Terence Flanagan and Councillor Phil Rosenberg
Published: 26 January, 2016
By RICHARD OSLEY
A FORMER print worker accused of anti-Semitism says he stands vindicated after the Labour Party lifted his suspension and re-admitted him to the party.
Terence Flanagan, an open critic of the Labour leadership of Camden Council, now says he wants to stand for the party at next year’s Town Hall elections.
“It has been shown that the accusations against me were fraudulent,” he told the New Journal. “If I was racist or anti-Semitic, I wouldn’t have been allowed back in the Labour Party, and rightly so. But I’m not, and I am back in the Labour Party.”
Mr Flanagan, who stood as a Labour council candidate the 1980s, was among thousands of members across the country who were suspended by an internal disciplinary team known as the Compliance Unit before last year’s leadership contest in which Jeremy Corbyn beat Owen Smith.
But Labour HQ has not gone further and expelled him, instead re-admitting him into the party with a warning. Mr Flanagan said: “There is no appeal process in the rulebook to get that warning off the record but I would dispute it being there, because I haven’t done anything wrong and Councillor [Phil] Rosenberg was wrong to make the accusations he did. I said to Phil, let’s shake hands and move on. We need to take on the despicable things the Tories are doing with mass demos.”
He added: “I’ll be putting myself forward to be a candidate in the next council elections, because unlike some of the Labour councillors we have now, we should be fighting the cuts from the Tory government more directly. We need councillors who are prepared to go to prison to fight the cuts that are hurting the working classes, we need councillors who will work with other Labour councils and say we are not going to take this.”
The accusations against him by Cllr Rosenberg, included:
l comparing councillors supporting Town Hall development policies in West Hampstead to Goebbels in a letter to the press printed on Holocaust Memorial Day last year;
l claiming Israeli secret service Mossad was behind a strategy to undermine Mr Corbyn;
l sending a message to members in which he said supporters of Israel were “polluting” the Labour Party.
In an interview with the New Journal last year, Mr Flanagan had conceded that he did antagonise party colleagues and said things to provoke reaction and debate, but stood firm against the claim of racism.
Cllr Rosenberg, meanwhile, had said at the time of the complaint that Mr Flanagan “has developed a pattern of offensive behaviour against Jews and others that melts his flimsy defences and means that Labour had no choice but to suspend him”.
Last week, some members said they felt uneasy by Mr Flanagan’s return and it has been suggested by sceptics that the sheer volume of suspensions left Labour organisers, nationally, without the manpower to scrutinise complaints fully.
A statement issued by Geoff Berridge, chairman of the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency Labour Party and its secretary Peter Taheri, said:
“In the last few weeks, the Labour Party’s Disputes Committee has reportedly made a number of decisions (including in relation to at least one case in our CLP) on suspensions that have caused significant alarm in numerous quarters, not least, but by no means only, in the Jewish community. In addition to questions about the judgements themselves, there has been concern about the process, whereby those on the receiving end of abuse – and indeed, the local Labour Party itself – have had to learn about decisions through the local media and not through the Party’s official channels."
"This needs to be urgently reviewed. While we do not yet have full access to the facts and the reasoning behind any such decision, the absence of these would seem to be unacceptable and we will be writing to the Party’s General Secretary to ask for an urgent meeting to discuss and gain an understanding of this matter. In our local Labour Party, we expect nothing less than a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to anti-Semitism and we call on the Party nationally to give everyone the confidence that it shares this commitment equally. Where those returning from suspension are doing so on a formal warning for their past unacceptable behaviour, we intend to be rigorous in ensuring that any repeat offence will be dealt with speedily and strictly.”