Butler, Burgon bring house down at deputy hustings

JVL Introduction

At last!

Some candidates in the deputy leadership contest have refused to be silenced by the demands made by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Added 19 Jan: LeedsLive report on the hustings, focusing on Richard Burgon’s position, following the Skwawkbox article.

This article was originally published by Skwawkbox on Sun 19 Jan 2020. Read the original here.

Video: Butler, Burgon bring house down at deputy hustings – by standing up for members and all Jewish people

Labour deputy leader hopefuls Dawn Butler and Richard Burgon stood out from their rivals – and from the leadership candidates – at yesterday’s hustings in Liverpool with their thoughtful and impassioned responses on a number of topics.

And on the issue of antisemitism in the Labour Party, they brought the house down by their measured answers.

After the other candidates had made rote responses on the issue, Butler and Burgon stood up for Labour members against claims that any form of racism is rampant in the party. Both reaffirmed their absolute determination to deal with antisemitism where it exists – as it surely does.

And both said they would not sign up to the ten demands issued by the Board of Deputies (BOD), as their deputy rivals and all the leadership candidates have.

Butler said that she wanted to wait until she had seen the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report on antisemitism in the party – and that getting the response right is too important to be rushed.

Burgon added that he had concerns about some of the demands; that it would not be right for Labour to ‘outsource’ its handling of the issue; that he wanted to ensure that all Jewish groups have a voice – the BOD has demanded that only organisations of which it approves should be consulted; and he said he wanted to talk to the BOD about how the IHRA working definition of antisemitism could be implented in the Labour Party without compromising freedom of expression or the rights of Palestinians:

The response of the audience to both speakers suggested that the vast majority of those present welcomed their commitment to deal with this serious issue in a way that respects and involves all Jewish groups and protects the rights of Palestinians.


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Labour deputy leadership candidate Richard Burgon won’t sign anti-Semitism pledge as he ‘has concerns’

The Leeds East MP told a hustings in Liverpool why he hasn’t signed the document

By Stephanie Finnegan & Dan Bloom,LeedsLive, 19 Jan 2020

Labour deputy leader hopeful Richard Burgon is not backing a set of anti-Semitism pledges issued by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

The Leeds East MP condemned anti-Semitism but said yesterday (Saturday) that he ‘has not signed and won’t be signing’ the document as he has concerns, Mirror Online reports.

His deputy leadership rival Dawn Butler, Labour’s Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary, also said she would not sign the pledges.

The 10 requests, which are backed by all leadership candidates, include making an ‘independent provider’ responsible for complaints, engaging more with ‘main representative groups’ and not ‘fringe’ bodies, and banning those expelled over anti-Semitism for life.

They also include adopting the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism ‘without qualification’.

Left-wing leadership hopeful Rebecca Long-Bailey said today she ‘doesn’t have a problem with’ the 10 requests while her rival Lisa Nandy added the rebuilding of trust ‘starts with these pledges and that starts right now’.

But Mr Burgon told a hustings in Liverpool: “I will support the leader in fighting anti-Semitism in our party and fighting anti-Semitism in society. I do believe, obviously, in working with the Board of Deputies in the fight against anti-Semitism. I have not signed and won’t be signing the 10 pledges however, because of some concerns I have.

“Firstly, I’m concerned about outsourcing our complaints procedure and how that would work in practice, so I think that needs clarfiying.

“But secondly I want to work with the Board of Deputies and all Jewish organisations against discrimination.

“I’m concerned that the minorities within a minority – whether it be LGBT Jewish people, black Jewish people, Jewish people who are religious minority within that minority – their voices need to be heard as well. We need to listen and act with the whole Jewish community.”

Mr Burgon added there was ‘no place for anti-Semitism or anti-Semites in our party’.

Fellow candidate Dawn Butler took a similar view, saying: “The EHRC (Equalities and Human Rights Commission) are investigating us at the moment. It’s nothing to be proud of.

“And I don’t want to jump the gun on whatever they come out with. So I haven’t signed the 10 pledges because I want the EHRC report to be implemented in the party.

“And then we sit down with the Board of Deputies, JLM, the other Jewish groups, and we have a discussion about where we go next.

“I don’t want to rush this. It’s too important to rush it and we have to get it right.”

She added she ‘hates racism and it has to be eradicated’ and those who are responsible should be ‘booted out’.

Both Ms Butler’s and Mr Burgon’s comments drew loud applause from the parts of the audience in Liverpool.

The details of the Board of Deputies pledges have angered some activists on the left of the party, who say they would undermine Labour’s independence.

