23 July 2018

Labour’s War Against Wankers! Discussion of Masturbation is a forbidden topic but is it anti-Semitic?

Lee Rock has been told by Labour’s Disputes Committee that he's under investigation for discussing masturbation on Facebook!

You couldn’t make it up. Fresh from the moral panic that is Labour’s false anti-Semitism campaign, we now have the po-faced Acting Head of Disputes Committee, Nareser Osei, (does that mean the execrable Sam Matthews has gone?) writing to Lee Rock, a well known trade unionist and member of Sheffield Labour Party informing him that he has, apparently, breached Labour Party rules.

I have to confess a personal interest in this.  When I was young I was solemnly informed by my father, a Jewish rabbi, that masturbation was not only a sin (naturally) but would also make me blind.  As far as I know I still have my sight!

‘These allegations relate to your participation in an extended debate on a Facebook group in which you argued in favour of mastburbation in workplaces.’
Is there, I wondered, a Labour Party rule against wanking? Or maybe just one against wanking at work?  Is there a code of conduct? And then I wondered.  Perhaps it is anti-Semitic to talk about wanking? No it’s not as strange as you think. Have you never read Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth, a book which outraged polite society? 
Gershom Scholem, Israel’s Professor of Mysticism described Portnoy’s Complaint as “the book for which all anti-Semites have been praying”. So you see, if the anti-Semites love this book it must be because it is anti-Semitic. Ipso facto masturbation must be anti-Semitic!!
It is also about the joys of masturbation so it really is quite reasonable to assume that wankers are anti-Semites and even more so those who advocate it (or tolerate it) at work.
Philip Roth's book that outraged decent society, Zionists included
I was thinking of asking Margaret Hodge for her opinion, but given her record in supporting child sex abuse I thought better of it.
I am surprised that the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism hasn’t include masturbation as an illustration of anti-Semitism e.g. 'Accusing Jews of being wankers’.  It’s more reasonable than the rest of the illustrations. 
Enough of this. In the Left Unity Members, Supporters and Friends Facebook Group over 3 years ago, before Lee was even a member of the Labour Party, he participated in a discussion on wanking at work. One might have hoped that the Chakrabarti recommendations for a 2 year moratorium on social media commens to be observed.
On the Labour Against the Witchhunt website there is a good article by Carla Roberts entitled Has the Labour witch-hunt climaxed? (I think that’s a pun but I better err on the side of caution given Margaret Hodge is active these days).
The background to the Facebook debate was the ex-MP Simon Danczuk MP having been caught out accessing hard-core porn sites. He openly had to admit that he watches porn and of course the media feigned outrage.
Owen Jones, who as Carla points out was then “still almost relevant”, wrote an article, in which he asked, “Why should we care?” He pointed out that we are all “flawed human beings” and that we should criticise Danczuk’s rightwing politics not his personal habits.
This however really upset some radical feminists (who are now called Terfs – trans-exclusionary radical feminists). All Mothers Work, published an article attacking Owen Jones’ description of Danczuk’s behaviour as “normal”. It described people who access porn at work as “unstable perverts” presumably as opposed to stable perverts!
I have to confess, being somewhat naive. I didn’t know that 30% of the population admit to wanking at work which another questionnaire put it at 39%.  I must confess it has never appealed to me but if you're bored...
Somebody posted the article in a Facebook group and Lee argued that what people do in private in a toilet cubicle is their business. The result was a long debate with over 150 comments – which is still online.  It has even produced its own satirical blog post. The exchange is also available on the Labour Party Marxists website.
Lee’s view can be summed up as: “If the person next to me at work goes to the loo, I really don’t care if they have a shit or a wank.” Lee Rock did not positively “argue in favourof masturbating in workplaces”, as Ms Osei claims in her letter.

Morality police?

