Petition update

GMB Hearing on 19 Dec- Help needed; Rabbi coming; LAW and other news

Pete Gregson
Edinburgh, SCT, United Kingdom

Dec 16, 2018 — 

The GMB hearing date has been set for Wednesday 19th Dec, three days hence. Would you be able to help me with this? There are 3 ways you can get involved to help stop me getting expelled.

The first would involve your writing to the GMB Scotland Secretary asking him to drop charges against me. If you’d like to do that, please click here to generate the basics of a witness statement with your email software. The GMB Scotland Secretary has informed me that supporters should state which part of the GMB rule book they wish to refer to. In fact, the Secretary only stated in his second letter to me that the IHRA working def'n of anti-Semitism has been adopted by the GMB's Central Executive Council, but it's not in the Rulebook (read it here). Please point this out. And if you are really keen, please refer to my advice to witnesses here - but to be honest, if you’re busy, just a simple letter would do.

The second would involve showing up at the venue om Wednesday 19th December to show support. The hearing will take place at GMB, Fountain House, 1 Woodside Crescent, Charing Cross, Glasgow G3 7UJ at 11am. If you can lurk around through the day from 10.30am until I emerge, either a winner of loser, at anytime up to 5 pm, it would make a huge difference. I plan on getting the media to visit to interview my star witness and any folk there to hold the banner and show a presence would help. It would also make it clear to staff and visitors going in and out of the GMB that something significant was happening.

ie.. that history was being made… for I would be the first trade unionist on trial as being a Jew-hater - according to the IHRA. If I win or lose, it will be a marker to all other trade unionists in the UK as to what treatment they might expect if they criticise Israel as racist. It will also be a marker for Labour members. If you’re coming, let me know by emailing me at postmaster@roseburn32.plus.com

The third involves taking a bigger role at the protest, filming an interview with my star witness on your phone and liaising with any press that show up. You could be the Media Officer!

I keep talking about my star witness. He is Rabbi Aaron Cohen and is travelling up from Manchester to speak at the hearing; he should arrive at the GMB offices at around 12.50pm. He is the most senior Rabbi of the Neturie Karta in the UK, an orthodox Jewish sect, I am incredibly pleased that he is coming. He is well-known for his opposition to Israel in its present form. In 2014, Haaretz reports, his car was burned out outside his home. In this interview, he explains his views.

A welcome from any Scots who have signed this petition would make him feel most at home; he is 77 and would surely appreciate it.

Finally, I have contracted a solicitor; it is Daniel Donaldson at Legal Spark in Glasgow who is helping my fight. The GMB Scotland Secretary had added to his allegations that I had breached the rulebook by speaking to outside bodies and other GMB branches about my case. He had also blocked me sending emails to him. Daniel’s first excellent letter to him addresses these matters and can be viewed here. The £200 funds at tinyurl.com/legalihra are now used up; please add more if you feel flush.

Michael Mansfield QC is busy just now with Grenfell Towers and the WASPI review; he will help if the Labour Party disciplinary kicks off or if an appeal is needed from me against the GMB decision.

So – to summarise: Smith has called me to a disciplinary hearing on 19th December at which he intends to expel me from the GMB as an anti-Semite. It is up to the 15 GMB Scotland Committee members as to whether they agree with such an action. All the allegations are available to view here (there are 3 pages!): my initial response to the allegations can be seen here, but I shall write a fuller one tonight.

Apart from the Neturie Karta, two groups are supporting me:

"Labour Against the Witch-hunt (LAW) statement : Lift suspension of Peter Gregson from GMB, stop investigation”. In addition, Tony Greenstein, vice-chairman of LAW, has written a letter of support.

"Free Speech on Israel (FSOI) protests against abusive use of IHRA definition by GMB". In addition, Mike Cushman, chair of FSOI (and treasurer of Jewish Voice for Labour), has written a letter of support.

I explained in my last update that fellow GMB members had submitted a motion based on the model union motion at www.tinyurl.com/unionihra , condemning the IHRA definition. The motion was not taken for discussion, on the advice of the regional GMB officer, partly on the grounds that "it contravened GMB policy". It would be worth testing this in other branches, for if your union adopts a bad policy, branches should be allowed to seek its removal, else how could the rulebook ever be improved? If you are in a union, especially if it is the GMB, Unison, Unite or USDAW, please try and get the motion adopted by your branch.

BTW On the 2nd September I had asked the General Secretary of the GMB to reconsider his support for the IHRA. It was a last-minute plea for him not to vote it into the Labour Party rulebook. My GMB Health rep for Scotland, Karen Leonard, forwarded my views to Tim Roache in advance of the NEC meeting. He ignored my email, for 2 days after receiving it, the GMB voted for the IHRA for Labour. Then, 3 months later, he is overseeing threats of my expulsion from his union...

[BTW Karen is married to Richard Leonard, Scottish Labour’s leader; Richard is ex-GMB – I’d be interested to know his views on my case; I fear I never shall. He has not responded to my emails on this.]

OTHER NEWS

Just published in the Weekly Worker- my letter asking Labour Against the Witchhunt for support. I was up all night last Tuesday writing this!

Skwawkbox published on Friday that “Scottish govt set to drop IHRA as “dog’s breakfast” hate-crime law revised” but this was a rather too optimistic reading of a Lord’s report. We’ll need to see if the Gov acts on it.

I’m not optimistic. I appealed to all 8 of my constituency and regional MSPs and even the First Minister for a letter of support with the GMB – all declined to help. And some months ago, I approached the Scottish Parliamentary Cross-Party Working Group on Palestine; with no response, I  had asked Claudia Beamish MSP, Labour MSP with the group, to raise the matter; she promised to speak to the Group and get back to me; she never has. These politicians, one would have hoped, would be the guardians of free speech in Scotland. Thus far they have not wanted to get involved, presumably for fear of being branded as anti-Semites themselves.

Yesterday I attended the Edinburgh Islamophobia conference where the IHRA was discussed all day and made useful contacts - and got shot of 200 flyers!

I have made a short (2 min) video about my STUC anti-racist demo experience – see it above or at tinyurl.com/ihrastuc

Finally, the GMB published an update of my fortunes at tinyurl.com/gmbnat5

Best wishes

Pete


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