Only four Labour MPs back party leaders in anti-Semitism definition row

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Only four Labour MPs back party leaders in anti-Semitism definition row

Majority of MPs for the opposition side with community's resounding call to be able to define anti-Semitism

Justin Cohen is the News Editor at the Jewish News

Jeremy Corbyn 

Photo credit: Marc Morris
Jeremy Corbyn Photo credit: Marc Morris

Labour MPs have overwhelmingly backed calls for the party to adopt the full international definition of anti-Semitism including its accompanying examples of contemporary hate.

Growing anger has greeted the party’s proposed new code of conduct, which adopts IHRA but only some of its examples, with the Jewish Leadership Council and Board of Deputies insisting it was for Anglo-Jewry to define the scourge,

A special meeting of the parliamentary Labour Party saw a motion proposed by Alex Sobel MP saying the PLP “adopts the full IHRA definition of antisemitism, including all of its accompanying examples, and believes this should be used to define, understand and act against antisemitism in the Labour Party”.

It is believed just four MPs opposed the motion, including Chris Williamson, who previously called for then suspended Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker to be readmitted into Labour.

The motion, while not binding in the party, makes clear MPs’ backing for the mainstream community in the latest row with the party’s leadership. But the motion called for the full NEC to overturn the support of a sub-committee for the code.

Jewish Labour Movement parliamentary chair Luciana Berger, who defended the motion, added: “The IHRA definition of antisemitism is the internationally-recognised document which defines and explains the ways hatred towards Jews is expressed.

“And yet some within the Labour Party have sought to revisit Labour’s historic support for the IHRA definition and all the examples that accompany it, and write their own version.

“Britain’s Jewish representative organisations, and the Jewish Labour Movement (the only Jewish affilliate to Labour), are united in opposition to this unnecessary and inflammatory move. It is a fundamental anti-racist principle that oppressed groups define their own oppression, not anyone else.”

Wes Streeting, MP for Ilford North, said the NEC still had the chance to “set this right” when it meets tomorrow. “I think it’s clear that MPs have heard the concerns of the Jewish community. This isn’t an issue that the whole NEC has considered and it is not clear that the NEC Sub-Committee had all of the facts available when they considered this last week. I hope common sense and reason will prevail.”

The result also represents an overwhelming rejection of the defence made by new general Secretary Jennie Formby, who claimed that the IHRA definition didn’t go far enough – and suggested Labour’s new code was the most “detailed and comprehensive” rule book adopted by any political party in this country. Most of the examples are adopted “word for word”, she argued, with additions “from the UN Charter on Human Rights, the Home Affairs Select Committee report 2016, the Chakrabarti Report and other contemporary sources”.

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