Labour’s London Region advised the party’s West Ham constituency to cancel its general meeting for the first time in living memory after a motion deriding the “hysteria” over antisemitism was submitted.
The West Ham Constituency Labour Party (CLP) meeting, due to be held on Thursday evening, had been due to vote on a motion submitted by the postal engineering branch of the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU).
That motion “refutes the allegation that Labour is antisemitic” and “rejects the current atmosphere of hysteria, denunciation and rush-to-judgement over antisemitism that is now being stoked by certain existing and ex-Labour MPs.”
Referencing a “fevered” atmosphere, the motion states that “some of our most prominent anti-racist activists are being unjustly accused of antisemitism, including our leader, Jeremy Corbyn,” adding: “Disciplinary action is being taken against members of longstanding before they are given a chance to respond.”
The motion continues: “This relentless focus on antisemitism is diverting the public’s attention… and side-lining other forms of racism,” adding that allegations of bullying are “a cynical tactic by those Labour MPs who have become unpopular with their local members because they are unwilling to democratically represent them”.
Other motions the General Meeting had been due to vote on was one from Canning Town North proposing support for the Jewish Labour Movement, while another from Unison’s Waltham Forest Branch which “reaffirms the CLP’s implacable hostility to all forms of racism”.
The furore over this week’s cancellation stems in large part from last month’s West Ham CLP meeting, at which a speaker referred to “false claims” of antisemitism, drawing applause from some and disgust from others.
In her letter to CLP members this week, chair Josephine Grahl said it was “with regret” that the General Committee meeting had been cancelled, in part owing to what happened at the last meeting.
Referring to the motions submitted, Grahl said: “If we simply debate these we are in danger of repeating the events of February, rather than moving forward in a more positive manner.”
She said that advice had been taken from Hazel Flynn, the regional director of the London Labour Party, and that “she suggested we cancel or postpone… She is willing to attend a future meeting to help us through this difficult period”.