Jewish Labour Movement considers suing Labour Party over antisemitism definition

JLM has also submitted a dossier of antisemitic messages posted in pro-Corbyn social media groups to the Labour leadership


The Jewish Labour Movement is to meet on Monday to consider possible legal action against the Labour Party under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Equality Act.

The movement’s executive will discuss the proposals following a week in which Labour chose not to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism into the party’s code of conduct.

The decision prompted veteran MP Margaret Hodge to call leader Jeremy Corbyn an “antisemite and a racist” in a public confrontation in a corridor close to the House of Commons chamber.

Many Labour activists have called for Ms Hodge to be disciplined for the remarks, but party frontbenchers told Sunday morning politics programmes that they hoped they could move on from the row.

Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said it was “not wrong for a colleague to express concerns to another colleague, it just has to be done in the appropriate way."

She told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: “I’m not sure where we’re up to in terms of what action is being taken, I just know that the matter’s being investigated, but as I say, within the party we’re expected to treat colleagues with respect and not to engage in personal attacks."

On Monday the JLM executive will consider whether the decision not to adopt the full antisemitism definition is a breach of the “Macpherson principle”, under which racist acts are those perceived to be racist by their victims.

The Sunday Times reported the JLM had also compiled a dossier containing abusive social media posts made by members of pro-Corbyn Facebook groups about Ms Hodge.

Threats of violence – “Just added herself to the hitlist” – were among other messages, as were descriptions of the Barking MP as a “Zionist remedial cancer”.

The newspaper said the dossier also contained messages that would have contravened the internationally-accepted definition of antisemitism, but not the code adopted by Labour this week.

One key passage of the IHRA definition says it is antisemitic to accuse Jewish citizens of being “more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations” – but this section was dropped from Labour’s code.

It was not clear whether some of the messages in a pro-Corbyn Facebook group – such as one that said Ms Hodge should be dressed as a Palestinian so that “her own paymasters shoot the traitor” – would be considered antisemitic under Labour Party rules.

John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, told Sky News's Ridge of Sunday that he hoped the party would move on from the row over Ms Hodge.

He said: “My view is let’s just resolve this very, very quickly – almost drop the complaint and move on – or if someone wants the complaint investigated, let’s get that done quickly.

“I’ve worked with Margaret over the years, I was the chief executive of an organisation that she was chair of for over ten years. She’s got a good heart. Sometimes you can express anger – I’m one of those people who have in the past.

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