Jewish Voice for Labour welcomes the Labour Party National Executive Committee’s  Code of Conduct: Antisemitism, and the care and consideration which has evidently gone into its production. We believe it offers a constructive framework for moving forward in this difficult area. It provides a much needed operationally effective way of dealing with the issue of antisemitism in the Labour Party and by extension in society at large; but at the same time it allows – indeed encourages – free speech on issues to do with Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians, and with Zionism. Its concern with the “civility of language” is one we particularly endorse.

Of course, much will depend on how this code of conduct is applied in practice, particularly in disciplinary cases. We are cautiously optimistic that these guidelines will ensure there will in future be greater clarity about what antisemitism is and what it is not, enabling the Party to deal appropriately with hate speech while avoiding the suppression or chilling of legitimate critical discussion.

One point that JVL wishes to stress is that the role of education and training in dealing with antisemitism in general needs to be taken more seriously. As the recommendations of the Chakrabarti Report state “Now is a time to reassess broad-based education and training within the Labour Movement, and rather than attempting to “re-invent the wheel“, to work in partnership with the Trade Unions, Higher Education institutions, Festivals and others.”