Labour’s new antisemitism code of conduct is “not fit for purpose” and has provoked “widespread anger" among British Jews, a joint statement from leading communal groups has said.
The Jewish Leadership Council, Board of Deputies and Community Security Trust accused Labour General Secretary Jennie Formby of failing to consult any of the three groups over recommendations made by Labour’s ruling body on dealing with the party’s Jew hate crisis.
The party decided not to adopt the broad International Holocaust Remembrance Association definition of antisemitism, prompting anger.
There was also fierce criticism of appointments to “key disciplinary positions in recent weeks of people whose past records do not suggest that they are likely to be impartial on the cases we have seen”, a reference to the appointment last week of Claudia Webbe as the head of Labour’s disputes panel which oversees antisemitism cases.
Writing to Ms Formby, the group's letter said: "In our meeting with you on April 24, you made it clear you would consult with us moving forward and we in turn made it clear that with respect to the definition of antisemitism, we were against any changes to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition...
“Nonetheless, we were not consulted and you will have seen that there is widespread anger in the community at the version that has been presented.”
The letter also attacks Ms Formby’s justification for Labour’s decision to write their own code of conduct on antisemitism.
It says: "Your position that the examples do not go far enough for practical use by a political party is not one we agree with.
“Indeed, it has not posed a problem for the scores of other public bodies who have adopted it. It is for the Jewish community to decide what does and does not constitute racism towards us, just as any other group has the right to do.
“All the main Jewish leadership bodies in this country, plus your own Jewish affiliate, have told you that your proposed Code of Conduct is not fit for purpose and that you should use the full IHRA definition with all its examples.
“This attempt at defining prejudice on behalf of the Jewish community in the face of our clear advice constitutes a significant departure from established anti-racist principles that will worry all minority communities.”
Addressing recommendations made by Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) on improving disciplinary processes surrounding antisemitism cases, the letter accepted theere had been “small improvements” but stressed there were still “significant problems .. over transparency, oversight, politicisation, and disciplinary sanctions."