JVL’s message to Keir Starmer

 Keir Starmer was the decisive winner in the Party’s leadership election. We recognise the strength of his mandate. Even though this was not the result that many in Jewish Voice for Labour had hoped for, we know that party members on the left, as well as in the centre and on the right, voted for Starmer, believing in his good faith and serious commitment to Party unity. There is no doubt, also, that his pledge not to roll back the socialist policy gains made under the Corbyn leadership attracted support from many active members who had voted enthusiastically for Jeremy Corbyn in the previous two leadership elections.

Starmer will now be judged by his ability to delivery on his pledges.

We maintain our belief that the 2019 manifesto contained the policies that Britain needs to reduce poverty and inequality and mitigate the effects of climate change. We will support his continued efforts to promote them. We remain committed to working in and through the Labour Party to achieve these socialist, necessary and fair goals.

It is evident that among the Starmer campaign team there are people who, from their own statements, appear less than committed to the pledges he made and to Party unity. We are concerned that his own comments on the antisemitism allegations, as well as the initiatives he has already taken, seem to demonstrate a failure to take on board the diversity of legitimate views on this topic.

It is, therefore, understandable for Party members, in JVL and more broadly, to be quite apprehensive about his direction of travel. Indeed, around the country there are distraught members posting messages declaring their intention to abandon Labour. We strongly urge them not to do so, but to stay and help us counter the pressures on Keir Starmer for a backward turn. We call on him to rein in those of his advisers who may be consumed with the hubris of victory.

We will be looking to Keir Starmer on many fronts. Prominent among them are the following:

1. On antisemitism. There can be no dissent from his desire to deal firmly with antisemitic prejudice in the party, which we obviously support. But he has yet to speak out against racism in all its forms, and to treat other racisms with the same seriousness that he expresses about antisemitism. We look forward to campaigns against anti-black prejudice, Islamophobia, anti-Roma prejudice and more.

In particular, we urge Keir Starmer to take stock of the manifest evidence that a significant number of accusations of antisemitism have been manipulated and weaponised as part of wider factional disputes. We are disturbed that he has made it an immediate priority to meet with the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and the JLM, but not with other currents of Jewish opinion, including JVL, the Jewish Socialists Group and organisations  such as Jews for Justice for Palestinians, that represent views widespread in the Party, among British Jews, and beyond.

2. On internal democracy. We urge him to transform and democratise internal party processes. Despite the improvements since Jennie Formby took office, manifest injustices are still being perpetrated through the Party’s disciplinary procedures. So, we have high hopes that Starmer, a civil rights lawyer of distinction, will recognise the urgent need to make natural justice, transparency, proportionality and more the benchmark for our internal processes. The Chakrabarti Report laid out many of the changes necessary and we look forward to their implementation.We hope that he will take a broader view of how to handle the racism, including antisemitism, that certainly exists in the Party. We urge him to see this persistence as due to a massive failure of political education unworthy of the Party’s ideals. Educational as well as disciplinary activities are needed within the deliberative democracy that the Party should aspire to. They are the only sure way to overcome prejudice.

3. On Palestine/Israel. We trust that he will take forward established Party policy on Palestinian rights and on the recognition of Palestine, becoming ever more urgent as Israel’s ethno-national realities come to predominate. Whatever other reservations about Lisa Nandy we may entertain, she has been outspoken on the question of Palestinian rights and we hope that her appointment as Shadow Foreign Secretary, chair as she is of Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East, is a clear indication of Starmer’s commitment on this issue.

4. On freedom of expression. We look to a transformation of the internal culture of the Party in which dialogue – forceful at times but always respectful – comes to predominate. Those elements of our various Codes of Conduct that stress the importance of this feature of our internal democracy have been growing dusty through disuse. They need to be given due prominence in practice.

We will continue to strive for a more unified party in which internal civil wars cease to dominate.



