by Martin Odoni

Jacqueline Walker, a black Jewish activist and long-time Labour Party anti-racism campaigner, was expelled from the party today. The story of her, somewhat-carelessly-worded-but-accurate, remarks about Jews being leading financiers of the slave trade in past centuries, is well-enough recorded that I doubt I need to go over it. If you need to refresh your memory, see here.

Jackie Walker stitched up

Jackie Walker has been expelled from the Labour Party for stating historical facts.

However, the reason why this is as much a stitch-up as the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth last year bears mentioning. As with the Wadsworth hearing, the disciplinary process was clearly corrupted.

The pretext for Walker being suspended was supposed ‘anti-Semitic’ behaviour. There is a reluctance on the part of many in the media to mention that the accused is herself Jewish. (As indeed there has been with the accusations against the likes of Tony Greenstein, Cyril Chilson, Jo Bird, myself, and others. As Alexei Sayle has pointed out, those suspended or expelled from Labour for anti-Semitism are frequently Jewish.)

Walker was not allowed to speak in her own defence at her hearing, although as she had chosen to have a legal counsel present, that is not an irregularity in itself; the party rules are quite explicit that any defendant who accepts legal counsel must leave all the talking to him/her.

The critical matter, which media reports of the expulsion are not making much effort to mention is that Walker, just like Wadsworth last year, was not charged with anti-Semitism. The charge that the Labour National Constitutional Committee levelled against her was Prejudicial and grossly detrimental behaviour against the party. This is taken from part of the text of Clause 2.I.8 of the Party rulebook.

This charge is problematic in itself –  see below – but more concerning yet is that Walker was not made aware until a few days ago exactly to which of her actions/words the charge applied. She and her legal counsel had insufficient time to prepare a full defence against some of the accusations therefore, and Walker’s wish to make an opening statement was in response to this serious irregularity.

The main reason the charge is problematic is similar to the one with the charge levelled against Wadsworth last year. At his tribunal, Wadsworth was charged with Bringing the party into disrepute, a lazy, catch-all term that effectively amounts to, “The NCC can throw you out just because its members don’t like something you said or did”. While being slightly more specific, the charge Prejudicial and grossly detrimental behaviour against the party, in the cold light of day, does not appear to mean anything greatly different. It is useful as it matches words in the clause of the rulebook, so it sounds legitimate, but does so without having to give the ‘transgression’ any precise definition or clarity.

Both Wadsworth’s and Walker’s charges amount to extremely blunt legal instruments. They hand an excessive amount of power to the party right-wingers who dominate the NCC, and make it much too easy for them to get rid of any member for whom they just have a political, or even personal, antipathy, on the shakiest of pretexts.

Zionist organisations like The Jewish Labour Movement, The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and The Jewish Chronicle are trying to insinuate that Walker has been thrown out precisely for being an anti-Semite, and no other reason. What they fail to explain is why the NCC needed to press such a vague and subjective charge as prejudicial and grossly detrimental behaviour in order to ‘convict’ her? Surely if they really had sufficient grounds to convict her of ‘anti-Semitic behaviour’, they could have made it more explicitly clear?

The ruling given by the judgement panel on the NCC was worded,

“The National Constitutional Committee has found that the charges of breaches of party rules by Jackie Walker have been proven. The National Constitutional Committee consequently determined that the sanction for this breach of the rules is expulsion from Labour Party membership.”

They did not mention anti-Semitism, or racism, as being the reason for the expulsion. Given Walker’s long history of fighting racism – just like Wadsworth’s – that should go without saying really. And yet – just like Wadsworth – it did not

This imprecise announcement fits a pattern that occurs a lot when Labour members are expelled for alleged anti-Semitism. See the ruling when Tony Greenstein was given his marching orders last year; –

“The NCC of the Labour Party has today found that all three charges of a breach of the Labour Party’s rule 2.1.8 by Tony Greenstein have been found proved. The NCC consequently determined that the sanction for the breach of Labour Party rules will be expelled from membership.”

And the ruling at the end of the aforementioned Wadsworth expulsion; –

“The National Constitutional Committee of the Labour Party has found that two charges of a breach of the Labour Party’s rule 2.1.8 by Marc Wadsworth have been proven. The NCC consequently determined that the sanction for this breach of Labour Party rules will be expulsion from membership.”

All sounds very similar does it not? And all very obscure.

What do all the accused mentioned on this page have in common?

Well of course; they are all pro-Palestine supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.

Thus it is quite impossible not to suspect that Walker’s guilt and expulsion – just like all the others’ – were premeditated conclusions. My own, much lower-profile suspension will doubtless lead to the same place in whichever century the NCC finally get around to assessing my case of implied ‘self-hating-Jewry’. But in Walker’s case, all that was in doubt was not her expulsion, but how the NCC chose to word the verdict. In the event, they took the tried-and-tested route, making it as obscure and legal-ese-precise as possible.

What happened to Jackie Walker today was just history ‘rhyming’. As Wadsworth was stitched up a year ago, so Walker has been stitched up now, demonstrating just how much right-wing corruption remains in the innermost mechanisms of the Labour Party.