United against racism?

We are astonished at recent actions of Socialists of Colour that appear to be threatening to split the anti-racist movement, and in so doing empower the right.

Socialists of Colour (SoC) was formed earlier this year with admirable aims including: “To support strong socialist and anti-racist activists running in election” and “To provide a space for political education and raising consciousness for People of Colour”. It has disgracefully failed in both aims at its first hurdle.

SoC posed a number of questions to all candidates standing for the CLP section in the NEC election. Wisely all but one of the 6 candidates in the Grassroots Voice team did not respond. Such tests of political virtue are all too often converted into attack weapons. And this is exactly what has happened. Two of the left candidates who answered their questions have had their replies published, with a full screen headline bearing the notice CONTENT WARNING, followed in each case by a statement that: “Some responses from this candidate we believe include openly antisemitic and/or racist views”. Socialists of Colour have followed this up by complaining to the Labour Party about their responses – which in the current climate is almost bound to lead to their suspension and elimination as candidates.

Two left candidates received this treatment. They are Brian Precious and Carol Taylor-Spedding. Their answers can be found here and here. When asked to name “one Black socialist man who inspires you” Taylor-Spedding took the feminist route and preferred to nominate several Black Labour women, including Diane Abbot and Dawn Butler as well as Jackie Walker, a black Jewish woman who had been “expelled unjustly from the party”.

The allegations against Precious are even less clear. Possibly saying that only “0.1% of members charged with antisemitism, let alone disciplined or expelled. Israel is institutionally antisemitic via its ethnic cleansing of the (semitic) Palestinians since 1948.” That, and maybe calling on all Labour members to support Jewish Voice For Labour, is, presumably, what condemned him.

When asked to explain their allegations of antisemitism, SoC stated: “We believe that defending or apologising for Walker’s behaviour is an attempt to discredit valid antisemitism claims and is therefore, in our belief, racist and/or antisemitic.”

With this statement, they have bought into the myth that accusation equals guilt and have joined forces with the right in the witch hunt. Lamentably, these attacks on genuine, anti-racist socialists will undermine our essential united struggle. Fighting racism in all its forms is at the core of JVL’s commitments, and this – from a group we thought were allies – is disappointing in the extreme. Jackie Walker was not expelled for antisemitism and we stand by our position that the allegations were without substance.

We call on SoC to withdraw their official complaints to the Party and to issue appropriate apologies to Carol, Brian and Jackie.

There is a petition circulating which supports one of those suspended.



Comments (15)

  • Michael Ryan says:

    A trap was set and JVL(amongst others) walked straight into it. I hope we’ve all learned thatthe name of an organisation (especially a new one) means absolutely nothing. The b*******s gunning for us will use every means, fair or foul to undermine every effort for a just and democratic resolution to this crisis of the left.

  • Kath Shaw says:

    This makes my blood boil. Go Jackie. The real socialist will always support you.

  • Dr Paul says:

    I’ve read the two offending addresses, and I really am unable to see why either should get a huge ‘content warning’ page imposed when one opens the links to either of them. Neither says anything remotely objectionable. Perhaps the SoC people feel that it’s an insurance policy, something to keep them safe against the party’s Thought Police, lest they themselves get accused of anti-Semitism for displaying the addresses. Vain hope of that ploy working!

  • JVL web says:

    A number of comments have come in from various people casting aspersions on Socialists of Colour.

    We’re obviously very unhappy with what they have done re the NEC candidates but we are not approving what are entirely speculative posts as we do not know enough about SoC to attribute motives. Nor do the people submittting the comments.

    We hope to find out more in due course.

  • Stuart Hill says:

    Are we not familiar with the concept of a “front organisation”? It appears this outfit was set up for the express purpose of attacking the Left. Who is behind it, in the shadows? How is it financed? Who are its supporters?

    We do not have to be paranoid to know our enemies are out to get us. We do, unfortunately, have to be very careful.

  • Sandy Palmer says:

    It seems that they are a cunning bunch who have a number of friends and supporters who are and have been part of the witch hunt. We must be vigilant and not be duped by the word ‘socialist’ in anyone’s statement of purpose until they have been tested.

  • Jaye says:

    What a ridiculous list of exhaustive detailed questions from the SoC and those answering were setting themselves up. However Precious gave himself away and I am astounded that JVL finds nothing inherently racist and anti-semitic in his comments. (The link to Precious’ answers is not live by the way so I am relying on your quote from his reply “Israel is institutionally antisemitic via its ethnic cleansing of the (semitic) Palestinians since 1948.”)