Comments (31)

  • Naomi Wayne says:

    Terrific – absolutely what is needed now. Whether Starmer is going to be a unifier is too early to tell. In spite of some disturbing appointments to junior shadow cabinet positions, this is the right position for the present. And lets hope that he focuses loud and clear on the lessons to be learned from the coronavirus horror – the end of the ‘hostile environment’, the restructuring of universal credit, decent pay and conditions for shop and care workers, guaranteeing the support the NHS needs etc

  • different frank says:

    I don’t think I can stay as a member anymore.
    I left when Blair was elected ss leader.
    I re joined when Corbyn was.
    If I wanted to be in the Neoliberal austerity dems, I would join them.

  • Leonardo Alvarado says:

    A very clear and concise statement of how many in the country feel. Excellent.

  • Helen Marks says:

    Thanks JVL for drawing up this statement but there is a glaring omission of any mention of the 10 pledges and that Kier Starmer , as a lawyer must surely see that some of the pledges go against principles of natural justice and others close down any criticism of the Israeli government and its failure to comply with international law.

  • Mary Davies says:

    I fear for socialism and those people who are vulnerable and living in poverty.

  • Iris Singer says:

    great letter, thank you

  • Barry M Jones says:

    Too late, I was suspended and left I will not jump through their hoops. The election of Starmer finally convinced me. I refrained from joining the Labour Party under Blair, joined to support Corbyn but do not wish to support another Blair follower.

  • David Hawkins says:

    “We look forward to campaigns against anti-black prejudice, Islamophobia, anti-Roma prejudice and more.”
    I wish you had explicitly included anti Palestinian racism, something I believe is a major problem for Labour.
    All I want is that all racism is treated equally seriously by Labour. Why is that too much to ask ?
    For example Jess Phillips rightly complains about family poverty in Britain but sees no contradiction in being Friends with a country that deliberately imposes family poverty on the residents of Gaza.

  • John Bowley says:

    Thank you, again, true Labour Party allies, socialist colleagues, real friends.

    You have expressed my feelings and doubtless those of many others.

  • Gordon Best says:

    It is not clear to me that Starmer is a “Blair follower”. His background as a left-leaning human rights lawyer for example, is very different from Blair’s background. But even if he is inclined in this direction, doesn’t that mean that those of us on the left need to stay in the party and fight very hard to ensure that he doesn’t abandon the commitments in the 2017/19 manifesto?

  • Allan Howard says:

    Does anyone for one moment really believe that if Starmer was intending to continue with the radical program that Jeremy set out during his term as leader that HE – Starmer – would have received the support he received from the Establishment’s propaganda machine – ie the corporate media and the BBC – during the leadership election campaign. Of course he wouldn’t! Here’s an example of the sort of things the corporate media would have been saying if they really thought and believed Starmer was going to continue with Jeremy Corbyn’s program/legacy:

    DIVIDE AND BONKERS Corbyn’s ‘manifesto of hope’ is really a Marxist catalogue of hate and intolerance


  • Pamela Blakelock says:

    If Corbyn et al had not stayed under Blair he would not have been in a position totake the opportunity to shift the membership of the Party to the left.

  • different frank says:

    Since he became Leader of the OPPOSITION, Keir Starmer has tweeted:

    4 times to wish Boris Johnson well.

    1 time to wish Tony Lloyd well.

    0 times to ask why NHS staff don’t have enough PPE.

  • Stephen Williams says:

    What is known about the membership of the JLM? Numbers of members, their affiliations ( are they all members of the Labour Party?) and so on? And its funding? I recall a report- probably on this site- that two hundred attended a meeting a couple of years ago but apart from this, I have no information.

  • Ann Lewis says:

    I voted for Jeremy Corbyn and have now voted for Keir Starmer.While dismayed by his comments about supposed antisemitism in the Labour Party ,he has my full support for the time being. Indeed I place enormous hope in him.

