Exclusive: Labour took advice from Lord Blunkett on handling antisemitism

Sienna Rodgers

Jennie Formby’s message to local Labour party secretaries advising them not to accept motions on individual disciplinary cases was prompted by Lord David Blunkett, LabourList can reveal.

In confidential emails sent on Tuesday afternoon, Labour HQ told local parties that resolutions “on individual cases” were considered “not competent business for discussion at CLPs”.

The advice came after Hackney North, Sheffield Hallam and other branches reacted to the suspension of backbench MP Chris Williamson by passing motions that condemned the decision and defended his comments on antisemitism.

LabourList can now disclose that the idea to offer the advice came from former cabinet minister Lord Blunkett, who asked the general secretary on Monday about the steps being taken to ensure that complaints procedures were “free from political interference”.

The Labour peer wrote to Formby: “Picking up your point on ensuring that procedures are ‘free from political interference’, will you be recommending that no motions seeking to pre-empt proper investigation and decision-making in respect of individuals under investigation will be seen by or presented to the NEC?

“I refer to those passing emergency (because they’re almost always emergency) resolutions at CLPs relating to individuals or the broader issue of antisemitism and its implications for our party.”

Once informed that advice to that effect was to be sent out to CLP secretaries, Blunkett told the general secretary: “I am grateful that you have sought to clarify with constituency secretaries across the country that they should not accept resolutions or have them debated relating to individuals subject to the processes set in place where disciplinary action has been taken or is under consideration.

“I believe this will not only calm matters within the party but also reinforce the importance of credible and trusted processes fair to everyone.”

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