Questions for Keir – Jewish Labour members need answers

JVL go canvassing in Westminster for the left wing Jewish Labour candidate, Gordon Nardell

JVL Introduction

Author and campaigner David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialists Group, has a long track record in anti-racism work generally, as well as in education and campaigning about antisemitism, both professionally and at a more grassroots level.

So he feels qualified to ask Keir Starmer some pointed questions.

Who, he asks, will speak for the non-Zionist and anti-Zionist Jews who are Labour Party members if he is only meeting the JLM? Who will speak for secular Jews when he meets the Board of Deputies? Will he engage with grassroots Jewish Labour Party members in Jewish Voice for Labour?

We can only hope that Starmer takes this intervention seriously and look forward to a constructive response.

This article was originally published by Davesrebellion on Sun 5 Apr 2020. Read the original here.

Questions for Keir – Jewish Labour members need answers

Dear Keir,

Congratulations on winning the Labour leadership contest. I will confess that I did not vote for you, and also that, because the campaigning period for the contest had been significantly truncated by the Coronavirus emergency in which lives were and are being lost at the most alarming rate because of Government failures, I also proposed through social media that the contest should have been suspended, to be resumed later in the year.

Given that Jeremy Corbyn, as Labour Leader, was playing the central role in holding the government to account on these failures and putting forward alternative proposals for action, I suggested that Labour should have established an interim Emergency Shadow Cabinet Leadership consisting of Jeremy Corbyn and the three leadership candidates, which would last until the pandemic was receding and life was returning to normal, before formally resuming the campaigning period for the Leadership.

That didn’t happen, and we are where we are. You are now in that central position. But as an active, ordinary, Jewish Labour Party member, an elected officer in my CLP, and a trade union branch officer in the NEU, I wanted to address you directly, Keir, in relation to a  concrete initiative that you took yesterday – your letter to Marie Van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies. I want to ask you several questions.

My status as “an active, ordinary, Jewish Labour Party member” ought to be a sufficient reason for me to wish to communicate with you on this, but perhaps I need to say a bit more.

Singing a Yiddish song of resistance at a memorial in Auschwitz/Birkenau, 2019

I have been involved in anti-racism, as well as education and campaigning about antisemitism both professionally and at a more grassroots level for several decades. In the 1980s I worked for the GLC-funded Jewish Cultural and Anti-Racist Project. After Margaret Thatcher closed down the GLC, I worked for several years at the Runnymede Trust. During each of the last four years I have helped lead an educational initiative that takes multicultural, cross-generational groups of trade unionists and anti-racist activists to Krakow and Auschwitz where we learn about antisemitism, past and present, and make links with other bigotries that are reemerging so menacingly especially in Europe and America today.

In 2011, I published a book about the Jewish confrontation with fascism and antisemitism in 1930s Britain (Battle for the East End). I teach adult education courses that include aspects of London’s Jewish history and another focusing on Jewish life and death in Warsaw with a central focus on the Warsaw Ghetto and the Uprising of 1943. In 2016 I was the overall convenor of Cable Street 80 – the celebration of an immensely proud moment in the history of London, the Jewish community and the labour movement, when people united across communities in huge numbers to prevent thousands of Mosley’s uniformed and jackbooted fascists from terrorising people in predominantly Jewish streets in the East End.

Marching along Cable Street 2016

At the two rallies – before and following a commemorative march – Labour was represented by three MPs: Rushanara Ali, Dawn Butler, and Jeremy Corbyn who made a very moving concluding speech. The other (now retired) Tower Hamlets MP, Jim Fitzpatrick, was out of London that weekend but was very helpful and supportive of the event. Other speakers included the Labour Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, several trade union speakers, including TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, and representatives of Bangladeshi, Irish and Jewish bodies (including the Jewish Labour Movement and the Jewish Socialists’ Group, and Cable street veteran Max Levitas). You may have been there too among the 3,000-strong crowd. Our only regret was that London’s Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan, was the sole politician not to reply to several invitations to speak.

