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"Disappointment" after JLM meeting with Labour's new general secretary

The group said it had 'wanted to see greater understanding' that senior Labour figures would be 'willing to take very public, very urgent and very vocal steps'

    Ms Formby at the Labour Party conference in 2016. She became the party's general secretary last month (Photo:Wikimedia Commons/Rwendland)

    The Jewish Labour Movement has expressed disappointment after a meeting on antisemitism with Jennie Formby, the new general secretary of the Labour party, saying that “too much of the conversation focused on process”.

    The JLM, which has been affiliated to the Labour Party for 98 years, did say it was “relieved to hear directly… that there will be no change in our unique status as the Labour Party’s only Jewish affiliate, and that we will continue to play a central role in delivering the Party’s antisemitism training”.

    However, it had “wanted to see greater understanding that both the general secretary and the leader of the Labour Party  are willing to take very public, very urgent and very vocal steps required to give our members, the Jewish community and others the assurances they so desperately need.

    “We called for the kind of sincere, competent leadership required to overcome this crisis, now entering its third year. Ultimately, this can only be solved through political will.”

    On Tuesday, the JLM was prevented from attending a meeting of Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) on antisemitism, with the organisation saying it had previously been invited to take part. Labour said that a separate meeting with Ms Formby had already been arranged, and that Peter Mason, the JLM national secretary, had been invited to the NEC meeting in his capacity as someone with "first-hand experience of our [disciplinary] process.

    "His invitation was in that capacity, not as National Secretary of the Jewish Labour Movement."

    Meanwhile, 38 MPs who sit in the Commons on a joint Labour and Co-operative Party ticket have written the NEC of the Co-op Party, urging it to adopt new guidelines on antisemitism, including a number of measures Jeremy Corbyn failed to commit to when they were suggested to him last month.

    As reported by the Guardian, the MPs backing this motion include shadow cabinet ministers Kate Osamor (international development) and Jonathan Ashworth (health). The list also includes Jewish MPs Luciana Berger, Louise Ellman and Alex Sobell.

    At their meeting with Mr Corbyn a few weeks ago, the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council asked him to adopt a number of proposals to combat antisemitism in the party. These included a suggestion that MPs should not share platforms with expelled or suspended members accused of antisemitism, as well as asking for the party to properly adopt the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition on antisemitism. The party is said to be concerned that one of the definition’s clauses - “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour”- will stifle criticism about Israel’s creation.

    In the motion, which was made public yesterday, the MPs call for the Co-op Party, which can set its own policies, to “urgently review the five proposals made by the Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies to the Labour Party” and “consider how the Co-operative Party can adopt these measures going forward”.

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