With great reluctance, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has just passed a motion allowing greater sanctions against antisemites in its ranks.
However, this welcome change will prove meaningless unless the Party rejects those parts of the whitewash Chakrabarti report that allow for a veil of secrecy to be drawn over all disciplinary proceedings: at present, the Labour party can decide in secret that its members are not antisemitic, and if that is allowed to continue, then all the definitions and penalties in all the world will not improve its record on tackling Jew-hatred.
Earlier today we released research showing that antisemitism amongst Labour officials is eight times higher than in any other party, which follows the revelation by a senior MP that as many as 5,000 cases are awaiting decisions by its compliance unit. Today has also seen Brighton’s Labour Council leader write to inform the Party that it may be evicted from holding the Conference in Brighton Centre in future over antisemitism, and the CEO of the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission has said that Labour antisemitism is now so bad that the Party must prove that it is not racist. The day has been peppered with highly concerning news from the conference floor, including Jewish delegates saying that they feel extremely uncomfortable and unwelcome.
We call on Labour, and all political parties, to adopt our Manifesto for fighting Antisemitism in Political Parties, which sets out rules by which they can deal swiftly, transparently and effectively with antisemitism in their ranks.
The Labour Party must also respect the right of British Jews to define what antisemitism is, as enshrined in the ‘Macpherson principle’, which is one of the cornerstones of race relations in Britain. The Party must also punish the use of the so-called ‘Livingstone Formulation’, in which complaints of antisemitism are countered with claims that the complainant has a secret political agenda such as defending Israel or attacking Jeremy Corbyn, visiting on Jews the double indignity of being both the victims of racism and the victims of secondary attack for pointing out that racism.
When the Jewish community of this country hears Mr Corbyn embrace the International Definition of Antisemitism and call a halt to the deployment of the Livingstone Formulation in the Labour Party, and we hear an apology from him for his own personal failures in this regard, the Jewish community might start to believe the Labour Party is serious about opposing antisemitism.
Today’s rule change will prove to be yet another great Labour antisemitism whitewash if the Party does not now take swift, transparent and decisive action. If the Labour Party wants to shed its well-earned reputation for accepting Jew-hatred, it will have to walk the walk, not talk the talk.