Update, 10.08am: An EHRC spokesperson said: “We believe Labour may have unlawfully discriminated against people because of their ethnicity and religious beliefs.”
The Jewish Labour Movement last night decided to stay affiliated to the Labour Party, but it was revealed at the same time that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission may be set to investigate the party over its handling of antisemitism.
JLM held two meetings on Wednesday evening, both of which included an indicative vote to remain a Labour affiliate. According to JLM sources, the results were not unanimous but overwhelmingly in favour of keeping the link in order to “stay and fight” within the party.
Dame Margaret Hodge, who delivered a speech at the London meeting, said the situation had improved in the party since the MP resignations last month, according to one source. Many JLM members, as previously reported on LabourList, also want to ensure that Jewish Voice for Labour does not replace JLM as the sole affiliated Jewish group or become the voice of authority on issues of antisemitism.
An official decision will be made on affiliation at JLM’s annual general meeting next month, where members could also elect a new parliamentary chair. Luciana Berger, who recently left Labour to form The Independent Group, cannot stay in the role if JLM is affiliated and she wishes to stand against Labour candidates.
But the news of JLM deciding against disaffiliation came shortly ahead of the Jewish Chronicle reporting that the EHRC will announce an investigation into the Labour Party today. The equality watchdog, set up under a Labour government, last year received dossiers of Labour antisemitism submitted by JLM and the Campaign Against Antisemitism.
A JLM spokesperson said: “In early November 2018, the Jewish Labour Movement made a submission to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission asking them to investigate the allegation that the Labour Party is institutionally antisemitic.
“We did not take that decision lightly. After years of anti-Jewish racism experienced by our members, and a long pattern of denial, obfuscation and inaction by those with the power and ability to do something about it, we felt there was little choice but to secure a fully independent inquiry, not encumbered by corrupted internal practices. Everything that has happened in the months since our referral supports our view that the Labour Party is now institutionally antisemitic.
“Our 99-year affiliation to Labour was born from the solidarity shown to our community by a party that held social justice and equality as its core values. Democratic socialists stood side by side with the Jewish working class, and promised them a haven in Britain, free from the persecution they experienced in mainland Europe.
“Sadly, a century later that solidarity is lacking from all too many within the party. This evening Jewish Labour members made clear that we will not unconditionally stand by whilst we are treated with such intolerance and contempt. We, in our history have loved and respected the Labour Party too much to let this continue.”