The point however is a serious one. Lee is under investigation not for committing any offence, but for arguing that what one does in the privacy of a toilet cubicle should not be viewed as a criminal offence– especially not one that would lead to the ‘perpetrator’ being “removed from society”, as the terfs’ article demanded.
This reminds me of the bad old days when the Police would hang around public toilets in plain clothes trying to entice gay men into committing an offence of gross indecency. It seems the prudish Osei, who is a Newham councillor, belongs to that tradition. That feminist morality guardians would be outraged is one thing but that the Labour Party should launch an investigation over this issue is mind-boggling.
We note that masturbating at work is, of course, not illegal. It might be a sackable offence, but only if (a) you have been caught in the act (lock the door?) and (b) your employer thinks you’ve broken one of their rules – for example, by taking too much time over it!
You may have difficulty fighting a claim for unfair dismissal but unless you’ve done something crassly indecent, there would be plenty of mitigating circumstances: stress levels at work, family risk of prostate cancer (which, according to medical advice, can be reduced by masturbating a few times a day) etc. Some psychologists and doctors even argue that employees should be positively encouraged to engage in auto-eroticism at work, as it can be a very effective form of stress-relief that also increases production levels.
Like tens of thousands of others, Lee Rock only joined Labour in July 2016, in order to support Jeremy Corbyn. In other words, his comments were written 15 months before he even joined. On what possible basis is this ‘investigation’ being conducted?
It is difficult to take this case seriously but given the current climate we should not assume that it will simply be dismissed. Yes, Jennie Formby and Gordon Nardell are way to the left of those rightwing scumbags Iain McNicol, Stolliday and co. but the witch-hunt is not over. Unfortunately Corbyn and his allies are still trying to appease the right, despite all the evidence showing that it does not work (Margaret Hodge’s attack on Corbyn for being a “fucking anti-Semite and racist” on July 16 being a case in point).
The letter to Lee states that “the general secretary has appointed Charlotte Walker, investigating officer, to arrange conduct of the party’s own investigation”. We cannot be sure if Formby is aware of idiot Osei’s letter or has read the whole thread on Facebook. If she has then shame on her for wasting members’ money  launching this nonsense investigation. If she has not read it, then shame on her for not putting more effort into preventing such ludicrous allegations being made. Not all idiotic allegations which are made are followed up by an investigation. Some are dismissed at an early stage as this one should have been.
Lee  Rock is only the latest case in a long list of leftwing activists targeted by the Labour Right. Somebody must have put in a considerable amount of time and effort to find this particular online thread. Did they read all of Lee’s posts from the last three years and if so why? If Labour’s disciplinary process was governed by natural justice Lee would have been told who his accuser is. It seems there is still no real change in the disciplinary process

Left target

What is the real reason that Lee Rock has been targeted? I can only assume that it is because he has played an important role in organising the left across Sheffield and made plenty of enemies in the process. Together with former Labour NEC member, Unite’s Martin Mayer, he has set up Sheffield Labour Left List, which organises the left across all six local CLPs (this has become even more important since Momentum Sheffield has been taken over by the Lansman right). He was also a key figure campaigning for Jared O’Mara, the first Labour MP ever elected in Sheffield Hallam, transforming the local CLP in the process, which is now firmly in the hands of the left. More recently, he helped to stop the planned transformation of the district Labour Party into a mere cheerleading club for local councillors.
Now that Jared O’Mara has resigned from the party, potential candidates from the left and right are falling over each other to replace him as parliamentary candidate, with numerous rightwingers joining Momentum to look like they are pro-Corbyn (ironically O’Mara was also subject to discipline for inappropriate comments made on social media more than a decade ago, when he was in his early 20s). Maybe somebody, somewhere feared that comrade Rock might throw his hat in the ring – at least among local leftwing Labour Party members, he would be a popular choice.
This is happening all over the country. False accusations of bullying and harassment are launched just in time to stop somebody becoming a candidate or to prevent members from voting at a crucial meeting. It is old-style machine politics. For the individual concerned, however, it is deeply unpleasant and often traumatic with their personal reputation publicly tarnished or even destroyed. They might be cleared afterwards, but suspicions often remain.
We presume that Lee’s accuser is hoping that the NEC will find that he has “brought the party into disrepute”, in order that he can be expelled. This is how the Right got rid of Tony Greenstein and Marc Wadsworth, after all it’s a beautiful catch-all phrase that can cover a multitude of sins.
Nevertheless, Lee has been told that he is not suspended from membership. A change from the past and maybe a sign that Formby and Nardell are reforming the disciplinary process. However, this small step forward is almost entirely cancelled out by the very fact that there is an investigation. It clearly needs to be shut down, now, accompanied by a public apology and action taken against those who have made this vexatious complaint. Wanking at work

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