Starmer meets with Jewish groups vowing to tackle the party’s alleged anti-semitism

Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer MP on visit to Manchester and Oldham.

JVL Introduction

Will Keir Starmer take the opportunity he has to reform Labour’s disciplinary procedures in the direction outlined by Shami Chakrabarti, putting natural justice, due process, transparency and proportionality at their heart?

The messages to date are not encouraging.

But we would expect someone with Starmer’s human rights background and track record to resist being influenced by the punitive and sectarian polices advocated by some of the bodies he has recently been in contact with and to consult more widely.

This article was originally published by the Morning Star on Tue 7 Apr 2020. Read the original here.

Starmer meets with Jewish groups vowing to tackle the party's alleged anti-semitism

Left-wing organisation Jewish Voice for Labour says it hope the new leader will ‘extend the same courtesy to Jews like us: active party members who take a different political view’

KEIR STARMER promised Jewish groups today that a report on outstanding investigations into alleged anti-semitism in the Labour Party will be “on my desk at the end of the week.”

In a video conference with the groups and Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner, the new leader also discussed his “ambition to roll out training of all Labour Party staff as soon as practically possible.”

He said he wants to set up a “complaints process co-operating fully with the Equality & Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into alleged anti-semitism in the party.”

The meeting included Board of Deputies of British Jews president Marie van der Zyl, Jewish Leadership Council chairman Jonathan Goldstein, Community Security Trust chairman Gerald Ronson and Jewish Labour Movement chairman Mike Katz.

The groups praised him for his pledges, saying he has “already achieved in four days [of leadership] more than his predecessor in four years,” referring to Jeremy Corbyn.

Speaking to the Star, a spokeswoman for the left-wing Jewish Voice for Labour said that the group understands the pressure on Mr Starmer to engage with the right-wing groups, “even though they have shown extreme hostility to the Labour Party in recent times.”

She said: “We trust that, in the interests of the party unity to which he has committed himself, he will extend the same courtesy to Jews like us who are active and enthusiastic party members but take a different political view.

“We also look forward to hearing that he is making similar approaches to the Muslim Council of Britain and other groups representing a range of opinions among Muslims, people of colour, refugee, migrant and Roma groups.

“We remember that Jeremy Corbyn’s first move as leader in 2015 was to speak at a huge Refugees Welcome march in central London. We trust that Keir Starmer will, similarly, lead the party in firm opposition to all forms of racism and discrimination.”

Jewish Socialists’ Group spokesman David Rosenberg said that Mr Starmer has put himself in the “embarrassing” situation of promising to tackle anti-semitism — but then appointing Rachel Reeves in his shadow cabinet the next day.

He said: “Rachel Reeves disgraced herself late last year by celebrating Nancy Astor, the first woman MP to take her seat in Westminster.

“[She was] waxing lyrical about her and completely ignoring her very unrestrained anti-semitism and pro-nazism, as if that didn’t matter at all.”

Comments (9)

  • Margaret West says:

    Agree with all of that – of course KS does need to engage with the right wing groups – just so long as he also makes similar approaches to the JVL, the Muslim Council and other groups.

    About Rachel Reeves – I have not read her piece on Nancy Astor. Maybe she did not know about Astors anti semitism and nazi-ism? I’m afraid some commentators can be negligent in checking the back ground of
    those they support – was Reeves challenged on this?

  • RC says:

    Astor was a notorious figure for many reasons: a leader in the appeasement Cliveden set, she fatuously denounced the British Eighth Army, which at the time was fighting the Wehrmacht in conditions far worse than the Allies faced in Normandy, as “D-Day dodgers”. This piece of reactionary – and arguably treasonable – fatuity provoked the squaddies to an ironic song:”We are the D-Day dodgers, in sunny Italy – always on the vino, always on the spree…..” And how about this Astor quote from Charmley’s biography of W Churchill (Churchill, The End of Glory, p 336): (on 7 April 1938, when commitments to Czechoslovakia were being discussed in the Foreign Affairs Committee, denouncing an advocate of such a commitment) “You must be a bloody Jew to say a thing like that”. Churchill replied:”I have never before heard such an insult to an MP as the words just used by that bitch”. Reeves endorses and celebrates an explicit and antisemitic reactionary – plainly she establishes herself as an overt antisemite.
    It is pleasant to recall that the woman was not even the first female to be elected to Westminster: that honour goes to the glorious Sinn Fein member, Countess Markiewicz; as a person of honour, she of course did not take her seat in what Lenin insisted on referring to as “their parliament” (ie, an institution of the bourgeoisie).

