Marc Wadsworth

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Marc Wadsworth
Born
Gladstone Antonio Marc Wadsworth

(1955-11-20) 20 November 1955 (age 63)
Birmingham, West Midlands, England
NationalityBritish
OccupationPolitical activist, journalist
TitleFounder of the Anti-Racist Alliance
Political partyLabour (resigned 2003, expelled 2018)

Gladstone Antonio Marc Wadsworth (born 20 November 1955) is a British left-wing activist and journalist. He was founder member of the Anti-Racist Alliance and of anti-racist campaigns involving the murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.[1] He founded an early citizen-journalism news portal, The-Latest.com. In 2008 Wadsworth's reporting triggered the resignation of Mayor of London Boris Johnson's spokesman.

In 2018 Wadsworth was expelled from the Labour Party for bringing the party into disrepute.[2] This decision related to a confrontation on 30 June 2016 between him and Labour MP Ruth Smeeth at the launch of the Chakrabarti Inquiry report into allegations of antisemitism and other forms of racism in the Labour Party.

Early life[edit]

Wadsworth's father, George "Busha" Rowe, emigrated to Britain from Jamaica in 1944 to serve as ground crew in the Royal Air Force in World War II.[3] Wadsworth's mother was Finnish.[4][5] Born in Birmingham, England, Wadsworth spent his first six years in a children's home and was then in foster care for a further year. He recalls being the only black student at Ottershaw School, a boys' boarding school in Surrey.[6] Initially bullied, he took up amateur boxing at 13, inspired by Muhammad Ali, whose politics he would later describe as Black Pride and Black Power.[7][8]

Wadsworth made a documentary film Divided by Race, United in War and Peace about his late father's fellow Caribbean war veterans and their struggles against colour prejudice and racism.[9][10] The BBC remade the film, with Wadsworth as a producer, and, in May 2015, Fighting for King and Empire: Britain’s Caribbean Heroes was broadcast.[11] The film was shown at the Frontline Club in September 2015.[12] In November 2016 the film was repeated by the BBC during Remembrance Sunday week.

Career[edit]

Activism[edit]

Wadsworth helped to secure Black Sections (caucuses) within the Labour Party, first tabled in 1983, to further the cause of greater African, Caribbean and Asian political representation. All four of Britain's first minority African, Caribbean and Asian members of parliament of modern times were members.[13][14] He was then founder of the Anti-Racist Alliance (ARA) in 1991,[14] and helped set up the campaign for justice after the 1993 murder of Stephen Lawrence.[14] The ARA succeeded in getting human rights lawyer Geoffrey Bindman to draft a bill to make racial harassment and racial violence specific criminal offences, which proposals became law years later.[15] Wadsworth lost his position as ARA leader in 1994 following disputes with Socialist Action and Ken Livingstone.[14]

Media and academia[edit]

In January 2006, Wadsworth became founding editor of The-Latest.com, "Britain's first dedicated citizen journalism news portal",[16] In 2008, it sparked a controversy involving newly elected London mayor Boris Johnson, after his Australian spin doctor James McGrath suggested to Wadsworth he would be fine if many elderly British African-Caribbean Londoners left the country due to their policies.[17][18][19] After Wadsworth passed his comments to a newspaper, McGrath resigned when Johnson, facing racial controversy himself for an article in The Daily Telegraph referring to some Commonwealth people as "piccaninnies", said it was impossible for McGrath to continue because doubt could be raised about what he meant.[20] The Press Gazette used the headline "Citizen journalism takes first UK scalp" for an article by Wadsworth which reported he had given McGrath a month to privately clarify his comments.[21]

As a journalist, Wadsworth has written for a range of publications, including national newspapers, and has also been involved with community journalism training courses. He twice served on the National Executive Council of the National Union of Journalists.[22] His first book, Comrade Sak, a political biography of British Indian Labour and Communist MP Shapurji Saklatvala (1874–1936), was published in 1998 by Peepal Tree Press.[23]

