The BoD’s attack on two Black MPs

JVL Introduction

The Labour Party is getting itself into a right old mess over two Black women MPS who spoke at a Don’t Leave Organise Zoom meeting.

Fury about the Party’s failure to deal with its own racism as revealed in the leaked Party report was already bubbling over and this meeting was to discuss that very issue: Labour Leaks – Lessons for the Left.

It was attended by over 600 people.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews didn’t like it one little bit, as the Canary explains…

This article was originally published by the Canary on Fri 1 May 2020. Read the original here.

Labour’s response to the attack on two of its Black female MPs is a f**king disgrace


The Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD) has called for the Labour Party to take “swift and decisive action” against two of its Black female MPs. The BoD’s gripe with the MPs in question – Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy – is that they appeared at a Zoom meeting where suspended Labour members were in attendance.

On 1 May, the Labour Party’s shadow home secretary explained what ‘decisive action’ the party has now taken on BBC Radio 4‘s Today programme. Suffice to say, it’s a fucking disgrace.

Wrong. And wrong.

BoD president Marie van der Zyl said of the Zoom meeting, which the group ‘Don’t Leave, Organise’ arranged:

As soon as we learnt about this we raised it with Keir Starmer’s office and with the Labour whips.

It is completely unacceptable that Labour MPs, and even ordinary members, should be sharing platforms with those that have been expelled from the Party for antisemitism.

There are numerous issues with this statement. Firstly, attending a Zoom meeting doesn’t necessarily put anyone on its ‘platform’. Hundreds of people can dial in to such meetings, but they don’t automatically get a ‘platform’ on the event.

Secondly, the BoD president claimed people on the ‘platform’ were “expelled from the Party for antisemitism”. Both the Jewish Chronicle and Politics Home named activist and writer Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein – both Jewish – as attendees of note regarding the BoD complaint. But as Walker noted:

Worse and worse

Now, Labour has revealed what ‘decisive action’ it’s taken against the MPs in question. Speaking on the Today programme, shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said:

they’ve been spoken to, I understand, very firmly about this… I think that the leader of the party was right to do that and to remind both the MPs of their responsibilities, and clearly no Labour MP should be sharing any platform with people who have been expelled from the party.

As people pointed out, Labour’s effective response then was to treat the MPs like schoolchildren who warranted a ticking off:

Meanwhile, some wondered whether the ‘no sharing a platform’ rule will be extended to all previously expelled members of the party:

Others also noted the disconnect between the BoD’s call for swift action against the two MPs and its apparent inaction on a recent report that identified people in the party who were “responsible for the failures in handling antisemitism complaints”:

Anti-Black racism and misogynoir

The leaked Labour report exposed “anti-Black racism” within the party. And it hasn’t gone unnoticed that, in its complaint, the BoD criticised Black Labour MPs who are women:

But rather than showing solidarity with the party’s Black female MPs, and calling out this cynical attack for what it was, the current Labour leadership near instantly gave the MPs a scolding. As The Canary‘s Kerry-Anne Mendoza pointed out, this was the new leadership’s “first showdown” with the sort of antisemitism smears against the party that were a constant during Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure.

Starmer’s leadership team failed these Black female MPs, badly. What a fucking disgrace.

Comments (32)

  • Margaret West says:

    I too was furious when I read that Labour MPs were to “stay clear of” members expelled because of anti-semitism. Now of course these members were not expelled because of anti-Semitism

    However do you know what it reminded me of? Sending people to Coventry over something they did or didn’t do .. Now this happened in the 1940s and 1950s to – I think – Trade Union Members and was condemned by the MSM. From what I can remember there was a play – and possibly also a film – about it where the person given this treatment committed suicide ..

    For this to happen now is particularly awful – when we are all facing a frightening future because of COVID – with BAME communities particularly affected.

  • Elizabeth Ramsden says:

    Solidarity with Diane and Bell. Never apologise to the racist appeasers. Stand your ground. You should have learnt your lesson – Jeremy Corbyn’s appeasement made things worse.

  • RH says:

    What a tangled web of nonsense – all deriving from the Party leadership’s lack of resistance to the BoD/Israel lobby’s blatant politicking, using the identity of Jewishness as cover.

