Board of Deputies calls on Starmer to suspend Zoom meeting MPs

Communal outrage over participation of Abbott and Ribeiro-Addy


The Board of Deputies have said that two Labour MPs are in breach of the Ten Pledges that leader Sir Keir Starmer signed up to during his leadership campaign, after taking part in hard-left meeting with activists at the centre of the party's antisemitism scandal. 

The JC revealed how former Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott and tLabour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy both spoke to activists -  including Tony Greenstein and Jackie Walker  -  at a meeting of the newly formed 'Don't Leave, Organise' group, who also received the backing of former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

Reacting to the report, Board President Marie van der Zyl said: "As soon as we learnt about this we raised it with Keir Starmer’s office and with the Labour whips. 

"It is completely unacceptable that Labour MPs, and even ordinary members, should be sharing platforms with those that have been expelled from the Party for antisemitism. 

"Indeed, this breaches the Board of Deputies’ Ten Pledges that Keir and the other Labour leadership contenders signed up to. We would urge Labour to take swift and decisive action to show that this is a new era, rather than a false dawn.”

Jonathan Goldstein, chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, said: “We have consistently stated that we would judge the Labour Party by its actions rather than its words. We held productive talks with Sir Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner just after they were elected as Leader and Deputy Leader respectively and we remain focused on seeing tangible change in the toxic culture within the Party. 

"It was agreed that no Labour MP should be sharing a platform with anyone expelled from the party for anti-Jewish racism particularly when one of the MP’s in question is a member of the shadow cabinet. Simply reminding people of their responsibilities feels inadequate as a result. “

A Jewish Labour Movement spokesperson said: "If the Labour Party is going to be able to demonstrate that it has taken antisemitism and racism seriously, then it needs to show consistency. That includes anyone who holds a position of responsibility within the Party staying well clear of those who do not share our values"

When the new Labour leader signed the Board's Ten Pledges, he made a commitment to suspend the membership of MPs who "support, campaign or provide a platform for people who have been suspended or expelled for antisemitic incidents."

There were numerous individuals caught up with anti-Jewish racism incidents at Wednesday's Zoom conference - all of whom had to register in advance to attend.

Labour told the JC on Thursday it had responded to the decision by the two MPs  to attend the meeting by reminding them of their "responsibilities and obligations."

But Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Trust tweeted: "I'm glad that the MPs who joined despicable Zoom call of people guilty of antisemitism are being 'reminded' of their 'responsibilities' and 'obligations' in the 'strongest possible terms' no less. That'll tell 'em.."

Gideon Falter, Chief Executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, added: “The participation of Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy in an online conference with Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein is a new level of brazenness. 

"During his leadership campaign, Sir Keir Starmer pledged that any MP who provides a platform for Labour members expelled in connection with antisemitism will themselves be suspended from Labour. 

"We therefore expect Sir Keir to immediately suspend both Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy from the Labour Party.

"This is the first major test of Sir Keir’s leadership in ridding Labour of antisemitism and we are waiting to see whether as leader he has the same convictions that he did as a candidate.”

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