As Campaign Against Antisemitism has recently reported, antisemitism is a very real and serious issue in the Green Party, which has consistently failed thus far to address it.
The hustings on 23rd August was the first opportunity for Party members to question the five tickets (some of the candidates are running as a pair, as outgoing Leaders Jonathan Barltey and Sian Berry did).
The participants were Tamsin Omond (who is running with current Deputy Leader Amelia Womack); Martin Hemingway (who shares his ticket with Tina Rothery); and Carla Denyer (who is running alongside Adrian Ramsay); former Deputy Leader Shahrar Ali (who is running alone) and 2019 election candidate Ashley Gunstock (also running alone).
The issue of antisemitism – raised in a question about “antisemitism and transphobia” – was one of the most contested in what were otherwise considered cordial hustings, moderated by Baroness Bennett (former Party Leader Natalie Bennett).
Mr Gunstock emphasised the need for education to tackle anti-Jewish racism, recounting his work with schoolchildren organising anti-Israel protests and his advise to them not to conflate the Israeli Government with Jewish people.
Ms Denyer observed that antisemitism within the Party would not be fixed overnight but insisted that “we need to take a clear and consistent line against antisemitism” and to ensure that the Party is more welcoming and inclusive, with workshops for members and a better resourced disciplinary committee to review antisemitism complaints. She also reiterated her and Mr Ramsay’s support for a motion at Party conference to include antisemitism guidance in the Party’s constitution. That guidance would include the International Definition of Antisemitism but, controversially, also other definitions.
Ms Osmond said that she and Ms Womack would reach our to communities, listen to their experiences and build trust. She also stressed their commitment to establishing new accountability processes in the Party to tackle hate speech, which would include panels of minority groups who could regularly be consulted on issues affecting them.
Mr Hemingway, representing himself and Ms Rothery, denied that antisemitism was a major issue within the Party, arguing that it was largely limited to whether the Party should adopt the International Definition of Antisemitism instead. He announced his preference for the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism, a wrecking document intended to undermine the globally recognised International Definition of Antisemitism.
Mr Ali, who has a record of controversial statements and against whom Campaign Against Antisemitism has previously submitted a complaint to the Party, reportedly claimed that allegations of antisemitism were sometimes being used to stop people from criticising Israel. Such claims are an example of the Livingstone Formulation, which asserts that when Jews make allegations of racism against them it is a dishonest attempt to prevent legitimate criticism of Israel and is named for the disgraced former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone.
Campaign Against Antisemitism continues to monitor the Green Party’s leadership contest and the candidates’ policies on antisemitism within the Party and wider society.
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.