Free Speech on Israel were proud to support the vigil of suspended black Labour Party activist, Marc Wadsworth outside London Labour Party offices today, 1 February. The combined presence of Black and Jewish activists made a powerful statement about the illegitimacy of victimising life-long anti-racists for invented slurs of antisemitism.
Marc’s supporters issued this call which FSOI responded to.
Labour has excluded from membership or suspended prominent Black activists as part of a shameful purge. The main target of the rightwing witch-hunters are supporters of Jeremy Corbyn’s progressive politics, including his friend and ally Marc Wadsworth, the veteran anti-racist and human rights activist.
Wadsworth’s “crime” is that he dared call out anti-Corbyn Labour MP Ruth Smeeth at the June 2016 launch of the Chakrabarti report into Labour anti-semitism and racism and raise the under-representation of Africans, Caribbeans and Asians at the event. At a time when anti-semitism has been cynically weaponised to attack the Labour leader and his closest supporters, anti-Black racism and Islamophobia have been conveniently ignored. This vigil is being held outside the Labour hearing for Wadsworth the party has been forced to hold because of huge political pressure. It begins the Black community’s fightback against Labour injustice.For too long the party has taken for granted Black people, its most loyal supporters it needs to win back power. Now Labour has cracked down on Black activists telling truth to power to silence their voices. And, in solidarity with them, we say: Enough is enough.
A major part of the accusation against Wadsworth was a totally confected claim by Zionist MP Ruth Smeeth which FSOI refuted at the time it was made
One question was from a Daily Telegraph journalist about a Momentum leaflet on deselection of Labour MPs. The leaflet had been handed out by Marc Wadsworth, a Black activist and journalist. He had refused to hand a leaflet to Ruth Smeeth who had been pointed out to him as one of the first MPs to call for Corbyn’s resignation – he had never come across her of heard of her before. Wadsworth had seen the Telegraph journalist, Kate McCann, hand her copy of the leaflet to Smeeth and the two sat together. Wadsworth accused Smeeth of collaboration with the media. Smeeth, whose Jewish heritage was totally unknown to Wadsworth chose to interpret the accusation as an antisemitic slur and departed the room. Later she claimed, despite video evidence to the contrary, to have fled the room in tears.
Black activists are asking for individuals to express their support by emailing
I..(insert your name), call on you as Labour’s General Secretary to immediately lift the unjust suspension from party membership of veteran activist Marc Wadsworth. Please acknowledge receipt of my email.
Labour must reinstate anti-racist activist Marc Wadsworth
Marc received support in a letter in the Guardian signed by an impressive selection of respected public figures headed by former Head of the Equal Opportunities Commission Herman Ouseley
We call on Labour’s general secretary to lift the unjust suspension from Labour membership of veteran anti-racist campaigner Marc Wadsworth. It is a cause for serious concern that Wadsworth is one of several prominent black activists suspended or excluded by the party, which has historically relied on Africans, Caribbeans and Asians, its most loyal voters, to get many Labour MPs elected. Labour cannot hope to get back into power without black support. Black people, and their anti-racist allies in these troubled times, will be watching closely to see how this matter is handled.
We are making public our support for Wadsworth because, after a more than six month wait, he will on Wednesday be interviewed by Labour officials and a demonstration will be held to support him.
It is scandalous that Wadsworth was suspended by the general secretary, Iain McNicol, because he dared to challenge a Labour MP who was a high-profile opponent of the democratically elected Labour leader, and raise the issue of black political under-representation at the launch of the Shami Chakrabarti report into antisemitism and racism. Fortunately, the moment when Wadsworth spoke out was captured on a video that has been widely publicised by the media. It clearly demonstrates he is not guilty of antisemitism.
We note that Wadsworth has a long record of fighting against racism and antisemitism, inside and outside the Labour party and trade union movement, and demand that he is reinstated immediately.
Herman Ouseley Chair, Kick it Out, Linda Bellos, Peter Tatchell, Prof Paul Gilroy, Prof Gus John, Prof Pat Thane, Suresh Grover The Monitoring Group, Stafford Scott Tottenham Rights, Dr Iqbal Scram, Peter Herbert Society of Black Lawyers, Simon Woolley Operation Black Vote, Jackie Walker, Orson Nava, Gary Younge
We are also actively continuing our support of suspended Jewish Black activist Jackie Walker.