Enough already – restore the Labour whip to Jeremy Corbyn!

JVL Introduction

Julia Bard and David Rosenberg speak for us all in their call for the whip to be restored immediately to Jeremy Corbyn.

This article was originally published by Julia Bard's webpage / Rebel Notes on Wed 17 Feb 2021. Read the original here.

Restore the Labour whip to Jeremy Corbyn!

This morning, David Rosenberg and Julia Bard sent a letter as Jewish Labour Party members to Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner calling for the immediate restoration of the Labour whip to Jeremy Corbyn.

On 18th February 2021 it will be three months since it was withdrawn.

Dear Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner

We are Jewish members of Islington North Constituency Labour Party and we are calling for the whip to be restored to our MP, Jeremy Corbyn. Since we moved into the constituency in 1996, he has continuously represented us as a Labour Member of Parliament, winning overwhelming majorities in every election.

We agreed with the conclusion of the National Executive Committee panel, who decided unanimously and on the basis of legal advice to reinstate Jeremy Corbyn on 17th November 2020 after he had been unjustly suspended less than three weeks earlier. So, like many others, including a substantial number of NEC members, we were dismayed by the injustice of withdrawing the whip immediately after his reinstatement to the Labour Party.

We consider ourselves privileged to be represented by such an exemplary constituency MP. Until the whip was removed, Jeremy Corbyn attended every CLP General Meeting unless there was an absolutely unavoidable reason for his absence, and gave the CLP detailed regular reports on all his work, local, regional, national and international.

Unlike so many other Members of Parliament, he is rooted in and committed to serving the people of his constituency. He knows every corner of Islington North and has built constructive relationships with every community in it. This is an area where many individuals and communities are suffering from poverty, discrimination and fear. Jeremy Corbyn is always accessible to his constituents and is tireless in his support of those who are struggling to sustain themselves and their families, to live decent lives and to fulfil their potential in the face of inequality and injustice.

We are both involved in Mutual Aid – two of thousands in Islington who rushed to volunteer as the pandemic struck, to ensure that everyone in our community is cared for. We are proud to reflect this culture of solidarity and kindness which our MP has been so instrumental in establishing in Islington, and we have had his active and consistent support and appreciation throughout this tragic period.

As Jewish Party members, we sympathise strongly with his critique of the political and media commentary on the EHRC report on the Investigation into Antisemitism in the Labour Party. Many other Jewish and non-Jewish Labour Party members have, like us, privately expressed similar responses to the report in the absurd situation where we are forbidden to discuss within Labour Party meetings a report on the Labour Party. As Jews who have been combatting and educating people about antisemitism over decades (including being educators on trips to Auschwitz for trade unionists, students and antiracist activists), it was clear to us that Jeremy Corbyn’s comments confirmed the facts, which were misused by people with factional political agendas and were misreported by the media.

Here is just one of a number of examples of such misuse and misreporting. In February 2019, Margaret Hodge tweeted about having submitted 200 complaints of antisemitism to the Labour Party. Inevitably, the media headlines unquestioningly reproduced her claims. In fact, as the then General Secretary Jennie Formby clarified, the Party had investigated and found that many of those reports were duplicates and actually referred to 111 individuals (not 200), and of those, only 20 were Labour Party members (The Guardian, 12th Feb 2019 https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/feb/12/formby-denies-labour-leadership-is-ignoring-mps-on-antisemitism). The General Secretary published data on all the complaints of antisemitism the Party had received, the actions that were taken and the outcomes. In response, according to the BBC, “Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge tweeted a warning not to trust the figures.” (11th Feb 2019 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-47203397)

While we believe strongly that allegations of antisemitism must be treated very seriously, unlike some of those making the complaints, we support the legal principle that accusations need to be supported by evidence in order to be proven.

Furthermore, we resent non-Jews queuing up to tell us how Jews feel,  dictating a single prescribed response to the EHRC report and treating the EHRC as infallible. This is especially concerning given two stark criticisms of the EHRC shortly after its publication. Firstly, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights declared: “We find that the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has been unable to adequately provide leadership and gain trust in tackling racial inequality in the protection and promotion of human rights.” (p.4 https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/3376/documents/32359/default/. Following this, the EHRC was condemned by women working at the BBC for its report on the Corporation’s gender pay gap (https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/bbc-equal-pay-findings-come-under-fire/). No one in the Labour party has been threatened with suspension for allowing discussion of these reports.

We know that antisemitism in British society is real and growing on the watch of Conservative governments since 2010. This ranges from prejudice, harassment, conspiracy theories and verbal hostility through to violence and desecration of synagogues, cemeteries and other institutions. But like hundreds of other Jews who we know personally or know of, we challenge the claim that Jews are not safe in the Labour Party. We have always felt safe, welcome and valued within our ward and Constituency Party. In this situation, what does make us feel unsafe is the strong sense that antisemitism is being used instrumentally, for political purposes, and not out of concern for the wellbeing of Jewish people. This instrumentalisation creates confusion about actual antisemitism and undermines attempts to challenge it.

