Momentum-backed JVL candidate for NEC defended Jackie Walker, opposed IHRA
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Momentum-backed JVL candidate for NEC defended Jackie Walker, opposed IHRA

New revelations emerge about left-wing Labour NEC hopeful Stephen Marks, who signed petitions defending other controversial activists

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Jackie Walker (right) with Tony Greenstein (left) in front of a Momentum banner outside the Labour Party's HQ
Jackie Walker (right) with Tony Greenstein (left) in front of a Momentum banner outside the Labour Party's HQ

Momentum has backed a member of Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) who played down the extent of antisemitism in the party and spoke up for Jackie Walker, in his bid to win a seat on the party’s highest disciplinary panel.

The movement which helped propel Jeremy Corbyn to the Labour leadership, threw its weight behind a list of candidates for the Labour National Constitutional Committee (NCC), which decides on disciplinary cases, including alleged antisemitism and bringing the party into disrepute. .

In April 2016, Stephen Marks co-signed a letter in The Guardian along with other Jewish Labour members, which said: “Of the examples that have been repeated in the media, many have been reported inaccurately, some are trivial, and a very few may be genuine examples of antisemitism.”

The letter added: “We believe these accusations are part of a wider campaign against the Labour leadership, and they have been timed particularly to do damage to the Labour party and its prospects in elections.”

Last year, the Red Roar website reported, Marks expressed support for Walker after she was suspended from the Labour Party.

Last year, he suggested that those who reported another member suspended for allegedly sharing claims on social media suggesting Islamic State had used weapons made in Israel should themselves face an investigation.

In July, he signed an open letter convened by the Independent Jewish Voices group condemning demands for Labour’s adoption of the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism as “beyond the boundaries of acceptable political discourse”.

A spokesperson for the Jewish Labour Movement told Jewish News: “People who deny that antisemitism exists within Labour, or suggest that it’s a conspiracy to smear the leadership have no part to play in the disciplinary process.

“All members of the NCC must uphold the decision to endorse the full IHRA definition of antisemitism as a commitment to ridding antisemitism from the Party.”

The proposal for Marks is jointly backed by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, whose secretary Pete Willsman caused anger when he was recorded ranting about Jewish “Trump fanatics” earlier this year.

JVL has opposed the party’s adoption of the IHRA definition, with all examples, but its media officer, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, told Jewish News: “We argue against the debasement of the term [antisemitism] because it is endangering the fight against real hostility towards Jews as Jews.

“Someone who shares our views is well qualified to apply the principles required of an NCC member in adjudicating disciplinary cases.”

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