Mike Katz has won the election to become the next chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, has stated that solidarity is a two-way street.
He told Jewish News: “We are being really clear about how solidarity with MPs, councillors, MSPs etc is a two-way street. If they are clear, consistent and strong in backing us, we will be clear, consistent and strong in backing them.”
Katz, who is understood to have beaten incumbent national chair former MP and minister Ivor Caplin decisively, said that JLM was now “working to rule” and that the party leadership was on “a final warning. No more second chances”.
After JLM almost unanimously passed a motion of no confidence, Katz said: “We have made it clear what we think about the leader; we have made it clear what we think about the leadership.”
— Jewish Labour Movement (@JewishLabour) April 7, 2019
In a call to other Labour MPs, councillors and members, Katz – who was narrowly defeated by Matthew Offord for the Hendon seat in the 2017 general election -added: “We have made it clear that we will back you if you have our back and you are not going to mug us over again and again and again.
“You are not going to call me some kind of ‘Red Tory’ or an enabler of antisemitism. You are not going to call us ‘Red Tories’ or enablers of antisemitism. But what we will be is holding on to our beliefs as strong, socialist, Jewish Zionists.”
Katz, who also beat Colin Appleby – a supporter of disaffiliation from Labour – to the post told JN: “Our first step has to be that we are really clear with the party. Don’t take us for granted ever again. We are very serious about keeping all options on the table, including the question of affiliation.”
In elections where younger members of the community saw off challenges from some of the old guard, Stoke MP Ruth Smeeth took up the position of parliamentary chair after Luciana Berger was hounded out of the party due to antisemitic abuse.
Smeeth told JN: “My full focus is making clear that Luciana did not leave in vain. It brought everything home to us when Luciana left, but we stay on our own terms and we stay to fight.
“I told Jeremy Corbyn that I thoroughly resent being the ‘Labour Jew’, because I wasn’t when I got elected. But they will rue the day when they did that. Every day I will be pestering him about this issue.
“This is a battle that must be fought, and I have never walked away from a fight.”
Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl congratulated Mike Katz and Ruth Smeeth on their elections, saying she “look[s] forward to working with them to defeat the scourge of antisemitism within Labour and beyond. We thank Ivor Caplin and Luciana Berger for what we know will be their ongoing service to the cause.”