Haringey Labour leader tells local party she ‘will not tolerate antisemitism’

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Haringey Labour leader tells local party she ‘will not tolerate antisemitism’

North London council leader Peray Ahmet emailed colleagues with warning after one the suspension of one councillor from the party and another who was placed under investigation by Labour

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Haringey Council Labour leader Peray Ahmet
Haringey Council Labour leader Peray Ahmet

The Labour leader of Haringey Council has warned local party councillors she “will not tolerate antisemitism” amid concerns over newly elected representatives in the borough.

Council leader Peray Ahmet also warned Labour councillors that they will be expected to resign if they fail to declare any damaging conduct from their pasts.

The strongly-worded email followed the suspension of one councillor from the party and another who was placed under investigation for tweets which included one suggesting a rabbi had been “paid handsomely” to criticise Jeremy Corbyn.

In an email titled Beyond Reproach, Ahmet wrote to colleagues stating:“I will not tolerate antisemitism; Islamophobia; or any kind of discrimination from anyone in the group, online or in person.

“Haringey is under the spotlight and I am determined that we are all beyond reproach.

“That’s why if, in the past, you have done anything that you believe might have breached Labour Party rules or might have brought the party into disrepute, can you let me or the chief whip know as soon as possible – even if you believe that you disclosed it before.

“If we are not told in advance and serious and proven allegations come to light then there will be an expectation on our part that you resign immediately as a Haringey Labour councillor.”

The email followed reports on councillor Joy Wallace, elected in Fortis Green, who has been placed under investigation by Labour following tweets linked to her on an account with the name @JoyWall79169497.

Among the tweets highlighted was one alleging that a Rabbi was “paid and rewarded handsomely” for criticising Jeremy Corbyn on BBC Radio 4.

Another said of Conservative MP Priti Patel: “She does not consider her parents refugees/migrants or in fact that her ENTIRE family are ethnic people… because she has straight hair and nose. Her skin might be vitiligo or a strong sunbed?!”

A second councillor Ibrahim Ali, newly-elected in Bruce Castle ward, was suspended over press reports about a position he formerly held at CAGE, a human rights organisation accused by government of sympathising with terrorists.

Representing CAGE at a Home Affairs select committee in November 2015, Cllr Ali was asked whether he stood by a colleague’s description of terrorist Mohammed Emwazi (“Jihadi John”) as a “beautiful young man”.

“The comments were made in reference to the person that our research director met at the time in 2012,” he testified. “They are in no way in reference to the person that he became or what he did.

“We have made this clear on a number of occasions… that those are not the thoughts of the organisation or a reference to the person he became in 2014.”

But some local Jewish Labour members in Haringey later defended Ali telling Jewish News the councillor’s past conduct did not reflect his views now.

Labour’s opponents in Haringey have criticised the party’s candidate selection process ahead of the May 5 local elections.

One Labour source admitted the local party had “run out of high-quality candidates” to place in all wards in the borough ahead of the poll.

“People who should not have been allowed to stand where selected as candidates, in some places in areas Labour did not expect to win,” said the source.

“It’s a real lesson for better organisation next time elections come around.”

Labour performed better than expected in Haringey on May 5th building on its large majority on the council, gaining eight seats.

A party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints extremely seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”

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