On July 5th, Labour’s NEC voted to approve a new guideline defining antisemitism and codifying how Labour should deal with incidents of Antisemitism. Jon Lansman, in an article in the Guardian describes it as a gold standard, however some inside and outside the Labour Party object in that the Labour Party has followed the advice of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee on antisemitism in that while confirming its commitment to the International Holocaust Remembrance Association’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, it has ensured both that free speech rights on Israel and Palestine are defended and that the Macpherson principle is correctly adopted. This has involved the modification of four of the IHRA examples. Brian Klug, again in the Guardian, examines the Code in detail and concludes that, “Labour’s code in fact enhances the IHRA document.”

The Jewish Labour Movement supported by several/many of Labour’s MPs consider the failure to adopt all 11 examples as failure of commitment and are considering legal action. It is reported that  Louise Ellman & Ruth Smeeth plan to move a motion at the PLP meeting tonight calling on Labour to adopt the IHRA definition in full, including the 11 examples several of which are felt by many, including the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee to inhibit legitimate political discussion of the Israeli Government’s actions, and the wider issues of justice in Palestine.

Ealing Momentum, as reported in the Swawkbox have written an open letter to their MPs calling on them to support the NEC and not to support such an emergency motion.

I have written to my MP asking her to do the same, and I have reproduced the Ealing Momentum words immediately below/overleaf.

ooOOOoo

 

Open Letter to Labour MPs – Unite Behind the Labour Party’s ‘Code of Conduct for Antisemitism’

As Labour members, it is with regret and concern that we note there is an “emergency” motion to be debated at a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) on Monday, July 23rd, the aim of which is to adopt a variation on the definition of antisemitism from that agreed under the NEC’s ‘Code of Conduct for Antisemitism’.

You will be aware that the NEC’s ‘Code of Conduct for Antisemitism’ fully incorporates the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, while clarifying the controversial aspects of guidance notes attached to it, and that the Code states emphatically that “Labour is an anti-racist party. Antisemitism is racism. It is unacceptable in our party and in wider society”. You will also be aware that the NEC has agreed that the Anti-Semitism Working Group will reconvene at a later date, to review the Code.

We note and agree with the article by leading authority on antisemitism Brian Klug, ‘Labour’s code of conduct isn’t antisemitic – it’s a constructive initiative’, published in The Guardian on July 20th, and in particular the key passage:

“The bottom line is this: critics maintain that Labour (or anyone else) has to adopt the IHRA document ‘in full.’ But the text is not written in stone. It is a working definition with working examples. It is a living document, subject to revision and constantly needing to be adapted to the different contexts in which people apply its definition.

“This is the spirit in which the drafters of Labour’s code have approached their task. Not all of the changes they have made are necessarily for the better. But people of goodwill who genuinely want to solve the conundrum – combating antisemitism while protecting free political speech – should welcome the code as a constructive initiative, and criticise it constructively.”

We further note that the PLP has previously had the opportunity to express its view to the NEC on this matter and that the NEC decided no further change was required ahead of its adoption of the Code. The PLP does not have authority over the NEC or, for that matter, over the members of the Labour Party – many hundreds of thousands of whom rightly expect the Party to be focusing its energy and resources on challenging the Conservatives and a Government in obvious disarray.

The actions of some members of the PLP in bringing this “emergency” motion are therefore unacceptable, out of step with the expectations of the party membership, and risk damaging the reputation of the Party in the eyes of an electorate which is, according to recent polls, ready to vote for a Labour government.

It is our view that the “emergency” motion to be debated at the PLP meeting is nothing more than part of a wider concerted attack on the Party’s leadership and an attempt to impugn the integrity of our twice democratically elected leader, rather than it reflecting any genuine concern over the spirit or intent of the NEC’s ‘Code of Conduct for Antisemitism’.

We call on you, the MPs for Ealing Central and Acton, Ealing North and Ealing Southall respectively, not to support the “emergency” motion to be debated at the PLP meeting on Monday night. Further, we call on you to:

  • Unreservedly condemn the comments reportedly made by Margaret Hodge MP to the Leader of the Labour Party on July 17th, “You’re a f****** antisemite and a racist …You have proved you don’t want people like me in the party.”
  • Welcome the NEC’s adoption of the ‘Code of Conduct for Antisemitism’ so that we can focus on the task of electing a Labour government.
  • Recognise that there may be further consultation on and/or changes to the Code but ask the NEC to ensure that any further changes will continue to protect free speech on the political debate over Israel and Palestine.

Yours,

#EL4C (@EL4JC)

 

Labour & antisemitism
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One thought on “Labour & antisemitism

  • 26th July 2018 at 9:10 am
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    The motion was not taken on Monday, but will be on the order paper in September.

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