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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Victory as Keith Henderson Defence Fund Reaches Its Target - Tim Roache, GMB Gen. Secretary Tried to Bankrupt Union Member

The Fight for Democracy in the GMB Union 

Experts in attacking socialists and socialism

Some 6 weeks ago I posted an appeal on this blog for people to contribute to the Defence Fund of Keith Henderson, who had been an official of the right-wing GMB union.

I am pleased to say that the costs of £12,000 have now been met and that Keith Henderson won’t be rendered homeless by Tim Roache, the unelected or barely elected General Secretary of the GMB.
Keith Henderson - Victimised GMB Member
Below is a statement by Keith Henderson on some of the corrupt practices that took place around the election of Tim Roache for General Secretary.  An election in which only 4.4% of the membership took part.  An election in which determined efforts were made to keep Keith off the ballot paper.

Over the summer I exchanged tweets with Tim Roache over the ‘ballot’ of GMB members which decided to support Owen Smith against Jeremy Corbyn.  Barely anyone in the GMB voted for Smith, most of the ballot papers never reached the members but the result that Tim Roache wanted, support for New Labour’s candidate was obtained.

Read what Keith has to say about what was tantamount to ballot rigging in the GMB’s election.

Tony Greenstein
Tim Roache - did his best to prevent a socialist opposing him in General Secretary elections
Statement By Keith Henderson 

All legal costs have now been paid in full. I would like to take this time to thank everyone who donated to the appeal fund and give special thanks to John McDonnell and the LRC for all their support over the last five years. 

Everyone who donated will be aware that in September 2013 the Watford Employment Tribunal made a Judgment that I had suffered unlawful direct discrimination by my employer, the GMB trade union, on the basis of my left wing democratic socialist beliefs. The GMB has successfully appealed against this decision, right up to the Court of Appeal, which meant I had to pay the GMB costs of £12,000.

The Court of Appeal was of the opinion that the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) Judge could make a substitute finding of fact without hearing any further evidence or referring the case back to the Watford Employment Tribunal to seek clarification on their Judgment. 

My lawyer’s still believe this is wrong and the case should be referred back to the original Employment Tribunal Panel for clarification, but, it will cost too much money to pursue the case any further so I have had to accepted this decision.

Looking on the bright side Socialism is now a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 as a result of this case. This is a permanent gain for the labour movement that has been won.

This case will go down in the history books as having made the law to show discrimination against someone on grounds of left wing socialist beliefs is a breach of the equalities legislation and is therefore unlawful, that in itself is very important.

Paragraph 62 of the EAT judgment, which still stands, states

” At paragraph 48 it concluded that I am a ‘left-wing democratic socialist’ and held the beliefs identified. Moreover it found that “there were clear outward signs of those beliefs being manifested… particularly clear from the picketing incident…” The Tribunal concluded that left-wing democratic socialism is a protected belief for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 and this conclusion is not challenged on this appeal.”

Socialism is now a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

It was outrageous that the GMB's right wing bureaucracy argued in court that there should be less protection in the law for a philosophical belief in democratic socialism as opposed to a religious belief. The GMB was arguing for less protection for socialists in the workplace. Thankfully they were unsuccessful. 

Despite this in a statement published by the GMB on 11 October 2016, the current barely elected GMB General Secretary, Tim Roache said “This is complete vindication for GMB. Mr Henderson has wasted time and money that belongs to our members by continuously pursuing a case which everyone knew had no merit. GMB will never allow anyone to drag our name through the mud, which is exactly what Mr Henderson tried – and comprehensively failed – to do."

This is a somewhat disingenuous statement from the current General secretary of the GMB to make. It was the GMB bureaucracy at each and every stage of the legal proceedings, time and time again, that spent union members money by having two barristers and two solicitors at each appeal hearing when I just had one junior barrister on a pro bono (free of charge) basis.

If it had really been the GMB's intention to avoid costs and save administrative time and tribunal time, involved in remitting the case back to the employment tribunal, as they claimed, this could have been achieved by asking the tribunal to reconsider the various matters that it relied on in respect of the appeal, (a process that used to be called a review), instead of which a disproportionate appeal was launched by the GMB effectively trying to buy themselves justice with union members money.

The GMB could have avoided paying out any money in legal costs when John McDonnell MP tried to secure a resolution to this dispute by agreement, but, Mr Roache rejected this after initially agreeing to it. Under Mr Roache's leadership of the union it was decided to spend nearly £30,000 in additional legal costs by going through with the appeal when the most they could get back from myself was £12,000.

This was not the first time that the unelected leadership of the GMB had an opportunity to settle the case. Over the course of the employment tribunal itself there were several attempts by myself, my lawyer and John McDonnell MP to broker a settlement.
Instead Sir Paul Kenny (the General Secretary at the time) refused all attempts at conciliation. Preferring instead to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of GMB members money on legal costs in an attempt to crush me.

It appears that the manifestation of my democratic socialist principles in acting on a members decision to place a picket on parliament, (on the day of action in the course of the public sector pensions dispute in 2011), had so offended the principles that drive and motivate the unelected bureaucracy of the GMB that a vendetta was launched against me.

It might have been this or the fact that my close comrades had administered a website pointing out that Sir Paul Kenny had never won a general secretary election in the GMB (losing the only one he had ever stood in back in 2003), yet he had been the general secretary for almost a decade (at the time). Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly as we were later to find out, nobody had ever secured enough nominations to get onto to the ballot paper to force Sir Paul Kenny to face another election.

Perhaps it was the fact I had co authored a draft manifesto arguing that the GMB should be democratised that had upset the unelected incumbents at national and regional level. Arguments that power finance and other resources should be devolved to a workplace and a branch level didn't play well with those whose employment depends on power, finance and resources remaining at a national and a regional level.