Wadsworth has been a reporter and presenter for BBC radio and television and for ITV's Thames News (London),[22] at one point interviewing Margaret Thatcher, who he recalls walked out when he asked about the vote by her colleagues to effectively oust her from power.[24]

From 2001 to 2012, Wadsworth was a lecturer in journalism at City University London.[25][22] In 2012 he was awarded an M.A. in Contemporary British History from King's College London,[26] passing with distinction.[27]

In March 2016, The-Latest.com identified Wadsworth as a committee member of "Black Momentum" also known as "Momentum Black ConneXions" (MBC), in reference to the pro-Corbyn campaign group Momentum.[28]

Comment about Labour MP and expulsion from Labour Party[edit]

On 30 June 2016 Wadsworth attended the launch of the report of the Chakrabarti Inquiry into allegations of anti-semitism and racism in the Labour Party. His group, Momentum Black Connexions, had made a submission to the Inquiry. Wadsworth was also handing out their press release to journalists, about under-representation of Black people in the party and about challenging Labour MPs hostile to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. He gave one of the leaflets to Kate McCann, a journalist from The Daily Telegraph newspaper. McCann then handed his press release to someone else. Wadsworth says he asked if she was press and she said no; he asked who she was and she said Ruth Smeeth Labour MP - a name he says he didn't recognise.[29] Wadsworth says he felt her tone was hostile, and that there was 'a bit of a commotion', and that as someone with experience of feeling 'surrounded by hostile white people', he retreated to the back of the hall.[30]

McCann asked a public question to Corbyn about a "Momentum member" handing out a "leaflet" calling for the deselection of anti-Corbyn MPs, accusing him of taking down the name of one Labour MP. Later Wadsworth, while making a point about the under-representation of non-white racial groups at the launch and in the party,[citation needed] responded to McCann by saying he saw The Telegraph journalist handing a copy of his press release to Labour MP Ruth Smeeth and thus claimed to have seen who was "working hand in glove". Wadsworth says he had felt suspicious of Smeeth politically because of "right-wing journalist McCann" passing her his press release, in what he perceived as a friendly way.[30][better source needed]

At least one person in the audience heckled, including "how dare you". Journalist Kevin Schofield, ex senior correspondent at The Sun tabloid, muttered towards Smeeth that it is antisemitism at an antisemitism inquiry[31] Smeeth walked out, followed by McCann. Later that day Smeeth published an accusation that Wadsworth had verbally attacked her by using a traditional antisemitic slur to accuse her of a media conspiracy, though did not specify the slur or the conspiracy. She wrote that: "it is beyond belief that someone could come to the launch of a report on antisemitism in the Labour Party and espouse such vile conspiracy theories about Jewish people, which were ironically highlighted as such in Ms Chakrabarti's report, while the leader of my own party stood by and did absolutely nothing. People like this have no place in our party or our movement and must be opposed".[32][33]

Wadsworth responded on the radio that he did not know Smeeth is Jewish.[34][35] He said he regretted that Smeeth felt offended but that he had been expelled from the Labour Party based solely on media reports.[36] At the time of his expulsion, he had been a member of the Labour Party for one month, having resigned his membership in 2003.[34] After receiving a letter from Wadsworth's lawyer, Harriet Wistrich, Labour changed this to a suspension.[37] On 4 July, Corbyn was asked about Wadsworth in a Parliamentary Select Committee hearing, and called Wadsworth's comments about Smeeth wrong and inappropriate but refused to declare them racist or anti-semitic without clarifying the details.[38] On 7 July, The Jewish Chronicle reported quotes from an interview with Chakrabarti indicating she thought Wadsworth had engaged in the kind of behaviour that the Inquiry report was needed to address, and that she'd admonished him for this at the time.[39] Wadsworth says she never told him she thought he was being antisemitic.[30][better source needed] On 8 July, the National Union of Journalists announced that Wadsworth had been elected as chairman of its Black Members Council (BMC), adding that the BMC fully supported him after the media had "slanderously accused him of anti-semitism".[40]

