By Omar Aziz
Pink Floyd rock legend, Roger Waters, has expressed outrage at the UK Labour Party leader, Keir Starmer, for the Party’s “infantile” and “undemocratic attacks” against Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, the only Jewish member of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC), who was suspended from the Party yesterday.
In an extended statement printed below, Waters said his late mother, who was a dedicated Labour Party member and activist, would be “turning in her grave” at the “despicable” Labour leadership.
Despite being elected on a mandate of “uniting the Party”, under Starmer’s watch many on the left and the trade unions feel the Party has instead waged a war against them, epitomized by the suspension of the former leader Jeremy Corbyn himself in October 2020.
In light of Wimborne-Idrissi’s vocal support for Palestinian human rights and the widespread purging of left-wing members, including the expulsion of celebrated filmmaker Ken Loach, many commentators had predicted she would not remain in the Party for long.
And just hours after appearing in a trailer for Al Jazeera’s new #LabourFiles three-part documentary premiering yesterday investigating abuses within Labour against left-wing members, Wimborne-Idrissi revealed she had been notified of her suspension, Tweeting:
“I’ve received a Notice of Allegation and Administrative Suspension from @UKLabour. The charge – I “committed a Prohibited Act contrary to Chapter 2, Clause I.5.B of the Rule Book” by speaking at an event run by proscribed organisations in September last year.”
Waters, who has publicly supported Wimborne-Idrissi several times in the past on social media and celebrated her recent election victory Tweeting earlier this month, “Naomi, welcome to the NEC!!! I love you!… You should be Prime Minister,” yesterday expressed his disgust:
Dear Keir Starmer
You stupid little shit.
Roger Waters https://t.co/e2quemnEhU
— Roger Waters (@rogerwaters) September 22, 2022
Speaking to The Palestine Chronicle in light of her suspension, Roger Waters said:
“Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, we true believers in human rights and democracy and a more equal society stand with you and always will.”
Wimborne-Idrissi co-founded Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) in 2017 as a network for Jewish members of the Party, united in their support for justice and human rights embedded in progressive Jewish traditions. Yet, its members have protested they are five times more likely to face antisemitism charges than non-Jewish members.
“The Labour Party is a very important organization. Historically, it was founded by and has close links with the organized labour movement and to the trade unions. It’s meant to be the parliamentary voice of ordinary working people. It is natural that it should support people fighting oppression such as Palestinians,” Wimborne-Idrissi told Palestine Deep Dive last week.
And yet Labour members, who have repeatedly voted in support of Palestinian rights, including at last year’s party conference passing a motion backing sanctions against Israel for its system of apartheid and just weeks after Israel massacred 67 Palestinian children in May 2021, have instead been shunned by the leadership which refused to recognize the historic vote. Starmer has since openly rejected Amnesty and Human Rights Watch’s findings that Israel practices apartheid, saying “this is not Labour policy” and previously publicly opposed anti-Zionism and Israel boycotts.
As with many on the left in Britain today, Roger Waters expresses deep concern at what has been described as the weaponization of Party processes for factional purposes under Starmer’s leadership.
“In the annals of little sh*ts, Keir Starmer stands alone in his ignominy. No doubt to the glee of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tel Aviv, little sh*t Starmer has almost single handedly wiped out the labour movement in England.
”He has done so, firstly with his, wholly unwarranted, character assassination of the Labour movement’s last truly socialist leader, Jeremy Corbyn, on the entirely false accusation of antisemitism, based on the now discredited IHRA definition of that much misappropriated adjective. And now, adding insult onto injury, with his infantile and un-democratic attacks on Naomi Winbourne Idrissi, newly elected to, and possibly the only sane voice, on the National Executive Committee of what’s left of The Labour Party.”
Proud of the left-wing Jewish radical tradition, Wimborne-Idrissi recently told Palestine Deep Dive, “can I start with the slogan that Jewish Voice for Labour has on its banner? It says, ‘always with the oppressed, never with the oppressor.’ This is what Marek Edelman, one of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943, said was a principle that every Jew should follow just by virtue of being through what Jews go through in life.”
But the latest statistics surrounding Labour Party membership imply many on the wider left no longer see the Party as standing up for working people and the oppressed. According to Labour NEC member Ann Black, party membership now stands at 373,000, meaning 230,000 members have left since January 2020, although even these figures are hard to quantify since the Labour Party’s membership system was hacked and the party has reportedly been unable to restore the lost data .
Read Roger Water’s full statement here:
When I was growing up, the front room of our home at 42 Rock Road Cambridge was, from 1956 on, a Labour Party committee room. Why from 1956 on? Well in 1956 there was a tidal wave of people like my Mum, quite rightly, leaving the British Communist Party because that party refused to condemn the occupation of Hungary by the Soviets. From then on my Mum, and her fellow Labour Party members, worked tirelessly on behalf of the working classes for a better, fairer Britain.
She worked alongside, Beverage,(National Health Service) Michael Foot, Tony Benn, Hugh Gaitskill, Harold Wilson, Robin Cook, good socialists all. And then came new Labour and the arch little shit Tony Blair, who wanted to transmogrify into Margaret Thatcher, and eventually, in 2003, clung to the coat tails of the homicidal George W. Bush as he led us into the murder of a million Iraqis.
I find it hard to even type any of those three names. But in the annals of little shits, Keir Starmer stands alone in his ignominy. No doubt to the glee of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tel Aviv, little sh*t Starmer has almost single handedly wiped out the labour movement in England. He has done so, firstly with his, wholly unwarranted, character assassination of the labour movement’s last truly socialist leader, Jeremy Corbyn, on the entirely false accusation of antisemitism, based on the now discredited IHRA definition of that much misappropriated adjective.
And now, adding insult onto injury, with his infantile and un-democratic attacks on Naomi Winbourne Idrissi, newly elected to, and possibly the only sane voice, on the National Executive Committee of what’s left of The Labour Party.
My dear, departed, wise, honest, socialist Mum is turning in her grave you despicable little shit.
So, Naomi Winbourne Idrissi, we true believers in human rights and democracy and a more equal society stand with you and always will.
– Omar Aziz is Associate Director at Palestine Deep Dive. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.