Labour suspends Croydon Central secretary over Hitler tweet

The Labour Party has suspended David White, the secretary of the Croydon Central constituency party, following complaints over a single tweet sent a fortnight ago in defence of Ken Livingstone, after the former London Mayor’s Hitler and Zionism brain belch.

Lawyer David White: has doubts about the undertakings given to the council

Suspended: David White

Tonight, White said, “I shall fight my suspension and work to be reinstated in the Labour Party.”

There is more than a whiff of the involvement of Progress around the suspension of a socialist who has been a Labour Party member all his adult life.

Last week, Lambeth South MP Steve Reed OBE, a deputy chair of Progress, , the Blairite party-within-a-party, seemed to suggest that something was underway when he referred to “internal disciplinary matters” in a tweet regarding White’s situation. This was long before the Croydon party official had received any notification that he was subject to such a procedure.

This is not the first time that Progress has conducted a witch-hunt against socialists in Croydon.

It was widely understood that Progress members, possibly including Labour employees, were behind the attempt to have Jeremy Corbyn’s adviser, Croydon resident Andrew Fisher, kicked out of the party over some trumped up charges suggesting disloyalty towards The Hon Emily Benn, who barely lasted two years as a Croydon councillor. The petty factionalists of Progress have also been active in barring from party membership the likes of Mark Steel, the comedian and columnist.

Progress: Steve Reed OBE

Progress: Steve Reed OBE

It seems Progress – which is staging its own, separate annual conference this weekend – is struggling to come to terms with the fate of its candidate, Liz Kendall, who accumulated a mighty 4.5per cent of the popular vote in the Labour leadership election last year to Corbyn’s 59.5 per cent.

White, 67, a retired solicitor who lives in Park Hill, has been a Labour Party member since 1970.

“My alleged offence is that I sent a tweet commenting on remarks of Ken Livingstone concerning anti-semitism,” White said in a statement tonight.

White and Livingstone are long-time colleagues, having both served together on the Greater London Council in the 1980s.

“Specifically I commented that Ken was largely factually accurate in referring to an agreement in the 1930s between the German Nazi Party and some Zionists to provide for some Jews to go to what is now Israel (the so-called Haavara agreement),” White explained in somewhat more than 140 characters.

“Immediately I sent the tweet I realised that it was unwise, whatever the historical facts, to conflate Zionism with Hitler.”

White says that he quickly deleted his ill-considered comment. But a reporter on a local newspaper had screen-grabbed the tweet and used it as the basis for an article which included the dread words “Ken Livingstone’s Hitler comments were ‘largely accurate’,” in its headline.

With London elections just over a week away, this was eagerly seized upon for political gain by local Tories. “The Tories were clearly trying to stoke the controversy about anti-semitism in the Labour Party for political purposes… Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith had been accused of conducting a racist campaign and the Tories no doubt wanted to move the spotlight away from this,” White said.

“I didn’t think for one moment that my party would heed the Tory calls for action against me.” It was six days before White received a letter, dated May 4, from John Stolliday, the head of the Labour Party’s constitutional unit, advising him of his summary suspension from the party.

“The Labour Party should review its internal procedures,” White said. “It isn’t right that people should be suspended before they have had any chance to put their case or answer accusations. I gather that there are a substantial number of people up and down the country who have been suspended as I have.”

He also said, “Anti-semitism is a terrible thing and should be forcefully opposed. I have a long history of opposing anti-semitism and other forms of racism, dating back more than 50 years. However I am very concerned about the current febrile atmosphere in which almost any comment criticising the actions of the Israeli government, or any comment about the history of Zionism, is liable to lead to accusations of anti-semitism.”

White’s suspension leaves Croydon Central CLP without its two leading officers: Bob Hewlett recently stood down as chair for personal reasons. The parliamentary seat was won last year by Tory Gavin Barwell with a much-reduced majority of 165 votes.

“David is one of kindest, most trusting of people, who has worked incredibly hard for the party for many years,” a Croydon party colleague said tonight. “He is also totally trusting, which is one of his greatest qualities, but which also makes him open to abuse.”

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20 Responses to Labour suspends Croydon Central secretary over Hitler tweet

  1. whitgiftavenue says:

    So we have a Tory government which has a good chance of imploding this summer. An education system which is being surreptitiously privatised via acadmisation, staff morale in an underfunded NHS at an all time low, a steel industry on the brink of extinction and widening national social and economic inequality. And where us the Labour Party when you need it most? Standing in the corner with its head up its arse. We deserve better than this.

