It is surprising that Momentum has bowed to pressure and removed Jackie Walker from her role as vice-chair of the organisation, simply because of “upset” caused by statements that were leaked to the press in a betrayal of trust by the Jewish Labour Movement.
Ms Walker had questioned the definition of anti-Semitism being used by the JLM at a training event during the Labour Party Conference last week. Training events are supposed to be ‘safe spaces’ where attendees may discuss ideas and issues without prejudice but she was secretly recorded – presumably by the event’s organisers – and the recording leaked to the right-wing press.
She also questioned the focus of Holocaust Memorial Day, which does not commemorate all holocausts/genocides.
There was also a question about security at schools for Jewish children – which has still not been explained adequately, in This Writer’s opinion.
None of these comments were made in public and they should have remained in the room where they were made, as issues for debate and discussion in the training event.
If there was any irresponsibility, it was on the part of the event’s organisers who allowed a recording of the discussion to be made and given to the gutter press; Ms Walker was well within her rights to ask questions as part of the event.
Indeed, in discussion of this incident on Twitter, I have seen at least two Labour members say they could not attend any Labour Party training event in the future, because their trust in the ‘safe space’ claim had been shattered.
Any upset that was caused to people at the event is unjustified as the purpose was to help people learn (or at least, that was the stated intention. It’s in the word “training”).
Any upset caused to people outside the event should not be blamed on Ms Walker as it was not her intention that a recording should be provided to the papers.
In any case, who has said they were upset? Were they genuinely upset or did they have an ulterior motive? This whole situation seems to be a deliberate attack on Ms Walker, to me.
Why aren’t we asking the JLM what its intention was in allowing that recording to get out? Why aren’t we accusing that organisation of irresponsibility?
There are good aspects to this. Momentum’s statement clearly shows the organisation does not consider anything she said to have been anti-Semitic and doesn’t believe she should be expelled from the Labour Party. That, at least, is correct.
It seems Momentum’s steering committee has been paying too much attention to the wrong people.
The vice-chairwoman of the Labour left-wing grassroots group Momentum has been sacked from the role amid a row over comments she made about anti-Semitism.
The organisation said it viewed Jackie Walker’s behaviour as “irresponsible”.
It said remarks on Holocaust Memorial Day and Jewish school security at a party training event were “ill-judged and offensive” but overall she did not appear to be anti-Semitic.
Ms Walker, who is Jewish herself, has said she is not an anti-Semite.
In a statement, Momentum, which was set up following Jeremy Corbyn’s 2015 election as Labour leader, said its steering committee had voted seven to three to remove Ms Walker as its vice-chairwoman.
“Jackie’s actions at Labour Conference, in her subsequent Channel 4 interview, and by not understanding concern caused by her statements, have led the steering committee to view her behaviour as irresponsible and lose confidence in her…
“Having read reports of what Jackie Walker is alleged to have said, listened to the leaked video, and heard Jackie’s version of events, the committee does not regard any of the comments she appears to have made, taken individually, to be anti-Semitic.”
It said Ms Walker “should have done more to explain herself to mitigate the upset caused and should have been careful about statements on this and related subjects, whatever her record as an anti-racist, which the committee applauds”.
Momentum added that on the basis of the evidence it has seen, she should not be expelled from the Labour Party.
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