Wimborne-Idrissi claims antisemitism allegations are 'wheeled-out' to 'silence' the left

The JVL co-founder openly discusses her Labour suspension and criticises EHRC report in new interview


Jewish Voice For Labour (JVL) co-founder Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi has openly discussed her suspension from the Labour Party and has criticised the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) report into antisemitism in an interview with a left-wing media website.

Commenting on the equalities watchdog’s report, whose recommendations are accepted in full by the Labour leadership, Ms Wimborne-Idrissi  claimed  “the only good thing it said, actually" was to criticise the party’s current disciplinary processes.

The Chingford and Woodford Green vice-chair, who was suspended by Labour last week after the JC revealed details of her conduct at a local meeting, also used the interview with Novara Media  to claim that false antisemitism allegations were “wheeled out”  against activists now expelled from the party - including Jackie Walker and the ex-MP Chris Williamson - in order to “silence” them.

Defending the reputation of the JVL group against allegations that it lost credibility by consistently defending ex-leader Jeremy Corbyn, Ms Wimborne-Idrissi said on Wednesday: ”We knew what was going on, we tried to alert people to it, but the sensitivities about the way the antisemitism issue was constantly wheeled out as a justification for not hearing certain people…it’s become like, you know the character in Harry Potter. He who shall not be named Voldemort.

“There are people like Jackie Walker, like Chris Williamson, like Marc Wadsworth, a whole lot of others who have been consigned to outer darkness with the shadow of antisemitism hanging over them, although they are not antisemites and have done nothing that justifies that claim in our view.

“This is now used as a way of silencing a whole swathe of the political left. That pretext that making Jews uncomfortable, for which we must read making a section of Jews with a particular political agenda uncomfotable, is now a reason for giving up the right to freedom of speech and democracy in the Labour Party....

 "That is why we are now facing increasing authoritarianism from the leadership of the party."

Ms Wimborne-Idrissi described the current situation as a moment that "if we are not going to stand up and reject the silencing, refuse to be gagged, refuse to accept a confidentiality clause applies to you, but not to the people leaking from within your own constituency or even from with the Governance and Legal Unit ... we are on a very dangerous slippery slope."

She also attacked deputy leader Angela Rayner over her threat to expel "thousands" of members from the party if necessary to end the antisemitism problem.

The former teacher said that JVL was founded in 2017 by a herself and other activists who were  the “boldest defenders” of the former leader Jeremy Corbyn who “could see straight away this was not about antisemitism.”

Accusing the current Labour leadership of “ratcheting up of the silencing” of pro-Corbyn voices in the party, Ms Wimborne-Idrissi added there was “no pretence really it’s about dealing with antisemitism.”

She continued: “What we are doing is silencing critics of the leadership over a whole range of issues.  In our case (Chingford and Woodford Green) it seems as if it is illegitimate for a chair of a CLP to express his discontent with the way the leader is failing, in his view, to deal with the Tories and their handling of the pandemic, and so on.”

Confirming that disciplinary action had been brought against herself and the chair of the East London Labour Party Gary Lefley, Ms Wimborne-Idrissi told the website they had both been administratively suspended because at the 30 November meeting because of a clause in the rulebook which deals with conduct that could be viewed as being grossly detrimental to the party.

Ms Wimborne-Idrissi said there was “no timetable, no suggestion you should put in any representation, no charges, no evidence presented, it is just you may be in breach” in respect of the decision to suspend both her and Mr Lefley.

She added: “It’s either fast-tracked to expulsion – which is possible under the current system, the one that has been heavily criticised by the EHRC.

“The only good thing it said, actually, was a realisation that the system is completely unfair and unjust and lacking in natural justice.

“It could be fast-tracked to expulsion or it could be a long drawn out suspension because while we are suspended we can play no role in the party.”

Ms Wimborne-Idrissi also accepted that JVL were often accused of “facilitating antisemitism” but accused the academic David Hirsh  and others who supported these claims of “malice and ill-will.”

She claimed JVL offered competent training sessions on avoiding antisemitism amongst those who want to “support justice” for the Palestinians.

Ms Wimborne-Idrissi accepted that “maybe in the past” JVL had been “constantly on the defensive on behalf of Jeremy, on behalf of his allies.”

It was, she added, “easy to pick on these Jews who standing up and defending Jeremy as the wrong type of Jews -  not to be listened to at all.”

Labour confirmed Ms Wimborne-Idrissi had been suspended from the party last  Thursday, after the JC had revealed details of the meeting of Chingford and Woodford Green Labour Party help on Monday.

The JC revealed how Ms Wimborne-Idrissi had sent an online  message to those attending the meeting defending a previous speaker, Pippa, who had said antisemitism allegations were being weaponised in the party.

Ms Wimborne-Idrissi wrote: “May I just say there are many Jews in the party, including me, who endorse 100 per cent what Pippa said about the weaponisation.

“The cynical manipulation of Jewish fears and concerns is unforgivable and undermines all our work against racism of all kinds.”

During the meeting  members of the local Labour Party, including members of the Jewish Labour Movement, remarked that they were uncomfortable with the speeches by Ms Wimborne-Idrissi and the chair Mr Lefley.



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