So to my questions. You say in your letter that you “will be speaking with the Jewish community” but could I ask you to clarify who you mean by the Jewish community? In addition to Marie Van der Zyl’s organisation (the Board of Deputies), you have listed three organisations, the Jewish leadership Council (JLC), the Community Security Trust, and the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM). The first two of these are entirely unelected, while the Board of Deputies has a severe democratic deficit. The Board has a monthly “parliament” meeting of representatives, mostly elected through synagogues in uncontested elections. At least until recently, some of these synagogues were denying women members a vote for their representatives.

This “parliament” debates issues but the key decisions of the Board are made by paid officers. The significant and growing Haredi (ultra-orthodox) communities don’t recognise the authority of the Board of Deputies. How are the estimated 50% of secular Jews represented by the Board? The majority of Jewish Labour Party members are secular Jews.

The BoD record in opposing antisemitism is a very chequered one, to put it charitably, They told Jews to stay indoors on the day of the Battle of Cable Street; they denounced the courageous 43 Group who took on fascists immediately after World War 2; they discouraged Jews from joining the largest mass anti-fascist and anti-racist movement in the 1970s, at a time when the National Front was menacing communities. All this was because of sectarian political differences. Thankfully at all these junctures, many ordinary Jewish people ignored the BoD’s injunctions. You probably know that Marie Van der Zyl’s Tory predecessor as President of the BoD, Jonathan Arkush, was one of the first to heap lavish praise “on behalf of Britain’s Jews”, on Donald Trump, when he was elected US President, despite the fact that 70% of American Jews voted against Trump and an extreme scarcity of British Jews who support him!

In recent years I have visited Poland several times (Warsaw and Krakow). I am all too aware of the unsavoury regimes in central and Eastern Europe, where antisemitism rides in tandem with Islamophobia and anti-Roma prejudice, and also aware of the Conservative Party’s close alliance with their leaders through the Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament before Brexit.  Outside of that group too, Tory leaders have been full of praise and support for Hungary ‘s Premier, Victor Orban. Does it not worry you, Keir, that in the last 10 years, the BoD, JLC, and CST, who claim to challenge antisemitism in a non-party political manner, have been so muted in expressing any criticism of these regimes and of the Tory’s close associations with them?

I also wonder this, Keir: where in your letter can I find an indication that you intend to engage with grassroots Jewish Labour Party members, ? I suspect you will answer by pointing to your plan to meet with JLM, and certainly they represent a section of the Party’s Jewish members. Long ago, in their previous incarnation as Poale Zion, they had a history of Labour Party activism, trade union work and anti-fascist engagement, but I am sure you are aware that they are far from representative of all Jewish Labour Party members. You do not have to be Jewish or a Labour Party member to be a member of JLM but you do have to sign up to an explicitly Zionist constitution.

This immediately excludes a large proportion of Jewish Labour Party members who, if  asked to define themselves in relation to Zionism, would reply that they are non-Zionist or anti-Zionist. And they would do so either on the grounds that their most relevant terrain of political engagement is here, in Britain, not in Israel. They happily consider themselves Diasporic Jews. Or they might express varying degrees of disapproval or outrage about the injustices and human rights abuses committed by the Israeli government, military, and settlers against Palestinians, which has been exacerbated by Israel’s Nation-State Law of 2018, a law condemned by many Israeli commentators as an “apartheid law”. I know many Jewish people, young and old, who have joined the Labour Party since 2015, enthused by it becoming a more radical party fighting for social justice and with an explicitly ethical approach to international issues, including Israel/Palestine. What plans do you have to engage with these members, Keir?

I am a grassroots member of a Jewish Labour organisation called Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) which was launched at a meeting attended by 300 people at the Labour Party’s Conference Fringe in 2017. JVL does not stipulate taking a particular position on Zionism as a condition of membership. Its Statement of Principles says: “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”, and “We stand for rights and justice for Jewish people everywhere, and against wrongs and injustice to Palestinians and other oppressed people anywhere.” On many anti-racist and anti-fascist protests I have marched and participated alongside JVL members but seen no presence at all from the Jewish bodies you have declared you wish to meet with.

