A former member of Labour’s National Executive Committee who previously shared material claiming the “Israel lobby manufactured UK Labour party’s antisemitism crisis”, has been selected as an MEP candidate for the party in the upcoming European parliamentary elections.
Martin Mayer, who was described by the Sunday Telegraph as being active in the Labour Against the Witchhunt group, wrote in a 2016 e-mail that "Labour's Blairite Right wing have used the smear of anti-Semitism to undermine Jeremy Corbyn's leadership."
However, in a response to the Sunday national paper, Mr Mayer expressed “regret” for the language he used, saying he “would not use it today.
“Since then, I have learnt a lot more about this subject and I realise that words like ‘smear’ have the effect of downplaying and dismissing this very serious issue”, he said.
While a member of Labour’s NEC, Mr Mayer, an activist for the Unite union, sat in judgement on internal party complaints of antisemitism.
In 2017, the JC reported on how Mr Mayer was one of three Unite member of the NEC who “ran rings around the room” during a hearing into claims of antisemitism and bullying and Oxford University Labour club.
Labour’s compliance unit had dismissed charges of antisemitism levelled against two Oxford Labour students, but had criticised the language used by both individuals and had indirectly acknowledged the seriousness of the issue by recommending that both students receive warnings from the party regarding their behaviour.
As reported by the JC, at the NEC meeting where the compliance unit’s recommendations were discussed, Mr Mayer went so far as to say that the two accused Young Labour members deserved “an apology, not a warning.”
As described by the Sunday Telegraph, a report from the Sheffield branch of the LAW last year said that they had heard Mr Mayer “share fascinating stories from his time on the Labour Party NEC and the many ‘bogus’ claims of anti-Semitism he witnessed first hand”.
Mr Mayer is chair of Sheffield Labour Left, an organisation which describes itself as opposing “racism, antisemitism and Zionism.”
In February, after Chris Williamson, the MP for Derby North, was suspended from Labour after describing the party as being “too apologetic” over antisemitism, Sheffield Labour Left released a statement expressing “full solidarity” with the politician.
“Any allegations that Chris is enabling or minimising antisemitism are not only unfounded, but part of a hostile and anti-democratic campaign”, the statement claimed.
“As Jeremy Corbyn recently said: ‘Chris Williamson is a very good, very effective Labour MP. He’s a very strong anti-racist campaigner. He is not antisemitic’.”