Perhaps it was the allegations of nepotism that upset the unelected bureaucracy of the GMB. It is a well known fact in the union that Warren Kenny, the son of Paul Kenny is now employed as the unelected London Regional Secretary.

It could have been any of these reasons or a combination of some or all of them that drove the leadership of the union to spend huge quantities of the members money on legal fees in an attempt to discredit me.

In addition it is the case that if it wasn't for the efforts of all of you comrades in coming to my assistance in helping to raise the £12,000 necessary myself and my family would have been made homeless as a result of the relentless drive with no expense spared to discredit me.

Once again many thanks to all of the comrades who helped out.

We still achieved a historical victory in making socialism a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 and that is what we should take from this legal battle. Every shop steward who is victimised in the workplace for representing their members should bear this in mind.Now moving onto the up coming appeal being heard by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) regarding the GMB General Secretary election 2015.

The GMB General Secretary election 2015 in my opinion was a bureaucratic stitch-up of monumental proportions. 

The report Electoral Reform Services on the election for the General Secretary of the GMB, issued on 
12 November 2015, declared: 

Number of voting papers despatched: 610,023, Number of voting papers returned to the scrutineer: 26,658, Turnout: 4.4%, Number of votes found to be spoiled or otherwise invalid: 170, Total number of valid votes to be counted: 26,488. Tim Roache was declared the winner with 15,034 votes (56.7%) and Paul McCarthy got 11,454 (43.3%).

Tim Roache had been elected to the highest office in the third biggest union in the country, a union that wields massive influence in the Labour party, on the votes of 2.4% of the membership. The bureaucratic centralism of the GMB leaders, and particularly under the most recent leadership of Sir Paul Kenny, had led to a mass alienation of almost the entire membership.

I attempted to stand in the election on the basis of a socialist Manifesto (already referred to), which outlines the mechanics of reintroducing democracy, accountability and devolution of power in the GMB. Having contacted my branch to ask if the members of the branch could be informed of my intention to stand and to obtain their permission to do so and the branch nomination, in the first instance, moves were made by the unelected bureaucracy of the union to prevent my candidature.

Having made repeated requests my branch secretary and branch president were finally informed that the election had been called and what the timetable was. This was three weeks into the nomination period with the regional office claiming that the official notification to the branch had been sent to the wrong address.

Never the less a branch meeting was hastily organised and members were informed that I was seeking their nomination. The secretary and president were ordered by the unelected regional secretary to withdraw the notification claiming that it was in breach of the by-laws governing the election.

This they refused to do and both were suspended and subsequently disciplined. (Barred from holding office in the union for two and three years respectively) for breaching the rules that governed the election and for failing to comply with an instruction from the unelected regional secretary.

The by-law that the secretary and the president were said to have breached was by-law 13 that said that candidates could not communicate in writing or by electronic mail to promote their candidature.

As I was not a candidate and was seeking enough nominations (you required 30 branch nominations) to become a candidate it appeared to me that there was a grotesque manipulation of the rules and guidelines going on to prevent me or any other rank and file member from seeking nominations to stand in the election.

I sought to make my case within the union structures but to no avail.

Reluctantly I was forced to go to the Certification Officer because all my avenues of appeal were exhausted within the GMB. 

Once again the unelected/ barely elected bureaucracy in the GMB used members money to hire a Queens Council (QC) to defend their case while I had to rely on a junior barrister working on a pro bono (free) basis.

The GMB had reversed it's decision to discipline the secretary and the president of my branch, clearly on the advice of their QC. They won their internal appeal within the GMB. The original defence that the GMB had put to the certification officer in response to my complaint was then altered.

We were not allowed to alter our complaint as the certification officer deemed that our barrister submitted it to late.
Given that the certification officer must have been aware that my barrister was working on a pro bono (free) basis, would have had no solicitor support, unlike the GMB's QC and would have had other paid work to attend to, to deny me the opportunity to amend my case after allowing the GMB the right to amend theirs was most unfair

Since then a discrimination expert, barrister Nick De Marco, from the Blackstone chambers has come forward and offered to represent me on a pro bono basis at the appeal against the certification officer's decision that has been lodged at the EAT.

The facts of the case are as follows.

The Certification Officer made a decision on my case in March 2016 and decided to reject my complaints. My lawyer’s believe the reasons for rejecting my complaint are inadequate and perverse. 

This is some background to the case.

1) I wished to stand for the position of General Secretary in the 2015 election. On 
6 June 2015, the GMB published a number of by-laws governing the election, one of which prohibited candidates from certain communications in relation to the election (by-law 13).

2) I believed that this by-law was unlawful in that it prohibited lay members such as himself from contacting other branches to seek nomination. I made a complaint to this effect and was assured by the GMB that the by-laws were legal. I sought nomination from my own branch (only), during which process the GMB suspended and later removed two officers of my branch for breaching by-law 13, by circulating a newsletter advertising my intention to stand. The election concluded on 
12 November 2015

3) During the election period, I believed that - and the GMB acted as though - by-law 13 applied not only to candidates but also to persons in my position i.e. potential nominees. The GMB's initial formal response to the Certification Officer reflected this. The GMB applied by letter on 
5 February 2016 to amend its case to state that by-law 13 applied to candidates only and not to me. I only learnt of this amendment on 11 February and sought at the hearing on 01/03/2016 to amend my complaint accordingly. Permission was refused.

My grounds of appeal are:

(1) Unlawful failure to exercise discretion. The Certification Officer misdirected himself in law by failing to exercise his discretion, in the interests of justice and a fair hearing, to grant permission for amendment, further or alternatively;

(2) Procedural unfairness in breach of natural justice. The same failure to grant permission to amend was in the circumstances unfair, further or alternatively;

(3) Perversity. The decision was in the circumstances one which no reasonable Certification Officer properly directing himself could have reached.

