Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner has called on members to “get real” about antisemitism within the party and warned that “thousands and thousands” could be suspended if they fail to do so.
Ironically or cynically planed, both Sir Keir Starmer and Labour Party deputy leader Angela Rayner chose to attend the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) and Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) one-day event this Sunday the 29th of November, a most important date in the political event calendar as it is the ‘International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People‘.
A UN organised day that In 1977, the General Assembly called for the annual observance of 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (resolution 32/40 B). On that day, in 1947, the Assembly adopted the resolution on the partition of Palestine (resolution 181 (II)) LINK
The resolution on the observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People also encourages Member States to continue to give the widest support and publicity to the observance of the Day of Solidarity.
However, the Labour Party leadership chose to ignore this and without even acknowledging the UN organised day with even a Tweet of solidarity to an oppressed people, both Starmer and Rayner attended the Jewish Labour Movement one-day conference.
Addressing the Jewish Labour Movement, Rayner talked about a local Nottingham East Labour meeting on Friday that it was claimed led to a Jewish member saying he felt forced to leave.
The local party considered and ‘passed’ a motion calling for the Labour whip to be restored to Jeremy Corbyn – after general secretary David Evans had said such motions would be “ruled out of order”.
Local Labour MP Nadia Whittome issued a statement to “put on record my stated objection to the motion this evening”. She described the “atmosphere and tone” of the meeting as “wholly unacceptable”.
My statement following tonight’s Nottingham East CLP meeting. pic.twitter.com/OzuoKa4XRM— Nadia Whittome MP (@NadiaWhittomeMP) November 27, 2020
Commenting on the events, Rayner said: “We’re on it, by the way. I want people to know that there as been suspensions and we’re on it and we are supporting Nadia, the MP there who spoke out and I completely commend her for doing that.
“Our members need to get real about this, our Labour members. If they don’t think antisemitism is within the Labour Party and that there’s problems now, then there’s really no place for them in the Labour Party.
“If they think making people feel unsafe or unwelcome in our meetings is a response to the EHRC report, then they need to be out of our party immediately. People need to understand what our Jewish community have been through.”
The Equality and Human Rights Commission report on Labour antisemitism released in October found that there were “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination for which the Labour Party is responsible”.
The deputy leader added: “We should have a bit of humility… We should be listening and aware of how hurt and upset people are. I feel really, really angry actually that there’s been scenes like that in our CLP meetings.
If I have to suspend thousands and thousands of members, we will do that
“If I have to suspend thousands and thousands of members, we will do that. Because we cannot and we will not accept an injury to one, because an injury to one is an injury to all. That’s what we say in our movement.
Ironically the EHRC report stated: “It is not legitimate for the leadership to influence, make recommendations or make decisions on complaints.. The Labour Party needs to restore confidence in the independence of its complaints process”—EHRC
“It is not legitimate for the leadership to influence, make recommendations or make decisions on complaints.. The Labour Party needs to restore confidence in the independence of its complaints process”—EHRC— Alex Nunns (@alexnunns) November 29, 2020
“If I have to suspend thousands & thousands of members…”—Angela Rayner https://t.co/vYzG1G8urK
Rayner goes on to say: “It’s about education as well. It’s about having this approach where we don’t accept that people – you know, we have debates but there’s no debating what the EHRC said.
“There’s no debating whether antisemitism exists in the Labour Party. It does, and we’ve got to do everything we can to stamp it out.”
Turning to Corbyn’s comments, Rayner said: “What Jeremy said in response to the EHRC report was totally unacceptable. Any attempts to minimise or downplay the extent of antisemitism are part of the problem. This is the issue.
It wasn’t too long ago Rayner vehemently defended her position and Jeremy Corbyn
Rayner then goes on to say: “I knew this would happen. It is a matter of public record now that I contacted Jeremy to try and get him not to say what he said, and to apologise and withdraw it afterwards. Because I don’t think Jeremy really quite gets how upsetting it is.
“How really upsetting it is when he made those comments. And I just want to say that I really do hope that Jeremy really does reflect now on what he said on the day that report was published and his response to that.
“I truly hope he reflects. I understand that he thinks he’s always tackled issues of antisemitism. I understand he thinks he’s always tackled issues of racism. But on this, he’s wrong. He has to accept as a leader that we failed.
“We all have to accept that. I’ve accepted my failure in that. Then we’ve got to go and make sure that we do everything we possibly can to regain that trust and respect.
“I don’t think Jeremy has done enough for that now, no, so at the very least I think he should apologise, absolutely.”
Steve Bell Guardian cartoonist depicted what that apology would entail.
Jeremy Corbyn was suspended in October after commenting that “one antisemite is one too many” but also claiming that “the scale of the problem was… dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents”.
A panel of five Labour national executive committee (NEC) members convened for several hours to consider his case and ultimately decided to reinstate the former leader of the party, however, Sir Keir Starmer the following day announced that the whip would continue to be withheld.
Steve Walker from Sqwarkboxs rightly points out Labour’s deputy leader needs to tread carefully – because if Labour actually implements Keir Starmer’s commitment to enact the whole of the recommendations of the EHRC report, then she will be one of the first of the ‘thousands and thousands’ suspended.
The controversial and widely-criticised Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) responded to the EHRC report, within hours of its publication, with a hit-list of Labour parliamentarians it wants suspended and investigated – and among the black women and Muslims, the organisation also has its sights on Ms Rayner, for the crime of sharing an article by respected Jewish, anti-Zionist academic Norman Finkelstein:
Keir Starmer has shown little sign, so far, of actually carrying out his promise whenever an aspect of the EHRC recommendations are inconvenient, such as not interfering with disciplinary outcomes, or respecting confidentiality to protect those targeted by complaints.
Rayner herself has done similarly – and in fact has no power to suspend anyone under Labour’s rules, so her comments today also appear to breach the ‘no political interference’ rule.
But CAA and other groups are very unlikely to accept anything less than wholesale compliance with their demands – and Rayner’s pledge to throw ‘thousands and thousands’ of other Labour members under the bus, in most cases for little more than supporting Jeremy Corbyn, should not mean that she is exempted.
Glenn Edward Greenwald Jewish journalist, author, and former attorney. stated in defence of Jeremy Corbyn:
“I’ve never seen a more flagrant, repellent and cynical exploitation of anti-Semitism in my life than its disgusting use to smear Corbyn because of a lack of alternatives for how to defeat him. Nothing has trivialized this cause more than what British Blairites have done.”
I’ve never seen a more flagrant, repellent and cynical exploitation of anti-Semitism in my life than its disgusting use to smear Corbyn because of a lack of alternatives for how to defeat him.— Labour Heartlands (@Labourheartland) November 20, 2020
Nothing has trivialized this cause more than what British Blairites have done. pic.twitter.com/c32ii1sLQQ
The former leader has been told by chief whip Nick Brown that the suspension of the whip is set to last for three months and this will be kept “under review”. He has been asked to apologise and edit or delete his EHRC response post.