, 19 tweets, 11 min read Read on Twitter
Labour Against the Witchhunt wouldn't even report a Nazi.

LAW have welcomed former MP Jim Sheridan's reinstatement by the party. He was suspended last summer over an #antisemitic statement he posted on Facebook. But LAW don't accept he did anything wrong in the first place. /1
When Labour members err, there ought to be opportunity for them to learn from the experience and make amends. But comrade Sheridan's statement after his suspension was lifted suggested his only regret was getting caught and he appeared to blame those who complained about him. /2
Let's recall what got him into trouble: Sheridan declared he had lost respect and empathy for an entire ethnic group - "the Jewish community" - due to events in @UKLabour. The #Holocaust, pogroms and persecution no longer moved him because of "their Blairite plotters". /3
As I commented at the time, #JimSheridan could hardly blame political inexperience for his actions. I didn't claim that anti-Jewish prejudice was central to his outlook (I don't know the guy) or that he should never be forgiven, but his post had definitely been antisemitic. /4
That post of mine provoked a strong reaction from key members of Labour Against the Witchhunt. LAW chair Jackie Walker felt there was a double standard whereby the "the media refer to the Jewish community all the time" but Labour members got branded as racists for doing it. /5
LAW vice-chair Tony Greenstein said that "Sheridan's comments were completely understandable" and "nothing whatsoever to do with #antisemitism". He was a "working class MP" who'd seen "the Jewish community attacking #Corbyn" and "most Jews conniving in what their leaders say". /6
Things got heated when we discussed the ethics of making formal complaints to the #LabourParty over alleged antisemitism. LAW membership secretary Tina Werkmann favoured "open debate and freedom of speech" but said socialists shouldn't "act as snitches" for "witch-hunters". /7
There was agreement that one-off incidents of clumsy language should be challenged rather than reported. But Werkmann/Greenstein could conceive of no circumstances where a formal complaint was justifiable as reporting #antisemitism just "emboldened and strengthened the right". /8
Another Labour comrade recalled how his CLP had to deal with a Holocaust denier who joined. A neo-Nazi who claimed #Auschwitz was a "holiday camp". But still, insisted Werkmann, "it is not the job of socialists to go running to the fucking thought police of the Labour Party". /9
It didn't matter whether it involved "Holocaust deniers, trolls or simply morons", reporting members to the Labour Party compliance unit or even CLP secretaries was "participating in the witch-hunt against Corbyn", claimed Werkmann. /10
I made the mistake of joining Labour Against the Witchhunt when it launched late 2017. I was concerned about unjust suspensions/exclusions and the lack of due process in @UKLabour's disciplinary system but found myself shocked at the antisemitism of many if not all members. /11
People often joined LAW's Facebook group after being suspended by Labour and expected to receive solidarity whatever they had done. For the most part, that's exactly what they did receive. Only a few of us tried to challenge the antisemitic conspiracism often expressed there. /12
The group had 'unofficial' added to its name after I complained about the damage such people were doing. I naively imagined that people with ostensibly leftwing instincts who'd expressed antisemitic views or shared dodgy material on social media could be reasoned with. /13
That's the approach I tried for a while. But trying to explain to suspended Labour members that they had indeed posted antisemitic material that other people were right to be offended about often led to accusations of being a Mossad agent, a paid troll and suchlike. /14
All of these screenshots are from exchanges in the public domain after I quit LAW. I may have fallen out with them but, contrary to the hysterical claims of some involved, wouldn't leak comments from closed groups. Well, not unless there was a genuine risk of criminality. /15
@threadreaderapp unroll @Steve_Cooke's "Labour Against the Witchhunt wouldn't even report a Nazi" thread.
I may write more about my experiences in LAW in another thread. For the moment, though, I'll say it was distressing to see comrades I'd been close to for many years treating the Jewish community as, at best, mere collateral damage in the struggle for control of @UKLabour. /16
Erratum: Please note that tweet #11 in this thread should have said I "found myself shocked at the antisemitism of many ALBEIT not all [LAW] members" rather than "many if not all". That is the meaning I intended. I have amended the related Medium blog article to make this clear.
Erratum: Please note that tweet #11 in this thread should have said I "found myself shocked at the antisemitism of many ALBEIT not all [LAW] members" rather than "many if not all". That is the meaning I intended. I have amended the related Medium blog article to make this clear.
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