    We can see plainly the emergence into the light of the partisan strategy of dissimulation that has occurred using the label of ‘antisemitism’ – to the eternal shame of those that have abused the term in search of political leadership. ‘Disgust’ is not too strong a term for a sane reaction to the perversion of a serious issue within the wider context of racism and prejudice. It defiles both sense and memory – especially because it seeks to divert attention from actual ethnic oppression. The dishonesty and hypocrisy is immense.

    Of course, those who were awake saw the tactics emerging with the issue of the IHRA mess of a fake ‘definition’ The pass was sold at that point – and the consequences seen in the hounding of real anti-racists.

    The Labour Party then crumbled again in endorsing guilt by association – and, of course, instead of facing down the blatant right wing political campaign, we had leadership candidates endorsing further totally insupportable demands from the enemies of the Party operating under an identity cover.

    Starmer is an experienced lawyer. I find it hard to justify his stance on the basis of ignorance of normal judicial crtieria. So – all one can say is a rehearsal of Nye Bevan’s words about Eden at the time of Suez :

    “If he believes what he is saying, then he is too *stupid* to be Prime Minister. If he *doesn’t* believe what he is saying, then he is too *dishonest* to be Prime Minister.”

    Choose the cap that fits ….

  • Who are these people? Are they sound in mind? How do they have the gall to make such ludicrous accusations against people who’ve been fighting real racism all their political lives? And why is the leadership falling so meekly into their traps again and again?

  • Jenny Kassman says:

    I think it is pretty clear by now that we can’t expect Starmer et al to show any concern or decency in their response to both the leaked report and the BoD. So I believe what should now be considered is what we, as a Jewish organisation are going to do. If we haven’t already done so, I hope we will be in touch with Diane Abbott & Bell Ribeiro-Addy to express our solidarity with them. As MPs of colour, they have experienced too much racism for us to by-pass them. (My apologies if JVL has already been in contact with them.) In my view we should be working with these 2 MPs, BAME Labour and with other representatives of the Black community outside the Labour Party in the UK about what our next steps will be. I would be very happy to help in this.

  • Peter Mason says:

    Most of those accused of antisemitism are not guilty of anything. They tried to show equal respect to the Palestinians whose land is being taken piece by piece. Many are paying with their lives. They don’t hate Jews or are antisemitic. They just feel if there is to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians then respect needs to be shown to both sides. That is the only way to peace.
    It also needs to be said that to only respect one party and to say the other is not to be respected is also being racist.
    The BOD cannot and should not have it all their own way and thus ignoring the Palestinians and the many Jews the board of deputies do not represent like the JVL (Jewish voice for labour) and other free thinking Jews.
    This whole affair has become very painful to watch and seeing good people who respect both Jews and Palestinians being accused of racism or antisemitism is so sad.

  • DAVID JONES says:

    “Expelled for antisemitism”!!!!!!!!! More lies from the biased public broadcaster. No mention that as far as I am aware it is not an offence within the party to speak to people who have been expelled.
    As for the Leadership’s comments on the issue – the less said the better. Reminds me of the 1930’s cartoon of the LP showing a dog (representing the LP) whose tail was labelled trade unions wagging the body and head – only it appears its the BoD now. I have lodged a complaint with the BBC (not that it will count for much).

  • John Bowley says:

    Whar crummy worse than weak Labour leadership we seem to have.

    Keir ought to get active in explaining himself, rather than in more hypocrisy.

  • Philip Ward says:

    Unfortunately, Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Diane Abbott didn’t defend themselves, or anyone else who might come under the BoD’s cosh. They apologised:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-52487758

    ‘A joint statement from a spokesman for Ms Abbott and Ms Ribeiro-Addy said: “The MPs were not aware that any suspended or expelled former members of the Labour Party might contribute as audience members.

    “They did not and would not share a platform with them. Both MPs are long-standing anti-racist campaigners and are known for standing up to all forms of bigotry.”‘

  • Mary Davies says:

    I would have more respect for the cowardly Keir Starmer if he took strong and decisive action against the disgusting racists exposed in the leaked report. He is a disgrace!

  • Andrew Hornung says:

    I’d sooner disciplinary action was taken against anyone who shared 10 pledges with the BoD.

