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Fundraising for Legal Action to Reinstate Rebecca

£7,260 of £20,000 goal

Raised by 206 people in 1 month
Created January 5, 2019
I’m Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, and, on 7 April 2018, I was democratically selected as the Labour Party’s parliamentary candidate for South Thanet. After eight months of hard work to win the seat, a three-member panel of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) decided not to endorse my candidacy. The Executive Committee of South Thanet Labour Party has rejected the NEC’s decision. As there's no appeal process, I'm having to contemplate legal action.

The highly respected socialist solicitor, Rheian Davies at DH Law, has kindly agreed to take the case, counselled by the esteemed barrister Michael Mansfield QC. We've notified the Labour Party of our intention to take action at the High Court if the NEC's decision isn't reviewed. This case is vital to Labour Party democracy, fighting for the right to a fair hearing and representing justice for the many not the few. But I can't afford to mount a legal action on my own, which is where you come in...

We're hoping to raise funds in stages, as and when we need them for any potential legal case. If the case goes to court, we’ll need to cover court costs and basic expenses. If the case is unsuccessful, we’ll have to cover the Labour Party’s legal costs. If the case is successful and I'm reinstated, any surplus money we raise will go into the campaign to win South Thanet for Labour. This is fundraising by the many not the few. Huge thanks for any support you can give.

Background
In 2015, I got involved with the Labour Party to support Jeremy Corbyn's first leadership bid and to work towards building a fairer society. When the South Thanet parliamentary selection was triggered early in 2018, I was persuaded to throw my hat in the ring. I met as many local members as possible, to learn how I could best represent their interests, and I was honoured they selected me as their parliamentary candidate.

I'm a university researcher with a special interest in injustice and inequality. Before standing for selection, I made occasional contributions to a Twitter account run by a group of academics and activists. My endorsement by the NEC was withheld because a handful of posts made from this account in 2016–17 were published out of context on the right-wing Guido Fawkes blog to imply that I was antisemitic.

When the tweets first came to light, less than two weeks after I was selected, I arranged to have the Twitter account de-activated and worked with the party to issue a heartfelt apology for any offence caused. I spent the next eight months working with local members to win the seat for Labour.

In July 2018, my case was referred to the party’s disciplinary body (the NCC), but months went by and nothing happened. In December 2018, I was invited to attend a hearing with three members of the NEC, to make the case that content previously posted on social media wouldn't prevent me from meeting the high standards expected of parliamentary candidates.  Only one of the three panel members attended in person; the other two were present via speakerphone.

At the hearing, I took responsibility for the following tweets, which reflect the anxiety of an earlier time:

“Accusations levelled at Jackie Walker are politically motivated.”
“Antisemitism has been weaponised by those who seek to silence anti-Zionist voices. See The Lynching, endorsed by Ken Loach, for elucidation.”
“Accusations of AS levelled in an attempt to discredit the left.”

Jackie Walker was Vice Chair of South Thanet Labour Party and known to many people locally who were disconcerted by her suspension from the party. The Lynching is a one-person play, telling Jackie’s story, which was followed by a discussion with Ken Loach and others when it was performed in London and these tweets were posted. The tweets were in no way intended to suggest that antisemitism doesn’t exist in the Labour Party. It's possible for two things to be true at once – for antisemitism to exist and for accusations of antisemitism to be used as a political weapon.

At the hearing, I presented a dozen pieces of evidence, including statements from party officers, from parliamentary candidates around the country, from a respected rabbi, from the parliamentary diary coordinator who's the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and from a world-renowned Oxford University expert in anti-Semitism. These endorsements said that I was more than capable of meeting the high standards expected of parliamentary candidates and that neither I nor the tweets were anti-Semitic.

A few hours after the interview had concluded, I received a letter saying that the NEC had decided not to endorse my candidacy on the basis that ‘In light of these posts your conduct does not meet the high standards that are expected of parliamentary candidates and has the potential to bring the Party into disrepute’.

This decision has been rejected by the Executive Committee of South Thanet Constituency Labour Party, its branches and its women's forum. A petition has attracted support locally and nationally. Labour members and supporters are outraged that this decision has been reached and concerned that it sets a dangerous precedent.
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You're amazing. You helped us to not only meet but also beat our first target of £3,800.
Now we need to start raising funds for court costs and expenses.
To help us on our way, we're auctioning an artwork by the world-renowned artist, David Shrigley. If you or anyone you know would like to buy a stunning silkscreen print while donating to a worthy cause, please visit: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/303039935126
In solidarity
Rebecca
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£7,260 of £20,000 goal

Raised by 206 people in 1 month
Created January 5, 2019
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