We in NI Labour do not believe party has a particular problem with Jews

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor
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The Executive Committee of the Labour Party of NI (LPNI) met on Monday night and discussed the allegations of ‘anti-semitism in the UK Labour Party’. Part of the discussions focused on the recent controversy surrounding Chris Williamson MP’s suspension.

The meeting agreed to formally adopt a statement which makes clear that the Executive Committee consider that allegations that the Labour Party has a particular problem with anti-semitism are false.

They also make clear that they consider that there was no justifiable reason for suspending Chris Williamson MP initially, or for withdrawing his recent re-instatement.

LPNI detailed their concerns that the democratically-agreed disciplinary procedures of the party had been cast aside due to political pressure following Mr Williamson’s re-instatement last week.

The LPNI statement details that their position was based on data and research carried out by a number of credible, independent organisations, both global and UK-based, who had themselves looked at the question of anti-semitism in the UK Labour Party.

The statement includes evidence from a House of Commons investigation that concluded: “Despite significant press and public attention on the Labour Party, and a number of revelations regarding inappropriate social media content, there exists no reliable, empirical evidence to support the notion that there is a higher prevalence of antisemitic attitudes within the Labour Party than any other political party.”

It also included research conducted by The World Jewish Congress who concluded that 90% of all anti-semitic posts on social media “were made by young white males under the age of 40 with affiliations to extreme right-wing groups”.

It featured evidence from a Jewish Policy Report that found that supporters of UK Labour were less likely to be hostile towards Jews, as it had concluded “the political left, captured by voting intention or actual voting for Labour, appears in these surveys as a more Jewish-friendly, or neutral, segment of the population”.

They also relied on research conducted by ‘Jewish Voice for Labour’, the only group within the UK Labour Party that consists exclusively of Jewish Labour Party members.

Its report stated that they had found no evidence at all of a concentration of anti-semitic views in the Labour Party.

They were extremely critical of the way that the UK media had handled the issue, stating: “A smear campaign of McCarthyite proportions has been taken up unquestioningly by the mainstream media”.

Similarly, LPNI relied heavily on evidence contained in a report compiled by a number of academics on behalf of ‘The Media Reform Coalition’.

It cites numerous examples of what the writers consider to be “marked skews in sourcing, omission of essential context or right of reply, misquotation, and false assertions made either by journalists themselves or sources whose contentious claims were neither challenged nor countered” in relation to stories featuring the Labour Party and the issue of anti-semitism.

In view of their finding that allegations of anti-semitism in the Labour Party are false, the Party’s Executive expressed concern about Mr Williamson’s suspension.

We consider that Chris Williamson’s comments in no way attacked or could be reasonably construed to be an attack on the Jewish community. We instead consider them to clearly oppose a narrative that alleges the Labour Party to be a racist and bigoted party.

Barbara Muldoon, a member of the Party’s Executive Committee who drafted the statement, and who is a lawyer by profession, said: “It was particularly important that the research that we conducted involved data collected by Jewish organisations, with no links to or loyalty or support for the UK Labour Party.

“Much of our statement featured data and research and was based on conclusions reached by Jewish groups and by world renowned experts in the field. Our conclusion is that anti-semitism is less prevalent in the UK Labour Party then in other political parties and in society at large. Our conclusion is that the UK media has distorted and misreported on matters in such a way as to create a narrative that there is a particular problem with anti-semitism in the UK Labour party.

“Our conclusion is that this is an entirely false narrative. “We deliberately steered clear of any speculation to as why this false narrative has been constructed to undermine the UK Labour Party, under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. We are sure that people will draw their own conclusions.”

The Executive Committee resolved that LPNI would write to the Labour Party NEC, with a copy of the statement and that a copy of the statement would be sent out to all of their 1,500 members.

Andy Ward, LPNI Executive Committee Member, Belfast BT6