There’s nothing wrong with the Labour motion on discrimination. The proposals for actioning it are a different matter

[Image: Getty Images.]

This Writer has already indicated that there seems to be nothing wrong with the proposed Labour Party rule change regarding hate incidents. As someone who has been accused (maliciously) of involvement in such behaviour, I think I might have a stake in this.

Here is a copy of the proposed rule change. It’s a hefty wedge of text but it is worth wading through it. See if you can find anyting in principle wrong with it:

“No member of the party shall engage in conduct which in the opinion of the NEC is prejudicial, or in any act which in the opinion of the NEC is grossly detrimental to the party. The NEC shall take account of any codes of conduct currently in force and shall regard any incident which in their view might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on age, disability, gender reassignment or identity, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation as conduct prejudicial to the party; these shall include but not be limited to incidents involving racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia or otherwise racist language, sentiments, stereotypes or actions, sexual harassment, bullying or any form of intimidation towards another person on the basis of a protected characteristic as determined by the NEC, wherever it occurs, as conduct prejudicial to the party. Any dispute as to whether a member is in breach of the provisions of this sub-clause shall be determined by the NCC in accordance with Chapter 1 Clause IX above and the disciplinary rules and guidelines in Chapter 6 below. Where appropriate the NCC shall have regard to involvement in financial support for the organisation and/or the activities of any organisation declared ineligible for affiliation to the party … or to the candidature of the members in opposition to an officially endorsed Labour Party candidate or the support for such candidature. The NCC shall not have regard to the mere holding or expression of beliefs and opinions except in any instance inconsistent with this party’s aims and values, agreed codes of conduct, or involving prejudice towards any protected characteristics.”

It seems okay – right?

However, it also seems that some of the proposals around it are less sound. Here’s Free Speech on Israela predominantly Jewish campaign group that was set up “to counter the manufactured moral panic over a supposed epidemic of antisemitism in the UK”:

This (organisation) deplores antisemitism. But we believe the press outcry on alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party was designed, in league with Israel’s apologists and censors, to damage the party and its leadership. This does no service to a genuine fight against this hate crime.

“We deplore the proposal to task Jewish Labour Movement with training Labour Party branches and organisations in recognising and defining antisemitism. JLM is an affiliate both of the Israel Labour Party which in office has promoted the building of settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territories and the World Zionist Organization, which has channelled funds to the illegal settlements.

“We oppose censorship of legitimate and valid political action such as Palestine solidarity. We assert our right to speak and organise against the State of Israel’s systemic, historic and ongoing ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and violations of human rights and international law, and to support Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against those complicit in these injustices.

“This (organisation) therefore, urges the Labour Party to:

“* Listen to the many Jews who are outraged by the lie that Jews are not safe in the Labour Party; establish an ongoing role in the Party for alternative Jewish Labour voices;
“* Adhere to fair practice and transparency when investigating charges against members;
“* Call to order Labour Party members who bring the Party into disrepute by spreading false allegations about widespread antisemitism in the Party;
“* Urgently lift all suspensions that were based on flimsy or unfounded claims of antisemitism.
“* Strongly oppose
 the press incitement against Muslims, refugees and immigrant workers.”

That seems to put a different complexion on the matter.

Your opinions are requested.


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11 thoughts on “There’s nothing wrong with the Labour motion on discrimination. The proposals for actioning it are a different matter

  1. Sid

    On first reading, I cannot see how the Jewish Labour Movement can be objective enough for me!

    They are tainted!

    I have been around Labour Party activists all my life (I am 68+) Whilst I have heard misogynistic comments in the 60s 70s and 80s (and Racist comments) too, I have never witnessed anti-Semitic comments, ever!

    I strongly condemn the Israel Govt and condemn their apartheid system! I suspect the hysteria whipped up about anti-Semitism was anti-Corbyn motivated, and various groups coordinated this; The Labour Party has, more than any other Party, done more for Jews over the many decades of oppression. We will continue to support oppressed minorities.