    Appropriation of the term “antisemitic” by spuriously breaking it down is a favourite practice of, yes, antisemites. It demonstrates that the person wants to deny to Jews even the term used to describe hatred and discrimation towards them and use it for others, and of course there’s also a clear hint in Precious’ words that today’s Jews aren’t really connected historically to Jews. That’s another favourite of antisemites. JVL should not be expressing support for Precious based on the comment quoted.

    • Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi says:

      Jaye is correct to point out that antisemites are prone to justify their prejudice by suggesting that the term “antisemitism” does not refer only to Jews. However, he goes too far in concluding that everyone who does this is an antisemite. Many people are unaware of the origin of the term coined in 1879 by the German agitator, Wilhelm Marr. Marr’s intention was to give a pseudo-scientific gloss to anti-Jewish campaigns under way in central Europe at that time, incorporating the centuries-old religious animosity towards Jews into the racialised thinking of the time, presenting Jews as part of a biologically inferior “semitic” people much like Arabs. The fact that some sincere supporters of justice for Palestine believe they can help the cause by asserting that “Arabs are Semites too” is testament to the woeful lack of understanding in our movement of the real origins of antisemitism. Hence the importance we attach to promoting discussion and education rather than claiming to enforce “zero tolerance” by means of vindictive exclusion campaigns. The standard spelling of antisemitism adopted by JVL and other Jewish organisations – without a hyphen and with no capital S in the middle – reflects a correct understanding of the term. Anti – HYPHEN – Semitism implies that there is something called Semitism that all decent people are in favour of. Clearly not so!

  • Harry Law says:

    SoC asked Carol Taylor-Spedding “Why do you think there has never been a Black man on the NEC”? Keith Vaz was a member of the LP NEC for 15 years.

  • Alan Stanton says:

    “If you really want to fight antisemitism you should do exactly what the Corbyn people did do in the Labour Party. Is create a forum where everybody can say whatever they want. And some people are going to say antisemitic stuff. Because, let’s face it, this is an antisemitic society. This stuff is everywhere. It’s only if you bring it out that you can then address it.”
    Quote taken from a video by David Graeber.

  • Anthony Baldwin says:

    If you haven’t visited the Socialist against AS site then you need to as they appear to be yet another group who are set up to create contentious situations with their criticism of other content being on the , ‘you do realise that that your comment means you support this trope or that one which you must know are anti-semitic’.
    They have a Post celebrating their common cause with SoC and that when they continue to hypocritically claim that Israel and its actions have no consequences for Jews in the UK even though the Israeli Lobby continues to discriminate against those who support the Palestinian cause and they themselves take issue with justifiable criticisms of the Apartheid State’s actions.

  • Paul Smith says:

    Any response from Socialists of Colour?

  • DJ says:

    This is a sorry state of affairs. As socialists we should promote honest debate with people including those with whom we disagree. Socialists of Colour should have given the 3 NEC candidates concerned a proper right of reply before condemning them. They got their facts wrong on the expulsion of Jackie Walker. She was not expelled for antisemitism. Her expulsion was for “bringing the Labour Party into disrepute” Even if someone is expelled on the grounds of antisemitism, the act of supporting them against such a decision does not constitute antisemitism. This is guilt by association. Denying that labour has an anti semitism problem or that the problem has been exaggerated is also a legitimate point of view. To brand this as antisemitic is simply wrong.

  • DJ says:

    Still no response from SoC? Does this “socialist” organisation have any policies on ethnic cleansing and apartheid? Does it support or oppose the IHRA definition on anti semitism? What is its position on the rights of Palestinians and the BDS movement? I am curious to know where an organisation which claims to be anti racist stands on these matters.

  • rc says:

    Jermain Jackman has received a fairly large number of nominations to the NEC – and of course Ann Black has received about her usual (high) number.
    This Open Labour slate uncritically endorses the so-called Jewish Labour Movement – and Jackman as noted above has gone further in his disgraceful allegations against LLA candidates. LtW of course are beyond unspeakable. Some LtW propagandists are claiming that the NEC is essentially an unpolitical body, its only remit being supervising the allegedly unpolitical operations of the GLU.
    The witch-hunt is set to intensify.

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