In the opinion of my lawyer these are some of the reasons below we have a chance of this appeal being successful.

1) The Certification Officer considered my actions before by-law 13 was introduced, which cannot be relevant to his or the GMB's understanding or application of it.

2) The Certification Officer determined that I made no attempt to contact other branches “regardless” of the correct interpretation of by-law 13, which contention is illogical where by-law 13 evidently and necessarily operated on the GMB's understanding and the GMB's behaviour.

3) The Certification Officer failed to engage with the effect of the removal of the branch officers on my understanding of by-law 13 as applied by the GMB; and noted but did not answer my reasonable explanation for my failure to approach other branches, i.e. that I was waiting for the outcome of an official complaint which I had made to the GMB's Central Executive Council (CEC) seeking deletion of by-law 13.

At a recent rule 3 (10) hearing before the EAT that took place on 28th October 2016, an EAT Judge ruled that my appeal did have merit and should be immediately laid down for a full appeal hearing. Therefore, we have a real chance of getting an enforcement order that GMB General Secretary election has to be rerun, this could happen as early as next year in the summer.

I believe that this is why the current general secretary, Tim Roache, the man with a two point four per cent mandate,  has continued with the slur and smear campaign initiated by his predecessor Sir Paul Kenny, the man with no mandate whatsoever. Mr Roache has issued a statement attacking me in a further attempt to try and discredit my name as he knows that I could be a challenger for his position. If the turnout and the vote matched the last election (and it is my intention if the election is rerun that is not the case), the successful candidate would only need 2.5 per cent to storm to power with an increased mandate. 

Therefore it comes as no surprise that Mr Roache is very concerned about a potential challenge to his position. 

There can be no doubt that because of this the smears and distortions will continue.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Brighton & Hove Council Threatens to Sell off its holdings of South Downs National Park Land

Brighton’s New Labour Council Displays its Hostility to Publicly Owned and Controlled Assets  

Plumpton Hill -  FOR SALE
Those who believe it is better having a ‘Labour’ council, despite it being dominated by New Labour, should think again.  It is clear that the current administration is seeking to sell off to private landlords, with the Duke of Devonshire’s Estates having first option, the 12,500 of  Downland that the Council owns.  Ironically, what a Conservative Brighton Council purchased in the 1920’s and 1930’s a ‘Labour’ Council will privatise today.

On the 8th December a Council committee will take the decision as to whether or not to begin the process of privatisation.  This was a process that was initiated by the previous Green administration which also bought into neo-liberal free market economics.  If the sell-off goes ahead it will have devastating implications for the future of the National Park.

In the email exchange below, Progress Labour Councillor Tom Bewick, who doesn’t seem to realise that all the land is part of the National Park ,asserts that ‘The council has no business owning non-national park downland.’   Private profit as oppose to public ownership seems de rigeur with these Tories in Labour clothing.

There is a campaign which has sprung up to ensure that Council land stays in public hands.  Join the KEEP OUR DOWNS PUBLIC (BRIGHTON) CAMPAIGN.

Tony Greenstein
Eastbourne Downs Combe Hill
KEEP OUR DOWNS PUBLIC (BRIGHTON)
PRESS RELEASE
BRIGHTON COUNCIL HALTS DOWNLAND SALES
24/11/16. Contact: Dave Bangs, T. 01273 620 815 bangs682@btinternet.com    Chris Todd, ecochris.todd@googlemail.com

We greatly welcome the reports that Brighton Council has withdrawn the remaining at-risk Downland sites from sale. These are: Plumpton Hill, an iconic high point on the South Downs Way commanding views of the Weald north to Ashdown Forest. It is an SSSI (nationally protected wildlife site) and has a Scheduled Ancient Monument (Bronze Age burial barrows) upon it, and Poynings Field which provided the traditional landscape setting for the Devils Dyke.

This is good news for all lovers of the South Downs. It is good news for Poynings Parish Council, who are not now faced with a threat of built development on the edge of their village. It is good news for lovers of nature, and all people who love Downland history, who can now rest assured that the ownership of these sites will remain democratically accountable

We now wish to engage with Brighton Council in a re-think of the way in which our 12,500 acre Estate is managed. We need to end the distant, unknowing, arms-length attitudes which have seen the Downland Estate as no more than a second rate commercial asset, and re-connect to this democratically owned public landscape, which can offer all of us good fun, healthy recreation, companionship in nature, solace, wonder, peace, education...and good, locally produced food!
We urge the Council to:
  • Commit to keeping all of its Downland estate and redrafting the Council's Asset Management Plan to say that no future sales should take place. 
  • Fully involve the public in the Estate’s management. 
  • Ring fence the Downland Estate revenues for the estates’ conservation and for public use, including sustainable access to the estate (the latter point a Labour manifesto commitment).
  • Designate all of the Downland Estate as statutory access land as the opportunities arise.
  • Adopt a long term strategy of landscape restoration for the whole estate for the social, health and economic benefits that this will bring.
Plumpton Hill
Flogging off the Sussex Downs

Text: 800 words.  27.11.16. Dave Bangs, Tel: 01273 620 815.   bangs682@btinternet.com

In the past months major storms have arisen on the Sussex Downs because of threatened large scale sales of local council owned Downland. On the Brighton Downs the City Council has been ‘reviewing’ its ‘non-core assets’ and attempting to dispose of a series of sites. These include part of a 50 year old nature reserve which is the last county site for the little native Juniper conifer (present on the Downs since the Ice Age); a cave with four resident species of bat; and iconic Plumpton Hill, commanding huge views over the forested Sussex Weald. On the Eastbourne Downs behind Beachy Head the Council has been moving towards the disposal of over 3,000 acres of public Downland which forms the backdrop to the town. It includes numerous prehistoric burial mounds and field systems, a Neolithic hillfort, and large, nationally important wildlife sites for orchids and rare flowers such as the Moon Carrot, which glows white in the darkest night.