  • Dr ALAN MADDISON says:

    The Labour Party members probably have the lowest prevalence of antisemitism (est 3.1%) and racism (est 18%) of any major political party.

    We must deal with all prejudices both inside and outside of our Party, mostly through education.

    The disproportionate attention given to antisemitism in Labour, and punishment as a solution, is clearly driven largely by dishonest political motivations, including the desire to silence legitimate criticism of Israel’s illegal activities.

    Keir Starmer is at an important cross-road.

    He has a simple choice,
    1. He can continue the weaponising of antisemitism to undermine and weaken support for Palestinian rights and the attempts to destroy the left of the Party.

    2. He can encourage the fair management of allegations of antisemitism in our Party, and investigate why manifestations of other far more common forms of racism are not being discussed or tackled.

    Labour has 20 000 BAME Party members, which would be 100 000 if membership reflected the BAME 20% share of our voters.

    Keir clearly needs to avoid a continued weaponising of antisemitism, yet deal with it after listening to experences from all Jewish groups. But most importantly he needs to install a general programme of education against all racial prejudices and ensure all minorities feel welcome in our Party (as covered in the Chakrabarti report) and in our wider society.

    We shall very soon see which road Keir will choose.

  • RH says:

    One thing is clear – as (whatever else) an intelligent and experienced lawyer with experience in the field of human rights, Starmer cannot believe the schtick of the JLM and the BoD with its patent partisan and antagonistic agenda and falsehoods over ‘antisemitism’.

    Which leads to the conclusion …… ????

  • The prospects for socialist perception from Starmer are looking a bit bleak.
    1.5 million in the UK going whole days without food because they have no money while MPs have access to another £10,000 and the Labour leadership silent ; NHS workers on their knees, unprotected and dying and the Labour leadership muted at best. But Starmer has plenty of time to speak to the Board of Deputies (not even a Labour organisation), he has time to to appoint to senior position someone who has expressed admiration for Nancy Astor (anti-semite and admirer of Hitler), he has time to promote and MP who blatantly broke the lockdown, ‘in the name of unity’ he promotes one MP who spoke openly about stabbing Corbyn ‘in the front’ and others who have spent 4 years vilifying and undermining the party leadership, those who refused to serve when needed. The list goes on. The whole thing is depressing. What happened to the unity he spoke of and the socialism he claims to espouse?

  • Diane Mile says:

    I am grateful for the clear expression of how things appear to us Corbyn supporters in the Labour Party now. I am pleased to be encouraged to stay – for now. I hope Keir will take notice of this reasonable statement. (hope, but sadly don’t expect)

  • George Hardy says:

    Spot on and following David Rosenberg’s letter, Keir Starmer will be in no doubt of the views of almost certainly the majority of our Party.

  • john higginson says:

    Has anyone read Giles Coren in Times today commenting on Kier Starmer victory, and his excoriation of Ed Milliband and Jeremy Corbyn …. ? Can someone explain where his diatribe is placed on the spectrum of hate speech and anti-Semitism . That it ever got passed the editor is a wonder to me. Hansard 13th Oct 2014 Ed Milliband allowed a 4 hour bench business debate debate Should This House Recognise The State of Palestine Alongside the State of Israel . 247 Ayes/ 12 Noes. Cynically there were no tellers for the Noes and thus the debate could not pass. Corbyn to facilitate democracy stood as teller for Noes and the motion was passed. Corbyn was thanked by the speaker for his act. The motion was passed but not put into law. I suspect this was the beginning of Israeli Embassy involvement.

  • Anti-fascist says:

    I can’t imagine Starmer and the crowd around him taking notice of or listening to anything especially with the politically lumpen Jess Phillips opening the mail. Blair Mk.Two will press on full steam ahead.

    The dreadful bi-partisanship with the Tories, their windbag leader and the army of crooks around him, over Covid-19 is a truly nauseating start.

    Our problem is that once you get to a certain level in the Labour Party it’s “Time to Love The Tories” time. And they always fall for it.

