Marc Wadsworth, the anti-racism activist who was kicked out of the Labour Party in controversial circumstances last week, has broken his silence and called on supporters not to resort to abuse on social media.
It has been suggested that Wadsworth’s own constituency MP, Steve Reed OBE, has become a particular target for such abuse.
Reed, the former vice-chair of the Progress group of Blairites, had tweeted his backing for Ruth Smeeth, the Labour MP whose complaint of anti-semitism against Wadsworth had initiated his suspension.
As it was, Wadsworth was removed as a Labour member for “bringing the party into disrepute”, a charge for which lawyers claim there is no evidence.
Wadsworth supporters have portrayed the disciplinary action against him as “a witch hunt”, which is being carried out by centrist factions in the Labour Party who resent the democratic rise of Jeremy Corbyn.
Wadsworth will have done his cause for reinstatement a great deal of credit with the mature call for calm ahead of the local elections on Thursday.
A “solidarity meeting” for Wadsworth was held in Croydon on Sunday night, at which the decision to contest the expulsion was confirmed. His crowdfunding page, to help meet his legal costs, has soared in the days since the expulsion, and today stands at more than £23,000.
Wadsworth lives in Croydon North, the constituency where Reed has been MP since 2012.
In 2016, Reed was one of the right-wing MPs who, with Hilary Benn, took part in the “chicken coup” with a series of carefully timed resignations from shadow cabinet roles in an attempt to undermine and unseat Corbyn as leader. The coup failed, and it also prompted calls from some Labour members in Reed’s Constituency Labour Party, many of them members of Momentum, for him to face re-selection as their parliamentary candidate.
Distrust and a disconnect between the grassroots and the Labour leadership in the CLP remains.
Yet any reasonable examination of Reed’s Twitter feed following his public declaration of support for Smeeth finds no evidence of abuse of the MP.
Yesterday, Wadsworth issued an open letter to his supporters.
Wadsworth said, “I have enjoyed huge support from around the country since my unjust expulsion.
“That backing began soon after my suspension in July 2016 when more than 80 Croydon Momentum members voted to support me. I would like to state that while I believe that many of those who are registering their disappointment online are doing so calmly, some comrades have been resorting to abuse.
“That won’t help my campaign for reinstatement and may get comrades into trouble. I therefore urge restraint. After the closing of the polls on 3 May we will revisit the debate. But for now, we need to be supporting the Labour Party, wherever we are, in its quest across Croydon, London and England, to return Labour councillors and retain and gain Labour councils.
“We should refrain from attacking MPs or party officials, as crucially, this will not help my cause ahead of a time when we will be able to put pressure on Labour’s ruling NEC to get me back into the party. I’ve refused to be provoked, even when faced by hostile journalists at a news conference after the verdict. I hope you will do the same.
“For those comrades who want to question their MP, the legitimate mechanism for doing this is through their CLP’s mechanisms. Your first opportunity to do so will be after the crucial elections.”
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