“This is the email I received from Welsh Labour Grassroots/Momentum in other words Momentum Wales.
You will no doubt have been following the latest developments in the controversy over anti-semitism that has beset the Labour party recently, involving the release of an illegal recording of comments by left-wing NEC member, Pete Willsman at the Committee’s last meeting. This comes, of course, after repeated and unfounded accusations of anti-semitism against Jeremy Corbyn, whose record in fighting all forms of racism and discrimination is second to none.
As you may have heard, the officers of the Momentum National Coordinating Group (NCG) – not the whole NCG – last night officially withdrew their support from Pete as an NEC candidate.
The Welsh Labour Grassroots (WLG) Steering Committee has discussed this and agreed that the decision of the Momentum officers is a mistake, which WLG does not support:
Pete Willsman’s comments, as captured on the recording, were blunt and forcefully expressed but we do not believe anything he said to have been anti-semitic. His words have been widely misrepresented in the media and the reaction has been driven in large part by the determination of our opponents on the right to use the anti-semitism furore as a stick with which to beat Jeremy Corbyn and the left. In our view, to withdraw support from Pete would just embolden them to continue their offensive.
Pete has been a consistent anti-racist and has an exemplary record of fighting for party democracy and socialist policies; he deserves better than to be abandoned in this manner, halfway through an NEC election campaign.
All NEC members, including leading members of Momentum, heard Pete’s comments at the time when he made them and there was no suggestion of withdrawing support until the recording came out.
Much of the left – including the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD), which is the other main sponsor of the #JC9 slate – is still supporting Pete, as are a majority of current left NEC members, and a great many grassroots party members.
Momentum are not backing an alternative ‘ninth’ candidate; there are a few independent left candidates on the ballot-paper but, without a well-organised campaign behind them, none of them is likely to beat the better-established candidates of the right and centre.
In any case, most members who intend to vote have probably already done so, which means that Pete is likely to be elected anyway unless, under pressure, he were to withdraw, in which case the likely beneficiary would be Ann Black or possibly even someone from the Progress/Labour First slate. Thus, his withdrawal would reduce the pro-Corbyn majority on the NEC.
The WLG Steering Committee therefore will continue backing the full #JC9 slate and encourages members who have not yet voted to support all nine, including Pete Willsman.