Labour has been “letting off” party members accused of anti-Semitism, according to the Board of Deputies of British Jews – but they are deliberately misinterpreting party policy.
Still, what can we expect from an unelected self-interest group?
The claim is that Labour’s own disciplinary process shows that members can avoid punishment – by apologising and agreeing to take part in education to show why their actions were wrong.
And why shouldn’t they be excused from suspension or expulsion, if they know they have done wrong, have accepted it, and are willing to learn, so they don’t do it again, even inadvertently.
The Board of Deputies, it seems, wants all offenders to be driven out of the Labour Party, no matter whether they have accepted and apologised for wrong-doing or not. That is unreasonable.
Still, what can we expect from a predominantly right-wing – Tory-dominated – group? It seems to me that this demand springs from a desire to weaken the Labour Party, rather than any wish for justice.
And in any case, there is plenty of opportunity for injustice in Labour’s system as it is.
I was accused of anti-Semitic behaviour on several occasions, based on false allegations by that fake charity, the Campaign Against Antisemitism.
One or several of its members had concocted a press release in which they mangled my words in a bid to claim hatred of Jewish people where there was none.
Accused – and summarily suspended – by Labour, I expected a proper investigation into the truth or falsehood of the allegations against me. I received none.
The party’s attitude was that the accusation against me was proof of my guilt. After I proved that my actions were not anti-Semitic by any accepted definition of the term, the party changed its tune to claim that it did not matter, because my words had caused upset, and that was enough.
(It isn’t enough. And, as the party could not produce anybody who claimed to have suffered such upset, no such person legally exists.)
I was initially offered reinstatement, if I apologised and accepted education on anti-Semitism – in line with the policy against which the Board of Deputies is now protesting.
I refused it because I had done nothing wrong and Labour’s investigation had been a farce.
But because the party’s disputes team had already made up their collective mind that I was guilty, I was subjected to another farce when my case was heard by the National Constitutional Committee.
That was the day it earned its derogatory nickname of “National Kangaroo Court”. It is clear that nobody who enters such a hearing may expect anything even approximating justice.
In fact, the entire procedure shames the Labour Party to the deepest level, and all those who defend it – from the lowest party official posting out suspension notices to the NEC, NCC and the general secretary.
All these people have been complicit in huge harm to the livelihoods and reputations of those whose names their decisions have besmirched.
In the light of these facts, Board of Deputies’ president Marie van der Zyl’s claim that “Labour’s disciplinary processes still seem to be more geared towards protecting antisemites than protecting Jews” is silly childishness.
The process is not a “‘get out of jail free’ card for racists,” as she claims. It is a mechanism to persecute the innocent.
So, by rights, I should be in favour of the now-much-touted demand that Labour turn over its disciplinary system to an independent organisation.
But here’s another stumbling-block: When Labour offered me the chance to apologise and take a course on anti-Semitism, the people running that course would have been the Jewish Labour Movement.
That would be the same Jewish Labour Movement whose members secretly recorded Jackie Walker when she attended a “safe space” meeting (meaning attendees had been promised freedom to discuss anything, without their words being used against them), and then used her words against her by passing a version of that recording on to the press.
I would describe that behaviour, at the very least, as untrustworthy. Wouldn’t you?
The Jewish Labour Movement has been highly-critical of the Labour Party in the past, as have the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, all of whom have endorsed the call for an independent investigation/disciplinary process.
Perhaps they intend to demand that they should carry out such a process?
Whether they do or not, they must certainly never be allowed to do so.
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