JLM chair facing leadership challenge amid fresh calls to sever Labour ties
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JLM chair facing leadership challenge amid fresh calls to sever Labour ties

Ivor Caplin is standing for a second term as chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, as Mike Katz and Colin Appleby throw hats into the ring

Justin Cohen is the News Editor at the Jewish News

Gordon Brown speaking at JLM's One Day Conference, where he sounded a warning against antisemitism
Gordon Brown speaking at JLM's One Day Conference, where he sounded a warning against antisemitism

The chair of the Jewish Labour Movement is to face a challenge to his leadership from multiple sources ahead of a likely new vote on disaffiliating from the party.

Ivor Caplin has confirmed he intends to stand for a second term but sources have indicated vice-chair Mike Katz will launch a challenge within days. Colin Appleby, who left Labour after the last party conference, told Jewish News he will also stand for the top job.

It comes just a week after the group’s members voted overwhelmingly not to end its 99-year affiliation to Labour after pleas from leading Jewish MPs. However, several JLM members have indicated they would be “surprised” if the group’s forthcoming AGM next month does not revisit the idea of disaffiliation.

The challenge to Caplin comes amid “frustration, disquiet and disappointment” within JLM over his performance in the face of the antisemitism crisis over recent months, according to one member who said he hadn’t been strong enough in standing up to the leadership.

He had faced criticism after appearing to reject claims Corbyn could be called anti-Semitic in a radio interview. He previously provoked anger by meeting General Secretary Jennie Formby alone without consulting colleagues. There was also concern about his understanding of the community when he strongly criticised Holocaust academic Deborah Lipstadt decision to speak out on antisemitism in Labour – for which he later apologised.

JLM organised more than 50 campaigning days in support of Labour candidates at the last election. 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 described Caplin as a “problem” who isn’t sufficiently standing up to the leadership.

He too backed an immediate “strike” involving the withdrawal of all active support for Labour, but would also push for disaffiliation. “JLM no longer has a seat at the table,” he said. “That much is clear. The Leader of the Opposition’s Office don’t care about anything we say. They may cheer if we leave, some certainly will, but frankly I don’t see what there is to be gained from staying.”

One senior JLM figure said any vote would be likely to be far more close than the last following revelations key aides to Jeremy Corbyn had intervened in disciplinary cases to encourage the lifting of suspensions. It was also revealed Labour has committed itself to a new antisemitism training course, apparently side-lining a programme developed by JLM and delivered by the organisation across the country for the last three years.

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