Labour to debate revised proposals to speed up antisemitism cases…on Shabbat

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Labour to debate revised proposals to speed up antisemitism cases…on Shabbat

Jewish Labour Movement reacts with anger after a debate on tackling Jew-hate in the party is to be discussed on a Saturday

Justin Cohen is the News Editor at the Jewish News

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn giving his keynote speech at the party's annual conference in 2018 .Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn giving his keynote speech at the party's annual conference in 2018 .Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Revised proposals to speed up the way antisemitism cases are dealt with by Labour are to be debated on Shabbat at the party’s annual conference.

Jeremy Corbyn proposed in July to give new powers to the party’s general secretary and and a small group of NEC officers to expel members guilty of flagrant antisemitism – something that only the national constitutional committee could previously do.

But the suggestions were criticised by the JLM for giving control to a few “nodding” individuals close to the leadership, while a community source said they were “the polar opposite of the independent” process leaders have long demanded amid evidence of interventions by allies of the leadership. Jewish News revealed today that major community organisations and the Jewish Labour Movement had not been consulted over the summer.

The proposals returned to the NEC today but afterwards a Labour spokesmen made no specific mention of the general secretary or officers of the NEC.

Instead, it’s understood panels made up of NEC members – which meet more regularly than the NCC – would have the power the expel members. The NEC panels, which are advised by barristers, will have the power to expel in serious cases where there is clear documentary evidence, such as social media posts or videos. Cases where there isn’t documentary evidence would still involve a hearing of the NCC.

Currently, the National Constitutional Committee is the only body with the power to expel in disciplinary cases, but a backlog of cases that have yet to be concluded have built up.

Jewish News can reveal a timetable for the conference lists the ‘rule change debate’, which will include a vote on the new disciplinary proposals, for this Saturday, which could prevent Orthodox delegates from taking part.

The proposals fall well short of the independent process that MPs and community leaders demanded amid evidence of interference by allies of the leadership. The leadership still enjoy a majority on the NEC from which three-person panels will be selected.

Labour sources indicated in July that it would look at options for independent oversight of the disciplinary process – but Labour’s statement after the NEC made no mention of any new proposals on that.

A Labour spokesman said: “The vast majority of Labour members are motivated by equality, justice and fairness. The Party has taken decisive and robust disciplinary action following complaints about a small minority of Party members. Jeremy Corbyn’s reforms, supported by the NEC, would further speed up these processes.”

A Jewish Labour Movement spokesperson said: “Time and again, the Party leadership and the NEC have demonstrated a complete failure in both judgement and commitment to tackle antisemitism. With a statutory investigation by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission well underway, this is the latest example of institutional failing.”

We have learnt tonight from press reports that the Party wishes to make sweeping changes to the disciplinary rules on antisemitism, without consulting us, its only Jewish affiliate, or any communal organisation. To add insult to injury, they will debate these changes at conference on the Jewish Sabbath, when religiously observant Jewish Labour delegates will be silenced, unable to participate in the debate.”

The Jewish community has zero confidence that proposals to hand the NEC more powers on disciplinary matters will solve this crisis. There have been countless examples of NEC members either engaging in antisemitism or turning a blind eye to it. It will simply streamline the process of letting antisemites off the hook.”

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