Now Labour members in Holborn and St Pancras clash over anti-Semitism motion

ANOTHER evening, and another meeting where Labour members appeared to be at odds again over the challenge of anti-semitism. Card-carriers in Holborn and St Pancras partly clashed over how the stories about life inside Jeremy Corbyn’s party for Jewish members had been handled in recent weeks, as the detail of a motion condemning anti-Semitism was debated at the constituency’s general committee. The view that it had all been exaggerated to ‘get Corbyn’ came up again, although this was not part of the final motion.

While the ins and outs of private Labour discussion are normally kept confidential behind closed doors, several members almost immediately came out of the meeting and made their feelings known on Twitter. Presumably, this means no disciplinary action will ever be taken against anybody talking, off-the-record, to the New Journal about what goes on in these meetings. It’s a policy change which will make my life easier!

With four attempted amendments and sharp disagreement about the tone and nuance of each line of the motion, there is certainly a lot to decode from the cold side of the door. It should be said there are Jewish members on both sides of this debate in Holborn and St Pancras, and Camden as a whole, and also loyal left-wingers who are enthused by Corbyn but wish he had handled this particular issue better; there is no simple squeezing people into two yes or no jars here doesn’t work.

Anyhow, Baroness Glenys Thornton was one of the first to be online, telling us: “Well that was an interesting if depressing Camden Labour GC. People’s Momentum voted against Jeremy Corbyn words when they were added to the resolution condemning anti-semitism. Some Jewish members said how they felt and it’s clear we have a mountain to climb.” Other tweets talked of a miserable night due to the party’s “cranks”. Maybe, the casual reader may even have come away with the idea that a motion against anti-semitism did not get through at all.

One did, eventually, and the first line reads: “This Party stands in solidarity with every Jew who has experienced anti-semitism and stands firm in the belief that Jewish people should never have to face anti-Semitism.”

This text has led supporters of Corbyn’s leadership to suggest that they will always face being casually and unfairly grouped together as baddies on this issue, even when they vote in favour of a motion with a strong first message like this.  Several say the motion got stronger and more empathetic through each round of discussions.

Their opponents do not buy this, and say tinkering around the edges of the motion and including extras about the mainstream media and the actions of “some MPs”, suggests it is not widely appreciated how unwelcome Jewish members feel.

As I understand it, this is the final motion that got through:

This Party stands in solidarity with every Jew who has experienced anti-semitism and stands firm in the belief that Jewish people should never have to face anti-semitism.

This Party believes that Jeremy Corbyn is opposed to anti-Semitism and all forms of racism and is totally committed to working for equality for all. The main stream media have ignored the many occasions he has led the fight against anti-Semitism.

Particularly with local elections pending, it is disappointing that some Labour MPs used this important issue to attack our Party’s leadership.

This Party does not equate anti-Semitism with criticism of the State of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

We call for the recommendations of the Chakrabarti Inquiry for fair disciplinary procedures to be implemented.

Sadly, while no section of society can claim complete immunity from traces of racism including anti-Semitism, the present spate of attacks on the Party is disproportionate. The respected Institute of Jewish Policy Research has located anti-Semitism in the UK mainly among parties of the Right.

This Party gives its backing to the recent statement by Georgia Gould, Camden Council Leader, and both Camden MPs, Keir Starmer and Tulip Siddiq, which states: ‘We welcome the statement from Jeremy Corbyn condemning anti-Semitism and committing to redouble efforts to stamp it out of our movement.

Obviously, supporters of Monday’s protest in Parliament Square do not see the actions of “some Labour MPs”, referred to here, as being motivated simply by a will to sabotage Corbyn’s left-wing leadership. They view it all as honest and needed campaigning against anti-Semitism. From the outside of Labour’s GC meetings, this argument about the motives of certain members of the Parliamentary Labour Party feels like it may remain forever unhealed among the members gathered last night.

Surely acutely aware of the division on points like this, Georgia Gould and Keir Starmer were on hand to try and unite the membership. The council leader, I think, even suggested one of the amendments, to cut all of the above down to the final paragraph.

This Party gives its backing to the recent statement by Georgia Gould, Camden Council Leader, and both Camden MPs, Keir Starmer and Tulip Siddiq, which states: ‘We welcome the statement from Jeremy Corbyn condemning anti-Semitism and committing to redouble efforts to stamp it out of our movement.

This was voted down.

 

 

 

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