On Monday 3 October the steering committee of national Momentum announced it had decided to remove her from her position as vice chair for remarks she made at meeting at the Labour Party Conference. The following is the response of Momentum Thanet
JACKIE WALKER: STATEMENT FROM MOMENTUM THANET
We note that the national Momentum steering committee has voted to remove Jackie Walker from her position as vice chair of the committee but allowed her to remain on the committee.
We note that the committee has taken this decision on the basis of remarks made by Jackie at a meeting held by the Jewish Labour Movement, a predominantly right-wing organisation, and on secret filming, the source of which has not been revealed.
We note, too, that, while stating that they did not believe she had said anything anti-Semitic or anything that justified the Labour Party suspending her (which it had already done), the national Momentum steering committee in a statement said: “However, the committee does consider her remarks on Holocaust Memorial Day and on security of Jewish schools to be ill-informed, ill-judged and offensive.”
We note, however, that none of the members of the national Momentum steering committee were present at the meeting in question and so can only have based their decision on reports of the meeting or the short extract of unattributed secret filming of the meeting.
On the other hand, three of our own Momentum Thanet were actually present at the meeting and can categorically deny that Jackie said anything “ill-informed, ill-judged or offensive” or indeed anything which warranted taking disciplinary action against her, whether by national Momentum or the Labour Party
Regarding her remarks on Holocaust Memorial, Jackie simply expressed her wish that the day should open to people who had suffered in other holocausts. (According to its website Holocaust Memorial Day commemorates genocides since and after the Nazi period). When other people at the session said that in fact it already was open to other groups, Jackie replied that it didn’t seem to be widely advertised as such.
In terms of the discussion of security of Jewish schools, it’s alleged that Jackie doubted the need for increased security for Jewish children. This is again a complete distortion of what she actually said, which was that anti-Semitism wasn’t the sole cause for increased security levels in British schools.
Having pointed out the lack of substance in the evidence used to take action against Jackie, we must also question how the decision was taken. Was a thorough investigation of the reliability of the information undertaken? Was it asked who undertook the secret filming or the context in which Jackie made her remarks? And perhaps, most importantly, why were no members of Momentum who were actually present at the meeting not questioned before the steering committee took their decision?
Along with our deep concerns about how the decision was taken, we also strongly doubt that the decision reflects the democratic will of Momentum in the country at large. And we are greatly concerned the message it sends to the outside world about Momentum’s attitude to free speech, natural justice and solidarity with its own members.
We, therefore, call for Jackie Walker to be immediately reinstated as vice chair and be provided with an official apology from the steering committee for the action taken against her.
As agreed at a meeting of Momentum Thanet on October 4 2016
Norman Thomas, Chair of Thanet Momentum.