JLM rejects invitation to Labour NEC anti-Semitism working group

JLM rejects invitation to Labour NEC anti-Semitism working group

Jewish left-wing group cites outstanding problems as a thorn in the side of improving relations, as it urges the party to act quickly

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn laughs next to Jennie Formby at last year's conference in Brighton.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn laughs next to Jennie Formby at last year's conference in Brighton.

The Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) has rejected an invitation to participate in an Antisemitism Working Group run by the party’s governing body, citing its mounting concerns over the handling of the crisis.

Writing to the General Secretary of the Party, Jennie Formby, the National Chair of JLM, Ivor Caplin accused Labour of embarking “on a strategy that will only antagonise tensions” with the community, after not tackling concerns head on.

Among grievances raised, includes that the working group which they were invited to, had previously been “convened by the NEC without our engagement”.

“Despite asking for permanent representation on the Working Group, this was never offered. After invitations were offered explicitly inviting JLM, these invitations were subsequently withdrawn”.

Caplin said: “despite our numerous warnings, we can only conclude that this has been done so with intent”, also mentioning the NEC’s failure to consult with JLM on the formulation of its new code for anti-Semitism, which was roundly criticised in the community.

JLM “cannot participate in good faith with the Antisemitism Working Group’s activities” unless a series of unresolved issues are given “satisfactory outcomes”.”

Issues include the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, following the NEC’s decision to adopt a modified version last month, which left out key examples of contemporary anti-Semitism, despite the community urging them not to do so.

Caplin criticised the NEC for putting together the definition “without the involvement of JLM or the wider Jewish community” accusing the governing body of holding a “belligerent position”.

JLM added they are “yet to have a formal response” from Labour regarding complaints against Peter Willsman over his remarks at the NEC, where he referred to ‘Jewish Trump supporters’, and Chris Williamson MP, over his behaviour which “continues to undo any small progress achieved”.

The letter cites the party’s ongoing probe into Labour MP Ian Austin, which they claim “has managed to recklessly and deliberately exacerbate tension”.

They add that “despite our continued offer to provide the NEC and the NCC with antisemitism awareness training, our offer has still to be taken up”, as a final reason as to why they cannot participate in the working group.

The letter concludes, they “remain of the view that the Party must act without delay to ease the considerable tension that has grown over the last few months.”

“At all points during this crisis, JLM has offered constructive advice and suggestions to overcome the challenge we now find ourselves in. Faith that the Party wishes to reciprocate in the same manner has all but disappeared.”

Meanwhile, Jewish News understands that a planned training session for the NEC has been postponed.

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