Exclusive: Labour activist behind antisemitic rant is to deliver training on Jew-hate to party members

Jewish Voice For Labour Glyn Secker triggered huge anger with speech that said 'Jews are in the gutter'


A far-left Labour activist who delivered an antisemitic tirade at a pro-Palestinian demonstration in central London last weekend is to provide training on Jew-hate to Labour members at an official party event later this month, the JC can reveal.

Addressing Saturday’s rally, Glyn Secker described the Jewish Labour Movement and Dame Margaret Hodge as a “fifth column” inside Labour, referred to “Jews in the gutter with these rats” and said, “Jewish leaders are turning a blind eye to the extreme right”.

An advert on Labour’s official website confirms that Mr Secker is to give a presentation to Reading and District  Labour Party on May 30.

He will deliver the talk in his role as secretary of Jewish Voice For Labour, the group set up to deny that antisemitism is an issue for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

The JC has seen an email sent to all members of the Reading and District Labour Party inviting them to attend the “training event with Jewish Voice For Labour”.

On Tuesday Labour said they had launched an investigation into the former Socialist Workers Party member’s remarks at the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign rally, at which shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott and shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon both spoke.

It is understood that multiple complaints have been submitted to Labour over Mr Secker’s speech, including one from the Jewish Labour Movement.

Mr Secker addressed around 2,000 activists in central London, including the leader of the National Front, who mingled with campaigners holding official banners from Hackney South and Brent Central CLPs.

Mr Secker told the crowd: “We have our own [US] Republicans here — a fifth column inside the Labour Party. One hundred and nineteen Labour Friends of Israel MPs led by [Margaret] Hodge and [Tom] Watson and the Jewish Labour Movement.

“It’s not about antisemitism here either. The Labour Party secretary Formby has established the serious cases amount to 100th of 1 per cent.

“And Jewish leaders are turning a blind eye to the extreme right even when their own Zionist Federation embraces the English Defence League, a neo-fascist group banned on Facebook.

“What on earth are Jews doing in the gutter with these rats?”

The allegation that the Zionist Federation has embraced the EDL is false.

Mr Secker added: “Here’s a warning to the Jewish leadership. While you foment your campaign of allegations of antisemitism against Corbyn and the left to silence Israel’s critics while you cry wolf, month after month, year after year in the Labour Party and remain blind to the explosion of the far-right and Islamophobia, you are not part of the solution — you are part of the problem.”

One activist on the demo held aloft a banner which read “Israel Provokes Antisemitism” with regular chants as the march progressed to Whitehall included “Israel is a terrorist state” and “From the river to the sea Palestine will be free.”

When the JC challenged Mr Secker over the antisemitic content of his speech, he denied making any attack on “Jews” claiming his speech notes and a transcript showed he had directed his criticism specifically at “these Jews” — groups such as the Board of Deputies.

But a recording of his address and his own speech notes, which the JC photographed, showed he had not used the word “they” to qualify his reference to “Jews”.

Jewish Labour MP Alex Sobel told the JC: “There’s no place in the Labour Party for purveyors of hate speech… He knew what he was saying and he was clearly applying his comments to the UK Jewish community.”

Lecturer Keith Kahn-Harris said that while he was not a supporter of the Zionist Federation, he knew “what it does and does not represent. And the majority of British Zionist Jews are repelled by the far right and have not been tempted by EDL-style cosmetic philosemitism.

“What scares me about Secker’s speech — even in the supposedly more moderate version circulated by supporters — is how it will be heard by its audience: Most Jews are unredeemable and should be fought like the fash [Fascists]. That message should scare you even if you aren’t a Zionist.”

A Community Security Trust spokesperson said: “This is not new. For decades, Jewish anti-Zionists have told their comrades that the mainstream of the Jewish community ought to be despised as liars, and as the allies of racists and fascists.

“The inevitable outcome is to build an obsessive hatred against the mainstream of the community and especially its representative bodies. That is the role now played by Glyn Secker and his group, who for deeply personal and ideological reasons do all they can to worsen the already disastrous divisions that exist between the left, the Labour Party and British Jews.” 

Luciana Berger MP described his speech as “Antisemitism on the streets of London in 2019.”

The decision to invite Mr Secker to deliver his talk to the Reading Labour Party prompted further anger.

Denny Taylor, spokesperson for Labour Against Antisemitism and a student at Reading University, told the JC: “It beggars belief that the Labour Party would ask JVL Secretary Glyn Secker to give a lecture to members.

"Despite his previous history, including posting links from an antisemitic website claiming Israel supports ISIS, he still appears to receive preferential treatment from the party. This demonstrates institutional antisemitism.”

In March, the Sunday Times revealed emails in which two of Mr Corbyn’s closest aides — Seumas Milne, director of strategy and communications, and Andrew Murray — intervened last year after Mr Secker was suspended from the party.

A party official had written concerning Mr Secker’s case: “There are legitimate questions to be asked about someone who has contributed to Palestine Live [a Facebook group filled with antisemitic material], heckled JLM [the Jewish Labour Movement] at conference and posted content saying ‘Jew = Zionist = Israel = Jew’.”

Another said: “We would normally suspend with this.”

However in March 2018, both Mr Murray and Mr Milne intervened to stop any suspension.

“JC interested in this one”, Mr Murray wrote, identifying Jeremy Corbyn’s interest in the case of Mr Secker. He also sought to disparage the potential source of the material concerning Mr Secker, saying: “I don’t know if this came from ‘Labour Against Antisemitism’ but they are well dodgy.”

Mr Milne claimed that “none of the posts can be identified as antisemitic in the terms of the definition we have adopted as a party . . . Several quite clearly relate to political arguments within the Jewish community.”

Mr Secker is also a leading figure in the Jews For Justice For Palestinians group, which was among the signatories to a ‘Jews Against The English Defence League’ initiative in 2010 which was supported by the Board and the Community Trust.

In February 2018 Mr Secker was accused by a Jewish Labour activist  of turning a local Labour group into a “hostile environment for mainstream Jews” in an official complaint sent to the party’s general secretary.

It stated that he had an “obsession” with raising “anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish Labour Movement” views at party meetings.

It also said that that as a result of the intimidating atmosphere, “unsurprisingly, some local Jewish Party members have resigned from the party”.

Labour failed to take any action over the complaint.

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