The deafening silence of the Board of Deputies

JVL introduction

In a new Labour Activists for Justice press release, 7th April 2021, the significance of the release of the Code of Conduct on Antisemitism is discussed.

Essentially, as many members of the NEC and others realised during the “great debate” on the IHRA definition, the document was useless because it gave no guidance to disciplinary panels etc as to how to use it in practice.

A good Code of Conduct was drawn up dealing with this precise issue to be met with howls of outrage that it was antisemitic to qualify the holy writ of the IHRA in any way. 

But the Code was never withdrawn and it was found to be essential to have it for internal use, while hiding it from those accused of antisemitism.   This enabled the Pary to misinterpret their own rules at will with no redress possible.

That has changed irrevocably now though this is of little help to people whose sanctioning predated this publication.

Labour Activists for Justice press release, 7th April 2021

The Labour Party re-released its Code of Practice on antisemitism last week. Noisily and vociferously described as antisemitic when first issued, the reception this time has been deafeningly silent.

In 2018 when the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn issued its antisemitism Code of Practice, the Code and Corbyn were immediately characterised as antisemitic by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Community Security Trust, the Campaign Against Antisemitism, Labour Party affiliate the Jewish Labour Movement, and The Guardian.

Shortly after it was issued the Party adopted the IHRA in full, and the code was assumed to have been withdrawn. But it is understood the party found the code was essential in order to apply the IHRA working definition. So the party kept using it, competently or not, to choose and judge cases where members are accused of antisemitic conduct, but without the accused, or indeed anybody outside the Labour hierarchy knowingabout it, except in occasional NCC hearings.

They didn’t dare make it public that they were still using it because, as Alex Barros-Curtis, the Party’s lawyer, said in recentevidence to the High Court, the Code was regarded internally as ‘incendiary.’

Now, under pressure of an impending court case, they have been forced to re-release it to public view. But where are the cries of ‘Antisemitic conduct!!’?  Nowhere to be seen or heard.

Could it be that the objectors haven’t noticed, or have they all changed their minds and it isn’t antisemitic after all? Or could it be what many Jewish experts wrote at the time: that this is a useful code and if used transparently and with understanding it could assist in determining antisemitism. In other words, is it one thing under Keir Starmer and another under Jeremy Corbyn?

Comments (5)

  • James Dickins says:

    This is deeply shocking – but given the state of the Labour Party under Keir Starmer hardly surprising at all.

  • Jan Brooker says:

    Whatever the Code says, and I read the section that was referred to yesterday, it was not being used at all in practice. People like me had no recourse to ANY dialogue, and whatever one wrote to the LGU, there was no response. Even when parts of what they sent out were gobbledegook [words missing, etc]. In the end, only by getting a partial SAR response, after 6 months ~ did I become aware that the apparatchik that summarised my case, in a paragraph and a half [from the 10-page response I first sent in my defence] could only have made that summary if they intended to lie and deliberately mislead the NEC. As an Adult Education Supervisor [for Social Work students, amongst others], I would have got them to re-write their conclusions, as not supported by the facts in front of them. The Code is really a dead letter ~ looks good on paper BUT not followed at all in practice.

  • Doug says:

    Then what do you do about it
    The party will you hope lose the case along with all the others
    The members who have suffered should be compensated
    Which just leaves how you stop it happening again
    Until vexatious claims of anti semitism are treated as hate crimes and prosecuted then we are no further forward
    Until Israel is punished for interfering in our democracy we are no further forward
    In the forthcoming leadership election

  • steve mitchell says:

    Surely the Party has broken its own rules. A decent barrister will slaughter the Labour Party in a court of law.

  • George Peel says:

    As we all know, there’s a choice, now.

    The IHRA, or, the recently published, Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism.

    No surprise, the de facto, mouthpiece of the BoD, The Jewish Chronicle, has chosen to remain supportive of the IHRA.

Comments are now closed.