Let’s take tougher action against the minority of bigots who shame Labour

By Cllr Peter Mason - this article originally appeared at LabourList on 7th September 2017

Later this month at conference, Labour will finally have an opportunity to put right the uncomfortable truth that we treat crimes against the party more harshly than we do crimes against each other.

Standing against the party, supporting a candidate who stands against us, or being a member of a proscribed organisation earns you an automatic exclusion.

Acting in a way that is prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the party can earn you an entry into the complex world of Labour formal disciplinary processes whose ultimate sanction is – as was the case with George Galloway – a hearing before the national constitutional committee (NCC) and potential expulsion.

On the issue of wrongdoing against each other, like harassment or discrimination, our rule book is less clear.

 

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Not everyone gets excited when an Integration and Cohesion Report lands on their desk but I read Louise Casey’s report minutes after its official release. To be honest I am a self-confessed community cohesion junkie having previously worked for the Government to advise them on these issues and to set up practical projects to promote integration and combat hate crime and extremist organisations.

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Antisemitism is abhorrent and the values of our movement mean that it cannot and must not be tolerated.  That was the starting point for my inquiry.  Labour has a proud record of tolerance, antiracism and of standing up for minorities, and our Leader has been at the forefront of many of the struggles for the dignity of all peoples.  Sadly, however, there is now a feeling amongst a growing part of the Jewish community that they do not feel welcome in our Party.  There is too often a culture of intolerance where Jews are concerned and there are clear incidents of antisemitism.

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In recent weeks The Guardian has published a series of letters (like this one and this one) from groups of individuals setting out positions on Zionism & antisemitism that are far removed from mainstream Jewish Labour perspectives.  

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Recent events have sadly allowed people to ask whether the Labour Party has a problem with antisemitism.

No ifs, not buts: antisemitism has no place in the party. As part of the Jewish Labour Movement, I’m striving to make sure that is the case and that Jewish Labour members know they have a place in the party.

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