JVL chair sparks fury by comparing IHRA definition of antisemitism to homophobic Section 28

She apologises for 'clumsy' analogy comparing Jew-hate definition to law that banned promotion of homosexuality in schools


The chair of Jewish Voice For Labour has sparked fury by comparing the internationally recognised definition of antisemitism to controversial 1980s legislation that banned promoting homosexuality in schools.

Speaking at Wednesday's meeting of Finchley and Golders Green Labour Party, Jenny Manson claimed the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition prevented support for Palestinians, in the same way Section 28 prevented support for gay pupils.

The comments infuriated many in the room.

Jack Lubner, 17, was said to have been left "upset and intimidated" after Ms Mason strode towards him after he said he objected to her remarks.

He tweeted: "Jenny should be ashamed of herself. How dare she."

Local Labour member Luisa Attfield, tweeted: "As a Jewish lesbian I am offended and as person with a brain its a baseless comparison."

On Twitter, JVL sought to calm the row by suggesting that Ms Mason had "compared the chilling effects on free speech of thought of S28 and the IHRA".

But Cllr Arjun Mittra wrote: "This is a lie. I was in the room. She compared IHRA to section 28. You are backpedaling because you know the mask has slipped."

Ms Manson apologised for any “upset” her comment had caused and acknowledged it was “clumsy.”

She told the JC: “I have been misunderstood. I was making a speech on the impact IHRA has in shutting down discussion and I made a clumsy analogy between IHRA and section 28.

“Of course I was not comparing IHRA to section 28, but making the point that section 28 was a policy which acted as a deterrent, without there ever being a case where it was enacted.

“I know of examples where meetings have been cancelled over fears IHRA would be invoked. I am very upset that people are upset by what I said and I should have used a better comparison, using section 28 was clumsy.

“I should have used something from my experience in tax avoidance when I was working at the revenue, I could have said anti avoidance provision in tax law acts as a deterrent, but the meeting was chaos. People were shouting over each other.”

After the debate, the CLP voted to reaffirm its affiliation to the Jewish Labour Movement and overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to affiliate to JVL.

They also voted to adopt the IHRA definition in full.

JVL, a pro-Jeremy Corbyn group founded in September 2017, has backed a campaign to support the new antisemitism guidelines Labour's national body approved, which omit key examples from the IHRA Jew-hate definition about how criticising Israel can be antisemitic.

The issue has caused huge outrage among the Jewish community.

Local activists said they plan to lodge a formal complaint about her remarks to the party.

The JC also has also seen evidence JVL supporters sending racist and homophobic messages to those who have complained about Ms Manson’s conduct at Wednesday’s meeting.

Sources told the paper Ms Manson is planning to bid to stand in Finchley & Golders Green as a Labour parliamentary candidate. She told the JC she was "thinking" of standing to be an MP but had not decided where.

"I've been approached by a number of constituencies who are interested in me," she said.

Ms Manson has previously been backed by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who said: "I am hoping she is going to put her name forward to stand for Labour eventually."

After Wednesday’s meeting, Labour Cllr Sara Conway, who is  a JLM member, said: “Barnet Labour have always stood with our Jewish communities and we wanted to send an important message in support of the IHRA definition from the Borough with the largest Jewish population. 

“We are committed to making Barnet no place for hate, for all minority communities and vulnerable groups."

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