Labour is reportedly investigating three candidates running for positions on the Party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) after complaints were submitted by activists from the Socialists of Colour group.
The group sent a series of questions to the candidates and, after receiving the responses, raised complaints about three of the respondents, including Brian Precious and Carol Taylor-Spedding, whose responses have been marked with a content warning.
Brian Precious responded to a question on ‘institutional racism’ in the Labour Party by saying that “Labour is not institutionally antisemitic” but rather “Israel is institutionally antisemitic via its ethnic cleansing of the (semitic) Palestinians since 1948.” He also lamented the “antisemitic smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn” and advised, in response to a different question, that “We can address Islamophobia best of all by not invading one Muslim country after another, and above all by showing solidarity with Palestine and by pointing out to the antisemitism merchants that the Palestinians are a Semitic people.” He added: “Regarding antisemitism against Jews, I would call on all Labour members to support Jewish Voice For Labour,” a reference to the antisemitism-denial group and sham Jewish representative organisation.
When asked to name a black Socialist man who inspired her, Carol Taylor-Spedding named three black women, one of whom was the notorious antisemite Jackie Walker, whom she proceeded to defend for being “expelled unjustly” from the Labour Party.
The group complained about a third candidate as well for alleged racism.
LabourList reports that a Socialists of Colour steering committee member said: “A number of responses to our questions we disagreed with but could be put down to political difference. However, there were some that entered into clear-cut racism and antisemitism, which Socialists of Colour do not in any way endorse. Responses that warranted content warnings for their antisemitic and racist content included the defence of Jackie Walker, who was expelled from the party for antisemitism, the denial of institutional antisemitism, perpetuating conspiracy theories and comments around certain communities being more predisposed to commit crime. We are also deeply worried about the erasure of antisemitism especially in the face of the EHRC investigation into the Party. Some of these issues have been picked up by the party, with Brian Precious’ original candidate statement being taken down due to antisemitism and then replaced.It is evident that party vetting processes when it comes to candidates are not thorough enough and do not have conclusions that effectively hold candidates, or people who should not be candidates due to their racism, to account.”
Ms Taylor-Spedding reportedly responded that the accusation of antisemitism “does not make any sense” because Ms Walker was expelled for bringing the party into disrepute rather than for antisemitism itself.
Another six NEC candidates signed a letter organised by the Labour Left Alliance criticising Socialists of Colour for their stand against antisemitism and racism, calling on the group to “take off the content warning” and “issue an apology”.
On 28th May 2019, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a full statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
In the first release of its Antisemitism in Political Parties research, Campaign Against Antisemitism showed that Labour Party candidates for Parliament in the 2019 general election accounted for 82 percent of all incidents of antisemitic discourse by parliamentary candidates.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.
Campaign Against Antisemitism advocates for zero tolerance of antisemitism in public life. To that end we monitor all political parties and strive to ensure that any cases of concern are properly addressed.