  • Max Joseph Joshua Cook says:

    The BoD are a disgrace and starmer and his cabinet, they have given our GREAT movement over to these rabid right wing prigs.
    Its OUR movement to….not yours

  • Jean Watson says:

    Absolutely appalling and disgusting behavior from labour. How dare they protect those in the leaked report and fail to suspend the persons in the report committing racist and abusive attacks on members and mp’s yet instead choose to add and promote such despicable racist behavior by instead attacking victims of such vile abhorrent racism. I stand in solidarity with Diane and Bell and all innocent victims of the witch hunt.

  • Eveline says:

    I voted for Starmer because he promised to continue the socialist project, and he seemed less divisive than RLB. I was disappointed when he signed up to the BoD pledges, but then all candidates did, and I realised that if they hadn’t they would spend the rest of their campaign fighting the BoD. I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. But I’m beginning to wonder if that was a big mistake. It seems that the BoD is running the show to a large extent. They now claim the right to expel members at will, even highly respected and established members like Diane Abbott.I want Starmer and Rainey to stand up to that, not give in. I will not resign, because that would play in the hands of the BoD, but I will protest against this at evrry opportunity.

  • George Wilmers says:

    It is a reasonable assumption to make that Keir Starmer’s disgusting and craven obeisance to the BoD’s demands had an unspoken quid pro quo from the BoD leadership. Starmer is a sharp operator: he didn’t have to go as far as he did in proclaiming himself an unconditional Zionist, because since Corbyn and his collaborators have lost power, the BoD’s hysterical attacks on the Labour party as an institution no longer have quite the same resonance as before amongst the liberal hacks of the fourth estate.

    So what might the unspoken bargain be between Starmer and the current BoD leadership? One clue may be provided by the otherwise apparently insane attacks against the BoD leadership by the Tory right in the form of Robert Halfon MP, and the follow-up letter from 20 anonymous BoD dissident members supporting Halfon and accusing the leadership of being “intent on pursuing a left of centre political agenda and (having) a partisan bias.”
    https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/article/trouble-at-tmill/

    Could it be that there is a secret deal that the Labour Party will at all times unconditionally support the apartheid state as part of its foreign policy, expelling all leftwing dissidents as necessary, while in return the BoD will remain strictly neutral in domestic politics and refrain from attacks on the Labour Party? Or perhaps Starmer even hopes to win the tacit allegiance of the BoD to the Labour party by outcompeting the Tories in anti-Palestinian bigotry?

  • Dave Dwyer says:

    Does anyone expect better of the Starmer-led party. Unlike many I have time for Steamer but if be thinks costing up to the pro Israel lobby is going to lead to anything other than the most rabid of them continually using alleged anti-semitism as a weapon against a party opposed by the Chief Rabbi and his mate the PM, then he is a damn fool.

  • CVA says:

    After nearly 30 years as a member, I am giving myself until the next NEC’s elections. If the left manage to retain at least 5 out of the 9 seats reserved to CLPs, I will stay and fight. If we don’t manage to pull together I will leave. I refuse to be a member of the Party under a leadership that ignore the serious allegations of sabotage against the Party form higher up paid officials, and them engage in racist behaviour against two of its MPs

  • Pat Melia says:

    I am so Glad I left the Labour Party Last month. A supporter for 50yrs,I could see the direction the party was headed when they got rid of the most Honest Man there is. Starmer will only kowtow to the bod at there every whim.

  • JanP says:

    What a mess the Labour Party is Starmer! No good calling for unity if you are not analytic and proactive about it. It might as well be Bozo calling for 100,000 tests a day.

  • michael ryan says:

    Well if the report proves to be accurate ( no one seems to be disputing its content), then the prima facie case against a number of staffers and senior appointees will surely lead to their expulsion along with their co conspirators in the PLP. The die has been cast. All such expulsions will for evermore, deem those people personna non grata, never to be heard or seen at any event organised by the Labour party or any organisation that could possibly be associated with the Labour party. If they do turn up, invited, or not, then any Labour party member participating, or even being present at such an event must be disciplined, possibly, expelled.
    What’s that in the sky? Why it’s a pig, flying!

  • RH says:

    “So what might the unspoken bargain be between Starmer and the current BoD leadership?”

