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The McCarthyism in Labour must end

The suspension of Chris Williamson is another example of how witch-hunting is plaguing the Labour Party, says BERNADETTE HORTON

I’M scared. Frightened. Afraid. I’m afraid to be a member of the Labour Party. The words staring up at me make my brain think they shouldn’t really be there. Scared? Frightened to be a member of the Labour Party? How have we come to this?

For months I have hardly spoken out on Twitter, refrained from straying into contentious issues on Facebook and when Chris Williamson was the latest casualty for party suspension, I realised Labour has become a by-word for witch-hunts. It never used to be like this.

I think back to 2016 when it all started. Corbyn-supporting members were “outed” across social media by the then general secretary Iain McNicol and his team, in what appeared to be an exercise in reducing the number of Corbyn supporters eligible to vote for him in the second leadership election. 

New rules were brought in overnight about how long it was deemed necessary to have been a party member in order to vote, and these rules, to my knowledge, changed three times in an effort to move the goalposts and exclude as many new members as possible.

Williamson has made remarks that were deemed to be anti-semitic – in that he stated that he thinks Labour has been “too apologetic” concerning allegations of anti-semitism. 

He apologised for his choice of words, yet was still suspended. I’ve lost count of the times Corbyn is on record, on social media, newspaper and TV roundly condemning all forms of anti-semitism and indeed other forms racism too, yet certain Labour MPs are not satisfied. 

And that is where we are in the party. While any case of anti-semitism should be investigated and dealt with, certain Labour MPs have decided this sole issue should be the only topic in our media. But their intention is not strictly honourable. Their intention is to bring Corbyn down.

While Theresa May and her band of Tory brigands sit in government, trying to fight their way out of the abyss they have descended into regarding Brexit — and failing at every turn — certain Labour MPs, and the new Independent Group headed by Chuka Umunna, are hell-bent on denying a future Labour government. 

They are willing to gamble with working-class lives, not in opposition to the Tories, but to deny a Corbyn-led Labour government, which is unforgivable.

What is frightening for ordinary members like myself is that even the bravest of us are being gagged by pitchfork-waving Labour MPs who seem to have a direct line to the compliance unit and a fast track to instant suspensions if they rant and scream in the press loud and long enough. 

Deputy leader Tom Watson has asked that all cases involving anti-semitism in the party should be sent directly to his desk. Why? Why should one MP be judge, jury and executioner on this issue? It can’t be right.

Public record is a wonderful thing. Any one of us can look at an MP’s record and see if he or she is receiving private donations from bodies or individuals. 

While unions have traditionally donated to union-supporting Labour MPs to cover things like office expenses, some Labour MPs are receiving thousands in private donations from wealthy individual lobbyists. Isn’t that what the Tories do? 

It doesn’t take a leap of faith to assume that if an MP is receiving money from a lobbyist on certain issues, they will in turn, use their public platform to speak out on the issues concerning the lobbyist. 

As a member, I believe this opens an MP up to potential accusations that may or may not be true. Surely Labour are better than the Tories? Surely, we should be above private donations?

In the past many of us spoke out on Palestine and were vocal in legitimate criticism of Israel and its treatment of Palestinian people. 

This past year, I am seeing less and less open talk about Palestine across social media, as the threat of being accused of being anti-semitic stalks the party. 

I know that members like myself are so concerned they deliberately do not use the words “Israel,” “Palestine” and “anti-semitism” on their social media accounts, as they are in very real fear those words are being picked up in algorithms by the Labour compliance unit, and the next minute the suspension letter from the party lands on your doormat. 

We are a campaigning Labour Party. Members should not live in fear of campaigning on issues that matter a great deal to them. Robust, open, civilised debate is a feature of our party. Or it used to be.

Stats released by general secretary Jennie Formby revealed that 12 members have been expelled from the party since April 2018 regarding anti-semitism. 

Twelve anti-semites is 12 too many and they have rightly had their membership revoked after thorough investigation. But the way some Labour MPs are running to right-wing media outlets on a daily basis, screaming from the rooftops on the issue of anti-semitism would have the general public believe these cases run into the thousands. 

The party has a robust system to deal with cases of anti-semitism and we must all work tirelessly as members to ensure these 12 cases reduce to none.

However, for working-class members like myself, I want my Labour MPs to also consider running to the press on a daily basis raging against homelessness, ranting against our broken welfare state which denies social security to our most vulnerable and retaliating against the monstrous Tories whose no-deal Brexit would plunge our class into ever more poverty and hopelessness for our futures. 
 
As I look down at my Labour Party membership card lying on the table, I understand that only by standing shoulder to shoulder with Corbyn can our working-class lives be changed for the better. 
 
I really wish our middle-class Labour MPs could walk a mile in our shoes and remember the people they represent deserve a Labour government, more now than at any time in the past. 
 
The Orwellian, McCarthyite witch-hunting nature of our party at this current time in history must change.

A Corbyn-led Labour government is our number one priority and should be all Labour MPs’ top priority too. 

All eyes and efforts should fall on the real enemy inflicting untold damage across Britain. Toryism.

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