Damning new evidence has been unearthed against three Labour councillors who were suspended for alleged antisemitism but then reinstated.
The revelations will fuel calls for the party to ensure it has an effective vetting system so that Sir Keir Starmer can rid Labour of the legacy of Jeremy Corbyn. One of the trio has again lost the whip.
The dossier of shocking social media material emerges with five other Labour councillors having already been suspended for alleged extremism since the local elections last month.
Newport councillor Miqdad Al-Nuaimi was suspended in 2017 for comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, which may be a breach of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism since adopted by Labour. He was then reinstated.
In May 2021, he posted on Facebook as Israel and Hamas fought: “Why should we expect there to be no reaction from Hamas? Would the British have been happy to have faced such a blockade by Hitler without throwing everything they had to remove that blockade?”
This year, he shared a petition on Twitter about rapper Lowkey, whose extreme anti-Israel stance has sparked accusations of antisemitism, saying attempts to ban the star from the National Union of Students conference arose from “pressure from the Israel lobby”.
Mr Al-Nuaimi said: “How dare such insidious lobbies give themselves the right to belittle and suppress the right to free speech so blatantly and arrogantly?” He refused to comment when approached by the JC.
Peterborough councillor Ansar Ali was suspended last year. He posted he was “boycotting the biased BBC” because it “didn’t want to upset the Zionist Israeli government lobby”. He was reinstated after investigation, but a local party member claimed to the JC that the probe failed to consider further posts by Mr Ali that were still online this week.
A 2017 Facebook post linked to an article asking “How many British MPs are working for Israel”. Mr Ali described it as “interesting and thought-provoking”. In 2016, he posted an article about a medal dating back to the Nazi era, bearing a swastika on one face and a Star of David on the reverse. He suggested that this “marks Nazi-Zionist collaboration”.
According to Holocaust historian Paul Bogdanor: “The medal was pure propaganda, created by the Nazis to pretend that they wanted an ‘honourable’ solution to the ‘Jewish Question’ and that Jews were their equal partners in finding such a solution.” Mr Ali refused to comment when approached by the JC.
The third previously suspended councillor, Labina Basit from Hillingdon council in west London, has now been suspended again, as Jewish News reported. She had lost the party whip in 2016, having retweeted a post using the abusive term “Zio” but was then reinstated.
The JC can now reveal she has been a leading figure in Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW), a campaign group which rejects the adoption of IHRA and claims it “conflates antisemitism with anti-Zionism”. LAW was proscribed by the National Executive in 2021, on the grounds it was “not compatible with Labour’s rules or our aims and values”.
In a 2018 LAW Facebook group post, Ms Basit wrote: “What we are seeing is the complete and utter weaponisation of antisemitism by the Israeli Lobby, its apologists and neo liberals.”
Writing about the notorious mural defended by Mr Corbyn depicting hook-nosed plutocrats , she said: “If you look (as a non-Jew) at a painting depicting a range of white bankers and see Jews, maybe that reveals more about your own prejudices.” She added claims of Labour antisemitism were “akin to what McCarthy did to those accused of being Communists”.
In 2018, Ms Basit led a noisy protest in the Haringey council chamber in a failed attempt to stop it endorsing the IHRA definition of antisemitism. She has also signed letters supporting people not merely suspended but expelled from the party, including Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker.
Labina Basit from Hillingdon council, who has been a leading figure in Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW): a campaign group that rejects the adoption of IHRA
Last year, she defended former Bristol professor David Miller, who was sacked for calling Jewish students agents of a foreign power. Her post said: “Defend David Miller! Defend Free Speech!” She did not respond to request for comment.
In its “Action Plan” response to last year’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report on Labour antisemitism, the party promised to strengthen its “due diligence checks” to stop extremists becoming candidates. Labour councillors and officials who asked not to be named told the JC these checks have not materially changed since the plan was issued.
Due diligence vetting is done only at local level. Potential candidates must declare anything that could bring Labour into disrepute, but there is no procedure to check they tell the truth.
Euan Philipps, spokesperson for Labour Against Antisemitism (LAAS), told the JC: “We are extremely concerned at what appears a systemic failure of vetting of election candidates. Given the EHRC action plan, it is astonishing a workable vetting process has not been implemented over two years after Corbyn’s departure as leader and 18 months since the EHRC report.”
Pointing out Sir Keir said last week he had “ripped out antisemitism at its roots,” he added: “The unfortunate reality is that antisemitism continues to fester in the Labour Party because attempts to deal with it have been complacent, overly timid and lacking in scale.”
But a Jewish Labour Movement spokesman told the JC: “Ridding Labour of antisemitism was never going to be a quick fix. It will require cultural change that will take time. We will continue to play a constructive role in this. We have delivered antisemitism awareness education to over 2,500 Labour Party members since the EHRC report was released and work closely with the leadership.”
He added: “Labour had over 3,000 councillors elected in the recent elections. Just two years after the disaster of Corbyn’s leadership it is inevitable we will continue to find people opposed to ridding the party of antisemitism. Keir couldn’t have been clearer: they are not welcome.”
A Labour spokesperson said: “Labour takes all complaints extremely seriously. They are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”