Jewish Labour and Momentum clash over stance on EHRC changes at conference

JVL Introduction

The Jewish Labour Movement continue to interpret as antisemitism any and all disagreements with their view of “how things should be”.

Here they launch into a vicious attack on Momentum for having advised delegates to reject the constitutional changes, purporting to be required by the EHRC Report, which were passed at Conference.

Read Momentum’s response to the JLM complaint below. It explains their wholly justified concerns about  “serious problems” with the proposals that “risk undermining its effectiveness and the confidence of members in it”.

They baulk at the concentration of power in the hands of the Party’s General Secretary as well as the fact that, as we have evidenced, a disproportionate number of Jewish Party members have been targeted through the complaints system.

JVL made several submissions to the EHRC and, following its publications, an extensive critical analysis of the Report and its recommendations, How the EHRC Got It So Wrong: Antisemitism and the Labour Party. It is still free to download from Verso Books.

This article was originally published by LabourList on Tue 5 Oct 2021. Read the original here.

Jewish Labour and Momentum clash over stance on EHRC changes at conference

The Jewish Labour Movement has demanded to know why Momentum urged delegates at the annual Labour Party conference to vote against rule changes mandated by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

In a letter sent today to Momentum co-chairs Gaya Sriskanthan and Andrew Scattergood, JLM chair Mike Katz and secretary Adam Langleben said they were “dismayed” that the group had recommended that delegates vote against the reforms.

JLM said the decision “utterly undermines any claim Momentum may make about wanting to tackle antisemitism” and asked the Momentum co-chairs to explain the move. They put the following questions to Sriskanthan and Scattergood:

  • “Can you confirm that this was the position Momentum took?
  • “If so, we would like to know what clarification you sought from the EHRC on their view of the proposals, given your justification that the rule changes were a “flawed interpretation” of the commissions’ report?
  • “What interaction you had with party staff responsible for drawing up the proposals to interrogate their legal soundness and the contact that they had with the EHRC on the changes?
  • “Given that the party had a legal obligation to meet the EHRC’s recommendation to introduce and independent system, what alternative did you propose to ensure that the party was not issued with an enforcement notice by the commission?”

Sriskanthan and Scattergood responded today, saying: “Momentum welcomed the publication of the EHRC report in a published statement at the time, and we are firmly committed to tackling all forms of racism, including antisemitism, whether in the Labour Party or in society.”

The pair said in their own letter that they support an independent complaints system but there are “serious problems” with the proposals passed by conference that “risk undermining its effectiveness and the confidence of members in it”.

They noted that the changes hand “considerable power” to the general secretary of the party, David Evans, who has “proven himself incapable of acting independently” and “pursued a blatantly factional agenda” according to Momentum.

“Giving substantial power in the new complaints process to the now extremely politicised role of general secretary risks seriously undermining its functioning,” Sriskanthan and Scattergood wrote to the party-affiliated JLM today.

“Now the new complaints process has been approved by Labour conference we sincerely hope it functions But we remain extremely concerned that the general secretary will in his actions at some point undermine it. We hope we are wrong.”

The exchange between the two groups follows the first annual party conference since the EHRC published its report into antisemitism within the party in October 2020, in which it found Labour responsible for “unlawful acts“.

Momentum urged delegates to vote against the EHRC rule changes, including a new disciplinary process with independent oversight. They were passed with the backing of 73.64% of delegates, as 26.36% opposed the reforms.

The new complaints system will apply to all complaints about antisemitism, Islamophobia, other forms of racism, sexual harassment, and discrimination on the grounds of disability, sexual orientation, age, religion or belief, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership.

Katz and Langleben also told the Momentum co-chairs in their letter today that they were “especially troubled by some of the rhetoric” regarding the former chair of the left-wing organisation, Jon Lansman.

“He has been a central target of left antisemites for over two years and much of the abuse has been clearly antisemitic in nature. We remain dismayed that Momentum have not called any of this out,” the JLM reps wrote.

“In fact, despite antisemitism remaining a serious problem we do not believe that, under your leadership, Momentum has taken any steps at all at addressing this.”

In response, Sriskanthan and Scattergood said they maintain a “constructive relationship” with Momentum co-founder Lansman, and added that they “strongly challenge any implication that we have somehow failed him”.


Comments (5)

  • SB says:

    Interesting defence of the rule changes by JLM.

    I seem to recall that the EHRC said that any disciplinary process in the Labour Party had to be independent of the Leadership. Indeed, the very act of a General Secretary or a Party Leader interfering in a disciplinary case (even if it was to simply expedite the case) was deemed “indirect discrimination” and therefore unlawful.

    Now, it seems, we are being told by the JLM that putting the current General Secretary in charge of the disciplinary process is indeed exactly what the EHRC ordered. Really? Even though the post of General Secretary is now in the gift of the Leader, and therefore political and by definition, not independent.

    At the time of the release of the EHRC report, I have another strong recollection of the EHRC’s recommendations being welcomed right across the Party and beyond.

    Except for one sole dissenting voice: Peter Mandelson.

    Now, why would the noble Lord be so opposed to the establishment of an independent, non-factional disciplinary process?

    I leave that for others better placed than I to judge.

    However, it occurs to me that what we are getting is more in tune with Mandelson’s model than the EHRC’s. Now why would the JLM be trying to insist otherwise?

  • I am surprised that JVL has nothing critical to say about the pathetically weak Momentum letter. You really should not let Momentum off the hook when they say ‘“Momentum welcomed the publication of the EHRC report in a published statement at the time”.

    JVL fully knows how flawed the Report was. It was an example of state interference in a democratic political party (!). The Report was not only legally flawed but produced by a Commissioner Gavin Henderson who himself has far-Right sympathies.

    Its definition of harassment in terms of political speech has massive implications for free speech.

    And of course the EHRC turns a blind eye to Islamaphobia.

    Momentum should have called for the Labour Party to reject the Report not accept it. It should have called out the politics driving it and if an enforcement notice had been served then it should have either judicially reviewed it or simply refuse to comply.

    Momentum all along has accepted the fake and false antisemitism campaign and the accompanying narrative.

    Yes it’s good that Momentum advised rejection but it did so on the weakest possible grounds.

    And if the Momentum co-chairs had had any bottle they’d have called out the JLM for what they are, Israel’s representatives inside the Labour Party and told them to mind their own business about how Momentum advises its supporters.

  • Paul Smirh says:

    Is this the first move by the JLM to have Momentum proscribed?

  • Stephen Richards says:

    May I suggest an independent investigation into who the EHRC are & which organisations they have represented as barristers or lawyers in their professional capacity?

  • Mike Pevitt says:

    If Momentum were to be proscribed, how many Labour councils would be lost, going independent due to many labour councillors being also momentum members. Having read the report it does say that there should be no interference in the disciplinary procedure by the leader, so Starmer has effectively ignored the report.

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