  2. Jill Phillips

    Well, on the surface this statement comes as a great relief. However, the danger is, that a Labour Party actively updating their preparation – both to get the Tories out and to take control of the country and hasn’t either the public, or the private psychological space to devote to the endless, ENDLESS, loud, public attention which is historically demanded by certain factions (one of which has dignified itself by getting the Labour Party to adopt it officially, by name) towards their own spurious and damaging aims.
    I have a suggestion.
    I feel the group which now speaks for proper behaviour on all fronts could be asked to front any initial complaint of any kind of unacceptable behaviour by other, self-serving, members. So that, before any official complaints reach the NEC – or wherever they are, optimistically, headed – the argument has already been discussed (insofar as discussion is possible, or not) by a voluntary sub group set up for the purpose of finding out what matters – and what doesn’t. Such a group would be truly invaluable.

  3. the ramblings of a deluded mind

    the wording I dislike is this .. ‘protected characteristics’ .. what does this mean?

    to me it kind of throws a get out of jail card at those that want to vilify anyone that speaks on a subject they or a group of them do not like and can then cause issues with the policy.

    to thrown more at this issue .. is being jewish a ‘protected characteristic’ ? can the same be said or an arab from palestine? will the members speak against anyone raising the issue of palestine and its troubles with israel? in the same vein will they speak out against anyone speaking against what israel seems to be attempting to do in the palestinian lands ?

  4. Paula Clare Williams

    The Labour Party rule change on hate incidents seems ok until the sentence at the end:The NEC shall not have regard to the mere holding of…opinion except in any instance inconsistent with this part’s aims and values and agreed codes of conduct or involving prejudice towards any protected characteristic. What is a protected characteristic? It could be made to mean anything like: eg being offended by a person’s criticism of Israel. There is one important reason this rule. 1 that
    it is not racist to criticise a government . That is what all the fuss has been about. Is it a water tight rule preventing distortion.

  5. Sue Pankhurst

    I still don’t understand what you object to in the change of rules proposal. Perhaps you could illuminate me.

  6. Les Campbell

    Has a lawyer had the opportunity to examine this? It is totally contradictory in my opinion.
    If as a Religious person A you believe X and express that belief in words. Which protected characteristic person B identifies as prejudicial and feels intimidated by. Then person A says they also feel that they are being bullied and harassed by person B.
    The NEC decide in favour of person B. On the grounds that A should have known about B’s protected characteristics.
    No matter how much A protests that they have the right to freedom of speech. The NEC maintains the party says no you don’t.
    In another case. Person C states an historical fact. Person D idenfies this as prejudicial to protected characteristic D. C says look I apologise to any person in group D if they have been offended. It really was not my intention. But the truth is it actually happened. Which is even acknowledged to be so by group C. The case runs for years. Person C is still suspended they are vilified by the media and held up as an example of all that is hateful in this party.
    Some time in the near future. Someone in the protected “pregnancy and maternity” protected characteristic group E says F expressed a sentiment against NEC policy on group E. F is automatically expelled. They don’t know who E is. Or what they did.
    Later the Party decide that 2+2=5

  7. Florence

    The problem with the original rule change as proposed by supporters of the LFI and the JLM was the absence of any sort of justice for those accused. The proposal was for a member to be immediately expelled from the party without any due process or right of reply, simply on the word of another member that they had “felt” unhappy about something someone else might have said. Or maybe didn’t, because if there is no right to investigate and present evidence on both sides, then there is no justice, just a kangaroo court. The language in the NEC proposed version is so dense as to make it impossible to tell if that has changed. There is no place whatsoever in the Labour party for a rule allowing a single member to denounce another with such potentially devastating consequences. As you have found out Mike, the act of being denounced has potentially life-changing consequences, and so must be subject to the protection under the human rights laws of the right to a fair hearing or trial, and the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of religion, or politics.
    I also note, sadly, that while all these motions and counter motion rule changes are flying about, no one has thought to specifically include disability discrimination in the list of areas of hate crime. I might be able to back the NEC proposal, simply on the recommendation of certain NEC members I trust, if it was about real anti discrimination for all. As it stands, I do not feel we need any rule change at all, without a great deal more though

  8. concernedkev

    This is a very important issue and if it passes there will be a RW surge of pernicious allegations. Any attempt to send the thought police round will be in for a shock.

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