During the General Election in 2019, I was active campaigning in several marginal constituencies, often in the company of other Jewish Labour Party members. I was quite shocked to find that JLM had declared that they were boycotting the General Election and would only be working for a Labour victory in a handful of constituencies. The contrast with JVL, which encouraged its members to canvass wherever they were, for every Labour candidate, whether supporters of the leadership or not, as well as doing specific work in certain marginals, was very stark. JVL now has over 1,000 members in constituencies across the country. Unlike JLM, full voting members have to be Labour Party members and define themselves as Jewish. So, Keir, can you confirm that you intend to meet with JVL too, and that you would also like to meet with non-Zionist and anti-Zionist Jews who are Labour Party members?

Some final questions. I was a member of the Labour Party for a few years in the 1980s (in Newham, then in Camden) but was disillusioned by the party’s rightward drift and dropped out, though I remained personally close to many Labour activists and worked with them in a range of progressive campaigns. I rejoined (in Islington) in 2015, as Labour shifted towards becoming more explicitly a member-led party. It grew enormously in size and potential. It is a party where, unlike the Tories, democracy counts. Our members make policy. But that is why I found it disturbing that all the leadership candidates and a majority, though not all, of the deputy leadership candidates, were so quick to sign up to a series of pledges from an external third party that many considered anti-Labour. What if these pledges conflict with member-led policy decided at Conference? And what about the excellent proposals that many members were involved in developing that were presented at the Race and Faith Manifesto launch in November 2019. Will you seek to honour that manifesto? And how would you justify handing over party disciplinary matters to a body unrelated, unaccountable and often hostile to the Labour Party?

In your letter to the Board of Deputies you said you wished to reiterate your “commitment to stamping out antisemitism within the party”: a commitment I am entirely at one with, along with stamping out other bigotries and forms of discrimination. How that is done has proven to be complex and problematic. While I have certainly encountered antisemitism in wider society, for example on public transport, at football grounds, in online commentary, I have not encountered it in the Labour Party, but I know members who have.

There are of course real incidents that must be dealt with, though we know from Jennie Formby’s statistical analysis that it is a very small number, and people don’t generally join Labour to indulge in bigotry (the Tories maybe!) We also know that many allegations of antisemitism relate to commentary on the Israel/Palestine question, where those accused may not have realised they have crossed a line from strong but fair comment to bigotry. Shami Chakrabarti did some excellent work on this, proposing that education should be the first resort and heavy-handed discipline the last resort. Do you agree with her about this, Keir?

I hope you will address these questions, because these are of considerable importance to many Jewish members who feel that the Labour Party speaks to their concerns to a much greater extent than the Board of Deputies ever will.


David Rosenberg

Comments (48)

  • Glyn Secker says:

    This is a truly formidable letter. It puts Starmer truly on the spot and I will admit to being astounded if he gives the assurances asked for. Everyone who has given credence to Starmer’s left wing assertions should observe him carefully and measure him against this script. But be prepared, you may be seriously disappointed

  • Abe Hayeem says:

    Brilliant letter – we must insist that Starmer responds to this, and if not expose his deliberate bias in favour of the bodies that are hostile to this section of Jewish membership described by David Rosenberg, and not to Jewish grassroots members who do not subscribe to the views of the unelected bodies within and outside the Labour Party.

