Hard left seize control of Hampstead and Kilburn Labour Party

EXCLUSIVE: Jewish Labour members angry and fearful after constituency party elections


Jewish Labour members in Hampstead and Kilburn have reacted with anger and fear after hard-left candidates secured leading roles within the local party.

Labour activists linked to the Labour Representation Committee (LRC), Jewish Voice For Labour, (JVL) and the International Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) were all elected into senior positions of the local party in Labour MP Tulip Siddiq's north London seat.

Around 70 hard-left activists were able to elect their chosen candidates into the key roles at the annual general meeting of the local party, attended by round 120 people from the 2000 member Constituency Labour Party (CLP), last Thursday.

Pete Firmin, joint secretary of the Labour Representation Committee - which has repeatedly dismissed allegations of antisemitism during Jeremy Corbyn's leadership - was made chair of Hampstead and Kilburn CLP

Mr Firmin, who is a supporter of the Jewish Voice For Labour group, once wrote in support of former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, saying he "is being disciplined not for antisemitism, but for causing offence to defenders of Israel. " He has also been outspoken in his support of Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein, both of whom have been expelled from Labour.

Last year his name appeared on a letter circulated at a local party executive meeting that was branded "highly offensive" and which attacked the Jewish Labour Movement.

One Jewish Labour Movement member who lives in the constituency told the JC: "There's a history of antisemitism in the local party and meetings haven't always been safe spaces for Jews - so it's really concerning that the hard left have taken control.

"The fact the new chair works so closely with Jackie Walker, where she is still on the LRC executive, is especially worrying.

"It's as if the general election defeat never happened for these local members."

Also elected onto the Hampstead and Kilburn executive last week was Sam Weinstein - a long-time member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network who labels Zionism as "racist".

Mr Weinstein - whose name also appeared on the letter that attacked JLM - was elected as policy officer of the CLP after securing 67 votes at the meeting. His name appeared on a letter published by the Guardian attacking the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and supporting anti-Zionism which added "most Jews who perished in the Holocaust were indifferent to Zionism and many opposed it."

Another controversial name elected as a Hampstead and Kilburn official last week was new joint secretary Sandrine Kasongo.

Last December the JC reported how she had sparked angry scenes at a local election hustings event when she tried to play down the threat of antisemitism saying: “No-one would know they were Jewish unless you asked them”. Ms Kasongo was also the subject of a complaint to Labour’s compliance unit after she tweeted: "Jews and white christians are killing people everyday [sic]."

Sara Calloway, another name to feature on last year's controversial anti-JLM letter, was also elected as Hamsptead and Kilburn's BAME representative.

Another local Jewish Labour member angered by the hard-left take over told the JC: "Nine months after a document that was considered grossly offensive was handed out at a local executive meeting - these same people have been elected into leadership positions. It's pretty galling."

Hampstead and Kilburn CLP has long been associated with allegations of “obsessional Jew-baiting and Israel bashing” at local meetings.

The constituency  is home to around 7000 Jewish voters and the local Labour Party, which has around 2000 members,  has always seen strong involvement from the community.

Phil Rosenberg, a former councillor in West Hampstead, and now Director of Public Affairs at the Board of Deputies, said last February: “I have unfortunately faced antisemitism before from some people in the Labour Party... there is a culture of people egging each other on and thinking it is okay.”

Leao Neto quit as CLP chair last November claiming there was a “wider culture of aggressive intimidation and exclusion”.

Tulip Siddiq has been contacted for comment.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive