The Jewish Labour Movement's General Election Statement
Since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in 2015, a culture of antisemitism has been allowed to emerge and fester in the Party at all levels. From murals and wreaths, to Livingstone and Walker and Williamson, there are too many shameful examples to list – itself damning evidence of the Party’s moral slide.
Our Honorary President, Dame Louise Ellman MP, along with our former Parliamentary Chair, Luciana Berger MP were hounded out of Labour after years of relentless abuse, particularly in their local parties. Despite being well aware of this bullying, Jeremy Corbyn did nothing to address their concerns. When two accomplished and dedicated Jewish Labour MPs no longer see a place for themselves in the Labour Party, it’s clear that the party has lost its way.
This crisis of antisemitism in the Labour Party stems from a failure of leadership from Jeremy Corbyn. When the answer has been to take swift, decisive action, the reality has been equivocation and token gestures. Time and time again, the Party has not engaged in good faith to try to implement the actions that we believe are necessary to tackle anti-Jewish racism.
The disciplinary process has buckled under the weight of antisemitism complaints, and instead of implementing an independent process we’ve seen delay, obfuscation and botched decision making. Political interference is endemic in the system, which is used to protect the leaderships’ friends and allies, rather than ensure the Party is a safe space for Jews.
It is little wonder that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission is formally investigating the Labour Party for institutional racism against Jews; unprecedented scrutiny which will continue throughout the course of the general election.
The last four years have been catastrophic for Jews in the Labour Party. Nevertheless, the Jewish Labour Movement has kept true to our Labour values and resolved – for now – to stay and fight racism, rather than disaffiliate and walk away. At our Annual General Meeting in April, our members unanimously adopted a policy deeming Jeremy Corbyn unfit to be Prime Minister as a result of his abject failure on antisemitism.
We will not be campaigning unless in exceptional circumstances and for exceptional candidates, like our Parliamentary Chair Ruth Smeeth, and members of the Parliamentary Labour Party who’ve been unwavering in their support of us. We will not be giving endorsements to candidates in non-Labour held seats.
This does not mean that we no longer support the Labour Party’s policies and its historic values, nor do we wish to see Boris Johnson or Jo Swinson in Downing Street. The Jewish Labour Movement has a long and proud history of activism in Labour Party and the wider Labour movement and 2020 marks our 100th anniversary of affiliation to the Labour Party.
Fighting racism, prejudice and intolerance is at the heart of our Labour values – it is the failure of the leader and his supporters to live these values which has led us to take this stance.
Where and how will the Jewish Labour Movement be campaigning in the general election?
The Jewish Labour Movement only will be campaigning for exceptional candidates and in exceptional circumstances. This includes for our Parliamentary Chair Ruth Smeeth. We will not be replicating the scale of our campaigning activity that we undertook in 2017, where JLM organised more than 50 campaign activities across six electoral regions and nations and in marginal seats. No JLM Officers will be standing for election.
Are individual Jewish Labour Movement members allowed to campaign for any Labour candidate?
Our General Election Statement is the Movement’s position and reflects the collective will of our members. What individual members decide to do during the general election is a private matter for each to decide; no doubt this will be a very difficult decision for many.
Will the Jewish Labour Movement campaign against candidates that they do not see to have been sufficient allies in the fight against antisemitism in the Labour Party?
We will seek to highlight candidates’ shortcomings or failings in the fight against antisemitism. Where this is the case, they will not benefit from any Jewish Labour Movement resources.
As a member of the Jewish Labour Movement, am I allowed to campaign for candidates from another political party?
To be a member of the Jewish Labour Movement you must support the aims and values of the Labour Party, and not be a member of any other political party. This is consistent with other socialist societies and trade union affiliates. Some of our members are not members of the Labour Party, having never joined or having resigned from it over the past few years. Individuals who are not able to meet the membership requirements of the Labour Party are unable to remain members of the Jewish Labour Movement. Individuals who publicly campaign for candidates who stand against the Labour Party in elections are not eligible for membership.