Marc Wadsworth

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Marc Wadsworth
Born
Birmingham
West Midlands, England
NationalityUnited Kingdom
OccupationPolitical activist

Marc Wadsworth is a British activist, formerly a member of the Labour Party.[1]

He describes himself as an anti-racist campaigner and was the founder member of Anti-Racist Alliance and anti-racist campaigns involving the murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.[2] Wadsworth was expelled from the Labour Party on 27 April 2018 for bringing the party into disrepute.[1] This decision related to a confrontation on 30 June 2016 between him and Labour MP, Ruth Smeeth at the launch of the publication of the Chakrabarti Inquiry report into allegations of anti-semitism and other forms of racism in the Labour Party.

Early life[edit]

Born in Birmingham, England, Wadsworth spent his first six years in a children's home and was then raised in foster care for a further year. He recalls being the only black student at Ottershaw School, a boys' boarding school in Surrey.[3] 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.[4][5]

His father George "Busha" Rowe had emigrated to Britain from Jamaica in 1944 and volunteered in the Royal Air Force in World War II.[6] Wadsworth has said that his mother is Finnish.[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 subsequently 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]

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][2] He was then founder of the Anti-Racist Alliance (ARA) in 1991,[2] and helped set up the campaign for justice after the 1993 murder of Stephen Lawrence.[2] 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 actually became law years later.[14] Wadsworth lost his position as ARA leader in 1994 following disputes with a far-left political faction in the organisation called Socialist Action and Ken Livingstone, who supported them.[2]

In January 2006, Wadsworth became founding editor of The-Latest.com, "Britain's first dedicated citizen journalism news portal",[15] which has been a springboard for several successful journalists, including Julie Stewart-Binks, Phil Simms of the Henley Standard, and Jonathan Brooker.[16]

In 2008, a comment made to Wadsworth by an Australian strategist and spin doctor, James McGrath, who worked for the then London mayor Boris Johnson, about African-Caribbean people being welcome to go back home if they did not like the capital's newly elected Conservative leadership, led to the aide being fired.[17][18] Press Gazette hailed The-Latest.Com's scoop that sparked the controversy with the headline: "Citizen journalism takes first UK scalp".[19]

Media career[edit]

Wadsworth has been a reporter and presenter for BBC radio and television and for ITV's Thames News (London),[20] 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.[21]

From 2001 to 2012, Wadsworth was a lecturer in journalism at City University London.[22][20] In 2012 he was awarded an M.A. in Contemporary British History from King's College London,[23] passing with distinction.[24]

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.[20] 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.[25]

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.[26]

Allegation of anti-semitism and racism inquiry report launch[edit]

At a launch, to which the media were invited, on 30 June 2016 for the publication of the Chakrabarti Inquiry report into allegations of anti-semitism and racism in the Labour Party, The Daily Telegraph journalist Kate McCann questioned Corbyn about a "Momentum member" handing out a "leaflet" calling for the deselection of anti-Corbyn MPs. Wadsworth had earlier given McCann a copy of his "press release" at her request. In response to the question about him, Wadsworth responded by publicly stating that he saw The Telegraph journalist handing a copy of the press release to Labour MP Ruth Smeeth, and thus claimed to have spotted who was "working hand in hand", a reference to anti-Corbyn Labour MPs supposedly colluding with the right-wing press. Smeeth expressed outrage and walked out, followed by McCann, leading to a storm of media controversy and a complaint from Smeeth that Wadsworth had used an antisemitic conspiracy theory to attack her; Wadsworth stated he did not know Smeeth is Jewish.[27][28] Shami Chakrabarti, who chaired the meeting, claimed she had firmly told Wadsworth he had misused his opportunity to ask a question, and that Corbyn had agreed.[29]

Wadsworth later explained that he had been volunteering as MBC's media officer and handing out an MBC press release; that it was this same document that Smeeth had asked McCann for in front of him; that he asked her who she was and she replied "Ruth Smeeth Labour MP"; and that he did not recognise the name.[30] Smeeth said she was "verbally attacked" and accused of being part of a media conspiracy. She added: "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".[31][32]

On 1 July, Wadsworth told a radio station he had been expelled from the Labour Party based solely on media reports.[33][28] 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.[35] On 4 July, Jeremy Corbyn was quizzed about Wadsworth at several points 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.[36] 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".[37]