  • Janet Crosley says:

    Thankyou David. I totally agree with your questions, and look forward to Kiers reply. As a non voting member l am awaiting Kiers actions, hopefully they will not be so restricted as his words

  • Dave Hill says:

    Brilliant letter from David Rosenberg
    Dave Hill (Professor, anti-racist socialist trade union and Labour Party activist)

  • Diana Neslen says:

    Truly an excellent letter. If Sir Keir’s commitment to ‘unifying the party’ has any substance then surely he should respond with alacrity. He should not be hobnobbing only with people who have shown little real interest in attacking antisemitism from the right which has always posed an extreme danger to Jews. He should be reaching out to those Jews who have actively supported the party during the last election and whose support he seems to take for granted

  • Paul Smith says:

    Starmer has just got rid of Burgon. We can guess one reason.

  • A brilliant letter and I look forward to seeing Keir Starmer’s reply

  • David Quinn says:

    Thank you David excellent letter and I really hope you get a clear and honest response.

  • Gary Webb says:

    The right wing Jewish lobby seem to have a dis – proportionate voice in relation to the crucial issues facing our country. I abhor discrimination at any level but things need putting in perpective. Top of my list would be the groups in society who don’t really have an appropriate voice…. the poor and homeless to name but two. Storm in a teacup is the phrase that springs to mind.

  • Nye says:

    As a 73 year old socialist member of the Labour Party I have nowhere to go any more. I have fought racism, anti-semitism and any kind of prejudice all my life and I am ashamed to see this man grovelling for forgiveness in front of these Tories. As long as can remember anti-semitism was the norm in the establishment, the right wing, the Christian churches but NEVER the Labour Party. The last Labour PM like this took us into an illegal war and was warned by Corbyn that he would unleash years of potential terror on this island and it was proved right.
    The left and right of the party are no longer compatible in any way and we should split. I want no part of Starmer, Hodge or the LFI.

  • David Hancock says:

    What fantastic points you make David. I applaud you, not just only on your commitment buts also, and more enthusiastically for your awareness and concern regarding the Zionist movement Trojan Horsing the Labour party rank and file. This concerns me and a lot of potential voters dearly and whilst this concern still exists I can only say that until it is sorted I cant ethically support the Labour party.
    I wish you luck.
    Best wishes

  • Mike Scott says:

    Good letter, but I’m not holding my breath on any sort of answer! Looking at the make up of the Shadow Cabinet, there’s just the merest nod to the left and I genuinely fear a purge of the likes of us. I can see us labelled as boat rockers and the new Militant – and of course, the Wrong Sort of Jews.

    I hope I’m wrong but it’s difficult to be optimistic.

  • Rene Gimpel says:

    A wonderful, pertinent letter. Please keep us posted on any reply. I was offended that Keir Starmer failed to reach out to secular Jews in the Party, to those of us -and we are many- who stayed with Labour because it is our political home, who campaigned vigorously for Labour because it is our political hope. Your letter summarises the issue succinctly.

  • vicki gilbert says:

    thank you for excellent letter

  • Jenny Kassman says:

    Thank you, David! An excellent letter which expresses thoughts which have passed through many people’s minds in one way or another during the past few days, but which you have marshalled beautifully, I hope you receive an honest and thoughtful reply, but……..

  • Jennifer Joy-Matthews says:

    Thank you for writing this, your questions are apposite and I look forward to Keir’s answers.

  • Benny Ross says:

    I would be happy to sign this well-expressed letter, or an edited version of it if you launch it as an open letter from lots of us. He needs to realise how many keen, loyal and committed Labour activists are deeply concerned about the BoD’s and JLM’s assumptions that they are the only legitimate representatives of UK Jews. Thank you for writing it.

  • Lynne Segal says:

    Excellent letter, David, thanks, Lynne

  • Marge Berer says:

    I also think this is an excellent letter and I would also like to sign it, if you want signatories, David. I wrote to Keir not long ago about some of these same points when I tabled the Cambridge CLP motion on these issues in my branch. I did not receive a reply. I voted for him because I think he will be strong on many other issues. Perhaps asking to see him in person would be a far better way to have this conversation.

