The independent London newspaper

Labour members have been muzzled

11 September, 2020

Sir Keir Starmer

• JOHN Gulliver’s articles (Is Labour’s door closing on open debate? August 27 and Tracking racism’s symbols and reality, September 3) refer to a Jewish lawyer suspended and investigated by the Labour Party for challenging the Israel-defending International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.

We come from the Jewish tradition where “to be a Jew means always being with the oppressed and never the oppressors” (Marek Edelman, a leader of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising): without question that means support for the Palestinian struggle.

Two years ago we also faced investigation for anti-Semitism but the party refused to tell us what the charges were, who made the charges, who was investigating, and disgracefully invited us to incriminate ourselves – Kafkaesque!

We still don’t know whether the charges have been dropped – a classic witch-hunt.

You would have thought Sir Keir Starmer, a former human rights defence lawyer, might be familiar with justice, but the party has taken a steep dive: now members are proscribed from discussing the definition of anti-Semitism, the leaked report that alleged racism, sexism and financial irregularity by those hostile to a Jeremy Corbyn-led election victory, and the settlement over the Panorama programme against Labour lawyers’ advice.

Since the beginning of Sir Keir’s reign, the membership has been muzzled, party branches and CLPs are not allowed to take votes on anything, let alone challenge the leadership on how they spend members’ money.

The leadership supported remote voting online in parliament but has silenced its own membership.

On issues of discipline and anti-racist training, Sir Keir has publicly pledged to take his lead from the Board of Deputies of British Jews which has acted as a mouthpiece for an Israeli regime that is widely considered guilty of war crimes and the racist crime of apartheid.

We are outraged that this organisation should determine Labour policies, and party discipline now hints at another purge of the left, including the Palestinian-supporting Jewish left.

What are people like ourselves supposed to do? Betray our socialist principles and Jewish tradition by remaining silent? Wait for Sir Keir to expel us for breaking their mafia code of silence?

Or leave to join others in the Labour Party and the wider movement ready to speak the truth, whether power is listening or not.

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