Marc Wadsworth, the anti-racism activist who was expelled from the Labour Party last month, begins a national tour to raise funds for his reinstatement campaign tomorrow night in central London, where his support act is comedian Alexei Sayle. So there might be a few gags about left-wing politics.
Wadsworth, who lives in Thornton Heath, was suspended by the Labour Party in 2016 following an incident at a public meeting involving MP Ruth Smeeth, amid unfounded accusations of anti-semitism. After finally getting a hearing before the party’s disciplinary body, Wadsworth was expelled for “Bringing the party into disrepute”.
Wadsworth is now considering taking legal action for defamation, as well as challenges to the decision.Wadsworth’s hearing, staged in Westminster in the week before the local elections, had the air of a show trial, as Blairite MPs formed a guard around Smeeth as she walked from the House of Commons to the meeting.
Wadsworth claims that Smeeth admitted making incorrect claims about him but she said was protected by parliamentary privilege – he noted that certain other MPs had made similar comments on social media, where privilege would not apply.
Wadsworth, a member of Croydon Momentum, has received some support locally from Croydon North Constituency Labour Party, though he was forced to call on his supporters to modulate their social media criticisms of the local MP, Steve Reed OBE, the former deputy chair of Progress, after he posted a message of support for Smeeth.
At the hearing, Clive Fraser, the chair of Croydon North CLP and now a councillor for South Norwood, spoke in support of Wadsworth, and three Labour branches in the constituency – South Norwood, Bensham Manor and Thornton Heath – have passed motions calling for his reinstatement.
The #Justice4Marc by Wadsworth has the backing of by Grassroots Black Left, Labour Against the Witchhunt, Jewish Voice for Labour and the Labour Representation Committee, of which John McDonnell MP – Jeremy Corbyn’s closest ally – is the President.
The first tour event is tomorrow night, May 15, at 7pm at the Indian YMCA, 41 Fitzroy Square, London W1T 6AQ.
Wadsworth, who in a lifelong career fighting against racism has seen him work on the Stephen Lawrence campaign, is keen to nail the slur against him that he in any way said or did anything that was anti-semitic towards Smeeth.
“They brought out the topic of anti-semitism, waved it around and then put it away again because there was no substance to the accusation. The video evidence was clear,” he said.
“In the end I was expelled for ‘disrepute’ – which is so broad and vague in the rulebook as to be extremely liable to abuse.
“The rule used to expel me didn’t exist in its current form when the events took place in 2016. You can’t apply it to things that happened before it existed.
“But to be absolutely clear, I was not expelled for anti-semitism.”
Wadsworth’s ring-fenced CrowdJustice legal fighting fund has so far raised £25,000 towards its £30,000 target, with three days of the appeal left. To contribute to that fund, click here.
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