Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, posing with G4S staff

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, posing with G4S staff

LABOUR’S GOVERNING body is to strike any reference to Israel from the minutes of a controversial debate to boycott G4S, writes Justin Cohen.

With only around half of its members present, the national executive committee voted last November to sever ties with the company, which had provided security for the party’s conference for more than a decade. 

The vote was later rejected by a group overseeing the organisation of the conference because it would only leave one company to tender, inevitably forcing up costs. 

Minutes from the original NEC meeting made it clear G4S “has been told it cannot tender to provide conference security because of its work in Israel”, Hilik Bar, who is also deputy speaker of the Knesset, told UK Labour General Secretary Iain McNicol in a letter. The party has had a long-standing position against boycotts and ahead of the next NEC meeting on Tuesday, Bar urged all members to either reverse the decision or “make it clear it was not taken because of G4S’ work in Israel”. 

But Jewish News understands that, following a recommendation from one NEC member, the minutes will be altered to exclude any mention of Israel. 

Instead it will say the decision relates to “a number of concerns about G4S contracts”. It’s understood she pointed out that the original discussion had focused on more than just Israel. 

The issue returned to the NEC as G4S hit the headlines for allegations of assault and the use of foul language at a youth offenders centre run by the company.

A Labour source said: “The initial vote was taken without many people on the NEC understanding the implications of what they were voting on. It’s clear there are a group of people in the NEC that have problems with G4S for UK-related reasons but were distressed to discover the vote was recorded as being related to Israel.”

It’s not known whether the matter will be discussed but it’s understood that some members who are against boycotts are still in favour of dropping G4S over other unconnected controversies in which the company is embroiled. 

Before the meeting, Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East chair Grahame Morris has written to Jeremy Corbyn backing the move not to renew the contract “because of that company’s activities in the UK and around the globe”.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “There is no pre-existing contract for 2016 annual conference and decisions about future contracts are continually reviewed.”