Month: May 2016

JACKIE’S SUSPENSION LIFTED

Labour Party Clears Jacqueline Walker of Anti-Semitism and Lifts her Suspension in First High-Profile Decision Following Allegations of Anti-Semitism within the Labour Party

Jackie Walker, the Vice-Chair of the Momentum movement and leading Labour Party activist has been cleared of anti-Semitism by the Labour Party today, and her suspension has been lifted with immediate effect.

Ms Walker was suspended by the Labour Party on 4 May 2016, on allegations that she has posted so-called “anti-Semitic” comments on social media.  Ms Walker vigorously denied the allegations and was robustly defended by the high-profile human rights solicitor, Martin Howe, who previously represented the British Army Gurkhas in their campaign for settlement rights in the UK.  Following a full investigation by the Labour Party, Ms Walker has now been cleared of all allegations and the Party has wished her well in her future campaigning and party activities.

Ms Walker’s solicitor, Martin Howe, said:

“The complaints against Ms Walker were potentially serious but they related to matters which go to the heart of free speech and political free speech. She is not a racist, and having strongly held views on the conflict in the Middle East and historical matters of a factual nature is not anti-Semitism. 

“The danger with cases like this is that genuine debate and free speech has been silenced by the chilling effect of unfair and inaccurate allegations of anti-Semitism against a person who has fought against racism, in all forms, all her life. 

“The effect on Ms Walker has been untold and she has suffered vilification in the press, online and in the street.  I am glad I supported her and helped vindicate her fundamental rights of free speech.”

Jackie Walker said:

“These last few weeks have been a living nightmare.  In the street, people have come up to me and shouted ‘racist’.

“I am glad this investigation has fully cleared me of any wrong doing.  I am not a racist, but I robustly defend my right and the right of others to speak openly and frankly about matters of grave political and historical importance. 

“That is the cornerstone of the right of free speech in our democracy.  I have no doubt that my suspension was provoked by elements in the right-wing press and others opposed to the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn in order to seek to damage his leadership and paint the Labour Party as “anti-Semitic”, which it is not.

“Like Jeremy Corbyn, I abhor all forms of racism but to allege racism where none exists denigrates those who struggle against injustice, discrimination and racism on a daily basis. 

“What I have suffered and the effect this episode has had on my health and, also, on my family can only be described as the lowest form of ‘attack politics’. 

“I thank my solicitor, Martin Howe, for stepping in to help and defend me and uphold the right of free speech and political debate within the Labour Party.”

  

BARRED FROM THE BALLOT

BY JACKIE SHARLAND

As a lively, middle aged woman who suddenly finds herself engaging with the world from a wheelchair I have faced many challenges accessing bars, shops and restaurants since moving to Broadstairs eighteen months ago.

However I had not expected to encounter such difficulties when going to exercise my democratic right to vote in the General Election in May 2015!

Surely the voting station would be accessible to all and I would not be disenfranchised due to my inability to walk.

So when I arrived and took my place in the queue I was surprised that the entrance to Pierremont Hall was up several stone steps. Not slow at coming forward I asked whether there was disabled access.

Consternation reigned – there was a lack of clarity amongst the throng of party representatives and electoral staff about where, or even whether, there was a portable ramp.

Meanwhile the returning officer had come out to help. Initially he addressed my husband, and I realised I was invisible again. I explained I was experiencing the accessibility issue. He was clearly embarrassed and extremely apologetic.

He offered to take my vote in for me – I thanked him but explained that I wanted to cast my vote myself in the same way everyone else was doing and that the key issue was access to the building for me (and my wheelchair legs!)

He offered to help with the ramps and agreed that this was not the best venue to accommodate all needs and would make this clear in his official report.

After the ramps were located and a rather unnerving wobbly journey I was in the building and in the queue to get my ballot paper. Low level polling booths so that was great. BUT as I went to put my paper in the ballot box I couldn’t reach the slot.