At the first day's hearing by the National Constitutional Committee (NCC) into Wadsworth's future in the Labour Party on 25 April 2018, around 40 Labour MPs and peers accompanied Smeeth, while there was a small[41] group of protestors with pro-Wadsworth placards.[42][43][44] The Labour MPs Chris Williamson (who afterwards alleged the evidence had been twisted[45]) and Clive Lewis (who alleged afterwards that there was racism against Wadsworth[46]) were witnesses for Wadsworth. On 27 April 2018, the National Constitutional Committee found that two charges of a breach of s.2.1.8 (prejudical and detrimental conduct) of the Labour Party Rule Book by Wadsworth were proven. The NCC determined that the sanction for this breach of party rules would be expulsion from membership of the Labour Party.[47] His expulsion was welcomed by the Jewish Labour Movement and the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.[48] Two days later, Jewish Voice for Labour, calling Wadsworth a 'leading Black antiracist activist', welcomed him to their Annual General Meeting and passed a resolution that he should be reinstated.[49]

In February 2019, after party officials refused to speak to him further, Wadsworth began legal action against the Labour Party for race discrimination against him under the Equality Act 2010 and for breach of contract.[50][51]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "BBC NEWS | Special Report | 1999 | 02/99 | Stephen Lawrence | The media impact". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  2. ^ "Labour activist Marc Wadsworth expelled over anti-Semitism row". Sky News. 27 April 2018. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Ground Crew Volunteers". African Stories in Hull & East Yorkshire. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  4. ^ Deborah Hobson, "Bring On The BNP – Out Of The Shadows", WorldPost, HuffPost, 10 July 2009.
  5. ^ John Rentoul, "Diane Abbott is sorry (For the record Miss Finland is also black)", The Independent (Internet Archive), 29 November 1996.
  6. ^ "Full Admissions List" (PDF). OSOBS. Retrieved 29 April 2018. "1969 Wadsworth, G A M"
  7. ^ Marc Wadsworth (5 June 2016). "When I met The Greatest". The Voice. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  8. ^ "Muhammad Ali 'wasn't a hero of the civil rights movement'", Channel 5 News. Interview by Matt Barbet. Published on 23 June 2016.
  9. ^ "BBC film to recognise Britain's Caribbean war heroes". The Voice. 11 May 2015. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  10. ^ Clayton Goodwin, "Britain: Divided by race, united in war", New African, 3 December 2013.
  11. ^ Roy Greenslade, "Unsung heroes of the Caribbean who fought for Britain against Hitler: BBC documentary rescues history by telling of volunteers who risked their lives", The Guardian, 11 May 2015.
  12. ^ Roy Greenslade, "Frontline to screen film about unsung war heroes of the Caribbean", The Guardian, 25 September 2015.
  13. ^ Marc Wadsworth, "Celebrating Black Sections", The Guardian, 6 October 2008.
  14. ^ a b c d Andrew Hosken, Ken: The Ups and Downs of Ken Livingstone, Arcadia Books, 10 April 2008: Chapter 18: 1985-1994. Ken and the rise of Socialist Action, 1985–1994, p. 265–67
  15. ^ Marc Wadsworth,"A long, hard fight for justice", The Voice, 5 January 2012.
  16. ^ "About Us", The-Latest.com.
  17. ^ London, Paola Totaro Herald Correspondent in (24 June 2008). "London mayor sacks Australian over race jibe". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  18. ^ Sparrow, Andrew; Watt, Nicholas (23 June 2008). "Cameron defends Boris Johnson's sacking of adviser in race row". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  19. ^ Marc Wadsworth, "McGrath's gaffe", The Guardian, 23 June 2008.
  20. ^ "Aussie quits after racism row". www.couriermail.com.au. 22 June 2008. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  21. ^ "Citizen journalism takes first UK scalp", Press Gazette, 7 July 2008.
