The chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, Jonathan Goldstein, has confirmed that he received a text message from the Labour Party general secretary, Jennie Formby, last week, asking to speak to him.
Goldstein told Jewish News he had received a text from Formby, a close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, last week, asking to speak to him. “I called her back out of courtesy,” he said.
But he said that he told Formby that he was unprepared to have meetings with senior Labour leaders, as there had been no movement from Corbyn on the issue of antisemitism in the Labour Party since the JLC and Board of Deputies met him on 24 April last year.
Goldstein refused to comment on any discussion that Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl had had with Formby.
He said that the Labour official had told him that she “appreciated my frankness, and that she understood my position.”
The JLC chair told Jewish News: “I am a big believer in collaboration and communal unity, and it is important for that to continue”.
Referring to an earlier meeting that president Marie van der Zyl held with Formby, the Board president said: “The meeting with Jennie Formby was part of the Board of Deputies’ consistent approach, to directly challenge those we do not agree with, whether within Labour or the Hungarian government. Our belief is that you cannot win the argument if you refuse even to have it. I used the brief meeting with Jennie Formby to keep the pressure up on Labour, in particular over the issue of disciplinary cases, which I told her should be open and transparent. I also spoke about the need to resolve the long backlog of unresolved cases which are still piling up. I made a further request for an update about Labour’s plans for education on antisemitism for party members and insisted that this be presented out by the Jewish Labour Movement.”