  • Linda Edmondson says:

    Excellent letter, thank you. It needs to be read by Labour voters (some of whom will be Jewish, but many not). At the risk of seeming naive (knowing how many joint letters have failed to get published on this subject over the past few years), I’d suggest a signed version to be sent to the Guardian as an open letter. It may have as much chance of being published as you have of receiving a considered reply from Starmer! Worth a try?

  • Oona Ellis says:

    A very interesting letter which I totally agree with.
    The election has perturbed me. Keir , in my opinion, is anti Palestinine. He equates being anti zionists as being anti Semites to further his agenda.
    Mister Rosenberg, I am looking forward meeting you one day, you actually make sense..
    Stay, you and your family, safe and well.

  • Elizabeth Dore says:

    Excellent letter. I suggest JVL ask for a virtual meeting with Starmer to discuss these issues to which all JVL members will be invited to join.

  • Teresa Steele says:

    Thank you for this excellent letter, I live in hope that you get an honest response.

  • Linda Watson says:

    An excellent letter, and one I hope will be read carefully and responded to. I am a non Jewish labour member. I have been seriously confused and troubled by the influence on the labour party that some Jewish groups have over other Jewish groups. If the inner turmoil within the labour party is to be tackled, the need for the inclusion of ALL Jews, should be paramount within discussions.

  • helen marks says:

    exvellent letter. I think Starmer should note that many of those suspended or expelled were Jewish, Black or Muslim and the LP is at risk of losing these members from the BAME communities if they dont pay attention to all forms of racism and prejudice and not just antisemitism.

  • christina evans says:

    Think you are well placed to ask Keir Starmer. If Mr Starmer says he is engaging with jewish labour members he should engage with all jewish labour groups. Is he a true leader unafraid of dealing with these matters or is he just a zionist apologist? I hope he affords you courtesy and respect and doesnt just ignore you.

  • Derek says:

    David, you speak for us all. I think Starmer’s letter to the BOD was in advance of him naming the full Shadow Cabinet (correct me if I’m wrong, but whatever, it was mighty hasty). I am currently under investigation for my pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli Government Tweets. Interesting to see how Labour under Starmer deals with me and many others in a similar situation. (I’ve been a LP member for almost 50 years).

  • Andy Came says:

    An excellent letter and so many valid points raised, I truly do hope you get a reply and if and when you do please post so that we can see the answers you get from the new leader of the Labour party

  • Halton Arp says:

    This is an excellent letter. There will be no remotely satisfactory reply from the man who has appointed the Zionist Nandy as shadow foreign secretary. Is there any point in remaining in a party whose leadership supports racism, apartheid, and genocide? We should be campaign against these people. Not trying to make them the government

  • Helen Martins says:

    Awesome. Thank you David!

  • Ian Anders says:

    Hello David,
    some interesting questions and facts, I hope you get an answer on all, but some would be great to. This small piece has also educated me on the different groups. Although I was aware and thought I understood them, from your short summary I do not.
    I hope you get a reply from Keir, it is important for yourselves and the LAbour party that all groups are understood fully and involved, I can imagine how frustrating it is for yourselves. Please stay safe during current times
    Ian Anders

  • Geoff Eyre says:

    It’s clear Starmer should consult with JVL. Why is he not also consulting with the Haredi (ultra-orthodox) communities as well

  • David Kirsopp says:

    Thank you David. This is an excellent letter which truly and profoundly represents my views in this subject.

  • Rebekah Judah says:

    Brilliant Letter David, at last a voice for us left wing Jews in the party. Surely Mr Starmer has to hear our voices too?

  • Richard Samson says:

    An excellent letter.

    But will he even grace it with an answer?

  • Joan says:

    Excellent. Look forward to hearing Keir Starmer‘s response. I was extremely angry to hear him talk about AS in Labour during his speech as if we were all a bunch of antisemites who he was personally going to ‘root out’.