  2. It is very sad that the thought police have picked on David in this manner. We all know David to be a thoroughly decent man with strong socialist, equality and fairness principles. Unfortunately it also proves the dangers of using twitter and other social media without great care. I stick to my principle that only Twits Tweet.

  3. RJ Newman says:

    The Labour Party would be better off without the likes of Steve Reed and the ironically named “Progress” organisation than without David White.

    It’s shocking that David is suspended on an obviously false charge. These people are far more interested in bringing down the Labour Party than attacking the Tories.

  4. “La révolution dévore ses enfants”

  5. Steve Bush says:

    This is so pathetic, the right wing of the Labour Party are trying to get rid of the left by constructing a straw man of ‘anti-semitism’ – several of those suspended are Jewish Socialist activists! Stalin would be proud of this nonsense.

  6. farmersboy says:

    Steve Reed will finally announce the Labour Party is electable when he’s whittled the membership down to 12. That’s a lot of doors to knock on and posters to put up between them

  7. davespagnol says:

    The Blairites are so wedded to capitalism, that they would rather the Labour party is destroyed, than elected on a Socialist program. This anti-semitism thing is ridiculous. Opinions among Jews are divided about Israel, and most of the historic facts regarding Zionism and pre-war, pre-Holocaust Nazi Germany have been uncovered by Jews.

    • Rod Davies says:

      You are absolutely correct when you state that “most of the historic facts regarding Zionism and pre-war, pre-Holocaust Nazi Germany have been uncovered by Jews”.
      What is omitted is that the greater part of this has been achieved by Zionist Jews many funded by the State of Israel by accessing freely available state archives.

      While Jewish opinions may vary widely regarding Israel, it does not negate the fact that for years Jews have complained about acts of anti-semitism in the political parties and in some public institutions, and very little has been done to address it.
      Which other community has to recruit, train and fund its own security force to prevent assaults upon individuals, groups and religious institutions?
      You might like to peruse what the CST reports on recent events and wonder why these are not more widely reported, and to what degree the Labour Party might be immune.

  8. Rod Davies says:

    Isn’t the root of this issue the blind loyalty that the “Friends of (Name any nation state or community you like) exhibit towards the nation they are “Friends of” (F-o), those that share their passions and the equally ill-considered opprobrium they direct to anyone who is either “F-o The Opposing Nation / Community / Political entity” or offers a dispassionate and nuanced view of the given situation?

    The F-o’s will happily share stages with representatives of the nation they are F-o’s of, without any regard to the conduct and beliefs of those representatives, and with no regard how people in the middle ground will perceive this. It doesn’t occur to them that by sharing a stage, and calling the representatives “friends” without comment about the unacceptability of the values and conduct of those representatives, that people in opposition to them and people in the middle reasonably conclude that the silence is indicative of tacit approval by the F-o’s.
    The blind loyalty of the Friends of Israel or the Friends of Palestine does nothing to advance the cause of peace and reconciliation, and serves to provide support for often murderous hatreds and actions. The vitriolic assaults by F-o’s upon anyone who questions their beliefs and offers a nuanced perspective, only serves to drive individuals into the opposing camp or simply disengaging, when they are often best placed to influence their co-religionists or fellow nationals. Perhaps worse yet is that the F-o’s are a ready and fertile environment for bizarre interpretations of events and their prejudices influence what facts they are willing to accept or not.

    The Labour Party is now tidying up the mess and hopefully making clear the distinctions between opposition to Zionism and anti-semitism, and starting to challenge those whose omissions hide a wealth of sins.

    The Guardian addressed the Haavara issue well

  9. farmersboy says:

    I’ve just, as suggested, perused the CST website. The first line of their ‘mission statement’ is
    ‘To work at all times for the physical protection and defence of British Jews.’
    Physical protection and defence sounds a little like the kind of things the National Front (and to a more subtle degree their nasty racist offspring) told us they wanted to do.

    • Rod Davies says:

      I am not sure how you equate the CST with the National Front.

