‘Antisemitism denier’ elected to Labour’s disciplinary body

‘Antisemitism denier’ elected to Labour’s disciplinary body

Stephen Marks of the Corbynista Jewish Voice for Labour believes that antisemitism allegations 'are part of a wider campaign against the Labour leadership'

Joe Millis is a journalist

Activists outside a meeting of the Labour National Executive Committee. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Activists outside a meeting of the Labour National Executive Committee. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Community leaders have reacted furiously to the election this week to Labour’s top disciplinary body of a man who said party members alleging antisemitism within the party should be suspended.

Stephen Marks, of the fringe Corbynite Jewish Voice for Labour and the so-called Labour Against the Witch-Hunt, will deal with cases of alleged antisemitism on the party’s National Constitutional Committee (NCC).

In April 2016, Marks co-signed a letter in the Guardian along with other Jewish Labour members, which said: “Of the examples that have been repeated in the media, many have been reported inaccurately, some are trivial, and a very few may be genuine examples of antisemitism.

The letter added: “We believe these accusations are part of a wider campaign against the Labour leadership, and they have been timed particularly to do damage to the Labour party and its prospects in elections.”

Board of Deputies Vice President Amanda Bowman condemned Marks’ election, saying: “The election of antisemitism-denier Stephen Marks to Labour’s National Constitution Committee seems to be part of a concerted effort to make Labour’s disciplinary process less and less credible and more and more open to claims of partiality and corruption.

“At a time when there should be attempts to restore confidence, we are increasingly forced to conclude that we should have no confidence in Labour’s disciplinary process, and that we will have to increasingly look outside the party for justice on antisemitism.”

Jackie Walker (right) with Tony Greenstein (left) in front of a Momentum banner outside the Labour Party’s HQ

Last month, a spokesperson for the Jewish Labour Movement told Jewish News: “People who deny that antisemitism exists within Labour, or suggest that it’s a conspiracy to smear the leadership have no part to play in the disciplinary process.

“Factional interests shouldn’t trump institutionalising denial by endorsing such people with these views onto the NCC. All members of the NCC must uphold the decision to endorse the full IHRA definition of antisemitism as a commitment to ridding antisemitism from the Party.”

Marks has also written in support of suspended Corbynista Jackie Walker and has accused the Board of Deputies of being behind “imagined” claims of antisemitism in Labour.

Miriam Mirwitch, chair of Young Labour, and a member of the Jewish Labour Movement, tweeted: “A supporter of Labour Against the Witchhunt who compared Jewish community calls for stronger processes tackling antisemitism to ‘the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia in 1914… designed to provide a pretext for… [WW1]’ will now be judging disciplinary cases on the NCC.

“If we’re truly fighting to win back the trust of the Jewish community, this is absolutely not the way to go about it.”

However, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi of the JVL told Jewish News that her organisation was “delighted that the NCC now has a larger pool of members to draw upon when handling discipline cases.
“Stephen Marks will be able to contribute considerable expertise and experience to the deliberations of any panel he participates in. Like all other NCC members, he will abide by whatever rules apply to this important role.”
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