Board criticises Burgon and Butler for not signing up to antisemitism pledges

Antisemitism in Labour raised at the party's first hustings for leader and deputy leader


The Board of Deputies has criticised two of Labour’s deputy leadership candidates for not signing up to the Board’s Ten Pledges on antisemtism.

Board president Marie van der Zyl said it “beggars belief” that Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon and Shadow Equalities Minister Dawn Butler had withheld their endorsement.

The other three deputy leadership contenders – Angela Rayner, Ian Murray and Rosena Allin-Khan – have all supported the pledges, as have the five challengers for leader.

Ms van der Zyl said it ”beggars belief that after four and half years of failure on antisemitism, Richard Burgon and Dawn Butler still think that they know better than the Jewish community how to fight this vile prejudice.”

She added, “No other minority would be treated in this way and this sort of thing is the very reason why Labour is being investigated for institutional antisemitism by the EHRC.”

According to Mirror Online, Mr Burgon said he had “some concerns” about the pledges at the first hustings for leader and deputy leader which took place in Liverpool on Saturday.

In particular, he was concerned about the call to have an independent complaints procedure.

While he wanted to work with the Board against discrimination, he said he was concerned that “the minorities within a minority” should be heard as well. “We need to listen and act with the whole Jewish community.”

Ms Butler took a similar stance, according to the Mirror, saying she did not want “to jump the gun” before the Equality and Human Rights Commission made its report on Labour’s handling of antisemitism.

At the hustings, leadership contender Jess Phillips took a shot at some of her rivals over their record on antisemitism.

“The Labour party needs a leader who has spoken about antisemitism and other forms of harassment, in fact,” she said.

“Where others were keeping quiet, as somebody who was in the room struggling for an independent system… I have to say, I don’t remember some of the people here being in that particular room or in those particular fights.”

But frontrunner Sir Keir Starmer defended his actions, saying he had spoken out against antisemitism in the media and advocated the adoption of the international definition of antisemitism.

According to the Independent, Sir Keir said he had made the argument in shadow cabinet meetings “and Emily and others have done as well”.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry was loudly applauded when she told the hustings that antisemites should be kicked out of the party just as fascist leader Oswald Mosley had “been kicked out of Liverpool in 1937”.

Lisa Nandy said Labour could not claim to be creating a more equal, fair or compassionate society unless “we get our own house in order and it should start with these pledges right now”

Rebecca Long-Bailey – tipped as the left’s favourite to succeed Jeremy Corbyn – said Labour could not let mistrust over antisemitism happen again.

The Board’s ten pledges have been criticised on the left of the Jewish community by Jewish Voice for Labour.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Council of Britain said the five leadership contenders had signed its Ten Pledges, which include support for “a binding recognition of Palestine as an independent and sovereign state”.

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