Labour looking into complaint against new NEC member Gemma Bolton

Sienna Rodgers

The Labour Party is looking into a complaint made against Gemma Bolton, a newly elected member of its ruling national executive committee (NEC), LabourList understands.

It has been reported by The Jewish Chronicle that Labour has launched an investigation into social media posts by left-wing NEC member Gemma Bolton as it emerged she described Israel as “an apartheid state”.

LabourList understands, however, that the party is looking into the complaint yet this is not equivalent to a formal Labour investigation. Bolton is not currently suspended from the party.

Bolton placed fourth out of nine successful NEC candidates in a ballot of Labour members that concluded last week. The closely-fought internal contests also saw ex-MP Laura Pidcock picked for the top body.

After running on the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance platform backed by Momentum and her organisation the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, Bolton now represents local parties on the NEC.

But the CLPD co-chair is the subject of a complaint after it was highlighted that she tweeted in 2018: “If I run the risk of getting suspended for calling Israel an apartheid state then so be it. Suspend me.”

A Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”

Supporters of Bolton have drawn attention to a United Nations 2017 report stating that Israel is “an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates the Palestinian people as a whole”. Critics of the label say it is used to delegitimise Israel.

Adam Wagner, who acted for the Campaign Against Antisemitism in Labour’s referral to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, was asked whether Bolton’s post could be considered antisemitic under the EHRC report.

The human rights barrister tweeted in response: “There is nothing – it’s not antisemitic. Certainly doesn’t fall within the IHRA definition. On what is quoted in the JC article, there is nothing there – nothing.”

During the NEC campaign, Bolton wrote a piece for LabourList expressing support for “robust, transparent disciplinary processes” to challenge “the antisemitism and the Islamophobia that sadly continue to persist in our own ranks”.

LabourList has contacted Bolton for comment.

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