Voice of the Jewish News: Labour pains over G4S

Voice of the Jewish News: Labour pains over G4S

As if there weren’t enough concern already about the future of Israel’s relationship with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, along comes the NEC vote to boycott G4S.

A vote that for at least two days was shrouded in silence – and which continues to raise as many questions as we have answers for.

Some NEC members were unaware there would be a vote at all, while others are understood to believe the proposal was not linked to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

There was no written motion related to the security firm and its work in Israel and no party statement immediately afterwards.

Even G4S is yet to receive any formal clarification of what the vote means. But G4S was always a target of the BDS brigade and the confusion won’t stop it being yet another concern to supporters of Israel within the party and beyond.

“The vote drives a coach and horses through the Labour Party’s long-standing policy against BDS,” former NEC member Luke Akehurst said.

It may no longer have responsibility for developing party policy but the NEC is still referred to as Labour’s governing body, responsible for overseeing its overall direction and the policy process.

Some also believe the NEC may look to reassert authority over the National Policy Forum. Unite’s Jennie Formby may protest that this isn’t a boycott of Israel.

But the fact is this vote was hailed by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Labour Friends of Palestine and other activists, and will inevitably give succour to backers of the boycott and divestment campaign.

Coming on the same day that Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn insisted that delegitimisation of Israel must be confronted, it’s little wonder that community leaders are demanding clarification of the party’s policy.

It should be stressed that neither Corbyn nor deputy leader Tom Watson was present for last week’s vote, but that is even more reason why we need to see opposition to this vote – and ultimately action to review and overturn it – at the highest levels of the party.

If, that is, Benn’s words are to be put into practice.

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