On these Downs the local councils are major landowners, having acquired large tranches of land cheaply in the 1920’s, ‘30’s, and ‘40’s during the long agricultural depression. They did so to protect them from rapidly expanding urban sprawl, to protect the chalk aquifer which is the source of their drinking water, and to protect the ancient open sheep walks which walkers and naturalists loved. Whilst they largely failed with the latter objective (because agribusiness farmers ploughed up much archaic grassland that was tractor-accessible) they succeeded with the two former objectives.

The legacy of these conservation purchases is huge. Brighton Council owns some 12,500 acres, Eastbourne Council has 4,200 acres, Worthing Council has c. 500 acres, East Sussex County Council has about 700 acres at Seven Sisters, and Lewes and Adur Councils have several hundred acres between them. This 18,000 acres-plus public Downland forms the backbone public asset within the new South Downs National Park, together with the Forestry Commission’s estates. The National Park Authority itself owns no land. It doesn’t even own a public toilet.

Tragically, the loss of the open sheep walks (depriving the public of traditional access) and the conservative commercial management of the estates by arms-length land agencies like Savills and Strutt and Parker, has meant that the cultural memory of these free and open landscapes has been much eroded. Twenty years ago Brighton’s Labour Council tried to sell their Downland, but was forced to abandon the proposal by a vigorous campaign. Five years ago Tory Worthing Council abandoned similar sales proposals in the face of militant opposition.

Both councils, with Eastbourne, then ‘came good’ and designated huge tranches of their Downland as statutory ‘freedom to roam’ land. Major changes in Downland management brought in much wildlife and heritage conservation and partially re-created the great sheep walks which gave the South Downs its character. In some areas, such as behind Beachy Head, this amounted to superb measures of finely crafted landscape restoration. This was just what Labour Environment Minister Michael Meacher had in mind when he announced the creation of a South Downs National Park at Party Conference and proposed it would be of a ‘new type’- dedicated to the restoration of a landscape which had lost over 90% of its archaic grasslands.

Within the last two months ‘Keep Our Downs Public’ groups have kicked off in Brighton and Eastbourne. In Brighton we have secured a temporary STOP on the sales, and the policy will be reviewed on 8th December at the key council committee. There we face the current opposition of the Labour leadership (though the sales policy was initiated in 2014 under the Green Party leadership) but are hopeful that this can be reversed. In Eastbourne we face the opposition of the Lib Dem leadership. However, the new KODP group organised a feisty 120-strong town hall picket and a lively semi-public meeting with the Council Leader within its first fortnight. Activists face the task of helping the Council recover the lost memories of its progressive past.

If we lose the Duke of Devonshire Estates (the old property developers who built Eastbourne) will have a legal right to first refusal on much of the sold land. Rich new owners may exclude us, damage vulnerable wildlife habitat, turn the farms over to game shoots  and excluding land uses (like vineyards, solar arrays, private ‘parks’ and horseyculture, with their CCTV cameras and high fences) and press for incremental built developments .

If we win we can drive forward more huge gains in public access (over 2000 acres of new access land already around Brighton) and stitch back together the historic landscape’s shattered tapestry of archaic wildflower grassland in a sustainable pastoral economy.

Across the country similar battles are being fought in defence of public land – parks, open spaces and county council small holdings. The stakes are high.    

Thus does a Labour councillor announce his hostility to public ownership. 

What is "non-national park downland"?...this for-sale land is ALL in the National Park. The backbone of the National Park is the the local authority-owned Downland estates: of Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, East Sussex County Council, et al. The National Park Authority doesn't even own the public toilets.

Without those Council estates the NP would lose its main non-commercial partners to carry through it's main projects. Private owners chop and change, exclude the public, manage by private whims and fancies (or not manage at all) and wreck key habitats and features...often without even knowing they are doing so.

On its own, National Park status DOESN'T protect the Downs. It is merely one brick in the wall. Hands-on, accountable, democratic public ownership is the KEY tool we have for driving through the project of landscape restoration and full public access which Michael Meacher (in his speech to Party Conference announcing the South Downs National Park) put at the centre of his dream,

Dave Bangs
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Email Exchange Cllr. Tom Bewick to Various

----Original message----
From : Tom.Bewick@brighton-hove.gov.uk
Date : 24/11/2016 - 20:43 (GMTST)
To : Leslie.Hamilton@brighton-hove.gov.uk, bangs682@btinternet.com, Warren.Morgan@brighton-hove.gov.uk, Gill.Mitchell@brighton-hove.gov.uk
Cc : Karen.Barford@brighton-hove.gov.uk, Tracey.Hill@brighton-hove.gov.uk, Kevin.Allen@brighton-hove.gov.uk, Saoirse.Horan@brighton-hove.gov.uk, Daniel.Chapman@brighton-hove.gov.uk, michael.inkpen-leissner@brighton-hove.gov.uk, Peter.Atkinson@brighton-hove.gov.uk, Julie.Cattell@brighton-hove.gov.uk, Emma.Daniel@brighton-hove.gov.uk
Subject : Re: Downland sales: please make THIS STOP permanent

Thanks, Les

I'm pleased to hear that. The council has no business owning non-national park downland.

The whole point of the Labour Govt giving us National Park status was to protect the habitat that legally needs protecting.

The complete grandstanding and nonsense from the Greens is typical. We need to remind them it is Labour we have to thank for protecting the Downs in the first place.

