Labour activist Gerry Downing expelled from party over 9/11 comments

Mr Downing's comments were raised by David Cameron during PMQs earlier in the day

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A hard-left Labour supporter who said attacks like 9/11 should never be “condemned” has been expelled from the party, officials have said.

The comments by Gerry Downing, who had been kicked out last year for publicly supporting another party but then readmitted, were raised by David Cameron during Prime Minister’s Questions earlier on Wednesday.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn did not immediately respond but his aides later said the decision to allow Mr Downing back into the party was being reconsidered.

And then late on Wednesday a party spokeswoman told the Press Association: “Following further evidence that has come to light Gerry Downing has now been excluded from the Labour Party by the NEC panel.”


Jeremy Corbyn speaking at PMQs on Wednesday (PA)

In the exchange in the Commons, Mr Cameron told Mr Corbyn: “I was completely appalled to see yesterday that the Labour Party have readmitted someone to their party who says that the 9/11 suicide bombers, and I quote, ‘must never be condemned’, and belongs to an organisation that says ‘we defend the Islamic State [Isis] in Syria and Iraq’. 

“These are appalling views and I hope that the Leader of the Opposition will throw this person out of the party rather than welcome him in.”

The Labour MP John Woodcock then wrote to the Labour leader saying Mr Downing’s views were “sickening and bring our party into disrepute”.

“Allowing this man to be a member of the Labour Party insults the memory of those who died in the 11 September terror attacks and the British servicemen and women who gave their lives in the Afghanistan conflict that followed,” he added.

On Twitter, Mr Downing responded to a question asking “Are you seriously an apologist for 9/11 and a supporter of Daesh [Isis]?” by saying: “No, neither. I don't support bombing them by US.”

In his blog post, headlined “The social and political meaning of 9/11 conspiracy theory” and published in January, Mr Downing attacked “imperialist ideology and its ‘peace, democracy and justice’ bullshit whilst they are raining death and destruction from the skies on hundreds of thousands of the world’s poorest”. 

“One violence is that of the slave and the other is that of the slave-owner. One is progressive, no matter how distorted its actions are, and must never be ‘condemned’, imperialism is the violence that holds the whole planet, or almost the whole planet, in thrall, and that violence can never be supported by serious Marxists in any circumstances,” he wrote.

“That is the entirely understandable motivation for 9/11 and suicide bombers.”

Mr Downing told BBC News that he had been trying to explain the 9/11 bombers’ motivation and had not been “agreeing with what they were doing”.

“I don't support the politics of Isis, they are vile barbarians,” he said.

His blog was written on the Socialist Fight website. In a section called “Where We Stand”, the website says “we defend the 'Islamic State' in Syria and Iraq against the bombing of US imperialism but do not ally with them against the Kurdish defenders of Kobane and Rojava (Western Kurdistan)”.