The most left-wing candidate to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader has vowed to adopt a series of pledges demanded by a pro Israel organisation to rid Labour of antisemitism.
Pro Palestine activists fear that the demands by the Board of Deputies of British Jews could effectively spell the end of Palestinian activism within Labour, if adopted. Yet that is exactly what Rebecca Long Bailey has vowed to do.
The demands include:
- The full adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which is opposed by pro Palestinians
- The prevention of pro Palestinians like Ken Livingstone from re-entering the party after their expulsion
- The expulsion of Labour members who give a platform to those who have been expelled for antisemitism
- Letting the pro Israel Jewish Labour Movement deliver anti racism education
- Engaging the Jewish community only through pro Israel organisations
Writing in the Times of Israel, Long Bailey said she supported the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, which pro Palestinians say is a way to silence their voices. She also pledged to work with the pro Israel Jewish Labour Movement.
“My advice to Labour Party members is that it is never OK to respond to allegations of racism by being defensive… That is why the party is right to be excluding any prominent members who tour the country and the TV studios denying and diminishing the problem of antisemitism,” she wrote.
“Sadly however, we didn’t act quickly or robustly enough on antisemitism and although I believe that Labour’s national executive has improved our disciplinary process significantly, it is harrowing that the Equality and Human Rights Commission are investigating our processes.
“I will also enact all of the Board of Deputies’ recommendations, and I believe that our processes must be transparent, fully independent and with proper independent scrutiny.
“When elected as Leader, I will work with the Jewish Labour Movement to reform them further. But reforming the disciplinary procedures is only half the battle. We can and must expel antisemites, but we cannot overcome antisemitism without education. The problem of antisemitism in the Labour Party – people holding negative and stereotypical ideas about Jews – extends beyond the much smaller number of ideological antisemites, just as it does in the general population.
‘Unfortunately, some people who regard themselves as anti-racist may nevertheless, when talking about the legacy of colonialism or the distribution of power within our capitalist society, use some of the negative stereotypical ideas or images that have become embedded within our culture over time.
“We need an education programme that challenges the conspiracy theories and explains the tropes. Labour party members who do feel strongly about Palestinian rights must also understand why Jewish people in Britain today, for whom the Holocaust is a recent memory, see the existence of a Jewish state as a source of hope and security. They must learn to recognise the racism that permeates even a party that sees itself as anti-racist.”
A number of Labour MPs are vying to replace Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the party with the new leader expected to take over in March.
But a tussle has already begun over the party’s future direction as Corbyn allies push for a leader in line with his left wing politics while his critics hope to pull Labour back towards the centre.
Sir Keir Starmer is the current front-runner for the Labour leadership and has said Labour lost the public’s trust over a lack of clarity on Brexit, antisemitism, and a “feeling that the manifesto was overloaded.”
The second favourite is Rebecca Long-Bailey who is considered a Corbyn-ally and a left-winger. She has said the party needs a “proud socialist leader” driven by their principles and “unwavering determination.”