T
Councillor Tom Bewick
Lead Member, Children, Young People and Skills
Labour and Co-operative Councillor for Westbourne Ward, Hove
@Lab_Westbourne
www.westbournehove.org

 
From: Leslie Hamilton
Sent: Thursday, November 24, 2016 07:00 PM
To: bangs682@btinternet.com <bangs682@btinternet.com>; Warren Morgan; Tom Bewick; Gill Mitchell
Cc: Karen Barford; Tracey Hill; Kevin Allen; Saoirse Horan; Daniel Chapman; michael.inkpen-leissner@brighton-hove.gov.uk <michael.inkpen-leissner@brighton-hove.gov.uk>; Peter Atkinson; Julie Cattell; Emma Daniel
Subject: RE: Downland sales: please make THIS STOP permanent
 
You are mistaken. The selling of  land at Poynings and Plumpton has not been put on hold. This land was put up for sale by the Green administration in July 2014 and there is no change in the decision taken at that time.
Les
 
Plumpton Hill: -  FOR SALE               
Plumpton Hill 

Eastbourne Downs Combe Hill                                         

Sunday, 27 November 2016

The Political Lynching of Jackie Walker Continues

Cowardice in the face of Mammon 
Norwich's Chapel Field Road Methodists Bow to Zionist Censorship Call
The Senior Priest at Chapel Field Road Methodist Church who decided to cancel first and ask questions later
In Israel the Zionists don’t engage in black propaganda using the Jewish Chronicle, the far-Right Zionist propaganda rag that is edited by neo-con and ex-editor of the Daily Express Stephen Pollard.  [Jedwabne – The Polish Village Where Up to 900 Jews Were Burnt Alive by Fellow Poles].  They are simply locked up, ‘administratively detained’ without trial.  Only today we learn of a Palestinian Israeli who has been gaoled for writing a satirical Facebook post criticising Palestinians who rejoice at the wild fires in Israel.  Like most police states, and to Palestinians Israel is a Jewish police state, Israel’s rulers understand satire least of all.

In Britain the Zionist lobby doesn’t have the power (yet) to gaol their opponents, so they defame, libel and lie about them instead.  Jackie Walker, the Black Jewish anti-racist activist who has been suspended, like thousands of other socialists in the Labour Party, by Iain McNicol's henchmen who have been allowed to continue as Labour's civil service, was due to speak at a dinner hosted by Norwich Palestine Solidarity Campaign today.  The dinner was due to be held in the Chapel Field Road Methodist Church.
The Board of Deputies original statement which was later amended to take out the 'Jew baiter' reference - no doubt as a result of legal advice
The Board of Deputies of British Jews, a self-selecting Zionist body, issued a statement in the name of its Vice President, Marie van der Zyl, accusing Jackie of being an ‘unapologetic Jew baiter’.  This was reprinted in the Jewish Chronicle and the Jewish News on-line. Both the latter papers, no doubt mindful of the laws of defamation, removed the comments and replaced it with something more anodyne.

The behaviour of Chapel Field Road Methodist Church towards Jackie Walker resembles Judas more than Jesus.  Instead of standing up to the attacks by the Zionists like the Dean of Lichfield Cathedral, they bowed to the pressure and without bothering to investigate the allegations cancelled the booking and promised never to let their premises again to Norwich PSC. 

Their behaviour is contemptible.   They have bowed down to racists and cancelled a meeting organised by a solidarity group with the Palestinians.  They have accepted the accusation that Jackie Walker, a long standing anti-racist and anti-fascist activist is anti-Jewish when she herself is a Jewish anti-Zionist. 
Church facilities that were cancelled and from which Norwich PSC has been banned from using
This is one more example of a well funded smear campaign, supported by every mainstream racist newspaper, that targets anti-racist opponent of Israeli Apartheid.  The President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush, only two weeks ago welcomed the election of the racist bigot Donald Trump as President of the United States and ran into a storm of protest.  It was a decision that even 175 young Zionists found too much to bear.  Having welcomed Trump and his anti-Semitic advisor Stephen Bannon of Breibart, the Board of Deputies now protests about the ‘anti-Semitism’ of a Black-Jewish anti-racist!

British Zionists are waging a campaign to deny elementary freedom of speech to anti-Zionists and supporters of the Palestinians.  That is why the decision of the national leadership of Palestine Solidarity Campaign to ignore these attacks is wrong.  They have, to the best of my knowledge, not yet responded to this attack on basic democratic rights.
Chapel Field Road Church
I have written an Open Letter to the Rev. Deborah Caulk of Chapel Field Road Methodist Church protesting the decision of her superior, the Revd. Catherine Hutton and calling on the Rev. Hutton to apologise and make amends for her actions.  Repentance used to be something the church was quite good at, let us see whether the tradition has been continued amongst Norwich Methodists.

Tony Greenstein

Open Letter to Rev. Deborah Caulk of Chapel Field  Road Methodist Church

Revd Deborah Caulk: 01603 438301  Revd Catherine Hutton:  01603 452086
Chapel Field Road Methodist Church, Chapel Field Road, Norwich NR2 1SD            01603 632535

