JLM dismisses Corbyn antisemitism reform as ‘rearranging the deckchairs’

JLM dismisses Corbyn antisemitism reform as ‘rearranging the deckchairs’

Labour leader's proposal to allow the NEC to be able to summarily expel members guilty of flagrant Jew-hate gets support of shadow cabinet, but community group remains unconvinced

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo credit: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo credit: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

The shadow cabinet has signed up to Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to reform the handling of antisemitism complaints in the Labour Party, ahead of a meeting of the National Executive Committee on Tuesday.

Corbyn’s proposal – one of several put forward – is that Labour’s general-secretary alongside a panel of NEC officers could summarily expel members guilty of flagrant antisemitism.

At present, only Labour’s National Constitutional Committee (NCC) has the power to expel members, but there is currently a backlog of cases awaiting an NCC hearing, leading to calls for an entirely new approach.

The Labour leader, who has been accused of a lack of leadership over the antisemitism crisis, also suggested a more “independent” process, but the Party-affiliated Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) said the suggestions still do not render the process independent enough.

Corbyn and deputy leader Tom Watson have been publicly at odds over the issue for weeks but Labour’s top team all signed up to a joint statement on Monday, proposing reform to a Party process long considered ineffective.

In a statement issued on Monday evening, they said they were “committed to defeating antisemitism” and commended general-secretary Jennie Formby for improving the complaints and disciplinary processes within the party.

“As part of tackling antisemitism, the shadow cabinet has today supported the proposal for summary exclusion outlined by the Labour leader, which he will put to the NEC tomorrow,” they said.

“The shadow cabinet also supports the proposal to introduce independent oversight of our processes, and will continue to seek to engage with Jewish community organisations to build confidence.”

Corbyn wants any complaint that meets the criteria for the most serious of cases to be referred to a special panel consisting of the general-secretary and NEC officers. If that panel is satisfied that the criteria are met, they would have the power to expel the member.

Responding to new proposals and figures on Labour antisemitism, JLM chair Mike Katz said: “We can’t have any confidence in these new proposals. This is just rearranging the deckchairs.”

He said the NEC “is elected on factional slates on the basis of political patronage” with “an in-built majority for the left which does what the leadership of the Party tells it to”.

He added: “We know we can’t rely on the NEC to make decisions in the interest of Jewish members. It’s failed for years to guard against factional and political interference.

“Nothing short of a fully independent process… is even going to begin to suggest that the Party leadership really cares about tackling institutional anti-Jewish racism.”

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting commented: “What the Shadow Cabinet agreed bears so little resemblance to what the Board of Deputies asked for that it’s difficult to believe they’ve truly understood the scale of the challenge or the lack of trust that exists in the Labour Party’s ability to resolve cases internally. At PLP we heard case after case of the most appalling antisemitic language that has still not resulted in expulsions.”

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