    We are in for a massive dollop of same old, same old. That’s why I am jumping ship. No point in sticking around.

  • Doug says:

    No time for those who jump ship
    There are always two sides to a coin and you are asking Keir to accept that vexatious claims are equally abhorrent and will be dealt with accordingly
    Therefore he also has to meet with the Jewish community who support Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party and bring back those who were falsely accused

  • Alison Vaspe says:

    I wish I had some hope for Starmer but I was utterly disabused of his integrity when he used his victory speech to distance himself from the last period of Opposition, effectively casting Corbyn, the leader he was supposed to have been working with, as an anti-Semite. He could have put other vital issues before this, but didn’t. His Shadow Cabinet is weak and I cannot see him succeeding where Corbyn failed. I am considering my position now but can’t see a way to stay within the Labour Party. I am grieving the heart, humour, and heat of the Corbyn/McDonnell alliance.

  • Anti-fascist says:

    Doug –

    No call whatsoever for your “no time” comment.

    The LP with its capitulations to Toryism and its witch-hunts of the left has exhausted my patience. For the record, I first joined in early 1964 as a member of the Young Socialists. Within months I was collectively expelled as a “Trotskyist” and alleged supporter of the Socialist Labour League.

    There was no debate, no discussion just brutal bureaucratic action against the biggest and most active youth movement in Europe. The YS was simply and unceremoniously closed down.

    Staying availed nothing as the later witch-hunt against supporters of the Militant Tendency demonstrated.

    So, I know what right-wing witch-hunts are and I am asking nothing of “Keir” who has already set course to to the right. These people don’t listen anyway. Their catastrophic approach will prompt a massive exodus from the party and an abrupt end to the brief period of hope ushered in by the election of Jeremy Corbyn.

    The saboteurs are now back at the helm and, this time, they will not just jettison socialist policies, they will scuttle the ship.

  • Doug says:

    Anti fascist
    Totally agree and I have no clue as to factions within party, it’s all a bit of a Monty Python sketch to me
    What I fail to rationalise is why you would leave and not them, why are we being forced out when we have the numbers to get rid of these treacherous bastards, stay and fight the good fight
    Dont waste the huge advances and opportunities that are so close

  • Anti-fascist says:

    In my earlier post, I should have also said that the YS was also the biggest working class youth movement in Europe at the time.

  • Sylvia Cohen says:

    I appreciate both the statement and its aims, but fear it will fall on deaf ears (or before blind eyes). The direction Starmer is moving in is one which delegitimises pro Palestinian support in the name of Zionism by conflating it with antisemitism. So I have a feeling that not only will he not meet with JVL ( never mind the other dissident Jewish groups) but will try and ensure to the best of his ability that we in JVL are disappeared as neatly as possible.
    However, there is a long history of Jewish radicalism, so maybe it’s in our genes to try to stay and fight….I just feel tired. Truthfully if standing up for Palestinian rights become impossible in the Labour Party (there’s a paradox if ever there was one) I’d rather leave and carry on the fight from another corner. And I understand the Party is about more than this of course. But honestly- will that ‘more than’ really play out as we would want it, or are we looking at another potential “Labour” Party which continues along the trajectory started by Thatcher of privatisation and small state protection of the rich?

  • Doug says:

    It’s our party and we’ll cry if we want to, what we won’t do is allow red Tories anywhere near it again
    To do that you have to stay, organise, coordinate and vote in at every level those who will protect and advance the gains made under JC
    If needs be we will force our those who would rather see a Tory government
    To all those on the left get your lists of candidates into JVL asap
    JVL are honest brokers

  • Paul Smith says:

    I agree with the comment by David Hawkins (above), ‘anti-Palestinianism’ should be added to this list: ‘We look forward to campaigns against anti-black prejudice, Islamophobia, anti-Roma prejudice and more.’

    It is a form of prejudice which needs naming.

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