Tackling Racism in the Party: Keynote speakers from JVL’s 2021 fringe meeting

The colour-themed themed Labour Pary banner, flying over the 2021 Party Confrence hall, gives a clear statement of the leadership's intended direction of travel

Richard Kuper

Richard Kuper reviews JVL’s role since its foundation in 2016, explaining why a Jewish not a Zionist voice for Labour was needed. Fighting against all forms of racism was a key objective but in practice our work was more and more in opposing the witch hunt of left-wingers, including left-wing Jews. And yet it is other forms of racism that are so prevalent in our society and Labour has responded very badly to them. Antisemitism, relatively low in reality, has to be dealt with appropriately. But it is treated as though it is the only form of racism that matters today. At the same time Labour as a Party has become particularly unwelcoming to left-wing Jews.

You can download the text which provides the basis of this talk here.

Andrea Gilbert

Andrea Gilbert of Labour Black Socialists sent solidarity to left-wing Jews. In her speech Andrea describes how Labour Black Socialists (LBS) was formed in 2018. Unfortunately, rather than being able to focus on the pressing issues affecting black communities, such as homelessness, Andrea found that LBS comrades were subjected to racial abuse. Complaints of racism to Keir Starmer and the National Executive Committee have been completely ignored and dismissed.

Droves of black members are leaving the Party, demotivated, disillusioned and with mental health problems. Andrea said: “We are fighting for our existence …. Engagement outside the Party with the Black community is a joke”. Andrea welcomed the support for LBS’s activism from Jewish Voice for Labour and comrades in Gypsy, Roma and Traveller groups which will continue to be essential if we are to achieve an anti-racist Labour Party.

Mike Cushman

Mike Cushman discusses a series of major JVL interventions aimed at protecting member’s rights in the face of the use of antisemitism allegations to silence and expel members. He covered:

  • the JVL response to the JLM dossier of supposed antisemitic events;
  • ‘How the EHRC got it so wrong’ eBook;
  • support for the Labour Activists for Justice claimants; and
  • the two recent submissions to the EHRC and the Forde inquiry.

Mike concluded by asking “Why is antisemitism a special case when our Black and Asian comrades feel unprotected”

Comments (8)

  • Daniel Sevitt says:

    Mike’s question, “Why is antisemitism a special case when our Black and Asian comrades feel unprotected?”

    Is typical straw-man, zero-sum daftness.

    JVL’s determination to conflate these two issues is exactly why they have no credibility on any form of anti-racism.

    We must fight equally hard to ensure that our Black and Asian comrades feel protected. If the only way for you to make that point is by denigrating the efforts the Party has made to make Jewish comrades feel protected then you are NOT an anti-racist.

    Antisemitism is not a special case. Your determination to dismiss the lived experience of British Jews is revolting and has NOTHING to do with Socialism.

    Solidarity with all Muslims, all people of colour, all Jews, all members of the LGBTQ community and anyone who has been discriminated against.

    I know you won’t publish this comment. Too much like free speech from a Jew who doesn’t agree with you. Hypocrites and cowards.

    • Mike Cushman says:

      From Labour Party Disputes report June 2021 https://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/June-2021-Disputes-Report.pdf

      It is clear there is no over-concentration on antisemitism in the Party, it’s just that antisemitism is 18 times more rife than anti-Black racism and 22 times more than Islamophobia

      2.6 Of the 392 cases determined by NEC Disputes sub-panels since 21 May 2020: 68.37% involved allegations of antisemitism; 14.54% related to constitutional matters; 3.83% involved anti-black racism; 3.83% involved bullying and harassment; 3.32% involved sexism, 3.06% involved Islamophobia.

  • Dave says:

    Daniel must have missed the years long wall to wall reporting of the Labour antisemitism ‘crisis’ and must still be missing that it’s ongoing and resulting in Jewish socialists being investigated and expelled. If he honestly believes this is proportionate to actual antisemitism in Labour then I wonder what he understands antisemitism to be.

  • Bobbie C. says:

    As so many Jewish folk have been denoted ‘anti-Semetic’ is this an issue the Jewish faith outside of politics needs to focus on for ‘an anti-Semitism conundrum’ rather than go-in all guns blazing in finger-pointing at the UK Labour Party per se that could be seen as a distraction of and for a faith unwilling to look into its own disparate, undivided soul?

  • Ian Kemp says:

    seems that Danial is missing something Dave. I was surprised to say the least by his post. Surely he must if has come across the gross misuse of Anti Semitism in the media directed against what can be described as left wing Jews and Starmer and the right wing of LP weaponizing this very serious problem in the world generally.
    when in actual fact looking at all the evidence it is very small inside LP members. It was grossly exaggerated for political purposes.
    One needs courage to spell this out.
    The media will not allow you a fair hearing. The more liberal news papers like Guardian and Observer are highly selective. The MSM are not interested. The BBC well, it is not objective . Channel 4 and John Snow occasionally show some sort of awareness.
    It is a very sad state of affairs.

  • George Wilmers says:

    “I know you won’t publish this comment. Too much like free speech from a Jew who doesn’t agree with you. Hypocrites and cowards.”

    I’m slightly puzzled by Daniel Sevitt’s intellectual masochism, since publication of his comment is somewhat embarrassing, whereas if it hadn’t been published the effort would merely have been futile. However assuming that his pursuit of dialogue is genuine and non-partisan, may I suggest that he now turns his attention to that scurrilous organ of the British establishment bearing the presumptious title “The Jewish Chronicle”, which normally publishes any argument or statement from JVL only in grossly distorted form, and which NEVER povides any links from its webpages to JVL’s website by which its readers could verify the accuracy of its claims. By contrast when citing the Jewish Chronicle JVL normally provides a link.

    Now there’s a useful task for you Daniel, as a champion of dialogue snd free speech. Write to the Jewish Chronicle pointing out the above together with JVL’s numerous factual refutations of the JC’s defamatory accusations, and end with your signature phrase

    “I know you won’t publish this comment. Too much like free speech from a Jew who doesn’t agree with you. Hypocrites and cowards.”

  • Margaret West says:

    David – as your comment *was* published you
    should not be surprised to see it challenged – I am making some points :

    (1) I see that the report involves complaints
    dealt with by the Disputes panel of the NEC.
    However what about complaints which never arrive at the NEC? There are allegations by black and muslim
    members that their complaints are never dealt with and there is no response. In some cases they receive a letter from the LP and suppose their complaint has been investigated – only to discover it is a complaint against *them* !

    (2) What do you think about the purge of Jewish Labour Party members? Do you not agree that the Jewish community has many voices – how can a Jewish person be anti -semitic?

    (3) Have you watched any testimony of an LP member thrown out of the Party – where the evidence is flimsy or non existent?

  • Bernard Grant says:

    Firstly thanks for the videos, all 3 speeches were very interesting and informative.
    I loved the passion that Mike put into his speech.
    David’s comments were silly, he was clearly twisting Mike’s words to suit his views.
    He came across as anti Left Socialist and Anti JVL, because we condemn the behaviour of Israel against Palestine.

Comments are now closed.