Labour must drop charges against anti-racist campaigner

by Marc Wadsworth

Labour must drop charges against anti-racist campaigner

by Marc Wadsworth
Marc Wadsworth
Life-long Labour supporter, anti-racist & human rights campaigner, journalist and documentary filmmaker.
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Marc Wadsworth
Life-long Labour supporter, anti-racist & human rights campaigner, journalist and documentary filmmaker.
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My name is Marc. I've been a Labour supporter most of my adult life. In 2016 I was unfairly disciplined by the party and, later on, accused of anti-semitism. Some people say I've been caught up in a purge of Jeremy Corbyn supporters that Labour Against the Witch-hunt are valiantly battling. Prominent Labour Party members and a senior Labour MP have come to my aid.

I need your support to fund my legal challenge to get the disciplinary decision reversed.

Background to the case

As a black activist, I've fought racism and antisemitism all my life. The Hitler-worshipping Combat 18 paramilitaries put me on a death list after I founded the Anti-Racist Alliance in 1991, and helped Doreen and Neville Lawrence set up the Justice for Stephen Lawrence campaign. After I was able to introduce Stephen's parents to Nelson Mandela, the campaign became the cause célèbre it deserved to be. This April marks the 25th anniversary of black teenager Stephen's brutal, racist murder.

I’ve been on the frontline, side by side with Jewish, black and other anti-racist campaigners, opposing the fascist BNP, including on the Isle of Dogs when one of their members was elected a councillor. Together we managed to shut down the BNP's “nazi bunker” headquarters in south east London, close to where Stephen was murdered.

Despite my history of anti-racist campaigning, Labour expelled me by email the very same day of the June 2016 launch of the party’s Shami Chakrabarti report into antisemitism and racism I attended. I was shocked, thinking it must be a practical joke. I was caught up in what's been called a "media concocted firestorm”.  

Since then I've been pilloried and had my reputation trashed. Most painful has been the non-stop trial by media - print and online.

It was a frenzied time when new leader Jeremy Corbyn, for whom tens of thousands of people - many of them young and turned off by the old corrupt politics - had joined the Labour Party because of his radicalism and honesty.

At the Chakrabarti event, I handed out a press release in defence of him. I was dismayed when I saw journalist Kate McCann, from the arch anti-Labour Daily Telegraph, hand it to a member of the public. That person told me brusquely she was "Ruth Smeeth Labour MP". So, I suspected an unhealthy cosy relationship between the two of them. I later found out the MP was one of Corbyn's dissident frontbenchers who had resigned to damage him.

Anyway, after being called out by McCann in a hostile question about me to the Labour leader, I responded by saying what I genuinely thought I had spotted. The MP walked out filmed by the cameras of news media uninterested in the important issues covered by the Chakrabarti report and looking for an anti-Corbyn scoop. I mainly spoke about the lack of black people at the event aimed at combatting racism and, sadly, the journalists were not interested in that. Corbyn sympathetically supported my observation and said the party needed to do better to improve black representation. I didn't know the MP involved was Jewish.

Here’s the short video clip of what I said.

How much I am raising and why

I instructed Harriet Wistrich, of  Birnberg Peirce solicitors, who wrote to Labour and got the party to reduce the sanction to a suspension. Not being given a hearing by the Labour Party more than 18 months after the Shami Chakrabarti report launch, so as to have an opportunity to clear my name, is a blatant breach of the due process and natural justice called for in her recommendations.

Now, after lots of lobbying by my supporters, including prominent Jewish party members, Labour's quasi judicial National Constitutional Committee is due to hear my case in about two months’ time. I urgently need to raise this money to pay my legal fees and to cover any further court action that may arise.

Please support this case and share. I truly believe that the Labour Party should be a place that welcomes life-long anti-racist campaigners like me so we can all work together to end discrimination, prejudice and hate in whatever form it takes. 

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