Challenge to fair process: Labour’s Advisory Board on Antisemitism

JVL + a member of Charedi community + a Jewish member of JVL + a British Palestinian are challenging the fairness of process by which the Labour Party has appointed its Advisory Board on antisemitism.

This is to announce the launch of a Crowd Funding appeal.

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JVL and three individuals who wished to be appointed – a member of the Charedi community, Adam Hurst, a Jewish member of JVL and Ghada Kharmi, a British Palestinian –  are challenging the fairness and transparency of the process by which the Labour Party has appointed its Advisory Board on Antisemitism.  The process (or lack thereof) has resulted in the exclusion of, and potential discrimination against, relevant Jewish and other stakeholders. It has also seen the appointment of David Evans, the LP General Secretary, as Chair of the Board, meaning he is therefore both personally responsible for implementing the action plan, while chairing the group that is meant to be overseeing its implementation.

The Advisory Board is part of the Party’s response to the EHRC Report, as contained within the Action Plan, which relevantly states as one of the key actions: “Consultation with the Jewish community will be built into all aspects of the Action Plan…” Elsewhere in the plan it is described as a “high-level Advisory Board including Jewish community stakeholders.”

It was expected that the Party would wish the Board to reflect the breadth of the Jewish Communities to which its members belong and the breadth of perspectives and experiences of those members. In the absence of such representation, the Board cannot fulfil one of its key functions, namely re-establishing the trust and confidence of all Jewish people. Given the Party also, rightly, decided to expand membership beyond Jewish stakeholders, it would have been expected that it would include representatives of its British Palestinian members, which have raised concerns about the impact of the IHRA Working Definition on Antisemitism on them, as well as experts in islamophobia.

However, the Party, as far as we are aware, did not publicly call for nominations for participation and did not publicly explain its process or criteria for selecting members. It was also reported that certain groups were given vetoes over particular appointments. As a result of this non-transparent and unfair process, the Advisory Board represents only a fraction of the Jews in the UK, and excludes others who are clear stakeholders in respect of the issue of anti-Semitism.

We are asking the party to explain how the Board was appointed, and how it was that none of the following groups have representation:

  • The Charedi community, who, due to their outward appearance are most likely to be at the receiving end of antisemitic attacks.
  • The membership of Jewish Voice for Labour, all of whose members are Jewish members of the Labour Party, who have decided that the Jewish Labour Movement does not represent their interests
  • British Palestinians, who have significant concern about how the IHRA is used to silence those that speak up about the treatment of Palestinians by Israel, as well as those that criticise Zionism

In particular, our clients are concerned that the Labour Party:

(a) conducted an unfair and opaque process in selecting the Advisory Board;

(b) as a result of this unfair process, the Advisory Board is not representative of the spectrum of the Jewish community, and also excludes other relevant stakeholders; and

(c) such lack of representation amounts to potential discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 and a breach of the Rule Book 2020.

We note also that JVL has attempted to engage with the Party on multiple occasions in respect of the Action Plan’s education programme to identify and tackle anti-Semitism. Given JVL’s track record in providing education, it is well-placed to assist with this aspect of the Action Plan and, indeed, it has offered many cogent and thoughtful contributions via email. However, the Party has refused to engage with JVL at all on this issue, simply asserting that JLM is providing the training.

The Party’s refusal to engage with JVL on this issue is further evidence of a pattern of failure to engage with the wider spectrum of Jewish voices in respect of the Action Plan.

We are aware that there are many demands on our supporters’ pockets. But we ask that you donate to this action if you can and share the link to this page widely by email and social media.

Thank you.

Click here to support the appeal

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Download a redacted copy of the solicitors’ letter to Labour Party here.

Comments (6)

  • Margaret West says:

    Well done and well said .. I have been looking at the English
    Cambridge Dictionary and find the following definition of
    Stakeholder Theory :

    “a management theory that considers the interests of people who work, invest, or are involved in a particular business or other activity.”

    so the very limited choice of Board members indicates discrimination – thus inhibiting the fair application of the action plan.

  • Pete Firmin says:

    I’m told that Labour’s NEC – supposedly the Party’s governing body was not consulted over the make up of the advidory board, leading even Luke Akehurst to complain.

  • John Bowley says:

    The Labour Party under Keir Starmer is now discriminatory and establishment.
    Well done, again, JVL, for battling hypocrisy. I am supporting your appeal.

  • Linda says:

    Stand with you in principle. Hope to make a small donation in the near future … but you’ll probably need to remind me!

  • Ian Kemp says:

    same here will donate as soon as funds are available being retired etc,

  • Marie Lynam says:

    Very fine argumentation JVL, well done.
    Well done JVL also for your determination not to give up in the face of so many forces ranged against you.
    It is not ok that Jewish colonisers should go to the house of a Palestinian in Sheikh Jarrah and say: ‘My ancestors lived here 2,000 years ago, your land is mine, get out. If you don’t get out, your house is coming down!’. No humane person in the world thinks that this is ok!
    And no amount of official or imperial power, can make it ok either.

    It is not ok that Israel should use Gaza as a hostage-refugee-camp to be bombed every time Palestinians somewhere refuse to lie down and die.

    There is no reason for the Starmer-Evans Labour leadership do keep JVL, the Orthodox Jews in Britain, the British Palestinians and Islamist representatives and others, excluded from the panel.

Comments are now closed.