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Labour activists calls for Jewish group to be stripped of campaign award

Motion is one of a series at Hampstead and Kilburn branch of the party, prompting claim that group is 'toxic' for Jews

    JLM members receive the Del Singh award from Jeremy Corbyn last September
    JLM members receive the Del Singh award from Jeremy Corbyn last September

    A local Labour Party branch has called for a Jewish group to be stripped of a national campaign award.

    The Hampstead and Kilburn constituency branch said it was “intolerable” that the Jewish Labour Movement had been given the Del Singh award, which recognises effective campaigns, and is named after a party activist who was killed in Afghanistan in 2014.

    The motion at a meeting last week was the latest in a series of controversial issues at the branch relating to Jews, antisemitism and Israel. The JC understands none of the motions was passed or debated in full.

    It prompted one Jewish councillor to brand the constituency Labour Party (CLP) as “institutionally antisemitic” and say he would not be attending further meetings.

    Tulip Siddiq, Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, said she had raised concerns about the CLP with the party at a regional level.

    The motion calling on Labour to strip the JLM of the Del Singh award came four months after the prize was handed to the Jewish group at the party’s annual conference in Brighton. The motion put before the CLP meeting called the decision “an intolerable affront to Del’s memory”.

    Hampstead and Kilburn branch members also backed Moshe Machover, a fellow member, in his efforts to defend himself against the party’s attempt to expel him for writing a piece in the Communist Weekly Worker newspaper which was headlined “anti-Zionism does not equal antisemitism”.

    Mr Machover, a veteran Tel Aviv-born anti-Zionist, was thrown out of the party last October before having his expulsion rescinded.

    The local branch considered a motion which said Mr Machover had “not been given the opportunity” to challenge the allegations against him before he was thrown out and initially called his expulsion “a frightening precedent in a party which is working to be more democratic”.

    Branch members have also repeatedly attacked Ms Siddiq and she was not allowed to speak on at least one occasion.

    At a meeting in September last year, members called on her to reconsider her appeal for what she said would be a “truly independent” review of antisemitism in the party. A motion at a branch session on September 13 said Ms Siddiq’s actions were “seen as undermining Corbyn”.

    Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, had commissioned Shami Chakrabarti’s original inquiry into allegations of antisemitism in the party.

    Ms Siddiq told the JC: “I have a long track record of standing up against and calling out antisemitism. No instances of antisemitism can be tolerated and if people do not feel that their local CLP is a safe place then that has to be addressed.

    “I have already raised this with the regional party and will be working with them to do whatever is required to ensure that our local Labour Party is a safe and friendly place for all members.”

    A London Labour Party spokesperson said: “We take allegations of antisemitism very seriously and will be looking into the matter.”

    Peter Taheri, CLP chair, did not respond to a request for a comment.

    Philip Rosenberg, a Labour councillor in West Hampstead, claimed the CLP had a “toxic” atmosphere and had included “toe-curling motions singling-out Jews and Israel” at seven of its last nine meetings.

    “If that is not institutional racism, I don’t know what is,” he said.

    Mr Rosenberg told the JC he would not attend future meetings as he did not consider the CLP a “safe space” for Jewish Labour supporters.

    In July last year, the branch heard a motion which condemned the decision to suspend rather than expel Ken Livingstone after he was found guilty of bringing the party into disrepute over comments relating to Hitler and Zionism.

    The motion called on supporters to show solidarity with the JLM.

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