Gerry Downing vs the Jewish Chronicle: The IPSO judgemnent

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22/06/2021 by socialistfight

On November 4 2020 the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) found against the Jewish Chronicle (JC) and obliged them to print the retraction shown here, No. 24 in their Decision of the Complaints Committee 01735-20 Downing v The Jewish Chronicle. It appeared on page 4 of the JC of 4/11/20 who also published it online.

“24. Date complaint received: 13/03/2020

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 04/11/2020”

A few points of clarification needed

In point 6 of the IPSO Summary of Complaint we find the following:

“The newspaper initially suggested that the reference to “sickening comments” came from comments by David Cameron in the House of Commons. It later accepted that Mr Cameron had not referred to claims of antisemitism in his comments about the complainant, and suggested instead that the comments were made by an MP in the House of Commons. It later said that these comments came from a letter from the MP to Jeremy Corbyn MP, then Leader of the Labour Party. It provided a copy of this letter, however the letter received by IPSO did not feature or reference comments about Jews and instead appeared to refer to the complainant’s previous disclosures on the September 11 attacks.”

But this does not say who this MP was. The MP referred to as was John Woodcock. He was a Labour MP at the time of David Cameron’s statement about Gerald Downing in the House of Commons as recorded in Hansard on 9.3.16.

On 18 July 2018, Woodcock, now ennobled as Lord Walney on Boris Johnson’s nomination, resigned from the Labour Party to avoid answering charges of sexual abuse, and sat as an Independent MP for the remainder of the term.

In late April 2020, Woodcock was named as part of a consortium, led by Sir Robbie Gibb, Theresa May’s director of communications when she was the prime minister, and including born-again rightist William Shawcross (son of Sir Hartley Shawcross post-war Labour humourists dubbed him Sir Shortly Floorcross’, thinking he would defect from Labour to the Tories in 1951) and John Ware, who infamously directed the Panorama investigation (witch-hunt!) into allegations of antisemitism in the Labour party, who purchased The Jewish Chronicle.

On 13 March I had put in my complaint to the IPSO about the article. So, the false allegations about the statement by David Cameron and the “MP”  in the House of Commons and the letter to Jeremy Corbyn originated from a man who was that MP and was subsequently part of the consortium that owned the Jewish Chronicle at that time.

In point 2 of the IPSO Summary of Complaint we find the following:

“The article went on to report that the complainant “was thrown out of Labour in 2016 over his involvement with the Socialist Fight group which has published articles including one that was headlined “Marxists must address the Jewish Question” and another that referred to a “world Jewish-Zionist Bourgeoisie”.”

On the implication that “Marxists must address the Jewish Question” agrees with Nazi terminology and so can be regarded as an anti-Semitic trope I make the following defence:

The defence of the Jewish Chronicle in exchanges with the IPSO and Gerald Downing is in the form of an attack on me for my political and philosophical beliefs as a Marxist. The law against discrimination because of religion or belief does not cover purely political beliefs unless they are also philosophical beliefs. In defence of this I would draw attention to Karl Marx’s 1843 article seeking real Jewish liberation, On the Jewish Question, where he rejects Bruno Bauer’s earlier article, The Jewish Question, which asserts that to achieve liberation Jews must abandon their religion.

Chapter 2 of Theodor Hertzl’s 1896 pamphlet, Der Judenstaat, (The Jewish State) is entitled, The Jewish Question.

In more modern time I would cite the work of Abram Leon, who was a Belgian Jewish Trotskyist party leader and theorist, The Jewish Question, A Marxist Interpretation. It was written in 1942 prior to Leon’s murder by the Nazis in the Auschwitz death camp in 1943.

On the question of the Jewish Zionist bourgeoisie we repudiated that term in an internal struggle in early 2020. The following extract makes this abundantly clear:

“Nietzsche died when Hitler was only 10 so he could not influence him (Hitler). Jesus Christ and Mohammed are dead two millennia and a millennium and a half ago, but they still seem to influence people. How very strange! And the “attempt at appropriation after death” suggests Trotsky failed to understand the great man (Nietzsche) and Hitler and Mussolini were fooled by his sister but we Marxists must appreciate this ultra-reactionary, irrationalist philosopher.

And his repulsive, fascistic ideas are just “strange”, not what they really are. Those who are impressed by Nietzsche may be bogus leftist academics who are supine capitulators to a right-moving capitalist establishment. Or they may be committed KKK or Nazi supporters. Or simply very foolish people who imagine themselves leftist because anyone who hates the “Jewish Zionist bourgeoisie” must be right. Or should I have said ‘correct’?” [1]

It is therefore disingenuous and false to suggest that my use of the term the Jewish Question was an endorsement of the Nazi’s use of the term. The above extract from Socialist Fight shows I have no truck with whatsoever with Nazism and people who imply it is somehow better than Zionism, as this issue makes clear. Mine is the standard Marxist reference to this question, as in The National Question or The Irish Question, etc.

These are major political and philosophical differences, but debate and comment must nevertheless be conducted in a manner that is both truthful, fair and complies with the law.


[1] Crisis in Socialist Fight By Gerry Downing,   3-2-20,

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