anti Semitic Stalinist purges are both surreal and chilling. Is all debate to be stifled?
    Entering the conference centre in anticipation of the Dear Leader’s speech, was tipped off by a friendly security official to hide small EU flag just handed to me outside. Orders from above to confiscate. Big pile of them next to X-ray machine. Display of any EU symbol now grounds for disciplinary action?

  • Hassan says:

    Solidarity to Leah Levane. This is further proof that the labour party is a dead end. The labour left are getting completely hammered, and failing to fight back. They kick up a bit of a fuss but, when push comes to shove, they stay loyal to labour, the party thats stepping all over them.

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