Last week, the Labour party introduced a code of conduct on antisemitism,
stronger than anything of its kind adopted by any political party in
this country. This follows our adoption of the International Holocaust
Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) full definition of antisemitism in 2016
and Labour’s annual conference voting overwhelmingly last year to
strengthen its rules against antisemitism and racism.
But as well as some welcoming this positive and progressive move, Labour
has come under criticism from some MPs and Jewish communal
organisations for not simply reproducing the IHRA’s working examples
word for word. But, far from lowering the bar for what constitutes
antisemitism, this code lifts it. It requires a higher standard of
behaviour than the IHRA examples do. Labour’s code should be seen as the
new gold standard.
I have been vocal in talking about my experiences of antisemitism and in calling out the blindness to antisemitism
and unconscious bias against Jewish people that pervades our society
and politics, including when it appears on the left. I have argued for a
long time that Labour must lead the way in tackling this evil within
our own party, and pressure other political parties to follow suit.
That’s why I was so pleased to support this code when it was unanimously
approved last week by Labour’s national executive committee, of which
I’m a member.
The code fully adopts the IHRA definition, and covers the same ground
as the IHRA examples, but it also provides additional examples of
antisemitism while giving context and detailed explanations to ensure it
can be practically applied to disciplinary cases within the party.
Three of the four examples that the party has been falsely accused of
omitting are explicitly discussed in the code.
The only part of the IHRA working examples that is not explicitly
referenced relates to claims about the state of Israel being a racist
endeavour (this is a subset of an example, not a standalone one). Of all
the elements in the IHRA examples, this is the one that runs the
greatest risk of prohibiting legitimate criticism of Israel. It cannot
possibly be antisemitic to point out that some of the key policies of
the Israeli state, observed since its founding days, have an effect that
discriminates on the basis of race and ethnicity.
If legitimate criticism of Israel were to be curbed, that would
infringe on the rights of other oppressed groups, who have suffered at
the hands of discriminatory Israeli state policies. The Palestinians
have experienced decades of occupation, gross human rights violations,
and war crimes. The Bedouins have had their homes destroyed, the latest
example being the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar.
And ethnic minorities within Israel have been treated appallingly, such
as the Sudanese and Eritrean refugees who have been detained and
deported, and questions over the treatment of Ethiopian women, including allegations they were given birth control without their consent.
It cannot be right that one vaguely worded subset of one IHRA example
can deny other oppressed groups their right to speak about their own
Conflating legitimate criticism of Israel with antisemitism is
dangerous and undermines the fight against antisemitism. Clear and
detailed guidelines are essential to ensure that antisemitism isn’t
tolerated, while protecting free speech on Israel’s conduct within a
respectful and civil environment. This is what Labour’s code of conduct
provides. We should be celebrating and replicating it.
Blairites and centrists never get to say “We want to be in power to help change
things, that’s why we’re against Jeremy” again when they are actively working to keep the Tories in government. They only want power on
their own terms, they have no interest in a genuinely transformative leftist
The Tories have lost 6 points and UKIP has gained 5 points, most likely due to Brexit and the Leave vote. This again demonstrates that the centrists and Blairites manipulating the debate and still focusing their attacks on Corbyn know full well that this achieves nothing except keeping the Tories in power. At this point in time if Labour ran on a second referendum they know the Tories would reap all the Leave constituencies and stay in power indefinitely. That is the political reality. The only way to stop the worst possible Brexit outcome is to get the Tories out of government and to implement Labour’s manifesto promises.
The reason this isn’t the top priority for neoliberal centrists and right-wingers is because their aim has always been
undermine Jeremy Corbyn and any future leftist Labour government. They
would rather have the Conservative Party remain in government (and
deliver any Tory Brexit) than for Jeremy Corbyn to become prime minister
and end austerity.
the priority for neoliberal centrists and right-wingers has always been to
undermine jeremy corbyn and any future leftist labour government. they would rather have the conservative party remain in government (and deliver a tory brexit) than for jeremy corbyn to become prime minister and end austerity. their aim has never been to actually stop brexit because they know they don’t have the numbers. their primary concern continues to be to stop an ascendant labour left.