  22. ^ a b c Marc Wadsworth author page at Peepal Tree Press.
  23. ^ Comrade Sak, Peepal Tree Press, 1998, ISBN 978-0948833779.
  24. ^ Jermaine Haughton, "Margaret Thatcher: Divisive even in death", The Voice, 17 April 2013.
  25. ^ "Marc Wadsworth" profile.
  26. ^ "Contemporary British History Seminar 2013–14". King's College London. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  27. ^ Marc Wadsworth, "The World Wars forgotten Black Fighters", Runnymede Trust, 13 January 2014.
  28. ^ Newsdesk, "Black movement launched to back Jeremy Corbyn's Labour", The-Latest.com, 3 March 2016. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  29. ^ "Activist and journalist dispels claims he is anti-semitic". www.voice-online.co.uk. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  30. ^ a b c "Program Information - BCFM Drivetime: Senior anti-racism campaigner Marc Wadsworth expelled from Labour party|A-Infos Radio Project". www.radio4all.net. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  31. ^ "Antisemitism and the Labour party – a deeper look". Jewish Voice for Labour. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  32. ^ admin (30 June 2016). "Ruth Smeeth – 2016 Statement on Chakrabarti Report". UKPOL. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  33. ^ Sherwood, Harriet (30 June 2016). "Jeremy Corbyn launches antisemitism report amid controversy". The Guardian.
  34. ^ a b Adam McSmith (30 June 2016). "Labour activist who accused Ruth Smeeth of conspiracy 'did not know she was Jewish'". The Independent. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  35. ^ Agnes Chambre, "Ruth Smeeth heckler expelled from Labour party", PoliticsHome, 1 July 2016.
  36. ^ "Labour Antisemitism Row: Activist Expelled". Archived from the original on 2 July 2016.
  37. ^ Newsdesk, "Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn challenged to defend his Black allies", The-Latest.com, 15 December 2016.
  38. ^ Michael Wilkinson and Kate McCann, "Jeremy Corbyn: I regret calling Hamas and Hezbollah 'friends'", The Telegraph, 4 July 2016.
  39. ^ Doherty, Rosa (7 July 2016). "Shami Chakrabarti: 'My heart sank as MP was attacked'". The Jewish Chronicle.
  40. ^ "Racist attacks unleashed by Brexit top of BMC agenda" NUJ, 8 July 2016.
  41. ^ "Dozens of Labour MPs march with Jewish colleague to antisemitism hearing". The Independent. 25 April 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  42. ^ "Ruth Smeeth escorted by Labour colleagues to anti-Semitism hearing". BBC News. 25 April 2018. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  43. ^ Forrester, Kate (25 April 2018). "Labour MPs Rally Around Colleague Ruth Smeeth Ahead Of Marc Wadsworth Anti-Semitism Hearing". HuffPost. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  44. ^ "Marc Wadsworth expelled from Labour party". www.voice-online.co.uk. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  45. ^ "Statement by Chris Williamson MP on Marc Wadsworth's expulsion from the Labour Party". Labour Briefing. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  46. ^ simonhannah81 (20 May 2018). "Clive Lewis on Marc Wadsworth's expulsion". theclarionmag.org. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  47. ^ Elgot, Jessica (27 April 2018). "Labour activist Marc Wadsworth expelled from party over antisemitism row". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  48. ^ Elgot, Jessica (28 April 2018). "Corbyn's office denies it advised Labour activist day before expulsion". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  49. ^ Kuper, Richard. "A call to reinstate Marc Wadsworth". Jewish Voice for Labour. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  50. ^ "Marc Wadsworth to sue Labour Party for race discrimination". www.voice-online.co.uk. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  51. ^ "Marc Wadsworth to sue Labour Party for race discrimination". Genesis Radio Birmingham. 15 February 2019. Retrieved 20 July 2019.