Campaign Against Antisemitism has condemned Sir Keir Starmer for failing to take action after the JC revealed that two senior Labour MPs participated in an online conference with far-left activists who had been expelled from the Party in connection with antisemitism.
Diane Abbott, the former Shadow Home Secretary, and Bell Ribeiro-Addy, a new MP who was immediately promoted to Shadow Immigration Minister under Jeremy Corbyn, were among those who featured on the call, together with Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein, both of whom were expelled in connection with antisemitism allegations.
The online conference was hosted by the new “Don’t Leave, Organise” faction, which was formed by the Labour Representation Committee, Jewish Voice for Labour and Red Labour.
The Labour Representation Committee is a pro-Corbyn pressure group with a long history of belittling claims of antisemitism and publishing extremely disturbing articles. The Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, is its President. Jewish Voice for Labour is an antisemitism-denial group and sham Jewish representative organisation.
Both Ms Abbott and Ms Ribeiro-Addy actively participated in the online event, in which they addressed the recent leaked Labour report but did not discuss antisemitism, using the opportunity instead to complain about factionalism in the Party. They also continued to cultivate the deplorable suggestion that addressing antisemitism is somehow racist against other minorities, as they failed to correct a claim by Jo Bird that antisemitism cases were “over-prioritised” by Labour while racism against the BAME community was “de-prioritised”.
Jo Bird, a Labour councillor, a Jewish Voice for Labour member and unsuccessful candidate for Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee, has previously joked about “Jew process” and was suspended from Labour twice. Ms Bird apparently claimed on the call that Labour members had “died” after they received disciplinary letters from the Party in connection with antisemitism. No evidence has been reported to substantiate this claim, but it was not challenged by the MPs.
Fellow Jewish Voice for Labour member, Naomi Wimbourne-Idrissi, was also on the call.
Salma Yaqoob, the former Respect Party leader who stood to become Labour’s candidate for West Midlands Metro Mayor, was on the call as well. Ms Yaqoob reportedly claimed that the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) had become “weaponised and politicised”. Ms Yaqoob was referring to the EHRC’s full statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party, which it launched on 28th May 2019 following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
Activist Moshe Machover, who defended Ken Livingstone and wrote that Nazim and Zionism had a “basic agreement”, and was expelled from Labour before his expulsion was rescinded, was apparently also present at the online event. He said it was a “mistake to accept the tsunami of allegations of antisemitism” and that there should have been “no concession to these allegations.”
One Labour activist on the call suggested that “Ken Livingstone was expelled from the Party for saying in truth a historical statement.”
Alan Gibbons, the Secretary of Walton Labour Party, defended Prof. John Ashton, the public health expert who was revealed earlier this week to have made antisemitic statements.
Although Sir Keir Starmer made a pledge during the leadership election campaign that he would suspend MPs who gave a platform to former Labour members expelled in the wake of antisemitic incidents, the Labour Party has declined to take any action. Following the event, the Labour Party issued a statement, saying: “The previous comments made by some of the individuals on this call are completely unacceptable. These are not people who support the values of the Labour Party. This is being made clear to the Labour MPs who attended the call in the strongest possible terms and they are being reminded of their responsibilities and obligations.”
Gideon Falter, the Chief Executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “The participation of Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy in an online conference with Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein, is a brazen challenge to Sir Keir Starmer. During his leadership campaign, Sir Keir pledged that any MP who provides a platform for Labour members expelled in connection with antisemitism will themselves be suspended from Labour. Instead of keeping his promise and immediately suspending both Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy from the Party, Labour has merely ‘reminded them of their responsibilities’.
“After half a decade of the Labour antisemitism crisis, no MP should need ‘reminding’ not to engage with those expelled from the Party over antisemitism. Instead of ‘tearing antisemitism out by its roots’, Sir Keir has welched. Through his inaction he is telling Britain’s Jews loud and clear that his apologies are meaningless, his promises will be broken, and MPs who consort with even the most notorious expelled activists still have a place on the Labour benches.”
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.