    George Wilmers asks a very pertinent question. As someone who has mainly used Occam’s Gillette substitute when faced with conspiracy theories, I find myself constantly with a growth of beard these days – because the instrument is much blunter than it used to be.

    As I’ve said earlier, he most unbelievable explanation for Starmer’s recent behaviour is that he is ignorant or credulous about what is actually going on. No-one with a serious legal background in the weighing of evidence could possibly support the fictions that we have been subjected to.

  • Margaret West says:

    What is a disgrace is that the alleged allegations, if true should be of interest to everyone but especially Labour voters.

    What has happened (allegedly) is that democracy itself has been violated and surely for that reason the expelled members have a right to speak at what was essentially a Public meeting? Do we know what they said at the meeting – I cannot remember even reading that ..!

    The Labour Party appears to have allowed themselves to be gas lighted – where the real blame lies in the bullies responsible.

    However RH’s point is well made – does that mean that ALL expelled ex LP members should be persona non grata?

    Not sure what I am going to do – I really want to stay in the LP and apart from anything else the Covid virus appears to have pushed most other things out of the lime light. Maybe the next few weeks will help clarify my mind ..

  • Dave Putson says:

    So Starmer can have “a serious word with Diane Abbott MP and Bell Ribeiro Addy MP for speaking at a zoom meeting ” but has nothing to say about the Labour leaked report, no suspensions…not even a cross word. Cor blimey wot a leader !!!

  • Shaukat Ali says:

    Labour Party should treat everyone equally regardless his race, colour and faith

  • Kwame says:

    Diane and Bel are two dynamic African female political warriors and they get my support all the way.

  • Gordon Churchill says:

    The BOD’s bigoted position and ‘ false facts’ mirror exactly the PM’s and government’s repeated distortions of facts and attempt to imprint a new imaginary in the public mind.

  • Daniel Hermon says:

    The Labour Party leadership has blindly supported an extreme right wing group against two black female mps in their own party which given the Labour Parties past stance on being anti-racist is disgusting.

  • Linda Poulson says:

    I left the party the day Keir Starmer became leader, he is going to allow the unelected and certainly not representing all Jews BoD dictate who the party should expel. From what I gather they are all Tory supporters anyway. The Labour Party is finished.

  • Christine says:

    I’m utterly disgusted with this new regimé’s kow towing to the BoD. Are they now in charge of our party? Does Israel demand obedience? And treating these excellent MPs like naughty children is so offensive. Tell the BoD to get out or Labour will lose us all.

  • Brian Powell says:

    Zionism is an ultra right wing ideology and for the leader of the Labour Party to say he is a Zionist supporter, is beyond all credible belief and should, when taken in conjunction with his support for India’s ultra right wing leader over his racist actions in Kashmir and Jammu, be grounds for his expulsion from the Party.

  • Abe Hayeem says:

    By targeting the two who were supposed to be on the platform, Tony Greenstein and Jacky Walker, both Jewish, (who were not expelled or suspended for antisemitism) the Labour Party and the Board of Deputies can be accused of antisemitism themselves, and of course targeting two black women MPs, of unalloyed racism.
    Something must be done to stop this surreal and Kafka-esque state of affairs. If not the Labour Party is descending into a mire from which it will be hard to extricate itself. This is the time when Labour should be grabbing the opportunity to effect real change against the government and even demand a new election due to the government’s outrageous mishandling of the pandemic. Instead the whole caboodle of the Israel Lobby will never end trying to bring it down, Corbyn or no-Corbyn. This is a serious threat to democracy and free speech and must be exposed as such.

  • John David Jones says:

    What about expelling the BoD from the Labour Party for practicing racism and mysoginism in regard to the two black women MPs and Jackie Walker, and antisemitism for going after Tony Greenstein AND Jackie Walker ALL unfairly and against the rules that the BoD has impressed upon our party..?! That is of course IF any of them are voting members of our party..? And then there’s the blind eye they turned on the double dealings practiced against Jeremy Corbyn during his leadership period by various of the party’s administrators revealed in the leaked report. Are we now going to pretend that it didn’t happen when SO many of the party membership know all about it..?! I wait with bated breath to see how Keir Starmer & Co. resolve this thorny problem…

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