EXCLUSIVE: Labour official who spoke about ‘bogus’ antisemitism cases backs banned hard-left groups

Veteran union activist Martin Mayer proposed a motion at Sheffield Heeley CLP expressing ‘solidarity’ with groups recently booted out of the party


A Labour official and union activist who branded Israel an “apartheid state” and spoke about “bogus” antisemitism cases within the party is behind a  branch motion condemning Labour’s ban on extreme-left groups.

Labour’s ruling NEC board recently voted to proscribe Labour Against the Witch Hunt (LAW), Socialist Appeal and Labour in Exile Network with automatic exclusion for any Labour members belonging to the groups.

Labour said the ban was necessary because the groups were “not compatible with Labour’s rules or (its) aims and values”.

However Sheffield Heeley Constituency Labour Party has passed a motion in “solidarity” with the groups demanding “all unjust proscriptions and expulsions are reversed”.

The motion, which passed by 30 votes to 13, also condemns the creation of a ‘Star Chamber’ to decide on future proscriptions as a “shocking and repressive move”. 

“It belongs in the dark ages and should have absolutely no place in a modern day democratic party,” it adds.

The motion was proposed by activist Martin Mayer, a former Unite delegate to Labour’s NEC and secretary of Sheffield TUC with reported links to LAW.

In 2019 the union activist said he regretted downplaying the scale of antisemitism that gripped Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

His statement followed a story in the Sunday Telegraph that revealed that he had shared a post which claimed “the Israel lobby manufactured UK Labour party’s antisemitism crisis”.

The paper also revealed that Mr Mayer told a meeting of Labour Against the Witch Hunt about  his time on the NEC and the many “bogus” claims of antisemitism he had “witnessed first-hand”.   Mr Mayer was described as being active within the organisation.

At the height of the Israel and Gaza conflict in May, Mr Mayer told a pro-Palestine lobby in Sheffield that Israel was an “apartheid state” and “out of control”.

He told a meeting of the Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign a month later that more people were rejecting the “even handed approach” to the conflict that argued both sides shared blame for the violence.

“This is a fantasy that has been created to destroy the cause of Palestine,” he said.

Sheffield Hallam University professor emeritus and Labour official Jawed Siddiqi seconded Sheffield Heeley CLP’s motion to express “solidarity” with the hard-left groups.

Mr Siddiqi, who is the CLP’s BAME officer, posted an article in which film director Ken Loach hit out at Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.   

Mr Loach is among those expected to be expelled from Labour for his membership of one of the proscribed groups.    

Mr Siddiqi has posted about his “solidarity” with Ken Livingstone over “baseless” accusations of antisemitism and signed an open letter in support of controversial Bristol University academic David Miller.

The letter calls Mr Miller an “eminent scholar” despite complaints from Jewish students about his views. Mr Siddiqi is the president of the National Council of University Professors.

In May Mr Siddiqi branded Israel and “apartheid state” online and suggested that accusations of antisemitism were “false”.

He wrote: “Settler colonialism continues to steal Palestinian land by Israel while the West concerns itself with false accusations of antisemitism.  Israel is an apartheid state.”

He also shared a picture of a boy holding a poster accusing Israel of  “genocide”.

The JC approached both Mr Mayer and Mr Siddiqi for comment.

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