“A Plan for Decency in the Labour Party”

JVL Introduction

Recently Omar Salem, is a member of Open Labour and the Society of Labour Lawyers, put forward what is called “A Plan for Decency in the Labour Party”.

Designed to “foster a culture of inclusion and respect, and drive antisemites, islamophobes, racists, misogynists, harassers, trolls and their ilk from the Labour Party”, it makes a number of proposals, some of which we agree with, others quite strongly not.

But it is generally couched in a language of inclusiveness and reasoned debate, so we were astounded to find in it the following statement:

“The concern that Labour should not be prevented from engaging with smaller groups within a minority group has been addressed by making clear that this is meant to only prevent engagement with fringe groups that are not committed to non-discrimination, such as Jewish Voice for Labour.”

Skwawkbox asked JVL for a response and we gave a strong rebuttal to the bizarre and deeply offensive notion that we are not committed to non-discrimination. It is included in the article below.

Dawn Butler, who signed up to support the Open Labour statement has made it clear that her commitment to involving ‘other Jewish community groups’ includes JVL.

This article was originally published by Skwawkbox on Tue 25 Feb 2020. Read the original here.

Excl: Butler – I've signed 'Decency Plan' but I will not cut out JVL

Latest version of ‘ten pledges’ says it is intended to ensure ‘non-discrimination’ – but explicitly discriminates against at least one group of Jewish Labour supporters

Labour deputy leadership candidate Dawn Butler has tweeted her support for Open Labour’s so-called ‘Plan for Decency’:

Thank you Happy to sign this. I believe these are solid solutions and I hope that the party will take them on board no matter who the leader is. I will continue to also be reaching out to other Jewish community groups. https://t.co/CxnzmdQwBh

— (((Dawn Butler))) (@DawnButlerBrent) February 23, 2020

This is the name given to what Open Labour says,

is in large part based on Jewish Labour Movement’s (“JLM”) submission to Labour race and faith manifesto consultation and the ten pledges that the Board of Deputies of British Jews

and which the group says “attempts to address some of the concerns raised about them”.

However, while Dawn Butler’s tweet said that she would continue to reach out to ‘other Jewish community groups’ and the Open Labour ‘plan’ demands that future Labour candidates sign a commitment to ‘non-discrimination’, the plan itself explicitly discriminates against at least one Jewish group of Labour supporters.

One of the plan’s clarifications meant to address ‘concerns’ says:

The concern that Labour should not be prevented from engaging with smaller groups within a minority group has been addressed by making clear that this is meant to only prevent engagement with fringe groups that are not committed to non-discrimination, such as Jewish Voice for Labour.

The document does not appear to define the ‘non-discrimination’ to which it thinks Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) is not committed. However, a JVL spokesperson said:

We regard the statement that JVL is “not committed to non discrimination” as utterly absurd. We abhor all forms of discrimination. This is clearly expressed in our statement of principles which informs everything we do.

It says: “Our mission is to contribute to making the Labour Party an open, democratic and inclusive party, encouraging all ethnic groups and cultures to join and participate freely. As such we aim to strengthen the party in its opposition to all forms of racism including antisemitism, broadening the party’s appeal to all sections of British society.

“We take inspiration from the long history of Jewish involvement in the socialist and trade-union movements and in antiracist and antifascist struggles, including the anti-apartheid and civil-rights movements.”

To exclude our more than 1000 members and supporters from debate is itself discriminatory.

Last month, both Dawn Butler and fellow deputy leadership candidate Richard Burgon said that they would not sign up to the BOD’s list of demands, one of which also demanded the ostracising of JVL.

Butler said then that she wanted to wait until the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published its report on the Labour Party and that getting Labour’s response right was too important to rush.

Burgon added that he had a number of concerns and wanted to ensure that all Jewish groups have a voice, including “minorities within a minority” – and his comments received a huge welcome from the audience of Labour members:

And in spite of tweeting that she would support the Open Labour ‘plan’, Ms Butler clarified to the SKWAWKBOX that her commitment to involving ‘other Jewish community groups’ includes JVL, whatever the plan might say about it.

Other issues with the original demands remain largely unchanged by the ‘Plan for Decency’, which with fifteen points instead of ten has added potential complications.

The SKWAWKBOX asked Open Labour to clarify what it means by ‘non-discrimination’ and how it thinks JVL is not committed to it. No response was received by the time of publication.

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Comments (13)

  • RH says:

    More proof, I fear, that such diktats have to be thoroughly examined for hidden preconceptions and exclusions. Too often, such apparently innocent proclamations are sectarian wolves in sheeps’ clothing (viz. the IHRA ‘definition’, the BoD demands).

