Board of Deputies demands Labour leadership candidates sign up to 'pledges'

The body condemned the outgoing Jeremy Corbyn, saying antisemitism 'became a matter of great anxiety for the UK’s Jews' under his watch


The Board of Deputies has demanded each of Labour’s candidates for leader and deputy leader sign up to its 10 “pledges” in order to “begin healing its relationship with the Jewish community” after the crisis of antisemitism under Jeremy Corbyn.

Marie van der Zyl, the Board’s president, said she hoped the new leader of the opposition would address antisemitism in Labour “promptly and energetically”.

Upon launching its set of pledges on Sunday, the Board condemned the outgoing Mr Corbyn, Jew-hate “became a matter of great anxiety for the UK’s Jews” under his watch.

Among the 10 pledges the Board is lobbying candidates to adopt is the promise to resolve outstanding cases of alleged antisemitism, to devolve the disciplinary process to an independent agent and to ensure transparency in the complaints process.

The remaining pledges are:

  • Prevent re-admittance of prominent offenders
  • Provide no platform for those who have been suspended or expelled for antisemitism
  • The full adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism “with all its examples and clauses and without any caveats”
  • To deliver anti-racism education programmes that have been approved by the Jewish Labour Movement, which would lead training
  • To engage with the Jewish community via its “main representative groups and not through fringe organisations” such as Jewish Voice for Labour
  • To replace “bland, generic statements” on anti-Jewish racism with “condemnation of specific harmful behaviours”
  • For the Labour leader to take personal responsibility for ending the “antisemitism crisis”

Mrs van der Zyl accused some of the leadership candidates of remaining silent on antisemitism since campaigning began – and condemned others who “appeared to have tailored their message depending on which section of the party they have been addressing”.

She added: “We will be frank. The relationship between Labour and the Jewish community, once rock solid, has been all but destroyed. Rebuilding will take more than mild expressions of regret. It will take a firm public commitment to agree to a specific course of action.

“Our Ten Pledges identify the key points we believe Labour needs to sign up to in order to begin healing its relationship with our community. All of these points, in one form or another, have previously been put to Jeremy Corbyn and his leadership team. Regrettably, action on any of these issues was limited at best, non-existent at worst.

“We expect that those seeking to move the party forward will openly and unequivocally endorse these Ten Pledges in full, making it clear that if elected as leader, or deputy leader, they will commit themselves to ensuring the adoption of all these points.”

Of the six declared leadership candidates, five had endorsed the Board's demands as of Sunday afternoon: Sir Keir Starmer, Lisa Nandy, Jess Phillips, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Emily Thornberry.

In an interview with Sky's Sophy Ridge, Ms Long-Bailey said she would adopt the Board's ten pledges "straight away". Clive Lewis, who has so far secured four nominations from Parliamentary colleagues, has not yet commented on the proposals.

Among candidates for the deputy leadership, Rosena Allin-Khan, Ian Murray and Angela Rayner have so far indicated they would adopt the measures – with the Board condemning the "conspicuous absence" of Mr Lewis, Dawn Butler and Richard Burgon.

Sir Keir, Ms Nandy, Ms Long-Bailey and Ms Phillips have already secured sufficient nominations from fellow MPs to progress to the next stage.

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