Dear Rev. Caulk,

I spoke to you earlier tonight about a meeting that Norwich Palestine Solidarity Campaign had booked at your church.  Jackie Walker was due to speak at the meeting.  You are, as you told me, a student priest and I should really have spoken to Catherine Hutton, the senior priest.   I am therefore addressing this letter to both of you.
I understand from the Facebook message from the Board of Deputies of British Jews that you cancelled the meeting, after being contacted by them and being told that Jackie Walker was a ‘Jew baiter’.  That particular description has now been taken down, no doubt on legal advice.  I also understand that you have also apologised for hosting the meeting in the first place.
I am a friend of Jackie as well as being Jewish.  The allegation that she is anti-Semitic or a ‘Jew-baiter’ is wholly false as well as being defamatory.  Jackie is herself Black and Jewish.  Her ‘crime’, if crime it be, is that she supports the Palestinians and is an anti-Zionist, as indeed I am.  Jackie, like many Jews, draws the lesson from the Holocaust and anti-Semitism historically, that racism, including the racism of Israel and the Zionist movement which gave birth to it, is wrong.  The Holocaust does not give anyone, Jewish or otherwise, a free pass to become racists.
The Board of Deputies is an unrepresentative group which does not represent secular Jews in this country .  It  has a history of being an apologist and worse for Israel’s racism, colonialism and mass murder of the Palestinians.  It justified without hesitation Israel’s murderous attack on Gaza two years ago in which 2,200 people were killed, nearly all of them civilians, by the deliberate shelling of residential areas, schools and hospitals.  Over 550 children were killed in that barbarous attack.  Just 70 Israelis were killed, nearly all of them military casualties.  The only time the Board is interested in ‘anti-Semitism’ is when it is defending Israel.
Only last week the President of the Board of Deputies, Jonathan Arkush, was criticised by nearly 200 young British Jews because he had sent a message congratulating Donald Trump on his election victory.  An election victory in which Trump has worked hand-in-hand with some of the most vile anti-Semites, including Steve Bannon of Breibart, who he has just appointed as his Strategic Advisor. 
Of course you were not to know any of this.  However you were under a duty to make some form of inquiry before you made your decision to trample on free speech and cancel the meeting.  The Methodist Church has had a good record on Palestine and your behaviour mars that record.  If you want to know what the situation in Israel/Palestine is really like you could for example look up the fact that only this week Israel has been seeking to demolish a Bedouin village Umm al-Hiran in Israel’s Negev desert in order to make way for a Jewish town.  The village has been there 60 years and the Bedouin only moved there after having been previously expelled from their lands further south. 
Would you have cancelled a meeting 20 years ago on Apartheid in South Africa because apologists for the Apartheid regime objected?  They too might have said it was racist against White people.  Would you have believed them?
As someone who is Jewish I am particularly irked by your cowardice because, just like White South Africans, Jews opposed to what Israel does take considerable flack because we oppose Jewish racism.  It doesn’t take much courage on your part to resist such overtures.
I post below and attach as a file the statement which was jointly issued by Lichfield Cathedral and Jews for Justice for Palestinians when Lichfield came under similar attack.  On that occasion the Church held strong to the Christian message of supporting the weak and oppressed rather than bowing to the oppressor.
I suggest that the least you can do to make amends is to issue an unqualified apology to both Jackie Walker and Norwich PSC and to reassure the latter that they are welcome to book your premises in the future.
As to the truth or otherwise of what Jackie actually said, I refer you to my article The Lynching of Jackie Walker in Open Democracy.  You have unfortunately continued that good Christian tradition of joining in with the lynch mob.
Yours sincerely,
Tony Greenstein
Amended version of Jewish Chronicle article

We, Christians and Jews who advocate for justice for Palestinians, would like to put on record our admiration for the Dean of Lichfield, with a group of local Christians from other churches, in hosting the festival 'Holding Palestine in the Light' in Lichfield Cathedral last month, despite opposition from some quarters.

We regret the intemperate attacks to which the hosts were subjected. The language used and the opinions expressed would be rejected by many – including many Jews – in this country.

There were Jews among the members of a group from Liverpool, twinned with the West Bank village of Bil’in, who delivered an exhibition of Palestinian children’s photos to Lichfield Cathedral for the festival.

The founding chair of the Edinburgh Liberal Jewish Community was moved to send a message of support saying: “Many Jews, including many in religious communities like ours, welcome discussions like this conference.”

We find it disquieting that the Lichfield conference has been seized on by those who seek to silence criticism of Israeli policies. The Israeli government’s near half century occupation, with its appropriation of Palestinian land and resources for Israeli use, and its abrogation of
Palestinians' basic human rights, is conducted in direct contravention of several international laws including the Fourth Geneva Convention.

All around us there are attempts to equate criticism of Israeli government policies with antisemitism. This form of censorship seeks to halt legitimate discourse about the history and politics of Israel and Palestine.

Whether we are Christians or Jews – secular or observant – our core values are ultimately based on the Hebrew scriptures as well as the values of the Enlightenment.

“. . . let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-
flowing stream.” Amos 5, v 24.

The oppression of Palestinians by a succession of Israeli governments is neither just nor righteous and it is not antisemitic to point this out, to speak truth to power. It is our duty as Jews, as Christians – indeed as citizens – to work for a just peace for all in Israel-Palestine.

Naomi Wayne & Glyn Secker                                     Prof Mary Grey
Jews for Justice for Palestinians                                Patron: Friends of Sabeel UK

Charlotte Marshall                                                        Bishop Michael Doe
Kairos Britain

Bishop Richard Llewellin
Chris Rose
Amos Trust

Contacts: Naomi Wayne (naomi@jfjfp.com) and Charlotte Marshall (info@kairosbritain.org.uk) 

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Open Letter from Jewish Members of the Labour Party to Jeremy Newmark and the Jewish Labour Movement

Jewish demonstrators in New York protest against Zionist Organisation of America's welcome to the anti-Semite Steve Bannon of Breitbart News

