The reports are particularly concerning given what has transpired at recent Labour conferences, for example in 2017 the historicity of the Holocaust appeared to be up for debate, in 2018 a Jewish Labour MP needed police protection, and in 2019 antisemitic posters and pamphlets were displayed and distributed. There was no physical conference in 2020 due to the pandemic.
It is understood that veteran Jewish Labour MP Margaret Hodge has also been offered security advice by the Party, and additional protection has been offered to those who may need it.
Tension is building around a vote to approve a new semi-independent disciplinary process, which Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee recently endorsed (albeit with eight members voting against and eighteen in favour). The pro-Corbyn Momentum faction has apparently instructed its delegates to vote against the changes, even though they are legally mandatory as part of the Labour’s Action Plan agreed with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which found the Party to be institutionally racist toward Jewish people following an investigation in which Campaign Against Antisemitism was the complainant.
There are also reports that some attendees have been distributing leaflets about the “exaggerated claims on antisemitism” at entrances to the Brighton Centre, where the conference is taking place. Sir Keir Starmer has previously said that those who deny the scope of antisemitism in the Labour Party are part of the problem, and Jeremy Corbyn was briefly suspended from the Party for making similar claims.
There are also more positive reports emerging from the conference, however, confirming the internal divisions in the Party membership which have grown increasingly evident in recent months. One example came this weekend when Labour’s General Secretary, David Evans, a close ally of Sir Keir, asked delegates why they joined the Labour Party, only to be heckled with chants of “Oh Jeremy Corbyn”. He was nevertheless confirmed to his role in a vote of 59 percent to 41 percent.
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “The only thing more outrageous than the prospect of Jewish delegates facing heckles and possibly requiring security at Labour’s annual conference is that there is not more outrage about it. If any other ethnic or religious minority faced such treatment by the membership of a major political party in Britain, the media and police would give it the utmost attention. It is a testament to how far we have sunk as a nation that we have become so de-sensitised to antisemitism in the Labour Party that this news barely registers.”
The Labour Party was found by the EHRC to have engaged in unlawful discrimination and harassment of Jews. The report followed the EHRC’s investigation of the Labour Party in which Campaign Against Antisemitism was the complainant, submitting hundreds of pages of evidence and legal argument. Sir Keir Starmer called the publication of the report a “day of shame” for the Labour Party.
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.