JLM vice-chair called a ‘fifth column’ for denouncing antisemitism in Labour

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JLM vice-chair called a ‘fifth column’ for denouncing antisemitism in Labour

Jewish Labour Movement vice-chair has issued a complaint over the remark

Mike Katz addressing the Labour Party conference 2016
Mike Katz addressing the Labour Party conference 2016

Jewish Labour Movement vice-chair Mike Katz has lodged a complaint after a member of the Hampstead and Kilburn Constituency Labour Party reportedly described him as a “fifth column.”

The term, which refers to a group or individual who undermine a larger group from within, was coined to describe supporters of General Franco’s fascist forces during the Spanish Civil War.

It has often been used to refer to Nazi sympathisers living in Britain during the Second World War.

The remark appears to have been made last Thursday by general committee member Joe Black during a heated discussion of Jewish News’ coverage of a motion of support for Chris Williamson.

Katz said: “It’s bad enough to seek to silence those calling our racism in the Labour Party but to do it using tropes referencing treachery and dual loyalty is something else.

“If anyone thinks this will stop me, or JLM, in challenging antisemitism wherever it occurs, they’re sadly deluded.”

A member, who did not wish to be named for fear of expulsion, revealed the remark was not retracted despite calls from members to do so due to the term’s origin and historical usage.

A source who attended the meeting told Jewish News: “This is not the first time there has been antisemitism in Hampstead and Kilburn Labour Party, so it was extremely depressing.”

Later, the CLP chair Katherine Bligh proposed a motion which in part called for the reinstatement of  members “subjected to extensive allegations of antisemitism and abuse in the media by leading party member”.

However, the group passed an amendment which removed this part of the motion.

Hampstead and Kilburn Constituency Labour Party has been approached for comment.

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