  • Les Hartop says:

    Well perhaps Keir Starmer may pause to reflect on the news that the Jewish Chronicle is not popular enough amongst Jewish and jewish heritage people in the UK to even remain in publication !

    Clearly not enough people enjoyed reading their anti-Corbyn scare stories over their breakfasts every week for the last four or five years.

    It also indicates that there were not enough JLM members committed enough to pay the subscription lol.

    Is it a silly idea to get some celebrities, like Michael Rosen, to make contact with Keir and explain what is going on ?

  • Mary Davies says:

    Excellent comments JVL.

  • Andrew Hornung says:

    As some of you will know, my wife and I are currently stuck in Australia thanks to the Covid-19 crisis. So, every morning I go to the BBC New site to read what’s going on in Britain. Here’s the first sentence of the first article on that site this morning: Sir Keir Starmer has “achieved more in four days” than Jeremy Corbyn did “in four years” on tackling anti-Semitism, Jewish community leaders have said.
    Is this issue – apart from the Covid-19 crisis – really the most important thing in Britain today? And aren’t they powerful things those inverted commas? They allow an organisation dedicated on paper to political balance and even-handedness to highlight the damning of the outgoing Labour leadership, endorse the newly elected one and present as “achieved” what has only been promised. “Mission Accomplished” as George W Bush would say.
    If anybody thought that this issue – by this I don’t mean anti-Semitism, I mean the accusations of anti-Semitism – would go away once Jeremy Corbyn was no longer Party leader, they were wrong. The “Jewish community leaders” – in many cases self-appointed and in all cases unrepresentative – are determined to keep it in the headlines. And Keir Starmer is on hand to help them: in an otherwise quite impressive and understandably very general speech, he made the need to fight anti-Semitism in the Labour Party as the number one specific pledge.
    The first obvious question to ask is: is this really the number one issue for Labour to deal with? Of all the problems facing the Party and society is this really top of the list? Have the “Jewish community leaders” managed to skew Labour’s political priorities so much that no mention is made of the measures that need to be taken to ensure that the situation of the poor doesn’t worsen disproportionately in the current crisis; so much that no mention is made of the harm that austerity politics has made to social welfare; so much that Islamophobia – a much more prevalent form of racism gets no mention…
    The only explanation can be that Kier Starmer believes that the removal of what he calls “a stain on our Party” is the necessary pre-condition for cleansing the Party’s image and thereby making it electable. The trouble is that his words indicate that he largely accepts the truth of the accusations made against Labour by these “Jewish community leaders”. Of course, in a speech of this kind you wouldn’t expect details, statistics and so on but all serious studies show that the Labour Party is not riddled with anti-Semitism and reinforcing the canard that it is – to quote the rule-book – brings the Party into disrepute, misinforms the public and gives rise to the reasonable fear that the witch-hunt and the abuses of Party democracy will continue and possibly sharpen.

  • RH says:

    The response of the leadership candidates to the BoD’s outrageous demands was my litmus test when it came to voting in the contest.

    That being the case, for the first time in my life of voting in elections, I found myself unable to make a choice (having always promulgated the line that not doing so was a self-righteous cop-out).

    All I can say is that, in retrospect, I see nothing that would alter my stance.

    *Human Rights* lawyer? Penetrating intellect? Moral compass?

    Beam me up, Scottie.

  • Doug says:

    Excellent point from Andrew Hornung and others about Keir effectively bringing the party into disrepute
    Safest country in Europe for the Jewish community thanks to JC and Labour party
    99.9% of members are not Anti Semitic
    No charge due to a lack of evidence !

  • Doug says:

    It’s a winning betting slip we can keep in our back pocket ready to cash in if required,
    EHRC could be traduced now by simply asking why are you not investigating the Conservative Party now
    Keir has a choice to come down like a tonne of bricks on those named in this report, who plainly lost us the 2017 election
    The fact he was largely responsible for losing us the 2019 election is another question
    First and foremost members and JC supporters stay and fight for our party

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