  • Chris Critchley says:

    As a non-Jewish Labour party member, these ‘clarifications’ are of primary importance. Starmer is wholly aware of his responsibility in these matters, so in calling for ‘unity’, [his historic record notwithstanding], it would be of galaxy-class hypocrisy were he not to respond, point for point. The very ‘soul’ of The Labour Party is already in question and by refusal to engage with these reasonable questions, another marker will be put down in its slow, lingering death. Thank you and solidarity, David.

  • Elizabeth Ramsden says:

    Brilliant letter. I couldn’t have put it better.

  • I agree with all you have said David. My father a Labour man who worked for Jewish Londoners in 3 firms. I got to meet them. I will never forget Ted Kid Lewis, a world champion at welter + middle.He would get abuse from other boxers including Jack Brittain. It was either you Yiddish this or you Irish that. Ted did go to Jack’s funeral in Boston. Weigh in’s are a lot like that now. The Hebrew scriptures at proverbs12:verses 18,19, warn us about thoughtless speech. Much of it learned from cultural society (our homes too sometimes) which is cruel and ungodly whatever your faith. I understood this at an early age, my background is northern Irish.

  • George Hardy says:

    Not just Jewish members, David.
    Many thousands of us non Jewish members have been appalled by the attacks on JVL activists.
    During the Channel 4 TV leaders debate, the most memorable scene was when two Labour members said they would consider not voting for any of the three candidates until they stood up for the 99.9% of us who have no truck with antisemitism.

  • RC says:

    Linda Watson proposes the inclusion of ALL Jews within the party. Perhaps this is a typo – but why should Jews (including Tory and fascist Jews – see Geoffrey Alderman’s research) be privileged over all others? Today’s Guardian contains a truly revolting piece of triumphalism from the so-called Jewish leaders, praising Starmer for prioritising their sectional concerns over working on responses to the coronavirus. This is in effect a repetition of the ‘poisoning wells’ libel – but in a new guise – a glorification of privileging narrow Tory Jewish interests over the health of the people of this country – and of all who may have contact with that population. With ‘friends’ like this, there is no need for conscious and purposeful anti-semites (OS ie – ‘old style’…). This is a blatant and institutionalised instigation of pogroms. We in JVL must make it clear that we renounce and oppose all manifestations of the mentality that first and foremost asks ‘Is it good for the Jews?’.

    With the proposal to adopt an ‘independent’ disciplinary body to defend the Israeli apartheid state by threatening any LP member who infringes the infinitely elastic IHRA ‘definition’ of antisemitism, the LP will lose any claim to be a democratic party in which members and other constituent elements decide the rules which govern us. We would rightly be described as an instrument of Zionist and/or Tory domination.
    But to leave the party even under such circumstances would be treachery (and, especially to leave the socialist movement altogether), however understandable such an ’emotional spasm’ may be. The LP has always been in Lenin’s words a bourgeois workers’ party – and as long as it has that electoral and emotional link with the working class, however attenuated, we must stay and fight. If it crosses the bridge of complete PASOKification, we must review the situation. We are the Jewish Voice for Labour because labour means the working class and the socialist requirements of that class – not the ‘One Nation’/Fortress UK rhetoric of a previous decade.

  • Jo Alwxader says:

    Excellent letter – of great interest to non-Jewish Labour Party members, particularly those who belong to organisations campaigning on behalf of Palestine, like Jewish Network for Palestine and HaringeyJustice for Palestine.

  • Edward Hill says:

    Having made rapport with the Board of Deputies a first priority for his leadership of the Labour Party, why would Keir Starmer jeopardise his early ‘success’ by engaging with members of what the Board dismisses as “fringe organisations”? By ignoring points-of-view such as those stated so well by David Rosenberg, he may eventually rid himself of some of the awkward brigade through resignation, while the balance of the party shifts towards his supporters. He would not be Ignoring the ‘left’ of the party, because the likes of Momentum and Open Labour agree that only Jewish Labour Movement speaks for Jewish Labour members.

  • Thank you, David Rosenberg, for speaking for those of us who are ashamed of what has happening, and what is happening.

