Views on Jackie Walker’s expulsion from the Labour Party, 27 March.
It seems Walker has been treated terribly. Which should be no surprise given the nature of the Labour machine — no, not necessarily hot on antisemitism, but very hot on reacting to the right-wing, reacting to the right-wing press, dealing with things administratively, targeting those seen as “cranks”, etc. That in itself is reason not to support her expulsion, the lack of due process.
Moreover, it not clear to me that she falls into the category of those who should be expelled, as opposed to some other sanction.
I agree that Jackie Walker’s conduct over a period of time has indeed been “prejudicial and grossly detrimental” to the Labour Party. Moreover, she could have avoided this situation by reflecting on her words and actions instead of doubling down and prioritising her right to upset people over the Labour Party’s need to rebuild its relationship with Jewish people.
However, there are many people on the right who have also conducted themselves in a way that is prejudicial and grossly detrimental to the Labour Party, including scabbing on strikes. So, if Jackie Walker is to be expelled, wouldn’t consistency require them to be expelled too? Maybe that would be a good thing, but might it also work against creating a tolerant, pluralist culture and seriously harm our chances of getting unfairly-expelled people reinstated?
Self-pitying narcissism, writing and starring in an appalling one-person play, following it up with an equally bad film, and being insensitive are not grounds for expulsion. Her conduct over time has been grossly detrimental to Jackie Walker. But there is no reason why that should be taken to reflect adversely on the Labour Party.
She bumbled into this, initially. Then she refused to back down and embarked upon a preposterous campaign to portray herself as a martyr. We should state that we don’t think expulsion is the best way to deal with this sort of thing, but in no way should we offer her any political support or get involved in any campaigns to defend her.
I believe that we should accept the Labour Party National Constitutional Committee’s decision on 27 March to expel Jackie Walker. For almost three years now Walker has made herself the standard-bearer for those in the Labour Party who define away almost all complaints of antisemitism as concoctions by “Zionists” and Israel-linked lobbies invented to do down Jeremy Corbyn.
Walker has dramatised her suspension as a “lynching”. She and her associates have said little or nothing about Labour’s summary exclusions and expulsions (without precise charges, hearing, or appeal) of many hundreds of left-wingers on grounds simply of leftwing associations. The agitation with Walker as front-person has been, in effect and in substance, incitement against that big majority of Jews who, despite their criticisms of Israeli governments, feel some identification with Israel.
The official ground for expulsion is actions “detrimental” to the Labour Party. The Labour Party should not have such vague and catch-all grounds for disciplinary action. But all agree that the substance of the case against Walker is about systematic incitement against (the big majority of) Jews in and around the Labour Party.
When Walker was first suspended, in May 2016, we criticised the antisemitic origins and drift of the argument that got her suspended (about the alleged special role of Jews in financing the Atlantic slave trade), but said that suspending her on the basis of an allusion in a long-previous social media post was wrong. Then, as throughout, we argued for debate and education, rather than expulsions, as the prime answer to left antisemitism. But the accumulated record is now much more than this or that social media post or offhand comment.
Unlike the many hundreds of left-wingers summarily expelled by Labour, Walker had a hearing, and ample time to prepare her defence. The National Constitutional Committee panel hearing her case was Anna Dyer, a leading figure of the “left slate” which won the elections for NCC CLP places; Russell Cartwright, treasurer of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy; and Alan Tate, an official of the CWU post and telecom union, which is affiliated to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. It wasn’t rigged against her.
Walker has published no details of the charges against her or her defence. Her main complaint about proceedings was that she was not allowed to make a statement at the start of the hearing. But ordinary bourgeois courts do not have the defendant making a speech to the court at the very start of the trial, and no one suggests that destroys “due process”. Walker then walked out and refused to present her defence.