      Had you explored “Other Communities” , you would have found: “CST believes that building better relations across communities is key to reducing prejudice and bigotry of all forms. CST uses its expertise to make practical contributions across society. This includes our having given security advice to Hindu Temples, Sikh Gurdwaras, Churches and Mosques around the UK.”

      CST helped in the creation of Tell MAMA, a Muslim community initiative to measure and combat anti-Muslim hate crimes. CST’s hate crime booklet, funded by the Home Office, uses CST’s experience and knowledge to help other community groups establish hate crime reporting networks.

      CST also works in close partnership with a range of social multinational bodies such as the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Similarly, CST works with international networks such as the Facing Facts project, the International Network Against Cyber Hate
      and the European Network Against Racism. In every case, CST’s expertise is used to advance anti-racism and anti-discrimination values throughout society.

      Fiyaz Mughal, Tell MAMA project leader:
      “CST is an inspiration for all those working to counter hate incidents and crimes… We have been able to move forward knowing that we have colleagues, friends and allies who are working against hate and prejudice with us.”

      Michael Georg Link, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights:
      “Since 2003, CST has been a stalwart supporter of ODIHR in its efforts to effectively monitor antisemitic hate crime in the OSCE Region. With its rigorous methodology and innovative partnerships with the British police, it is viewed by many as representing the gold standard for NGO responses to all forms of hate crime. I wish CST all success in its exciting new phase of work.”

      I would respectfully suggest that it was partial and out of context statements that got Ken Livingstone into trouble in the first place.

  10. Labour is a joke, full with corrupt Progress establishment agents, they oppose absolutely nothing and rob the defenceless by falsely claiming to act in their interests. Progress is simply a vehicle for middle-class interests, it rose where the Liberals fell, it’s a cancer on social justice.

  11. This is outrageous. A qualified lawyer notes that the statement is largely correct and is suspended. This is 10 May 1933 all over again. Did we not learn anything?

  12. Why is Labour’s Steve Reed sporting a BLUE rosette?

  13. Mary Wolf says:

    Nobody has mentioned the tone of David’s Tweet, or whatever it was. Sadly, as he has taken it down and I can’t find it anywhere in my system, I can’t quote his words exactly but I distinctly remember a word like ‘ironically’ starting the sentence which said that what Ken said was factually correct. And that was followed by a gentlemanly criticism of Ken’s having used these facts in this conversation.
    So it wasn’t a ringing endorsement of Ken or his contribution to that particular discussion – that MIGHT have warranted a suspension.

    Lots of people making trouble and lots of people covering their backsides in all this. What a waste of time and effort – and how dangerous.

    • RJ Newman says:

      “The odd thing is Ken’s references to Hitler were largely accurate (google Haavara agreement) but way it was put unfortunate”.

      Gareth Davies describes this as tweeting “support for Ken Livingstone’s comment about Adolf Hitler.” An honest, intelligent, person might consider it differently.

    • Excellent points, Mary.

  14. Allan Howard says:

    Just came across this article whilst doing some research re the anti-semitism Smear Campaign, and was wondering why the author of the article referred to what Ken Livingstone said as a “Hitler and Zionism brain belch”. Why would anyone refer to someone alluding to an historical fact – ie the Haavara Agreement – as a brain belch? And it’s also hard to fathom why David White said the following:

    “Immediately I sent the tweet I realised that it was unwise, whatever the historical facts, to conflate Zionism with Hitler.”

    How on Earth is is referring to an historical fact conflating Zionism with Hitler? And I can only assume that the reason David White then thought it was unwise to have posted the tweet is because it then occured to him that the Thought Police would come after HIM, which they duly did.

    The reality is of course that but for the fact that Jeremy Corbyn was leader of the LP, we would never have heard a word about Naz Shah, and Ken wouldn’t have then had to defend her, and David White wouldn’t have then had to defend Ken Livingstone. There was NOTHING remotely “unfortunate” about the way Ken put it, and the fact that the anti-Corbyn brigade claimed that Ken said Hitler was a Zionist – which Ian Austin even repeated in a HoC debate on Anti-semitism in April of last year – tells you all you need to know about how fraudulent the whole anti-semitism smear campaign is. And just a couple of days ago the Mail on Sunday manufactured yet another falsehood in relation to Ken. Check out the article entitled ‘Complain against the outrageous attempt by Mail on Sunday to smear Ken Livingstone and LAW’ on the website of Labour Against the Witch-hunt for the details.

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