Momentum this week backed a far-left member of Jewish Voice for Labour to take a seat on the party’s highest disciplinary panel, paving the way for him to have a role deciding antisemitism cases.
The movement that helped propel Jeremy Corbyn to the Labour leadership, threw its weight behind a list of candidates for the Labour National Constitutional Committee elections, which decides on disciplinary cases, including alleged antisemitism.
Among the seven candidates backed on the list was Stephen Marks, a member of JVL, who has in the past played down the extent of antisemitism in the party.
In April 2016, 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”
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. Factional interests shouldn’t trump institutionalising denial by endorsing such people with these views onto the NCC. 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 CLPD (Campaign for Labour Party Democracy), whose secretary Pete Willsman caused anger when he was recorded ranting about Jewish “Trump fanatics” earlier this year. He referred himself for equalities training.
Jewish Voice for Labour have vocally opposed the party’s adoption of the IHRA definition. Its media officer, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, told Jewish News: “There is no truth in the charge that members of JVL deny the existence of antisemitism within the party. On the contrary, we argue against the debasement of the term 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. “