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Dear Mr Newmark,

We write to you as Jewish members/supporters of the Labour Party concerning the recent election of Donald Trump.  The Jewish Labour Movement, of which you are the Chair, describes the Israeli Labor Party [ILP] as its sister party.  
Whereas Jeremy Corbyn has criticised Trump for the politics of racism and scapegoatism, the Leader of the ILP, Isaac Herzog, welcomed his election, offering “Warm congratulations to the president of the most powerful nation in the world: Donald J Trump!”  Herzog praised Trump as:
“an American leader who showed the commentators and the skeptics that we are in a new era of change and replacing the old elitist regimes!... the defense and financial alliance with our strongest and most powerful ally will continue with a vengeance under your presidency.”
Throughout his campaign Trump welcomed the support of white supremacists and anti-Semites.  For example the Arguments for America advert featured prominent American Jews as part of a wealthy financial cabal controlling the world financially and politically.
Trump has now appointed Steve Bannon the ex-CEO of Breitbart News, as his Strategic Advisor.  According to Ben Shapiro, its former News Editor, Bannon has made Breitbart ‘a cess pool of the alt-Right’.  For example on March 29th the site featured a lengthy piece by Milo Yiannopoulos praising the alt-right. Yiannopoulos is of the opinion that Jews run the banks and the media.
Breitbart’s combination of anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia with strong support for Israel is similar to the position of European fascist leaders such as Geert Wilders, Heinz Strache and Marine Le Pen.  The difference is that the latter 3 are not in power.  As the Jewish Forward’s Naomi Zeveloff recently observed, it is quite possible to be pro-Israel and anti-Semitic.
American Jewish groups, with the exception of the Zionist Organisation of America, have reacted with fury to Bannon’s appointment.  David Duke former Ku Klux Klan’s comment was that Bannon’s appointment was ‘excellent.’
We call on you to repudiate as unacceptable the comments by Isaac Herzog, Leader of your sister party in Israel.  Herzog himself has a habit of making racist comments, recently saying that the Israeli Labour Party should not be seen as an ‘Arab lovers party’ and that his nightmare was a Palestinian Prime Minister in Israel.
Yours sincerely,
Sue Bard                                                              Edinburgh East CLP
Graham Bash                                                     South Thanet CLP
Haim Bresheeth                                                Hornsey and Wood Green CLP
Brian Chinnery -                                                Enfield Southgate CLP
Mark Elf                                                               Barking CLP
Sylvia Frinzi                                                         Holborn and St. Pancras CLP
Kenny Fryde                                                      South Cambridgeshire CLP
Tony Greenstein                                              Brighton and Hove DLP /B&H Momentum
Lynda Gilbert                                                    Milton Keynes North CLP
James Hall                                                           Cambridge CLP
Abe Hayeem,                                                    Harrow East CLP
Lorraine Huddle                                                Waltham Forest NUT
Rosamine Hayeem                                          Harrow East CLP
Richard Kuper                                                    Holborn and St Pancras CLP
Leah Levane                                                       Hastings and Rye CLP
Rachel Lever                                                      Hastings and Rye CLP
Professor (Emeritus) Moshé Machover,                Hampstead & Kilburn CLP
Miriam Margolyes                                           Clapham Labour Party
Gill McCall                                                           Wimbledon CLP/Momentum
Elizabeth Morley                                              Ceredigion CLP
Diana Neslen                                                     Ilford South CLP
Susan Pashkoff                                         Unite Trade Union affiliate/Representative Redbridge TC
Roland Rance                                           Unite Retired Members; former Secretary, Waltham Forest Trades Council
Dr Brian Robinson,                                           Milton Keynes South CLP, Momentum, Milton Keynes
Leon Rosselson                                                 Brent Momentum
Amanda Sebestyen,                                       Holborn & St Pancras CLP and Camden Momentum
Glyn Secker                                                        Dulwich and West Norwood CLP
Sam Semoff                                                       Liverpool Riverside CLP
Jackie Walker                                                     South Thanet CLP
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi                               Chingford and Woodford Green CLP 

We demand that you condemn & dissociate yourself from Israeli Labour leader Herzog’s Welcome for Trump

