Anger as JVL’ s Wimborne-Idrissi is elected onto Labour Party’s ruling body

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Anger as JVL’ s Wimborne-Idrissi is elected onto Labour Party’s ruling body

JVL co-founder Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi - who was endorsed by Jeremy Corbyn - is one of nine candidates elected onto Labour's NEC in an election, sparking anger amongst mainstream communal organisations

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi speaking at Labour conference 2017
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi speaking at Labour conference 2017

The co-founder of the pro-Jeremy Corbyn Jewish Voice For Labour (JVL) group has been elected onto Labour’s national executive committee (NEC).

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi – who once defended Corbyn over his comments in support of the artist behind an antisemitic mural – was one of nine constituency Labour Party (CLP) candidates to be elected on to the ruling body following internal elections.

The JVL official’s elevation to a role on the powerful NEC will mean she now has input into decision taken at the highest level by the party.

Wimborne-Idrissi’s success, which came about in an election determined by the single-transferable vote system, was still greeted with anger and alarm by mainstream communal groups including the Board of Deputies, CST, as well as by the Jewish Labour Movement.

She was the last of the nine successful candidates to be elected, attracting 4686 first preference votes from Labour members.

The overall results of the NEC elections also showed that successes for candidates supportive of Keir Starmer, in particular those linked to the Labour To Win group,  meant that the Labour leader increased his control over the 39-member ruling body, on which he himself sits.

But one senior Labour official admitted to Jewish News that the election of Wimborne-Idrissi to the NEC was “an obvious setback” in the leadership’s continued attempts to win back as much support from within the Jewish community as possible.

A joint statement by the Community Security Trust, Jewish Leadership Council and Board of Deputies in response to the results described Wimborne-Idrissi’s election as “a backwards step in tackling the toxic legacy of anti-Jewish racism” from Corbyn’s leadership.

They added the result “demonstrates the scale of the challenge still remaining for the party.”

The communal groups added Wimborne-Idrissi must “play no part in the disciplinary functions of the NEC” and be kept off committees tackling antisemitism.”

In their statement Mike Katz, JLM’s national chair said an “otherwise positive set of results has been marred” by Wimborne-Idrissi’s election.”

He added:”Despite the huge strides Labour has taken to tackle antisemitism this result shows there is an extreme segment of Labour’s membership who are determined to set back the progress the party has made.”

Katz said the results would make “our members and allies worried and angry.”

It will also be hailed as a sign of a fightback against Starmer by JVL’s supporters, who have repeatedly rejected claims that the group was set up to deny and downplay allegations of antisemitism in Labour. 

The former vice of Chingford and Woodford Green Labour Party had been suspended December 2020 after criticising “unjust” action taken against those accused of antisemitism, but she escaped with a warning over her conduct.

She has criticised Labour’s adoption of the recommendations of the EHRC report into the handling of antisemitism by ex-leader Corbyn.

Online footage also shows Wimborne-Idrissi claiming there was a “witch-hunt” being mounted by the Labour leadership against those were being “silenced” from speaking out on Palestine and who are “frightened to question the fact of alleged rampant antisemitism” in the party.

And when Corbyn sparked fury by attempting to defend the artist who depicted Jewish bankers with stereotypical features in a mural in Tower Hamlets, Wimborne-Idrissi defended him, and instead criticised Jewish former MP Luciana Berger for raising the issue.

On her Twitter page she describes herself as a “Jewish, socialist, standing up for democracy in the Labour party, speaking up for Palestine.”

Labour sources said the JVL official’s support had come largely from those in the party aligned to the hard-left Campaign for Labour Democracy group, who had urged all their supporters to back Wimborne-Idrissi, as one of the Grassroots 5 slate of candidates standing for election.

Wimborne-Idrissi had earlier been shunned by the left-wing Momentum organisations who announced their own slate of candidates for the election, which ran over the summer amongst Labour members.

But there was positive news for the pro-Starmer Labour To Win group, with four out of their five candidates being elected on the NEC, including Luke Akehurst, one of the most outspoken campaigners against antisemitism, alongside Abdi Duale, the first black male to be elected onto the ruling body, who again spoke of his horror at anti-Jewish racism under Corbyn.

Labour To Win’s Gurinder Singh Josan, who has previously improved the disciplinary procedures over antisemtism was also elected onto the NEC, along with Joanna Baxter.

A spokesperson for Labour To Win added “gains on the NEC and the National Policy Forum (NPF)” (which also held elections) had “demonstrated members were once again showing their backing for Keir and his Shadow Cabinet.”

Ann Black – who has been impressive in terms of trying to ensure antisemitism cases are heard fairly – was also re-elected.

But the low turn-out for the elections – around 15 per cent – showed that the vast majority of party members, as is usual, decided not to vote at all.

The primary purpose of the NEC is to provide strategic direction for the Party as a whole and to work in partnership with the Party’s representatives in Parliament, the devolved administrations and local government to secure the Party’s objectives across the country. 

It is made up of representatives from each section of the Party – the Shadow Cabinet, MPs, councillors, trade unions, Socialist Societies, Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs), Young Labour and BAME Labour. 
NEC members are elected by their respective constituencies, and each serves a two-year term.

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