Expelled activist tells JVL meeting that ‘witchhunt’ is plot to ‘topple’ Corbyn
Labour conferenceGreenstein attends JVL

Expelled activist tells JVL meeting that ‘witchhunt’ is plot to ‘topple’ Corbyn

Tony Greenstein, who was kicked out the party earlier this year, claims that allegations of antisemitism in the party have an ulterior motive

Tony Greenstein
Tony Greenstein

Expelled activists were welcomed to a Jewish Voice for Labour fringe event at the party’s annual conference, where the ‘witch hunt’ was branded as being a plot to oust Jeremy Corbyn.

Tony Greenstein was thrown out of Labour earlier this year for making offensive comments including the use of the term “zio”.

At a fringe meeting at Labour’s conference in Liverpool he claimed left-wing activists were being targeted in an attempt to “topple” Mr Corbyn.

“The purpose of the witch hunt is not to get rid of individuals,” he said.

“Its purpose is to topple Jeremy Corbyn.”

On Sunday, Labour MP Chris Williamson shared a platform with expelled anti-Zionist activist Tony Greenstein, during an event where the antisemitism row was compared to ‘McCarthyism’.

The Derby North politician was pictured at an event hosted by ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’,  where the ‘withchunt’ against members accused of antisemitism had parallels to George Orwell’s 1984, where “good is bad, black is white and we had the Ministry of Truth and all the rest of it.”

In Greenstein’s blog after the event, he claimed Williamson was “ridiculing the witchhunt” and “received a standing ovation”.

At a packed meeting of the Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) group on Monday, there was a round of applause for Marc Wadsworth, another expelled activist, when he arrived. Later that day, the Co-Operative party issued an apology, after Wadsworth attended an event held by the group. Labour has previously advised its members and MPs in particular, not to share platforms with those subject to disciplinary processes.

Mr Wadsworth’s ejection from the party came after he had accused Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth of “working hand in hand” with The Daily Telegraph during a tirade at the launch of the Chakrabarti report on anti-Semitism in 2016.

JVL chairwoman Jenny Manson said the group would work to “resolve” some of the disciplinary cases which had seen outspoken activists including Mr Wadsworth and Jackie Walker being suspended or expelled.

“We can’t allow the injustice that has been going on for the past two years to just go by without trying to do something to bring back fairness,” she said.

“When we think of the way Jeremy Corbyn has been treated, when we think of the way people like Marc Wadsworth and Jackie Walker have been treated – this appalling infection of lack of reason and injustice which has hit the Labour Party.”

She added: “We move on but we don’t forget these injustices. We work now to try to resolve some of the people who have been suspended by the party, who have been expelled by the party and we try to ensure that Jeremy Corbyn is not called a racist anymore by anybody.”

In its contribution to the consultation on Labour’s new code of conduct, JVL rejected suggestions that comparisons between Israel and “features of pre-war Nazi Germany” or apartheid-era South Africa were “inherently anti-Semitic”.

“Drawing such parallels can undoubtedly cause offence; but potent historical events and experiences are always key reference points in political debate.

“Such comparisons are only anti-Semitic if they show prejudice, hostility or hatred against Jews as Jews.”

It also questioned whether “discussion and education, rather than a formal disciplinary approach” could be more appropriate in some anti-Semitism cases.

At a separate rally of the centrist Labour First group on the fringe of conference, suspended Labour MP Ian Austin vowed to continue his fight against anti-Semitism in the party. The Dudley North MP, the adopted child of Jewish refugees, is under investigation over an alleged row with party chair Ian Lavery over the handling of anti-Semitism complaints.

He won loud cheers as he told the rally: “No previous Labour leader would describe Hamas and Hezbollah as friends, allow the Labour Party to be poisoned with anti-Semitism – a party like ours with a proud tradition of anti-racism, a party which has provided a home for Jewish people for a century.

“I have never been more certain of anything in my life than this fight against anti-Semitism.

“I am not going to give it up. I am not going to be silenced. I am going to stand and fight.”

Yvette Cooper, who fought Mr Corbyn for the leadership in 2015, told the rally: “It breaks my heart to have had a whole summer of anti-Semitism not being challenged sufficiently strongly in our party – the Labour Party that should always be standing up firm with the Jewish community fighting against anti-Semitism.”

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