Note the difference between Corbyn and Herzog's reaction to the election of Trump
When Donald Trump was declared the winner of the US Presidential election, no one was quicker off the starting block to welcome his victory than Isaac Herzog, leader of the Israeli Labour Party.  Herzog wrote on his Facebook page:
Isaac Herog - the racist face of Israeli Labour that the JLM refuse to condemn or criticise
“Warm congratulations to the president of the most powerful nation in the world: Donald J Trump!” Herzog writes in Hebrew on Facebook.
“Today American democracy chose … an American leader who showed the commentators and the skeptics that we are in a new era of change and replacing the old elitist regimes!” he says. “You did the unthinkable, against all the odds, polls, research and the prophets of the old era. I’m convinced that the defense and financial alliance with our strongest and most powerful ally will continue with a vengeance under your presidency.”
Isaac Herzog is no slouch when it comes to racism and bigotry.  He recently declared that his nightmare was waking up to find that Israel had a Palestinian Prime Minister and 61 Palestinian Members of Israel’s Knesset (Parliament).  Herzog also declared that he wanted to dispel the false impression that the ILP were ‘Arab Lovers’ .
The JLM was most concerned that my expulsion wasn't proceeding quickly enough and that I had the temerity to publish the transcript of my investigative hearing - open democracy is not their forte!
Jeremy Newmark of JLM, who has nothing to say about anti-Semitism of Trump's team, looking forward to my expulsion!
Jeremy Newmark took particular exception to my comparison between the JLM and Nick Griffin of the BNP.  All I said was that having the JLM teaching anti-racism was like inviting Griffin to do the same!
The Jewish Labour Movement, which is the British section of the Israeli Labour Party or as it styles itself, its ‘sister party’, has led the fake media-orchestrated ‘anti-Semitism’ allegations against socialists and anti-racists in the Labour Party.  They have repeatedly accused anti-Zionists, especially Jewish anti-Zionists, of ‘anti-Semitism’.  When I obtained via a Subject Access Request, emails from the Labour Party I discovered, despite attempts by Labour’s apparatchiks to redact them, that the JLM was doing its best to speed up my expulsion.
During the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, at a so-called ‘training session’ on anti-Semitism, Jackie Walker, the Black-Jewish anti-racist activist and Momentum Vice-Chair, was secretly filmed.  Her remarks questioning the Zionists’ ‘Working Definition’ of anti-Semitism, which conflates criticism of Zionism and Israel with anti-Semitism and her queries regarding whether Holocaust Memorial Day acknowledged other victims of genocide, were distorted so as to accuse her of ‘anti-Semitism’.
Curiously though, the JLM has been very silent concerning the ILP’s welcome for Donald Trump and the anti-Semites he has brought with him.  Steve Bannon, the ex-CEO of Breitbart News’ appointment as Strategic Advisor has given a signal to the alt-Right White Supremacists, that Trump is on their side.  Breitbart is a cesspool of racist, anti-Semitic and misogynist views. 
It features creatures like Milo Yiannopoulos who openly argue that Jews do control the banks and the media.  Yiannopoulos dismisses comments such as take a hike, kike” as ‘a mischievous, dissident, trolly generation’.
Jewish Americans have been outraged that the anti-Semitism they thought had been confined to the political dustbin has been resurrected by the election of Trump.  Breitbart’s defence against allegations of anti-Semitism essentially amounts to this.  We can’t be anti-Semitic because ours was “the strongest pro-Israel platform ever.”  In their attempt to turn the tables, they even ask why there were no complaints about ‘the Israel-hating, George Soros?’ 
Soros has long been a target for American anti-Semites and it’s no surprise that Breitbart, in its defence, would fix him in their sights.  Glenn Beck, the ex-Fox News presenter, who addressed Israel’s Knesset, ran a two-part “exposé” on Soros, whom Beck called “The Puppet Master,”.  It was described as ‘a symphony of anti-Semitic dog-whistles.’ Even Fox News found him too much and sacked him soon after.
Note Breitbart’s conflation of ‘anti-Semite/Israel hater’.  Neat that!  As many an anti-Semite has demonstrated, it is not only possible to be an anti-Semite and a Zionist but it’s a positive advantage.  Anti-Semites and Zionists share a common outlook on Jews who refuse to emigrate to Israel.  As Yaron London wrote in Ynet only two days ago:
Israel does not appear shocked by the appointment of racist anti-Semites to senior positions in US President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.... a world view which supports white supremacy matches our government’s interests.... all forms of Zionism hold the perception that a certain extent of anti-Semitism benefits the Zionist enterprise. To put it more sharply, anti-Semitism is the generator and ally of Zionism.... we have a secret hope in our hearts that a moderate anti-Semitic wave, along with a deterioration in the economic situation in their countries of residence, will make Diaspora Jews realize that they belong with us.... Is proof even necessary? No one will protest the assertion that the rise in anti-Semitism in France gave us some satisfaction, in the sense of “we warned you, didn’t we?... In order to remove these malignant doubts, it would be good to have some anti-Semitism in America.’
And there you have it.  Historically Zionism has never had any problem with anti-Semitism.  On the contrary it welcomed it!  All this ‘left anti-Semitism’ nonsense was for the birds, or the gullible!
It has even begun to dawn on some liberal Zionists that being an anti-Semite and a Zionist is not only possible but highly logical.  For example Naomi Zeveloff of the liberal Zionist Forward writes about how, although ‘it would seem impossible to hate Jews but love the Jewish state, these two viewpoints are not as contradictory as they appear.’

But back to the JLM.  Since they have waged a campaign against ‘anti-Semitism’ in the Labour Party we might expect them to condemn, without hesitation or prevarication, the ILP for its open welcome of Trump and its refusal to criticise his anti-Semitic friends.  However they seem remarkably reluctant to say anything.  It would appear that the only ‘anti-Semitism’ they are interested in is that which relates to criticism of Zionism and Israel. 

In the United States, the Jewish community has long been the excuse and the pretext for America’s support for Israel.  Instead of rationalising support for Israel on the basis of the US’s strategic interests in the Middle East, it was felt better to justify it on the basis of support for a ‘Jewish’ state and America’s determination to prevent a second Holocaust.  Now it is becoming clearer that support for Zionism and Israel can go hand in hand with Jew hatred.

America’s Jewish community, for good historical reasons, is the most liberal section of the White population.  Whereas 58% of Whites voted for Trump compared to 37% for Clinton, the situation was reversed when it came to American Jews.  70% of Jews voted for Clinton and only 25% for Trump.   It is this disparity which is at the heart of Breitbart and the alt-Right anti-Semitism.  Most Jews are liberals, they are not really White.  Did they not support the Blacks in the 1960’s during the civil rights protests?
The Zionist Organisation of America leapt in to defend Steve Bannon from charges of anti-Semitism
Jewish demonstration outside Zionist Organisation of America


When the Zionist Organisation of America decided on Sunday night to invite as a guest speaker to its annual gala in New York the anti-Semitic Steve Bannon, hundreds of Jews took to the streets to protest outside the venue.  Bannon decided that discretion was the better part of valour and he decided to stay away!  This is a remarkable political victory for Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow.

The question is whose side the JLM is on?  Is it with the ZOA or JVP and IfNotNow?  Below is a letter from Jewish members and supporters of the Labour Party to the JLM.  We will be interested to hear Jeremy Newmark’s answer!

Tony Greenstein


Article on Israel's YNet states openly that most Israelis welcome anti-Semites in the White House and anti-Semitism in America