    The questions that always need to be asked are ‘What’s the motivation? What’s the interest group?’

    For politicians, the question is whether you would sign up to any street petition thrust under your nose without doing a bit of research.

  • Ian Saville says:

    Glad to see that Dawn has clarified her position. I understand from OL that this paper is not meant as an official position, but was a discussion paper from an individual member which they published but did not officially endorse. They should really make it clear if this is the case, and the author of the paper, Omar Salem, should be approached to explain what he meant by this, and should withdraw the unfortunate slur (along with the typos about “ant-bullying training”, wrong initials for the EHCR and others).
    By the way, I tried to put the foregoing as a comment on the original Skwawkbox article, but it is still “awaiting moderation” after a couple of days. I thought I might also comment on the Open Labour Facebook page, but apparently I’m persona non grata there too, as you have to join the group, and my answers to their questions must have been the wrong ones.

  • Mary Davies says:

    This unfounded defamation of JVL is unacceptable.

  • Tony Free says:

    Hard to understand how Dawn could sign 10 pledges with reading them fully. JVL represents jewish Labour party members yet what Dawn signed basicaly oulawed JVL. It supported JLM which purports to do the same as JVL and yet Labour party membership of JLM is not a prerequisite. More attention to detail is required of Labour’s deputy leader so Dawn won’t be getting my vote.

  • Dorothy Ma edo says:

    I fear a letter from m’learned friends may be the only way to stop these libels

  • Paul Leach says:

    Take out the double negative (which is poor use of English anyway) and you get:
    ” fringe groups that are committed to discrimination, such as Jewish Voice for Labour.”

  • Allan Howard says:

    Ian, regards skwawkbox, I can only assume – and I know from past experience – that the reason your comment is awaiting moderation is because it contains two or more links. One link in a post and it appears straight away……

  • Doreen Clifford says:

    Reading this
    “this is meant to only prevent engagement with fringe groups that are not committed to non-discrimination, such as Jewish Voice for Labour.” was quite shocking. I would never have joined JVL if I’d thought it was not committed to a democratic and fully inclusive party. Nothing I have read by JVL leads me to the conclusion that the statement is fair or truthful. This unjustly smears all it’s members and supporters. Well done Dawn.

  • Ian Saville says:

    Allan, there were no links in my comment, nor in the previous one that was not allowed.

  • DAVID ROGER says:

    It seems this is yet another front like JLM , CAA and now Stand Up to Racism (with its Friends of Israel flags and committee members ) set up really to whitewash israel and to silence all genuine anti racists .

  • Edward Hill says:

    Reading Open Labour’s socialist policy document ‘Position Paper 2019/20’ may provide insight into why that group is closed to Jewish Voice for Labour. In part 7 ‘A Plural Party’, in referring to anti-semitism, misogyny, transphobia and Islamaphobia, it says: “Open Labour resolves to work with any organisations aimed at fighting these forms of oppression within the party, as long as those organisations themselves behave in a way which is respectful to the rights and wellbeing of other members.”
    Part 21 ‘Inclusion, Representation and the Open Left’ tells us:”Open Labour stands with the Jewish Labour Movement as the only recognised representative body for Jewish people in the Labour Party, and their daily struggle against anti-Semitism.” As a result (part 7) “our members have worked this year to counter anti-Semitism. We called for Ken Livingstone’ s suspension from the party, supported JLM’ s submission to 2017 Labour Party conference and entered dialogue with both Hope not Hate and Momentum around how to counter the issue. In addition our treasurer Alex Sobel has joined the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism and spoken about his own experiences of anti-Semitic hatred in Parliament.”
    On 30 December 2019 Left Foot Forward posted an article by Omar Salem ‘Seven Questions Labour Must Answer’. Regarding “How can Labour rid itself of anti-Semitism?” he asserted that:”Labour should work closely with the Jewish Labour Movement.” One of the responses asked: “If the Jewish Labour Movement’s is to be included in the dialogue over anti-Semitism why not the Jewish Voice for Labour as well?” In ‘A Plan for Democracy’ Omar Salem’ s description “not committed to non-discrimination” Is clearly another of those fig-leaf terms organisations use to dismiss JVL without discussion.

  • Mark Francis says:

    Is this anti-Semitism?

  • William Johnston says:

    What I find most notable about the AS hunters is their air of outraged obsession. They will “root” out all discrimination. And, I suspect, if they can’t find any, they will invent it. My sense is that their lives revolve around this self-righteous rage. If they ran out of “perpetrators” their own lives would be over.

    So much hatred, supposedly in the service of rooting out hatred. Anyone who challenges this approach must also be rooted out and destroyed.

    A worrying case of: “If you aren’t for us, you’re against us.”

Comments are now closed.