At the first day's hearing by the National Constitutional Committee (NCC) into Wadsworth's future in the Labour Party, around 40 Labour MPs and peers accompanied Smeeth to ensure she was able to be present to give evidence.[38] The Labour MPs Chris Williamson and Clive Lewis acted as character witnesses for Wadsworth. On 27 April 2018, the National Constitutional Committee found that two charges of a breach of s.2.1.8 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.[39]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Labour activist Marc Wadsworth expelled over anti-Semitism row". Sky News. 27 April 2018. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e 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
  3. ^ "Full Admissions List" (PDF). OSOBS. Retrieved 29 April 2018. "1969 Wadsworth, G A M"
  4. ^ Marc Wadsworth (5 June 2016). "When I met The Greatest". The Voice. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  5. ^ "Muhammad Ali 'wasn't a hero of the civil rights movement'", Channel 5 News. Interview by Matt Barbet. Published on 23 June 2016.
  6. ^ "Divided by Race, United in War and Peace", 2014.
  7. ^ Deborah Hobson, "Bring On The BNP – Out Of The Shadows", WorldPost, HuffPost, 10 July 2009.
  8. ^ John Rentoul, "Diane Abbott is sorry (For the record Miss Finland is also black)", The Independent (Internet Archive), 29 November 1996.
  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. ^ Marc Wadsworth,"A long, hard fight for justice", The Voice, 5 January 2012.
  15. ^ "About Us", The-Latest.com.
  16. ^ "Stars of the-latest.com are shining brightly", 8 February 2017.
  17. ^ Sparrow, Andrew; Watt, Nicholas (23 June 2008). "Cameron defends Boris Johnson's sacking of adviser in race row". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  18. ^ Marc Wadsworth, "McGrath's gaffe", The Guardian, 23 June 2008.
  19. ^ "Citizen journalism takes first UK scalp", Press Gazette, 7 July 2008.
  20. ^ a b c Marc Wadsworth author page at Peepal Tree Press.
  21. ^ Jermaine Haughton, "Margaret Thatcher: Divisive even in death", The Voice, 17 April 2013.
  22. ^ "Marc Wadsworth" profile.
  23. ^ "Contemporary British History Seminar 2013–14". King's College London. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  24. ^ Marc Wadsworth, "The World Wars forgotten Black Fighters", Runnymede Trust, 13 January 2014.
  25. ^ Comrade Sak, Peepal Tree Press, 1998, ISBN 978-0948833779.
  26. ^ Newsdesk, "Black movement launched to back Jeremy Corbyn's Labour", The-Latest.com, 3 March 2016. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ a b Agnes Chambre, "Ruth Smeeth heckler expelled from Labour party", PoliticsHome, 1 July 2016.
  29. ^ Doherty, Rosa (7 July 2016). "Shami Chakrabarti: 'My heart sank as MP was attacked'". The Jewish Chronicle.
  30. ^ Marc Wadsworth, "Activist and journalist dispels claims he is anti-semitic", The Voice, 6 July 2016.
  31. ^ Marshall, Tom (30 June 2016). "Labour MP Ruth Smeeth storms out of anti-Semitism report launch 'in tears'". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  32. ^ Sherwood, Harriet (30 June 2016). "Jeremy Corbyn launches antisemitism report amid controversy". The Guardian.
  33. ^ "Labour Antisemitism Row: Activist Expelled".
  34. ^ 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. ^ Newsdesk, "Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn challenged to defend his Black allies", The-Latest.com, 15 December 2016.
  36. ^ Michael Wilkinson and Kate McCann, "Jeremy Corbyn: I regret calling Hamas and Hezbollah 'friends'", The Telegraph, 4 July 2016.
  37. ^ "Racist attacks unleashed by Brexit top of BMC agenda" NUJ, 8 July 2016.
  38. ^ Forrester, Kate (25 April 2018). "Labour MPs Rally Around Colleague Ruth Smeeth Ahead Of Marc Wadsworth Anti-Semitism Hearing". HuffPost. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  39. ^ Elgot, Jessica (27 April 2018). "Labour activist Marc Wadsworth expelled from party over antisemitism row". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 April 2018.