But Young Labour chair Miriam Mirwitch hit out at Mr Burgon’s ‘unacceptable’ stance.

She said it ‘normalises some abhorrent views’ and ‘actively harms any attempts to rebuild trust with our community’.

Jewish Labour NEC member Joshua Garfield tweeted: “Burgon is going out of his way for the crank vote. A vote that, had the party properly handled complaints, wouldn’t exist anymore.

“Heartbreaking to see MPs I once respected fall behind his campaign.”

It came as other candidates for deputy also set out their stalls at the hustings in Liverpool.

Rosena Allin-Khan said every candidate for leader and deputy should apologise to the Jewish community.

She said her first major meeting would be with the Jewish Labour Movement, she would adopt all EHRC recommendations, and cases would have a time limit and be investigated independently.

Ian Murray said he wanted ‘every single case of anti-Semitism on my desk every week’ and a ‘zero-tolerance approach’.

Angela Rayner told the hustings that the problem ‘can’t be outsourced’ and internal processes must be up to scratch, adding: “There have been anti-Semites in this party and we’ve got to kick them out immediately.”

Mr Burgon also said he wanted to extend the ‘democratisation’ of the Labour Party with full open selections for MP candidates.

Pledging loyalty to the next leader after Jeremy Corbyn clashed with his deputy Tom Watson, Ms Butler said: “I will never, ever, ever join a coup because no one votes for a disunited party.”

But rival Ian Murray said: “You need to be a critical friend in order to reflect that voice of the Labour movement.”

Frontrunner Angela Rayner added: “I have always been a friend that has not been shy of saying what needs to be said.”

Comments (12)

  • Alasdair MacVarish says:

    no concessions whatever should be made to the Board of Deputies or the Jewish Labour Movement and the latter dis-affiliated. Both are minority factions among Jews and a down-right pain in the arse.

  • Frances Rifkin says:

    What a relief! As a (jewish) supporter of the Palestinians and progressive Israelis, thanks for showing some resistance to the disgraceful behaviour of the Board of Deputies and the cowardice of the leadership contenders.

  • Rory Bancroft says:

    Stop whitewashing Corbyn.
    The man is a friend of organisations that wish to kill Jews worldwide.
    You are a bunch of Quizzlings

  • David Hawkins says:

    It is a historical fact (acknowledged by Labour Friends of Israel) that Israel would have a Palestinian majority but for the violent ethnic cleansing that occurred in 1948. It is also a fact that the Board of Deputies works tirelessly to support the ethnic status quo in Israel and opposes a Palestinian Right of Return to Israel. So it seems to me that the price for “building trust” with the section of the Jewish Community that the BoD represents is implicitly recognising the validity of violent Ethnic Cleansing and opposing rectification. Labour should oppose ALL racism without fear of favour and that includes both anti Semitism and violent, premeditated ethnic cleansing. If the price for “building trust” is compromising on Labour’s opposition to racism, it is a price too far.

  • M. Pascoe says:

    I want a Labour leader who can stand up to this attempt to further weaken the LP.

  • Any concessions to the BoD will be a concession to the past three years of anti-Corbyn activity, part of the battle between the membership and the Parliamentary Labour Party.

  • Pam Laurance says:

    Hooray for the principled, intelligent, sensitive, kind and brave way that Dawn B (our MP) and Richard B have dealt with this….so far.

  • Dee Howard says:

    Good response from Burgon but he didn’t mention all the secular Jews. They are just as likely to suffer antisemitism aren’t they?

  • Gerry Glyde says:

    Mr Bancroft can you supply us some factual detail of ‘whitewashing Corbyn’. No generalised slogans, no snippets from tabloid press just detailed evidence please.

  • Mark Francis says:

    Whatever we think of Hamas they are the elected representatives of the Palestinians. JC reached out to the IRA although to be fair at the time the British Army was having secret weekly meetings with them) and now we have the Good Friday Peace Agreement. Working for peace seems to get you few friends.
    Perhaps the fire bombing of Exeter Synagogue in July 2019by a neo Nazi lunatic might be a clearer example of anti-Semitism than endlessly trawling social media to quote mine people

  • Joycelyn Gage says:

    I think that Dawn Butler and Richard Burgon attitude to the 10 pledges are absolutely right.
    Rosena Allin-Khan needs to reflect on the research outcome into anti-semitism in the Labour Party before making statements of that kind, and Miriam Mirwitch needs to do the same.

  • David says:

    Sensible approach from Richard Burgon and Dawn Butler. The other leadership candidates should be encouraged to take the same position.

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