  • Alexander Gavin says:

    An excellent letter but I think the best you can hope for is a simple acknowledgment. Mr. Starmer dare not engage with your letter as he would come to the same rational conclusion as JVL, that the Labour Party is not any more antisemitic than the general population and is actually less so.
    Sadly, Jeremy Corbyn put up little fight against the false claims of antisemitism, Chris Williamson appears to have been hounded out of the party for daring to say labour should fight back against the false claims of antisemitism.
    Mr. Starmer seems to be planning to win over the JLM and other groups by appeasement, this didn’t work for Mr. Corbyn so it won’t work now. All the groups attacking labour, I think, will do all in their power to keep labour from government. A labour government led by someone like Jeremy Corbyn might go and recognise Palestine at the UN which would be a nightmare for the groups referred to.
    The right wing of the Labour Party (I can hardly believe I’ve written that) has two major problems I can see apart fro the false claims of antisemitism. The first is the fact that the Labour Party vote in Scotland collapsed before Jeremy Corbyn was anywhere near power and the second is the huge rise in membership of the Labour Party in support of Jeremy Corbyn.

  • Carolyn Gelenter says:

    I wrote this in response to a zoom meeting called by Keir Starmer for his constituents after he won the leadership election. So far no reply…
    Dear Keir
    Firstly congratulations and thank you for setting up this zoom meeting so soon after the leadership elections.
    I am a bit frustrated as I was under the impression that anyone could ask questions and it wasn’t made clear that questions were only for panelists (although I think there was someone who asked a question from Gilbratar?). I do understand about the difficulties of setting up a zoom meeting but I think this could have been prepared before the meeting and many of my friends were disappointed not to have been able to join.
    As someone who did not support you as leader, I am indeed heartened to hear that you are saying that you will listen to people like me too, so I would really and genuinely like to know how are you going to do that in practice?
    I am a member of a branch where I attend regular meetings and try to get involved but am never able to get beyond going to branch meetings, for example to get on a committee, because the AGMs are always stacked in favour of those already on the committee who are in total agreement with your leadership and are not prepared to have different views represented.
    I cannot even get a suggestion for a Palestinian Labour Party member to be invited to the meetings to talk about Palestine, agreed upon, as it is always blocked as being too controversial – despite Labour Party official policy on Palestine.
    I heard you reassured a Jewish person who raised a question about anti-semitism, about tackling this in the party and reassuring representative bodies, ie the Jewish Board of Deputies. Have you met with anyone else?
    Yet I am also Jewish. My view is not represented by the Board of Deputies and there are many other Jewish people in Camden who feel as I do that the issue is not about anti-semitism but rather about supporting Israel or not. So how do you plan on representing my view point in disagreement to signing up to the 10 point BoD plan? How does this exclusive relationship with one Jewish body represent all Jews or align with LP policy on Palestine? Whenever I write to you with a disagreement I never get an answer. So if you really do want to be accountable to ALL your members I would appreciate your response to these comments and questions.
    I am seriously thinking of leaving the Labour Party not because you were elected leader but because it is an extremely frustrating experience to genuinely want to get involved in the party and be blocked by the leadership in my branch. My experience so far is that you are not really listening or representing people like myself and now that you are leader I wonder if that situation will become more entrenched or whether you will seriously address these kinds of polarised issues in your branches.
    Please respond to this email.
    Thank you and kind regards
    Carolyn Gelenter

  • Gerry Glyde says:

    Carolyn, your letter is very similar to one that I wrote to to Keir the same day. Like you , I a wait his reply with interest but given that I wrote to him during the campaign asking him as a lawyer, how he could support BoD demand 5, whilst supporting the principle of natural justice I am not expecting that a response will be forthcoming.

  • Judith Brown says:

    I resigned from the party when all candidates signed the 10 pledges and also all supported in some way trans rights as more important than women’s rights. Free speech is more important than belonging to a political party. But if Kier Starmer answered these questions it would make me feel that I had a place in the party and would consider supporting it again

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