Green Party leadership candidates elaborate on their views on tackling antisemitism in the Party
The candidates for the leadership of the Green Party have elaborated on their views on tackling antisemitism in the Party.
Jewish Greens, a Jewish faction within the Green Party of England and Wales, provided each of the five candidate teams (three pairs and two individuals) with a questionnaire to survey their views.
Candidates were asked whether they agree to the following pledges, and were also asked further questions for responses in prose.
- Would you support the Guidance on Antisemitism being included in the Framework for Ethics and Conduct? (inclusion of the “Antisemitism: A Guidance” document is to be debated at the Party’s conference next month)
- Would you commit to the principle of “nothing about us, without us” when talking publicly about issues relating to liberation groups?
- Would you attend antisemitism training and support its role out across the Party?
The leadership ticket of current Deputy Leader Amelia Womack and Tamsin Omond agreed to all three pledges, as did the Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay partnership.
In their fuller responses, Ms Womack and Ms Omond said that “tackling both intentional and unintentional discrimination and prejudice is essential to building an accessible, inclusive, and representative movement” and observed that the Party’s leadership has a responsibility to use its influence to “tackle discrimination of all kinds, including antisemitism.”
They declared that “we will support efforts of members to introduce a definition of antisemitism in our members’ Code of Conduct to establish clear guidelines of what does and does not constitute antisemitism, so that we can begin to educate our members on how to spot antisemitic tropes, and how to avoid further propagating them themselves. This will also give the Disciplinary procedures within our party the confidence they need to ensure that those who perpetuate antisemitism, prejudice, and hate within our party are held accountable.”
They added that “We will also encourage the use of external specialist advice for complex and technical disciplinary cases, to ensure that nobody is denied the justice they deserve,” which is particularly welcome, in view of our experiences with the Green Party’s disciplinary processes.
Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay declared that “We have a particular priority in our first 100 days to support the Party’s liberation and policy groups to facilitate workshops and training (e.g. the Jewish Greens’ antisemitism training roadshow)” and that “We also believe that it is important that liberation groups are consulted on policy,” pointing to Ms Denyer’s having co-proposed a motion to this year’s Party conference that “would give liberation groups the right of reply on conference motions that affect their members.”
Former Deputy Leader Shahrar Ali (who is running alone) agreed to the second and third pledges but not the first, likely because the “Antisemitism: A Guidance” document includes the International Definition of Antisemitism, which he opposes. Mr Ali erroneously described the Definition in his response as “a bad definition of antisemitism [which] could disproportionately affect Palestinians, or their allies, as well as Jews – precisely because it would be counterproductive on its own terms and not help to tackle genuine antisemitism by conflating legitimate political criticism.” Mr Ali supports the adoption by the Green Party of the Jerusalem Declaration, which he describes as a “good definition” but which is actually a wrecking document intended to undermine the globally recognised Definition.
Mr Ali also singled out Campaign Against Antisemitism “which promotes adoption of the highly problematic IHRA [International Definition of Antisemitism].” We are indeed a leading and proud advocate of the internationally-recognised Definition, which enjoys consensus support in the British Jewish community and has been adopted by all major political parties except the Green Party.
Martin Hemingway and Tina Rothery, another leadership pair, declined to answer the first two questions, insisting that they required a more “nuanced” response, but agreed to the third. In their replies to further questions, they stated that “We think real antisemitism in the Party i.e. hatred or distrust of Jewish people is very rare. We are concerned about the potential for what might be called ‘definitional antisemitism’ to create differences where these are not real. For this reason we think it is important that the Party thinks carefully about how it is to define antisemitism.” They prefer the Jerusalem Declaration to the International Definition of Antisemitism but “ideally both would be available on the Party’s ‘Framework for Ethics & Conduct’, and we need to work together to ensure that this happens.”
The final candidate, Ashley Gunstock was, according to the Jewish Greens, advised by the Electoral Returning Officer “to refuse to answer yes/no questions”, therefore he did not respond to the pledges. In his replies to questions, however, he stated that “the Green Party should be condemning all antisemitic and racist groups and campaign for any such to be removed from social media,” although it is not clear what standard he would expect to be used to identify antisemitic discourse. Several of the other candidates also expressed concern over antisemitism and hate on social media.
The full responses of all the candidates to all of the questions can be accessed here.
Campaign Against Antisemitism has extensively documented alleged antisemitism among officers of the Green Party of England and Wales, including the Party’s former Equalities and Diversity Coordinator who now holds the International Coordinator portfolio, on which the Green Party has failed to act.
We continue to monitor the Green Party’s leadership contest and the candidates’ policies on antisemitism within the Party and wider society.
Recently, we revealed how certain policies of the Scottish Greens (the Green Party branch in Scotland) are cause for concern for the Jewish community, including the Party’s opposition to the International Definition of Antisemitism and other controversial items. Consequently, Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is under growing pressure over the SNP’s recent deal with the Scottish Greens.
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.