Labour Jewish members declare party's leadership 'antisemitic' in damning vote

Jewish Labour Movement accuses Jeremy Corbyn of having condoned antisemitism and antisemites and says he is unfit to be prime minister

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Sunday 07 April 2019 16:14
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'He is one person and he won't be leader forever' Shami Chakrabarti asks Jewish Labour Movement to 'tackle racism together'

Jewish Labour members have branded the party leadership as antisemitic in a fresh blow to Jeremy Corbyn.

The Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) passed the damning motion at its annual general meeting on Sunday, accusing Mr Corbyn of having “condoned antisemitism and antisemites”.

The group said the Labour leader was “unfit to be prime minister” and that a government he led “would not be in the interests of British Jews”.

JLM is Labour’s only official Jewish affiliate and has been part of the party for almost 100 years.

One source at the meeting told The Independent the decision to approve the motion of no confidence in Mr Corbyn was “almost unanimous”.

It reads: “The leadership of the Labour Party have demonstrated that they are antisemitic, and have presided over a culture of antisemitism in which they have failed to use their personal and positional power to tackle antisemitism, and have instead used their influence to protect and defend antisemites.

“Jeremy Corbyn is directly responsible, whether through his own actions, where he appears to have condoned antisemitism and antisemites, or through his inaction to tackle the wider problem within the party.”

The motion said JLM “has no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn’s ability to understand, respond to or solve the problem” and claimed “his leadership of the Labour Party combined with his past actions and associations shows a complete disregard for the Jewish community in Britain”.

It added: “Jeremy Corbyn has not been an ally against antisemitism in the Labour Party.

“Jeremy Corbyn is therefore unfit to be prime minister and a Labour government led by him would not be in the interest of British Jews”.

The motion of no confidence in Mr Corbyn was tabled as an amendment to a wider motion on antisemitism that claimed Labour was “institutionally antisemitic” and said the party leadership had “directly intervened in disciplinary cases to exonerate members responsible for grotesque and overt antisemitism”.

It also said JLM would refuse any engagement or meeting with the leader of the opposition and his office, and that it would use its influence within “communal organisations” to whom it is affiliated to get them to adopt the same position.

It is understood that Labour MPs Dame Margaret Hodge and Ruth Smeeth were among those speaking in favour of the main motion, which was also passed with an overwhelming majority.

Last month, JLM held an emergency meeting to discuss whether it should stay affiliated to Labour. Members decided it should remain linked to the party.

Speaking hours before the latest meeting, shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti urged the group to stay in the party.

She told Sky News’s Ridge on Sunday: “My plea to the Jewish Labour Movement is to stay in the Labour movement and to tackle racism together, not to personalise it and make it about Jeremy Corbyn because he is one person and he won’t be leader forever.

“We have to make this non-factional, non-personal and work together, and that’s my plea to colleagues and comrades in the Jewish Labour Movement, who are such an important part of Labour’s history and Labour’s story.”

Margaret Hodge on Jeremy Corbyn's 'inner circle' accused of interfering in cases of antisemitism in Labour's ranks: 'What is so awful about this is that Jeremy always proclaims zero tolerance of antisemitism'

Those behind the motion of no confidence in Mr Corbyn had earlier urged Jewish Labour members to support it.

In a letter published in The Independent, they wrote: “It is often said that Corbyn has been on the right side of history. On this issue, history will show that he failed to take a side, and by doing so, effectively sided with the oppressors. You cannot compromise on racism. If you meet racism halfway, the racists win.

“Our experience as Jews in the Labour Party is testament to the fact that a Labour government led by Corbyn would not be in the interests of British Jews.

“Corbyn is seeking high office, the power of the British state, bureaucracy and its apparatus. The treatment of our community at the hands of Corbyn’s Labour Party is a warning for all minority groups. We have a duty to speak out.”

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are fully committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community and its organisations.

“Antisemitism complaints received since April 2018 relate to about 0.1 per cent of our membership, but one antisemite in our party is one too many. We are determined to tackle antisemitism and root it out of our party.”

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