What’s To Be Done – Anti-Semitism, Labour And The Solutions

Dom Sayer – Chairman of our Labour Now policy group writes a thought provoking opinion editorial about how Labour should respond to any anti-Semitism within the Party.

In the last couple of months (and indeed over the last couple of years) many people, me included, have written on the issue of anti-Semitism within the Labour party. A distinct range of opinions have been put forward on its roots, causes, whether there is a reality to it and it has at times delved into the world of ‘whataboutery’. We all like to give an opinion on most things and to tell people how something makes us feel as it is part of being human. What is less so, is offering solutions. Fine, here is an issue but where is the actual plan of what to do to resolve it. In all the articles I have read, few have offered an actual programme of how to detoxify this horrendous scenario that the Labour party finds itself in. So here are my thoughts on a few things that can be done quickly to right this monstrous wrong.

First and foremost should be a public apology. Jeremy Corbyn should front up on camera and apologise on behalf of the party for the utter mess that we find ourselves in. He should stand there and allow the public, the press and most importantly the Jewish community that he is ready to tackle this issue. His press releases have been good more recently and assuaged many peoples anger at the scenario but I feel that a contrite Jeremy, delivering a speech of new measures that will eradicate this issue is needed. Jeremy Corbyn has to be front and centre of this battle and he needs to demonstrate that he is willing to be tough on those within his own party that espouse these views.

Next is a process of creating a unit or body of people that represent many parts of the Jewish community. This needs to involve Labour supporting bodies but also organisations that are not affiliated to the party such as the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA) and the Jewish Board Of deputies. Without ensuring that there is outside and independent input to this body then it is hard to see how it will look anything other than an inside job if the answers it comes out with are unsatisfactory. The party is already looking inwards at its disciplinary process about sexual harassment and it needs no more bad press, as it is already in a mess. This body does not need to be a permanent fixture within the Labour party but to deal with the immediate issue at hand is vital.

Throughout this process there needs to be continuous meetings with local Jewish groups, leaders of the community, visits to Jewish schools and to museums that are about the holocaust. I do not think it too strong to encourage the leadership team to visit somewhere such as Auschwitz to demonstrate just how much they ‘get’ it now and that part of the resolution is understanding where anti-Semitism can lead to if not checked early.

One of the most important parts of this process is expulsions. Expelling individuals from the party is an easy way to demonstrate that there is no place for these views and is also incredibly easy to do. People like Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone and all those keyboard warriors need to not just be suspended pending investigation but expelled and if they attempt to re-join they can apply but will be investigated accordingly. Once out it is easy to keep them out, rather than having them toxifying the party during an investigation. The optics of this is far better. Part of this ought to be in conjunction with the Jewish led group that I mentioned earlier. Who better to understand anti-Semitism than a group Jewish people who can then make a decision based on the facts and not party or personal allegiance?

In the last few days, the Israeli Labor party has written to our leader to say that they are suspending ties with him personally, the former leader of the BNP has pledged his support to us and the film director Ken Loach has come out and stated that all MPs who attended the #EnoughIsEnough rally should be deselected. This is incredibly worrying, embarrassing and frankly makes me angry.

I am desperate for Jeremy to sort this problem out, like anyone who is not an anti-Semite would, and although his more recent declarations of intent have been much better, these three events have been since then. This needs to be top of the agenda as with local elections around the corner, this has been an oft remarked reason as to why people are for the first time ever contemplating not voting Labour.

With the local elections only three weeks away, if they were to go badly then the party will look like they are only doing something about it because the public turned away from them at the polls. More concerning is that if the party do well at the local elections then what does that say about the state of anti-Semitism in not just the Labour party but in the UK as a whole? I want Labour to win and I am campaigning almost daily on the doorstep to do so. But I need my party and my leader to come out, prior to these elections and show the country with the methods I have discussed above as a start that this matter is being dealt with. I hold my breath.

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