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It will be the battle of Brighton when Labour rolls into town

The most likely flashpoint is the potential debate over possible party rule changes on antisemitism which were proposed by the Jewish Labour Movement.

    "Emily Thornberry, Shadow Foreign Secretary, will continue her barely-disguised campaign to lead post-Corbyn Labour with an appearance at Labour Friends of Israel’s reception"

    The potential for chaos never seems far from the Labour leadership these days, even given Jeremy Corbyn’s up-turn in apparent popularity.

    When delegates gather in Brighton for the party’s annual conference from Sunday, you might expect it to be a jubilant event, with celebrations of impressive election performances, no leadership battle for the first time since 2014, and a show of unity throughout the party. 

    But it looks highly unlikely the fractured left will negotiate four days of debate without some sort of controversy. Last year it was serial-suspended activist Jackie Walker who stole the headlines with her questions about Holocaust Memorial Day.

    This time around the most likely flashpoint is the potential debate over possible party rule changes on antisemitism which were proposed by the Jewish Labour Movement. If adopted, the new policy would see Labour members who engage in antisemitic behaviour banned from the party for life.

    Already there have been challenges to this plan. Online, activists have alleged the intended change is an attempt to shut down debate on Israel, apparently as part of their belief that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism — which has been adopted by the Labour leadership and the government — is some sort of global “witch-hunt”.  

    It’s almost as if the antisemitic conspiracy theorists on the party’s fringes — at whom the rule change is aimed — have been engaging in too many antisemitic conspiracy theories.

    The Canary, a Corbynista self-styled news website, previewed the conference by alleging “the Labour right is planning a cull of Corbyn supporters”. It argued the life bans were aimed specifically at “those, like Corbyn, who criticise the state of Israel”.

    Like a runaway train hurtling down the tracks, a collision on the seafront in Sussex now seems unavoidable.

    Elsewhere around the Brighton Centre and hotels which make up the conference’s fringe, there is plenty to whet the appetite of left-leaning Jews. 

    The JLM promise an interesting evening at their event discussing what Labour needs to do to re-engage with Jewish voters, even if the group has adopted the daftest nomenclature to enter modern British politics; “Breaking through the bagel belt” is on Sunday.

    Other sessions run by the group will look at how the community has responded to the refugee crisis, and how to challenge antisemitism since the Chakrabarti inquiry.

    Emily Thornberry, Shadow Foreign Secretary, will continue her barely-disguised campaign to lead post-Corbyn Labour with an appearance at Labour Friends of Israel’s reception on Tuesday night. Covering all bases, she will also be at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s event looking at the Balfour Declaration the previous evening.

    Those seeking sessions on “politics of a parallel reality” (yes, really), and War on Want’s Operation Hedgehog training programme (I honestly have no idea), will need to visit the hard-left Momentum group’s The World Transformed festival nearby.

    Battleground Brighton, here we come.

    This article has been amended to remove an earlier reference to "workshops on deselecting Labour MPs". A spokesperson for The World Transformed said Momentum was not involved in efforts to deselect party MPs. The only session at TWT referring to selections "will seek to encourage the selection of candidates from diverse backgrounds supportive of the direction taken by the new leadership".

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