The chair of the Jewish Labour Movement has said it would be “irresponsible folly” for his organisation to disaffiliate from the party.
Ivor Caplin is facing a challenge to his leadership from current vice-chair Mike Katz, who has suggested JLM has failed to listen to its membership over recent months, and Colin Appleby, who is pressing for disaffiliation.
Members overwhelmingly voted to remain two weeks ago, but the issue is expected to return to the agenda at the AGM next month. He plans to present a series of proposals for how JLM can move forward as an affiliate at the annual meeting.
“I believe in staying affiliated – no ifs and no buts,” Caplin said. “Wiping away 99 years of history would be an irresponsible folly. “ He also rejected suggestions that JLM should cease campaigning for candidates, saying: “There are those who have shown considerable friendship and I wouldn’t want us to be that sort of organisation.”
He declined to comment on whether the issue could be solved while Corbyn remains at the helm, saying only “we have to deal with the reality where we are today.” But he said: “I would like to see everyone who has a complaint of antisemitism against them immediately expelled. That would be the first step the party could take on the long ladder to rebuilding trust with the Jewish community and the wider public who are rightly appalled at the fact the party haven’t deal t with antisemitism.
“For me personally I’ve been in party for best part of 35 years. I’ve always fought those on the hard left locally and nationally and have no intention of going anywhere. I want the party to deal with the issues and that means effective leadership to show we can be a party of government. That isn’t happening now.”
But he strongly rejected any suggestion he had not been forceful enough in standing up to the leadership, pointing to “real results” including how he had consistently pressed Jennie Formby and John McDonnell to withdraw the whip from Chris Williamson for his “Jew-baiting, vile behaviour. I believe if you act properly you get results and if you shout from outside you don’t,” he said.
He said he wasn’t afraid of the competition for chair but claimed it would have been “right and proper” for Katz to tell him of his plans to stand given the fact he’d offered him time away from JLM to fight for the Hendon seat in Parliament.
Supporters of the Katz bid told Jewish News last week his platform would include cutting back on its support for the party including possibly by ending such campaigning – while still keeping the possibility of disaffiliation on the table. In a mission statement, Katz said there was an “institutional” crisis “of leadership and culture, as much as policies and processes.
“We need to be resolute under pressure, pursuing an approach which is true to our values and our independence as a Movement. I’m sure this will mean making tough decisions on how we engage and work with the party at all levels.” He said JLM had failed to listen to members “and we need change”. Supporters of the Katz bid told Jewish News his platform would include cutting back on its support for the party including possibly by ending such campaigning – while still keeping the possibility of disaffiliation on the table.
Appleby said: “We need a chair that promises to withdraw support from the Labour party. No campaigning for candidates in elections; elected representatives resigning the whip; clear signals that enough really is enough.”