JVL Introduction

Asa Winstanley takes up the story of Glyn Secker’s suspension from the Labour Party, which we have decribed as “an absurd, politically motivated attack on our secretary and our organisation”.

Glyn Secker at a 2012 demonstration. (inminds/YouTube)

Leader in Jewish group banned from Labour Party office

Noted Jewish Palestine activist and secretary of left-wing group Jewish Voice for Labour has been banned from holding office in the UK’s main opposition party.

Glyn Secker on Wednesday received a letter from Labour Party officials saying he had been put on “administrative suspension,” citing unspecified “comments made on social media that may be anti-Semitic.”

The letter adds that Secker is now barred from attending any party meetings including Labour’s annual conference.

Speaking to The Electronic Intifada, Secker called it “a direct attack” on Jewish Voice for Labour by the party’s establishment.

Since left-winger and veteran Palestine activist Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of Labour in 2015 in an overwhelming grassroots vote, opponents in the party establishment have waged a witch hunt against left-wingers and supporters of Palestinian rights.

Iain McNicol, Labour’s outgoing general-secretary, has been at the forefront of these efforts.

A key tool in the purge has been a determined effort to smear the party under Corbyn as “institutionally anti-Semitic.” This has involved exaggerated and sometimes completely fabricated allegations of anti-Semitism.

Jewish Voice for Labour called Secker’s suspension “an absurd, politically motivated attack on our secretary and our organization.”

The group called the suspension a “shocking use of unsubstantiated allegations to punish active members of the left without knowledge of charges, on the merest say-so of those who oppose their political stance.”

Jewish Voice for Labour also asked supporters to pass motions in local Labour branches calling for the “immediate lifting of these charges.”

Jewish Socialist Group activist Julia Bard stated on Facebook that Secker is only the latest of many party members who “have suffered from the unjust disciplinary processes” in Labour.

Secker is an executive committee member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians and captained a Jewish Boat to Gaza in 2010.

Iain McNicol, a strong supporter of Israel, announced last month he would step down, after years of grassroots discontent and mounting criticism from the party’s leadership.

The vote to replace him is likely to take place later this month.

The two leading candidates to replace him are both supporters of Corbyn – union official Jennie Formby and leader of Momentum, Jon Lansman.

Secker said on Wednesday that both are promising “to reign back this whole campaign of false allegations of anti-Semitism, so they obviously wanted to have a go at us first.”

Secker told The Electronic Intifada he had no idea what he was even accused of, as he is careful about what he posts on social media.

Jewish Voice for Labour is a relatively new network of socialists within the party, which supports the right of Palestine solidarity activists to campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, or BDS.

While it includes many veteran Jewish Palestine solidarity activists, it is not an explicitly anti-Zionist organization, rather describing itself as non-Zionist.

Secker said of his many talks, which are often posted on social media that, “I’m always careful to say there are different forms of Zionism. But political Zionism took control of the narrative and it was always about taking the land [in Palestine]. So I argue the politics of Zionism.”

Challenge to hegemony

Since Jewish Voice for Labour emerged last year, it has challenged the monopoly of established Israel lobby groups that claim to speak in the name of Jewish members of the Labour Party.

At Labour’s conference in 2016, Secker heckled a speech by the vice-chair of the pro-Israel group the Jewish Labour Movement.

Secker told The Electronic Intifada at the time he had said: “We’re Jewish, you don’t represent all Jews in the Labour Party.”

In a thinly veiled reference to the unwelcome newcomer, Jeremy Newmark, then chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, claimed in a December speech that his group was “the real Jewish voice of Labour.”

Newmark resigned last month after the publication of allegations he had defrauded a former employer, another Jewish group, of tens of thousands of dollars.

Newmark has denied any wrongdoing.

Newmark and the Jewish Labour Movement have long-established ties to the Israeli embassy.

Last year he was caught on undercover camera giving ambassador Mark Regev what he claimed was “intelligence” about internal affairs in Momentum, the left-wing pro-Corbyn group.

Last week The Jewish Chronicle reported, citing an anonymous source, that the Jewish Labour Movement’s recent decision to refer “financial matters” to the police does relate to alleged conduct by Newmark.