Jewish Labour Movement refuses to campaign for most Labour candidates

Sienna Rodgers

The Jewish Labour Movement has revealed that it will not campaign for Labour candidates in the run-up to the general election “unless in exceptional circumstances and for exceptional candidates”.

Arguing that a “culture of antisemitism” has emerged within Labour since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015, the affiliated organisation has released a statement explaining its plan to support the party only in a very limited way.

Although JLM has chosen – “for now” – to remain a part of Labour and “fight racism, rather than disaffiliate”, members at its annual general meeting earlier this year agreed that Corbyn was “unfit to be Prime Minister”.

The group has therefore adopted a policy that will see it campaign for candidates such as Ruth Smeeth, its parliamentary chair, and certain other Labour MPs “who’ve been unwavering in their support” for JLM.

“We will not be giving endorsements to candidates in non-Labour held seats,” the JLM statement reads. “This does not mean that we no longer support the Labour Party’s policies… nor do we wish to see Boris Johnson or Jo Swinson in Downing Street.”

But the decision does mean that candidates such as Emma Whysall, who was backed by JLM for her selection and is standing in the so-called ‘bagel belt’ seat of Chipping Barnet, will not officially secure the support of JLM in the general election.

Below is the Jewish Labour Movement general election statement in full.

Since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in 2015, a culture of antisemitism has been allowed to emerge and fester in the Party at all levels. From murals and wreaths, to Livingstone and Walker and Williamson, there are too many shameful examples to list – itself damning evidence of the party’s moral slide.

Our Honorary President, Dame Louise Ellman MP, along with our former Parliamentary Chair, Luciana Berger MP were hounded out of Labour after years of relentless abuse, particularly in their local parties. Despite being well aware of this bullying, Jeremy Corbyn did nothing to address their concerns. When two accomplished and dedicated Jewish Labour MPs no longer see a place for themselves in the Labour Party, it’s clear that the party has lost its way.

This crisis of antisemitism in the Labour Party stems from a failure of leadership from Jeremy Corbyn. When the answer has been to take swift, decisive action, the reality has been equivocation and token gestures. Time and time again, the Party has not engaged in good faith to try to implement the actions that we believe are necessary to tackle anti-Jewish racism.

The disciplinary process has buckled under the weight of antisemitism complaints, and instead of implementing an independent process we’ve seen delay, obfuscation and botched decision making. Political interference is endemic in the system, which is used to protect the leaderships’ friends and allies, rather than ensure the party is a safe space for Jews.

It is little wonder that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission is formally investigating the Labour Party for institutional racism against Jews; unprecedented scrutiny which will continue throughout the course of the general election.

The last four years have been catastrophic for Jews in the Labour Party. Nevertheless, the Jewish Labour Movement has kept true to our Labour values and resolved – for now – to stay and fight racism, rather than disaffiliate and walk away. At our Annual General Meeting in April, our members unanimously adopted a policy deeming Jeremy Corbyn unfit to be Prime Minister as a result of his abject failure on antisemitism.

We will not be campaigning unless in exceptional circumstances and for exceptional candidates, like our parliamentary chair Ruth Smeeth, and members of the Parliamentary Labour Party who’ve been unwavering in their support of us. We will not be giving endorsements to candidates in non-Labour held seats.

This does not mean that we no longer support the Labour Party’s policies and its historic values, nor do we wish to see Boris Johnson or Jo Swinson in Downing Street. The Jewish Labour Movement has a long and proud history of activism in Labour Party and the wider Labour movement and 2020 marks our 100th anniversary of affiliation to the Labour Party.

Fighting racism, prejudice and intolerance is at the heart of our Labour values – it is the failure of the leader and his supporters to live these values which has led us to take this stance.

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