‘A backwards step’: Anger as JVL’s Wimborne-Idrissi elected to top Labour Party committee

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi was suspended by the party in 2020


Communal organisations have expressed outrage at the election of the co-founder of Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) - who has previously claimed that false antisemitism allegations were “wheeled out” against activists now expelled from the party in order to “silence” them - to Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC)

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, who was suspended from the party in 2020 before being readmitted, was elected to the NEC on Thursday, which means she will have input into decisions made at the very highest levels of the party.

Wimborne-Idrissi was the last of nine candidates to be successfully elected, winning 4686 first preference votes from Labour members. Overall, candidates supportive of current Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer gained ground on the 39-member ruling body.

In a joint statement on Thursday evening, the Board of Deputies, CST, and the Jewish Leadership Council called Wimborne-Idrissi's election “a backwards step”, and called on the Party to ensure that she has no input into the disciplinary role of the NEC.

The statement said that Starmer “has worked hard” at tackling and rooting out antisemitism from the party, but said that this set of results is “backwards step in tackling the toxic legacy of anti-Jewish racism from Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

It added: “In Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, an extreme wing among grassroots Labour members have elected someone who stood on a platform to reverse the positive steps the Party leadership have taken and who has a history of repeatedly defending individuals expelled for antisemitism and other offences.

“The Labour Party must be clear that it will not allow this result to damage the progress achieved so far. Ms Wimborne-Idrissi should play no part in the disciplinary functions of the NEC and be kept off any committees relating to equalities or tackling antisemitism.”

Joe Glasman, Head of Political and Government Investigations at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said that this is not a case of “a few bad apples”, but “a problem with the cultural soil of the Party.”

He added: “It must be asked why these people remain members of the Party and therefore able to stand for office at all, and why a group like Jewish Voice for Labour has still not been proscribed, as other groups have been. Then there is the much harder question of why there are so many people in Labour who are electing them.

“Yes, progress has been made since Sir Keir became leader, but his recent claims to have solved the antisemitism crisis are belied by this result, which in any other major political party would be utterly scandalous.”

Mike Katz, national chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, said that these results would make “our members and allies worried and angry.”

Wimborne-Idrissi was suspended from the Labour Party in December 2020 after criticising Jeremy Corbyn’s “unjust”, and was readmitted a short while later.

She regularly spoke out to defend Corbyn over the antisemitism crisis under his leadership.

She provoked anger in the community in February 2019, attacking the decision of the former Labour MP Luciana Berger to quit the party over antisemitism.

Speaking on LBC radio she defended Mr Corbyn over his response to the antisemitic mural in Tower Hamlets, which had been raised by Ms Berger.

Ms Wimborne-Idrissi said: "He thought the artist was being censored unfairly... If people were honest, including Luciana Berger, who dredged this up at the apposite moment to suit her anti-Corbyn agenda."

She also claimed in a video she was attacked for campaigning for the Palestinians with allegations she was “the wrong type of Jew, not a proper Jew” and “a kapo”.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “Under Keir Starmer’s leadership, we’ve made progress in tackling antisemitism. We are implementing our EHRC antisemitism action plan and are rolling out antisemitism awareness training across the party with the Jewish Labour Movement.

"Keir Starmer pledged to pull antisemitism up by its roots and that work continues."

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