The Jewish community, like all other communities and societies, is diverse, pluralist and embodies conflicting experiences, interests and perspectives. There are several bodies in the Jewish community which claim, falsely, to give a unified voice to this diversity, and they have declared their support for the Party’s summary punishment of Jeremy Corbyn. As many Jewish Labour Party members have said repeatedly since the claims of antisemitism against Jeremy Corbyn began (coincidentally, when he was elected as leader of the Party), these institutions do not represent us or our experiences. Indeed, we struggle to understand how they have more right to comment on the internal disciplinary procedures of a Party they neither belong to nor support than Party members like Jeremy Corbyn.

Three months after the the whip was unjustly removed from him, we call for it to be immediately and unconditionally restored. We look forward to continuing to work with our many-times-democratically-elected MP on the crucial issues of human rights and social justice, locally, nationally and globally, to which he has so consistently devoted himself.

Yours sincerely

Julia Bard and David Rosenberg
Members of Islington North CLP

Comments (16)

  • DJ says:

    A really good letter. Who else would be willing to publish it?

  • Terence McGinity says:

    How abundantly clear it is that this was never about antisemitism but a means to be rid of the Left. I’m reminded of Raynor’s statement that Jeremy Corbyn was telling the truth but the truth shouldn’t be told. Meantime Palestinian villages are laid flat, Gaza remains a prison and the West Bank Occupied whilst essential vaccines are denied by the Occupying force. Meantime an anti racist truth teller is exiled from the PLP and its members barred from expressing support. And the Tories are getting away with their vile governing. Starmer and Evan’s must go.

  • Tim says:

    Excellent letter! Interesting question from DJ.

  • Paul Leach says:

    Its not just Islington residents who know their MP and support him in huge numbers. In 2019 claims of anti-Semitism didn’t stop 10.3 million people voting Labour in the full knowledge (and hope) that their vote could put Jeremy into No 10. His campaigning changed people’s minds for the better on lots of issues, while Sir Kier has wasted a year throwing it away in lacklustre opposition not to this awful Government but to members of his own party. And it doesn’t even work, according to the polls. Attacking your own side gets you nowhere, just ask Neil Kinnock.

  • John Bowley says:

    A fine and wholly factual statement by genuine Labour Party members. .

  • Eveline says:

    excellent letter, but I fear that those to whom it concerns won’t even bother to read it. the party is in a bad place right now.

  • Sabine Ebert-Forbes says:

    Brilliant letter. If the addressees fail to act on it as they should (returning the whip to Jeremy Corbyn), then they are beyond redemption.

  • John Thatcher says:

    Excellent letter, and excellent responses here below the line. Thank you.

  • Stephen Williams says:

    Not just the Labour Party but the media is in a bad place.. As an example , The Guardian was brave enough to publish a comment from me about the Labour Party on CIF. I was a little surprised- Jonathon Freedland must have been on holiday- but then noticed that my reference to Jewish Voice for Labour being side-lined by Starmer was censored. Some things must not be said.

  • Doug says:

    The PLP has been in a bad place for to long
    It’s called the Pantomime Dame conundrum
    How do you sack them on the spot when they commit Gross Misconduct just like everyone else in the real world

  • Mary Davies says:

    A superb letter and beautiful tribute to an exceptionally decent man.

  • Helen Marks says:

    Excellent letter. As a Jewish member of the Labour Party I too feel an enormous sense of frustration at the way the right wing of the party with the support of the mainstream media have used antisemitism for their own political ends and sidelined or punished the voices of Jews who hold a different opinion. Thank you for speakimg out.

  • Chris Proffitt says:

    Here here…so eloquently expressed.

  • jo says:

    Very well articulated – I agree wholeheartedly. There can be no-one better qualified to comment on this issue than Jewish members of Corbyn’s own constituency

  • Tony says:

    An important statement by Jeremy Corbyn about the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW):

    Jeremy Corbyn MP, Vice-President of CND:

    “The majority of British people understand that nuclear weapons are both a threat to the future of humanity and a grotesque waste of money that could be used wisely to provide real security.
    We must all step up our campaigning efforts to force the British Government to sign the ban treaty. And we must step up our campaigning for an end to Trident, with defence diversification and job security.”

    To support Jeremy Corbyn in this worthy goal, please ask your MP to support the treaty using the lobbying facility below:

    https://cnd.eaction.org.uk/EDM1072/search

  • Doug says:

    The only statement on Trident we will ever need came from Michael Portillo Conservative Defence Minister ‘Trident is neither a deterrent nor independent ‘

Comments are now closed.