The returning officer squashed it down so I could. Hoorah! Now all I needed to do was navigate the rather wobbly ramp to get out.

The RO was apologetic, helpful and embarrassed. He assured me that he would be raising all the issues we had discussed and would be recommending another venue for the future.

Fast forward to May 2016 and the local elections.

Pierremont Hall again! No one on the doors but the ramps propped up against the railings.

Luckily my husband was with me to set the ramps up – or I may have been forlornly shouting for someone to come and do so. Same issue with height of the ballot box and again had to be helped to cast my vote by the returning officer.

A different, again very helpful and embarrassed returning officer, helped set up ramps for my exit and was horrified at the unstable and bumpy ride I had down the ramp.

He said he would outline issues and emphasise the fact that Pierremont Hall is not fit for purpose as an equal access venue.

I wonder how many elections will go by and reports have to be written before there is any change. It seems there is another battle to be won before everyone has access to universal suffrage.

ATTACKED PHOTOGRAPHER CONDEMNS NAZIS FOR DOVER VIOLENCE

 

A freelance photographer who was savagely attacked during disturbances in Dover on Saturday 30 January, has condemned far-right groups for causing the violence in the town.

His attacker, Peter Atkinson from Liverpool, received a sentence of seven years for Grievous Bodily Harm with Intent at Canterbury High Court on Monday 23 May.

The disturbances broke out after far right groups including the English Defense League, National Front, South East Alliance attempted to march through Dover in a demonstration against immigration.

The photographer was badly injured in the attack and required surgery involving plates and pins to reconstruct his elbow and arm.

The photographer said:

“I welcome the sentence of  7 years handed to Peter Atkinson today. His attack on me was unprovoked, brutal and cowardly. It took place while I was going about photographing a public event. The sentence is fair and reflects his intentions and the impact of his actions on the day.

“Journalists have long been a target for far-right thugs. Abuse, threats, physical and sexual assaults against members of the press have become all too frequent. They see us as legitimate targets and believe they can abuse and attack us without consequences. They need to think again.”

“I made it clear in the statement I gave to the police that I witnessed no violence until the far-right groups broke past police lines and began hurling bricks and bottles at what was a peaceful counter-protest. I hold the far-right groups who attended Dover on the 30th January fully responsible for the violence.

“Among them were supporters of the English Defense League, National Front, and Combat 18.

“These groups care nothing for the issues they protest about. They don’t give a damn about truckers but want to use them to demonise refugees. They don’t care about child sexual abuse unless they can use it to demonise Muslims. Many would even welcome a Paris style attack in London because they believe it would fit their own agenda. These groups offer nothing but hate and violence.”

THE REFUGEE’S GIFT

There will be a special event about refugees in Margate House, Friday 3 June, 7-9pm.

This will include an exhibition of Bill Knight’s photographs  called “The Refugee’s Gift”

Visitors can also hear about how Thanet people are responding to refugees in Kent and Calais.

A new film will be launched about young asylum seekers in Kent and there will be a discussion about how people can get involved in welcoming refugees.

Thanet people are collecting donations for Calais, working in the distribution centres, campaigning for rights, supporting individuals and building a culture of welcome in Thanet. This is a chance to find out what more you can do!

Can Thanet become an “Isle of Sanctuary”?

The Refugee’s Gift is at Margate House, 39-41 High Street, CT9 1DX Margate

 

PUBLIC MEETING: JACKIE & THE WITCH HUNT

JACKIE - STATESPERSON-LIKE

Jacqueline Walker, National Vice Chair of Momentum and anti-racist
campaigner, has been suspended by the Labour Party
because of allegations of anti-semitism which she absolutely
denies. Here she speaks about what happened and what it means
for the Labour Party, free speech and political debate in Britain.

7pm, Thursday 19 May, Red Hall, 11 Grosvenor Rd,
Broadstairs CT10 2BT Tel 07989 070843

Hosted by Thanet Stand Up To UKIP
Supported by Momentum Thanet
FREE – ALL WELCOME