Jewish Labour members 'in tears' as Diane Abbott's local party passes motion questioning 'institutional antisemitism'

Shadow Home Secretary fails to challenge motion rejecting claim that Labour is 'institutionally racist’, while highlighting Jeremy Corbyn's anti-racist credentials


Jewish Labour members were "in tears" after Diane Abbott allowed a motion calling on the party to “firmly reject” accusations of institutional antisemitism to pass at a local meeting.

Patrick Moûle, a member of the Hackney North and Stoke Newington Constituency Labour Party (CLP), tweeted an image of the “utter disgrace of a motion”, which was passed by 45 votes to 35, with 14 abstentions on Thursday evening.

Some Jewish members were left “in tears” by the motion, a local party source said.

A number of witnesses have also claimed that Ms Abbott was present, and failed to speak out against it.

The motion read: “This CLP notes with increasing alarm the acceptance of the ‘fact’ that the Labour Party is ‘institutionally antisemitic’ by not only the media, but the right wing of the PLP [Parliamentary Labour Party].

“It is distracting people’s attention away from the calamitous consequences of the Tory government’s continuing austerity and its disastrous handling of the Brexit issue as it nears the 29 March deadline.

“It is a scandal that we are allowing ourselves to be branded as a racist party. Furthermore, we call upon the NEC [National Executive Committee] to release a statement firmly rejecting the accusation that Labour is in any way ‘institutionally racist’, making it clear that Labour and its current leader have a proud record of fighting racism and will continue to do so.”

Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for nearby Walthamstow, attacked the "disgraceful" motion, expressing solidarity for the Jewish members of the Hackney North and Stoke Newington Labour Party.

She tweeted: "What on earth is going on in Hackney North Labour that such a motion can be put forward?"

The motion also called on the NEC to “immediately implement trigger ballot procedures” in all Labour-held constituencies, “in order to allow the party membership to decide who should represent them in Parliament”.

A trigger ballot is the first step in the deselection of an MP. If they lose it, a full selection contest is triggered, with the winner becoming the local party’s prospective parliamentary candidate.

In response, the Labour Party said: "We completely reject claims of institutional antisemitism. Antisemitism complaints received since April 2018 relate to about 0.1% of our membership, but one antisemite in our party is one too many.

"We are determined to tackle antisemitism and root it out of our Party once and for all."

Miriam Mirwitch, the Jewish chair of Young Labour, called the motion "heartbreaking" and said the party was "foresaking" its "proud history" of fighting Jew-hate.

A source, who attended the meeting, told the JC that some Jewish members were “extraordinarily upset” by the motion.

He added: “I just don’t understand why it was necessary. We have a lot of Jewish members. Obviously it was going to cause a lot of people a lot of upset, and that’s what it did.

“There were a lot of people in tears. Some said they wouldn’t be coming back again.”

Labour activist Luisa Attfield said: "Antisemitism exists at every level in the Labour Party from the CLPs to the NEC and denial and apologism is even more common."

Journalist Etan Smallman summarised the motion as: "Don't blame Labour's racists for bigotry. Blame capitalism."

An eyewitness said Ms Abbott, the shadow home secretary, was present at the meeting and failed to speak against the motion.

Rabbi Avrohom Pinter, a local Charedi school headmaster and longtime Labour member, said he was "shocked" by Ms Abbott's failure to intervene, adding that he "no longer feels welcome" at CLP meetings.

He added: "The atmosphere is absolutely toxic these days."

A similar motion was passed by the Sheffield Hallam CLP on Thursday night - although with a caveat expressing solidarity with suspended Labour MP Chris Williamson, who it claimed has been "falsely accused of antisemitism".

It was passed by 40 votes to one.

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