Momentum set to sack vice-chair Jackie Walker after Holocaust Memorial Day comments

The move comes as Labour reportedly suspend Ms Walker from the party

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Friday 30 September 2016 22:46 BST
Jackie Walker was previously suspended from the Labour party for accusing Jewish people of ‘financing the African Holocaust’
Jackie Walker was previously suspended from the Labour party for accusing Jewish people of ‘financing the African Holocaust’

Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker is likely to be removed from her post on Monday, following comments she made about Holocaust Memorial Day and antisemitism.

The Independent understands that Ms Walker does not have the support of Momentum’s ruling steering committee and is likely to be removed from her post when it meets first thing next week.

The activist has resisted calls to quit after she questioned the definition of antisemitism and criticised Holocaust Memorial Day at an event in Liverpool this week.

However, Ms Walker is understood to have been suspended from the Labour party over the comments, according to reports on Friday night. While Labour said it did not comment on individual party memberships, the Press Association said it is understood Ms Walker has now been suspended.

“In terms of Holocaust Day, wouldn’t it be wonderful if Holocaust Day was open to all people who experienced Holocaust?” she said at a training workshop on dealing with antisemitism at Momentum’s conference.

A number of people in the room immediately spoke out against Ms Walker’s comments and told her that Holocaust Memorial Day already included commemoration of other genocides. She responded: “In practice, it’s not actually circulated and advertised as such.”

She added: “I still haven’t heard a definition of antisemitism that I can work with.”

Barbara Ntumy, a Momentum activist, said the comments were “completely inappropriate and out of order”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a Momentum event at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in central London. (PA)

“I think the Labour party and Momentum will deal with her properly, I do think her comments are vile,” she told the BBC’s Daily Politics programme on Friday.

“I think that those comments are not acceptable in that room, they’re not acceptable anywhere, and I don’t agree with her at all.”

She added that Momentum and Labour should continue to “denounce people when they make comments like this – which I think is completely appropriate and out of order”.

Momentum supporters gather at Liverpool’s Black-E building for their fringe festival of politics (Getty)

Those comments come after the TSSA union threatened to withdraw funding and support to Momentum if Ms Walker is not removed from her position.

“I am deeply saddened that a fellow member of our Labour and trade union family holds such anti-Semitic views,” said Manuel Cortes, the general secretary of the TSSA.

“Jeremy rightly spoke yesterday of the urgent need for our party to unite so we can take on the Tories. Frankly, we can’t do this when people who hold such abhorrent racist views are allowed to remain active within our Party.

“I am asking Jackie that in the interests of unity she resigns at once from our Party and also as vice-chair of Momentum.

“If she doesn’t, both the Labour Party and Momentum need to act to get rid of her at once. Furthermore, TSSA will reconsider our union’s support for Momentum if she is still in post by this time next week.”

In a statement Ms Walker said: “In the session, a number of Jewish people, including me, asked for definitions of antisemitism. This is a subject of much debate in the Jewish community. I support David Schneider’s definition and utterly condemn antisemitism.

“I would never play down the significance of the Shoah. Working with many Jewish comrades, I continue to seek to bring greater awareness of other genocides, which are too often forgotten or minimised.

“If offence has been caused, it is the last thing I would want to do and I apologise.”

Ms Walker was previously suspended from Labour after she said Jewish people had financed the African slave trade.

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