After 99 years, Jewish Labour Movement to consider future in Corbyn’s party

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Labour SplitJLM to discuss future

After 99 years, Jewish Labour Movement to consider future in Corbyn’s party

JLM members split on whether to disaffiliate from party after nearly a century ahead of extraordinary general meeting

Justin Cohen is the News Editor at the Jewish News

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at the Jewish Labour Movement's Chanukah Party  2017
Jeremy Corbyn speaking at the Jewish Labour Movement's Chanukah Party 2017

The Jewish Labour Movement has called an emergency meeting to discuss its future in the party after the resignation of several senior figures – amid calls for ties to be severed.

Two executive members Adam Langleben and Joe Goldberg, both former councillors, followed Luciana Berger, the group’s parliamentary chair out the door last night in protest at the party’s handling of the antisemitism crisis.

Now JLM secretary Peter Mason has written to all members announcing extraordinary general meetings to be held concurrently in London and Manchester on 6 March “to decide collectively where we go from here”. JLM is the party’s only Jewish affiliate and is due to celebrate 100 years in that position next year.

But Mason wrote “far too little has been achieved for the party to be able to claim in all honesty that it upholds the zero tolerance environment promised”, adding that Berger’s decision was the “culmination of the same dilemma that each of us has been forced to contend with for a very long time. As members discuss in private and share on social media their own responses to this very same dilemma, setting out their reasons for staying or leaving, it is only right that we come together as a movement to decide collectively where we go from here.”

He added: “At the EGM, we will hear from Jewish parliamentarians, and allow members the opportunity to discuss how we move forward.”

One senior member told Jewish News they didn’t support disaffiliation but expected some members to make a push to sever ties with Labour. This would mean the organisation – which also affiliates with the Zionist Federation and World Zionist Labour Movement – would no longer send delegates to annual conference and other key gatherings.

Another member, Joe Millis, said: “Now it’s as clear as day that the leadership is at best tone deaf regarding antisemitism, and at worst is anti-Semitic, its time for JLM to disaffiliate.”

But fellow Andrew Gilbert said: “I am not sure what JLM should do. It needs to consider whether it is still worth affiliating but the nasties in the Labour party would be happy if JLM disaffiliated. It would be handing many antisemites and anti-Zionists a victory.” Some also expressed concerns it would leave a gap for Jewish Voice for Labour to step into.

Anyone eligible to be a member of the Labour Party can remain within the JLM fold, Mason told supporters, pointing out that many who had resigned in recent months took up membership of JLM “in defiance of the Labour Party’s failure to retain their direct support, but who nevertheless are committed to expressing their Jewish values and their democratic socialism through collective action.

“They will continue to have a home with the Movement. We will not allow those who have been bullied, harassed and intimidated out of the party to be excluded from our wider movement.”

However, given that those who support other parties are ineligible for Labour membership, it is not clear what would happen if the new Independent Group morphs into a party, as the seven breakaway MPs hope.

Berger told Jewish News it was unclear if she would remain as parliamentary chair. “The members of JLM determine and decide amongst themselves what they think JLM should do,” she said.

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